35> The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden, PH.D. and Stephen Sinatra, M.D.

I just finished reading “The Great Cholesterol Myth, Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease – and The Statin-Free Plan That Will,” by Jonny Bowden, PH.D. and Stephen Sinatra, M.D.

I decided that it was time to read this after the on-going situation with my wife.  Before the Stroke, her Cholesterol was in the borderline range.  There were some discussions about going on meds, but it did not happen.  Post Stroke they put her on every medication that money could buy.  Once I realized that she was experiencing what could be some of the side effects from the Statin drug, I requested and her Doc agreed to a Statin holiday.  There were some immediate improvements in her functioning.  We just got the results of her recent blood work.  Although her HDL is optimal and her Triglycerides are just a bit high, her Total Cholesterol and LDL were higher than they like.   We do not want her back on the Statin meds.

The question that causes me concern:  Is my insistence upon her not taking this medication putting her at risk?  This question must be viewed within the following context: I only have “untested and unmeasured” observed side effects.  Given the underlying stroke and it’s impact on her, it is difficult to determine what is the cause.

Now on to the book.  On the whole – it is a good read and makes a cogent argument against Statin meds for the sole purpose of lowering Cholesterol.   In fact it makes an excellent argument against paying too much attention to your Cholesterol numbers unless you get one of the more sophisticated blood tests that determine the size of the various types of particles.

Throughout the book there are Summary Lists which are titled “What You Need to Know.”  The one concerning Statin drugs, in part states”

  • The benefits of statin drugs are widely exaggerated and their benefit comes from their anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Statin depletes CQ10 resulting in muscle pain, weakness an fatigue.
  • The brain depends upon Cholesterol to function optimally, lowering Cholesterol impacts brain functioning, memory and Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Statins lowering of Cholesterol negatively impacts your sex hormones and functioning.
  • Statins interfere with serotonin receptors.
  • They may be associated with a higher risk of cancer and diabetes.
  • Adverse effects are under-reported.  (We know that from the way the Doctors at the Re-hab facility failed to acknowledge our concerns.)
  • Statins should not be prescribed for the elderly or the vast majority of women.  (Yep – my 68 year old wife – damnation.)
  • Any benefit from taking Statins is seen in middle-aged men with documented coronary artery disease and/or prior heart attack.

The authors then back these statements up with a short course in human biology and a multitude of studies.   A great deal of this information was beyond me, even though they attempted to put it in simple terms.

They also illustrate the many ways in which Big Pharmaceutical Companies and Politics influence our available knowledge.

The other side of the coin – They go into a lengthy discussion on how to control heart disease without Statins.  What to Eat – What Supplements to take and – How to deal with Psycho/Emotional issues such as Stress.  This is their three-cornered stool upon which their non-statin treatment is based.

The goals of this book are clearly stated in the title:  Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease – and The Statin-Free Plan That WillThey do a good job of laying it out in a persuasive manner.

Men’s Health/Rodale Press has a series of books called “Eat This – Not That.”  It is also a continual section of their MH magazine and they push the series fiercely.  It is NOT Low Carb but it attempts to get the reader to make somewhat healthier choices in the Real World.  They know how to market to their readership demographics.

There is  a section called “Eat This, Dump That.”  No question it is closer to my way of thinking.  Rather than just list calories, protein, carbs, fat and salt – this section goes more deeply into nutrition and health benefits from the point of view of Cardiac Health.  That last phrase is important and explains why this is not just a Low Carb manual.  Following the author’s suggestions, you will be eating Low Carb – just not Ketogenic.

This Section’s “What You Need To Know,” states in part:

Dump these foods:

  • Sugar
  • Soda
  • Processed carbs
  • Trans fats
  • Processed meats
  • Excess vegetable oils

Eat more of these foods:

  • Wild Salmon (Alaska)
  • Berries and cherries
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Dark Chocolate  (no argument from me)
  • Garlic and turmeric
  • Pomegranate juice, green tea and red wine. (again – no argument from me)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil.

The Authors Trumpet the reduction of Stress in our lives.  I wish it was that easy.

Make these lifestyle changes to reduce stress:

  • Meditate or practice deep breathing.
  • Express your emotions
  • Play
  • Cultivate intimacy and pleasure
  • Enjoy your life

The What You Need to Know section on Supplements, makes these recommendations:

  • CoQ10
  • D-ribose
  • L-carnitie
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Omega-3s
  • Nattokinase and Lumbrokinnase
  • Vitamin C
  • Curcumin
  • Reserevatrol
  • Coca Flavanols
  • Vitamin E only if mixed tocopherols

The What You Need to Know section on Blood Tests, makes these recommendations (I’ll bet that most are not covered by your Insurance):

  • LDL particle size
  • Hs-CRP
  • Fibrinogen
  • Serum ferritin (iron)
  • Lp(a)
  • Homocysteine
  • Interleukin-6
  • Coronary calcium scan

These summary outlines are a quick look into the book – but they do not tell the whole story – which is critical if you are going to understand and follow their suggestions.

Some personal thoughts and observations:

  • I am about 95% persuaded – maybe more.
  • They lay a great deal on inflammation but never discuss the Paleo World’s claim that post agricultural revolution foods are inflammatory.  They recommend Legumes and Beans.
  • They support the elimination of most foods that are not part a Low Carb lifestyle but recommend legumes, beans, and various other foods for their “health” impact.
  • They slam Canola oil. (Ouch – I have previously been advised to use it.)
  • Eat grass fed meat and milk from grass fed cows.  (Not always so easy to get.)
  • Don’t eat processed deli meats.

I know this – my wife is never going back on Statins – and – she started taking CQ10/100 today.

I strongly recommend buying and reading the book.

NB:  This is a compilation of two posts written on December 12th and 13th 2012.  Pages have more staying power than posts.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. baseballmom024
    Dec 23, 2012 @ 17:43:19

    TNT Man,

    My husband has been reading the book and taken himself off of Statins about 10 days ago, says he feels so much better….has more energy and working out more. I started to read, haven’t gotten very far. His mother, father and younger brother all on Statins…his mom just ordered book and stopped taking her statins…she is 65.

    Thanks for the information to lead us in the direction to read the book and make decisions ourselves, instead of just taking the pills that are pushed at you!



  2. TNT Man
    Dec 23, 2012 @ 21:42:35


    Just realize that it is a three legged stool. Diet. Supplements and Relaxation (stress reduction). I’ve got 2 out of the 3 under control – may never get the 3rd.

    Met with my wife’s neurologist, He is sooooo – by the book. But he shrugs his shoulders and allows us to go our own way.

    My wife continues to make progress.

    I hope that your family is able to move forward without the statins. You are the chief cook and bottle washer – so you had better read it as well and get a handle on the food end.

    May you and yours have a Joyous Christmas and a Happy and especially Healthy New Year.

    TNT Man


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