There’s No Such Thing As ‘Good Cholesterol’ Says Pivotal New Study

A surprising new genetic study shows that some people with naturally high levels of HDL cholesterol—the supposedly good kind of cholesterol—are at increased risk of a heart attack. Doctors are now further questioning the use of drugs to boost HDL levels while looking to new therapies to reduce heart risk.

Source: There’s No Such Thing As ‘Good Cholesterol’ Says Pivotal New Study

Sorry for the scare.

For the people with this genetic defect, HDL (“good”) cholesterol is not good because the defect destroys their liver’s ability to absorb fat brought to it by HDL.  In normal people, HDL still correlates with lower risk of heart disease.

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Most People Have Cholesterol All Wrong

Do you know which foods contain good cholesterol, and which contain bad cholesterol? If you think you do, ha! That’s a trick question! Cholesterol in our food doesn’t come in “good” and “bad” varieties, but cholesterol readings from blood tests do, and the two aren’t as closely connected as we used to think.

Source: Most People Have Cholesterol All Wrong

HDL is the one you want to be high; you want LDL to be low.

My doctor told me that my levels were a tad high, but the ratio mattered more.  The best part?  No cholesterol medication suggestion from the doctor.  It really does pay to eat better and look after yourself.

Related: The Dangerous Power of Health Media: 28,000 Quit Statins After Scare Documentary

The Dangerous Power of Health Media: 28,000 Quit Statins After Scare Documentary

Unbalanced and poorly researched health reporting is often criticised for the effect it can have on people’s health choices. That effect can be very difficult to quantify, but a paper published this week in the Medical Journal of Australia estimates that an extra 28,000 Australians stopped taking cholesterol-lowering statins after an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) documentary.

Statins are widely-prescribed drugs that are used to lower the levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol in the blood. According to the Australian government’s most recent estimate, they were the most commonly prescribed drug in Australia in 2011. Any change in the number of people taking statins therefore has a huge impact, affecting thousands of people.

Source: The dangerous power of health media: 28,000 quit statins after scare documentary

Let us not forget the ever-decreasing threshold that doctor’s use to prescribe statins, despite little evidence that the demands for extremely low LDL are actually beneficial.

And that’s all totally ignoring the fundamental issues with the ‘cholesterol hypothesis’ generally — it is possible that elevated LDL is a byproduct of metabolic syndrome or other inflammatory conditions, not vice-versa, and also that total LDL alone is a poor measure of cardiovascular risk. Doctor’s need to consider HDL and triglyceride levels, as well as certain ratios of these lipid levels, and even that is imperfect.

Just remember, folks: researchers and doctors, all too often, inappropriately draw narrow conclusions that are not adequately supported by their data. For example, for decades we’ve been told that dietary cholesterol is bad for our health, and raises LDL — except that it doesn’t, and the data has never adequately supported this conclusion. It was only this year that the FDA finally admitted “oh yea, turns out cholesterol is tightly regulated by the body [which we’ve known for awhile], and dietary cholesterol doesn’t matter” and they removed restrictions on cholesterol in the diet.

The Man Who Ate 25 Eggs a Day (Or, Why Cholesterol’s Not All Bad)

Each morning at the retirement community, the healthy 88-year-old man received a delivery of 25 soft-boiled eggs, which he would consume during his day. This had been his way for many years. He’d had one experience of chest pain that might have been angina, but aside from that, he had a healthy cardiovascular system. He recognized that his only problem was psychological: “Eating these eggs ruins my life, but I can’t help it.

I think of the Eggman, a brief case report from 1991 in the New England Journal of Medicine, whenever “news” of cholesterol’s unsuitability as a one-size-fits-all biomarker resurfaces, as it does every few years and did again just last month.

Source: The Man Who Ate 25 Eggs a Day (Or, Why Cholesterol’s Not All Bad)

Just 25 eggs? My man can eat 50…

The article paints an interesting picture of the state of health care with relation to pharmaceuticals and doctor education.  It’s along the lines of a recent post suggesting caution about trusting a physicians recommendation – they are only human.  I had a similar experience with a previous doctor pushing for cholesterol medication, and subsequently encountered other family members with similar experiences.  My most recent test demonstrated a dramatic improvement in my HDL & LDL levels, though as the article points out – these aren’t considered to be truly indicative of cardiovascular health.  But everyone is different, so you’re best to find out for yourself.

FYI: Bodybuilders and powerlifters routinely, especially when adding weight, eat a dozen or more eggs/day. From a $/gram of protein and $/calories perspective, eggs are fantastic. Even from a macronutrient perspective, eggs are quite good for you- depending on size, you get 60-80 calories, 5-7 grams of protein, and 5-7 grams of fat, to no carbohydrates.