Over the years I’ve been astounded at how much nonsense has been written about how everybody needs to keep their cholesterol down for better health.
Yes, cholesterol plays a role in cancer – as it does in heart disease – but it’s not a fundamental cause of either of these health conditions. And merely trying to reduce your cholesterol level with drugs won’t prevent either cancer or heart disease.
In fact, getting your cholesterol down too low can, in some cases, kill you. In addition to the fact that anti-cholesterol drugs can have dangerous side effects.
I’m glad to see that a few mainstream doctors and medical researchers are finally starting to question the cholesterol mania, but the number is woefully small. To protect yourself, you need to know the facts.
Continued below. . .
Doctors Really Blew It This Time
Act Fast to Save Yourself from
It’s a medical disaster. There’s just no other word for it. But you haven’t heard a word about it in the mainstream press…
– and you won’t, because…
This could easily be the deadliest and most embarrassing scandal in the history of modern medicine. You see, this massive blunder that doctors have been making for years puts…
80% of the U.S. population at serious risk for
And the danger to seniors over 60 is even greater!
So it’s almost certain that you will be affected. But you may still be able to duck the danger. . .
Low cholesterol plus cancer can kill
First consider that in many instances having a cholesterol level that’s too low can make cancer deadlier.
For instance, research at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria shows that for people with kidney cancer, having extremely low cholesterol blood levels significantly ups the chances of dying from the cancer.
The Austrian four-year study involved more than 860 people with kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) who were undergoing surgery for their tumors.1
The scientists discovered that those with the lowest cholesterol levels had more advanced tumors and a much more dangerous spread of their cancer cells. But, the scientists found, cancer patients with high cholesterol enjoyed a 43 percent reduced risk of dying from kidney cancer compared to the patients with low cholesterol.
In the Austrian study, the patients’ median cholesterol was measured at 195 – which is just about identical to what the average American’s cholesterol is. The patients who had cholesterol over 195 had a better chance of surviving their renal cancer and living longer. I don’t think we have enough evidence to say higher cholesterol protects against ALL types of cancer.
The Austrians confess that they don’t understand what’s happening with cholesterol in kidney cancer. But they’re planning more research to figure that out.
However, studies like that should put to rest the conviction that always lowering your cholesterol inevitably improves your health.
The real problem may be
something else besides cholesterol
Instead, it points us toward the idea that what really links cholesterol to both cancer and heart disease is what cells – particularly immune cells – do with cholesterol. The problem is not inherently within the cholesterol itself.
You see, cholesterol is a building block of every cell in your body and is used to make cell membranes. Something like one-fourth of the cholesterol in your body is in your brain, where it plays a vital role. Cholesterol is also used to manufacture hormones. In the skin, the body needs cholesterol to create vitamin D from sunlight.
And want to guess what’s the most common reason that cholesterol gets too high? Most likely it’s chronic inflammation in the body – which is basically defined as prolonged over-activity of your immune cells.
Chronic inflammation can be a key player in leading the liver to make increased amounts of cholesterol. That’s why, to protect your body from cancer (or even heart disease), you have to reduce the inflammation that is causing the liver to overproduce cholesterol and rein in the harm immune cells are doing to the body with cholesterol.
My opinion about the evolving science in this area is that high cholesterol is the body’s attempt to defend itself against inflammation. The gunk-lined arteries associated with heart disease and the amyloid plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s are just a side effect of chronic inflammation.
Lowering cholesterol is thus pointless. And similarly, all the drugs aimed at breaking up brain plaques have failed to relieve dementia.
Merely reducing your cholesterol with a drug won’t affect the basic inflammatory problem that makes you more susceptible to illness.
The statin drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol also happen to be anti-inflammatories. It’s almost certain that any good effects they have are due to reduced inflammation, NOT to lower cholesterol.
Cholesterol’s repair duties
When your body is injured, your immune system helps repair the damage with inflammation. As part of this process, the liver produces extra cholesterol that the body uses to patch up the injury site. But when you develop chronic inflammation – and your immune cells won’t calm down – the inflammation goes on and on, causing the liver to keep cranking out more and more cholesterol in an effort to repair damage that isn’t really there.
And that can endanger your life.
In some cases, an investigation at the University of California, Davis Health indicates, it can lead to liver cancer.
In this lab test, California researchers looked at the effects of chronic inflammation that develops when you eat the typical American diet of over-processed foods that are high in sugar.
What they found is that the processed foods change the probiotic bacteria in the intestines. This, in turn, stimulates inflammation in the body, inflames the liver and alters the kind of bile acids the liver produces. It also alters the bile acids that are being produced by bacteria in the intestines. (Apparently, the bacteria in your intestines produce bile – along with the liver – a fact I was not aware of.)2
All of these effects are harmful and represent some of the first steps on the way to liver cancer.
In addition to these inflammatory problems, the study shows processed food causes the liver to develop fatty tumors (which aren’t cancerous – at least not at first). And the bile acids that are being made also lead to more inflammatory complications.
Plus, at the same time, the liver starts to produce cholesterol that, on a blood test, would probably make your doctor instantly prescribe a statin drug to try to make your cholesterol level go down.
And that would do little good. Because the problem doesn’t originate in your cholesterol. It’s the inflammation in your body that is making you vulnerable to cancer. The cholesterol is merely a result of the inflammation.
The real answer to cholesterol
Studies like this California investigation show that turning off inflammation can turn back cancer and other illnesses. Take care of that and your cholesterol should improve as a side effect.
Ways to cut inflammation include:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for more fiber: Research indicates that a high fiber diet decreases systemic inflammation in the body while processed foods high in sugar lead to extra inflammation.3
- Go for a walk: Tests involving scientists at several US universities show that exercise reduces inflammation. Part of the effect stems from the fact that exercise shifts the balance of probiotic bacteria in your intestines toward the type of bacteria that damps down immune system misbehavior.4
- Include some dark chocolate in your snacks and meals: Research in Switzerland shows that natural chemicals in chocolate help the body keep inflammation under control.5
- Cut your calories: According to a study at Tufts, eating about 25% fewer calories can significantly lower inflammation.6
- Take anti-inflammatory supplements: fish oil, turmeric or curcumin, proteolytic enzymes, boswellia and silymarin.
As I said before, even mainstream medical folks are starting to get the message about inflammation and cholesterol – it’s the inflammation, stupid! A recent test7 that showed the benefits of cutting inflammation for cancer and heart disease may help to convince even more doctors.
It’s about time.