‘’Too many people that are on statins should not be on them and too many people that are not on statins should be one them’’, Kris Kresser.
There is so much controversy surrounding cholesterol and the use of statins. It is one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the healthcare system.
In my studies, I learned that cholesterol is the mother molecule from which almost every hormone in your body is made. Every stress and sex hormone in the body is made from cholesterol. Even the brain contains approx. 25% of all the cholesterol in the body!. In a nutshell, it's quiet important to the body.
As such Interfering with this complex system should only be considered when all other avenues have been exhausted.
WHEN IS IT NECESSARY TO USE STATINS?
Half of people that suffer from cardiovascular disease have cholesterol in the normal range. What gives? The mass dosing of the population of statins is becoming more questionable the more the relationship between cholesterol and cardiovascular disease is being understood. Thankfully research and better testing allows us to better evaluate what risk person has when it comes to cholesterol levels. There are other factors to incorporate when looking at heart health...
There is a marker in the body that gives a far greater insight into the health of the body than cholesterol. If you saw the doctor in the house series then you will have seen just how profound an effect this molecule can have on the health of the body. The molecule that I am referring to is homocysteine. High homocysteine levels mean that you are at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, migraines, fatigue and eye degeneration.
Additionally, when it comes to cholesterol it is often not a problem until you put it into a body that has the factors to oxidise it. High cholesterol is not such an issue but oxidised cholesterol is a very big issue. High homocysteine levels means there is inflammation in the body which leads to oxidisation of cholesterol, thereby making it a different beast altogether.
Every time I work with someone with high cholesterol the first thing I check is Homocysteine.
Looking at other factors like iron levels and CRP (inflammation marker) which are potent oxidisers is also important.
Iron for example has a key role to play in cardiovascular health. Women pre-menopausal have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease than their male counterparts. The reason for this is that every month during menstruation they unload iron from the body, thereby avoiding bio accumulation of iron in the tissues. Iron oxidises (rusts) in the tissues that it accumulates. For Post-menopausal however, the advantage women have over men decreases and we share the same risks for heart health complications. Therefore, it is always so advisable to have your ferritin (iron marker) checked to help evaluate what you risk for cardiovascular disease is.
There are a couple of other problems with cholesterol. The carriers for cholesterol are proteins. They act like boats that ferry cholesterol around the body. The number of passengers in the boat (cholesterol) is what our health care system uses to evaluate heart health. Research however says it is not the amount of passenger that matter but the size and number of the boats (LDL’s). IE: if you have a hundred cholesterol particles being ferried around the body in a hundred tiny boats then the chances of these getting caught in the veins (esp. heart) and oxidising is very high. If, however another individual has the same number of cholesterol but has only a few large boats to ferry it around the chances of these becoming oxidised and damaging are far less.
However, by conventional testing methods both individuals are treated with statins and only one is at high risk of a cardiovascular. See the chart below to illustrate this…
In the second part of this blog I will illustrate how to support cholesterol issues naturally.
For now these are the parameters you should check to ensure that your heart stays healthy and vibrant long into your old age.
For a comprehensive check for your heart health the optimal markers that you would check would be…
Homocysteine: High homocysteine with high cholesterol levels increases the risk for health implication so ensure homocysteine is in normal range. For specific Homocysteine testing have a look at
Ferritin (iron): Oxidised cholesterol is where cholesterol gets dangerous to our health. Iron is very susceptible to oxidising so achieving optimal ferritin levels should be an objective in any high cholesterol patient.
CRP: C reactive protein is a marker for inflammation in the body. If it is high you have inflammation. High inflammation and high cholesterol is not a good combination. If elevated then strategies will be required to bring it down.
Lipoprotein Particle Profile – Measures the sizes and number of particles that carry cholesterol.
VLDL, LDL and non-HDL Particles – Categorises the size and type of cholesterol.