So, we all know the model: cholesterol is the problem, too much is a bad thing and it kills you, right?
Well no, evidence is emerging for what I have never waivered from over the years, which is that you need more cholesterol than is currently allowed. It may even be healthier to have cholesterol over 200. I have never wavered from this in over 40 years and watch the papers coming out regularly, showing that we need saturated fats to be healthy.
But, you say, HDL is the “good cholesterol” and it protects you, right? Wrong. Apparently it’s not that simple at all.
But the bad cholesterol, low density lipoproteins (LDL), those are bad, definitely, right? No, that’s probably not true either.
All the old myths are collapsing; they were only myths anyway and good scientific trials, looking for the right things, are showing a different story.
My attention was caught recently by a trial in which there were dramatic improvements in patient HDL (increase of 72%) and significant reduction in LDL (25% reduction), yet patients still had 60% excess cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The outcomes were so bad in fact, the trial had to be stopped, before they killed any more patients!1
Don’t you find this confusing? It’s not what all the press releases and propaganda say, is it? For years we’ve been told the problem is these blood fats and we should ALL be taking statins, even children; stop eating eggs and red meats; use polyunsaturates instead if saturated fats. Fat free; fat free; and fat free for good measure. It’s a litany.
A litany that sold a lot of drugs, killed a lot of people and still holds center stage in the minds of most clinicians. Hardly ever was there a stronger case of ignorance kills (one of my favorite sayings, for the new subscribers).
Insights from Phase III Trials of Torcetrapib and Dalcetrapib
The simple idea that that more HDL is better was unequivocally refuted by the failure of drygs, torcetrapib and dalcetrapib, intended to prevent cardiovascular events. Subjects taking torcetrapib had a 72% increase in HDL and a 25% decrease in LDL (due to concurrent statin therapy). They should have lived dramatically longer. But instead, the patients died faster than ever, resulting in premature termination of the study.
The study involving dalcetrapib was also halted early because it was determined that there was virtually no chance of a positive outcome, despite increasing serum HDL by 31% to 40%.
So now they are coming up with a patch of sorts: not that their theories are wrong, but that this must have been some “dud” HDL that didn’t have any protective benefit, resulting from absence some undetermined function of normal HDL, or because of development of “large dysfunctional HDL molecules.”1 Seriously! They call this science.2
Don’t follow the statistical data and clear evidence showing your theory is wrong; instead twist the story a bit, till you can ignore the inconvenient findings.
I ask you! If this faulty HDL existed, why did it never show up before? Because it doesn’t exist. It’s a theoretical patch and they are claiming this “solution” as science!
Here’s The Truth on Finding Ways to Lower Cholesterol
HDL molecules increase blood viscosity and increasing HDL levels deliberately has been shown to leads to a big increase in blood clotting, stroke and heart attack (myocardial infarction, so-called). Bad idea.
LDL is known to stick red blood cells together and so naturally increases the likelihood of clotting. Normally, HDL (which is a small molecule) doesn’t do that. But increase the HDL abnormally and it too will clump red bloods cells, causing disastrous sludging of blood flow and the tendency to clot.
The bonds which form these aggregates are reversible and weak, forming in areas of slow blood flow. For an analogy that is easy to understand, a similar phenomenon is seen with a ketchup bottle.
While ketchup is still, intermolecular bonds form and its viscosity increases. However, shake the bottle, and the viscosity of the ketchup decreases and it flows more quickly.
I’ve written before that blood viscosity is a far more crucial measurement of blood health than fats (blood lipids). This study seems to prove that is correct.3
Cancer and Other Diseases
It’s not just about heart disease. Almost all diseases depend on blood flow; the more poorly provided are oxygen and nutrients, the less the body’s ability to fight back.
It even impacts cancer. If the body can’t get its troops to the site and nutrient ammunition in sufficient quantity, the cancer will flourish. We know, for example, that cancer thrives on low oxygen levels. In which case sluggish blood flow is a disaster!
Not surprising then, that Torcetrapib therapy, leading to this HDL sludging effect, was also associated with increased non-cardiovascular mortality. In particular, mortality from cancer and infections were increased, despite there being no increase in the number of cancers or infections.
Indeed, increased blood viscosity and decreased flow blood flow is a fundamental defect which would increase mortality from any disease.
As a result, the National Lipid Association has had to do a complete about-face (2013):
For 4 decades it has been recognized that elevated serum levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its sequelae… Consequently, it was assumed that, by extension, raising HDL through lifestyle modification and pharmacologic intervention would reduce risk of CVD… However, a number of recent randomized studies putatively designed to test the “HDL hypothesis” have failed to show benefit… In response to the many questions and uncertainties raised by the results of these trials, the National Lipid Association convened an expert panel to evaluate the current status of HDL as a therapeutic target… The expert panel concludes that… HDL is not a therapeutic target at the present time.4
This is testament to the appeal of the over-simplistic and incorrect notion that the accumulation of lipid in arteries causes atherosclerosis.
This is also really incredibly arrogant and typifies the fact that doctors always “know best” and seem to think they might need to correct the way Nature does things. As if!
Eat Lard to Help Your Heart
Lard. Once, it was the great cooking fat of Europe, from Shetland to Gibraltar and east beyond the Caucasus, in China, Mexico, in South America.
In Ukraine they have a festival devoted to it. Polish immigrants caused a UK shortage in 2004. Most of our ancestors ate it and not many of them died of obesity. For thousands of years there has been lard wherever there were pigs, and there were pigs, broadly speaking, wherever there weren’t Muslims.
It’s a supremely versatile fat. Because it smokes so little when it’s hot it’s perfect for bringing a golden shatter to a chip or a fritter – only dripping (beef fat) does a better job.
But is it healthy? You decide: gram for gram, it contains 20% less saturated fat than butter, and it’s higher in the monounsaturated fats. It’s one of nature’s best sources of vitamin D. Unlike shortening it contains no trans fats, probably the most dangerous fats of all.
Disillusioned by decades of conflicting advice and food company propaganda, many people are returning to diets unsullied by fads and dogma. That lard is both “healthier” than butter and yet so despised shows the empty logic of the standard position. The fat amply qualifies as “real food”, which Michael Pollan defined as “the sort of food our great grandmothers would recognize as food”.5
Enjoy! And don’t feel guilty.
Too bad for vegans and vegetarians; you can’t make good pastry with olive oil!
- 1. http://www.bloodflowonline.com/editorial/high-density-lipoprotein-protects-against-cardiovascular-disease-decreasing-blood
4. [J Clin Lipidol. 2013 Sep-Oct;7(5):484-525. doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 11]