How much cholesterol do you need?

Cholesterol is a waxy steroid of fat which is an essential structural component of the outer membrane that surrounds every cell. Cholesterol is recycled. It is excreted by the liver via the bile into the digestive tract. Your body also uses it to insulate nerve fibres in order to make nerve signals travel properly. Cholesterol also plays a role in the production of hormones, which carry chemical signals around the body. Without cholesterol, your body would not work.
It is a well-known fact that many athletes have been tested with high levels of Cholesterol when they are performing a very intense activity. What we need to realise is that Cholesterol in the body can go up and down. Typically about 50% of the excreted cholesterol is reabsorbed by the small bowel back into the bloodstream. We also need to realise that Cholesterol is a very important substance: it is a very good antioxidant which helps fight free radicals that are damaging to the integrity of cell membrane and DNA.

Cholesterol is also a precursor for making steroids and hormones in your body. For example, Cholesterol takes part in the internal manufacturing of vitamin D which is also a hormone. Cholesterol has a lot of other functions therefore it can be more dangerous to have Cholesterol too low than too high – the increase of Cholesterol is a protective mechanism used by your body. It would be more appropriate for doctors to examine why it gets elevated rather than to try to reduce it by all means (i.e. prescribing cholesterol lowering medication or statins).

The key issue to deal with is oxidation of lipoproteins (examples would be the high-density (HDL) and low-density (LDL) lipoproteins) due to free radical activity (i.e. lipid peroxidation). Lipoproteins play a role in transporting Cholesterol. When oxidised, lipoproteins become sticky and can get easily stuck in the damaged endothelium (the inner layer of blood vessels) which in turn contributes to a plaque build-up.

Does Pharma industry have a right answer?

Russel Blaylock, MD,  who is a nationally recognised, board-certified neurosurgeon, author and lecturer with 26 years of practice and  no funding from the pharmaceutical industry, argues that ” FDA approved drugs – used as prescribed – are killing over 125,000 people every year. Nationally, this makes prescription drugs the fourth leading cause of death after cancer, heart disease, and stroke. That does not count death by hospital medical error, which adds 98,000 deaths to this atrocity. Hypnotized by drug ads, the general public is oblivious to the deaths caused by prescription drug use. This is evidenced by their willingness to swallow whatever ‘the doctor ordered’. This is especially true for drugs targeting heart disease.” “I think that Statin Drugs should be outlawed. They are one of the most harmful drugs ever created and have no more effect than taking an aspirin a day as far as heart attacks. It’s a scam. Number one, cholesterol is NOT the cause of arteriosclerosis. These conditions are due to oxidation of every lipid in the vessel wall. All of the lipids are oxidized, not just cholesterol, and it is oxidation of these lipids that results in the atherosclerotic crud (plaque) we see in coronary arteries and blood vessels to the brain.”

Some researchers and doctors believe that Cholesterol levels have no relationship to heart disease

Some studies have revealed that  cholesterol is NOT the main cause of arteriosclerosis. These conditions develope due to oxidation of every lipid in the vessel wall. All of the lipids are oxidized, not just cholesterol, and it is oxidation of these lipids that results in the atherosclerotic crud (plaque) we see in coronary arteries and blood vessels to the brain.”


So does a high concentration of LDL cholesterol still matter?

Indeed, the European Atherosclerosis Society stated that LDL particles don’t just passively move across blood vessel walls therefore a hight concentration of lowdensity lipoprotein in blood should be the ground for doctors ‘ concern in  their assessment of patients’ health. However, relying on only on LDL cholesterol is an incomplete marker. There are different types of LDL particles while the focus should be on the specific one.

As Dr Brad Stanfield, Primary Care Physician, puts it: “ideally, if my patients have the resources, I encourage them to check their ApoB Lipoprotein levels. ApoB is a primary protein component of lipoproteins that cause issues with our blood vessel walls leading to blockages. it’ is the concentration of the ApoB containing lipoproteins that really matters. I aim for ApoB levels below 60mg/DL.

Furthermore,  Dr Brad Stanfield continues: “we still have to address all of the other risk factors including: insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, inflammation, blood pressure, weight. All of those risk factors including lipoprotein concentrations do matter.