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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 29 2012

The Straight Dope on Cholesterol: 10 Things You Need to Know – Part 1

By Guest
219 Comments

This is a guest post by Peter Attia and is a summary based on a 10-part series of the same name that you can find at The Eating Academy.  

To put this summary post and, more importantly, this 10-part series in perspective, let’s examine one of the most pervasive pieces of dietary advice given to people worldwide:

“Eating foods that contain any cholesterol above 0 mg is unhealthy.”

– T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study.

No summary of this length can begin to fully address a topic as comprehensive as cholesterol metabolism and the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. In fact, those of us who challenge conventional wisdom often find ourselves needing to do exactly what Frederic Bastiat suggested:

“We must admit that our opponents in this argument have a marked advantage over us. They need only a few words to set forth a half-truth; whereas, in order to show that it is a half-truth, we have to resort to long and arid dissertations.”

So, at the risk of trying to minimize the “long and arid” part of this process, below are the 10 things you need to know to be the judge – for yourself – if the conventional advice about cholesterol is correct.

1. The sine qua non of atherosclerosis is the presence of a sterol in an artery wall. How it gets there is the only thing we should be worrying about.

Contrary to popular belief, atherosclerosis is not caused by many of things we think of, such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol), or low HDL (the so-called “good” cholesterol). Some of these are certainly markers of risk – low HDL, for example – while others accelerate the process – smoking, for example – but none of these are the direct cause of atherosclerosis.

The sine qua non of atherosclerosis is the presence of sterols (cholesterol or phytosterol) in arterial wall macrophages. Sterols are delivered to the arterial wall by the penetration of the endothelium by an apoB-containing lipoprotein, which transport the sterols. In other words, unless an apoB-containing lipoprotein particle violates the border created by an endothelium cell and the layer it protects, the media layer, there is no way atherogenesis occurs. If this is a bit confusing, don’t worry. It’s all made clear below.

2. Cholesterol is vital for life; no cholesterol = no life.

Cholesterol is a 27-carbon molecule shown in the figure below. Each line in this figure represents a bond between two carbon atoms. That’s it. Mystery over.

All this talk about “cholesterol” and most people don’t actually know what it is. So, there you have it. Cholesterol is “just” another organic molecule in our body.

I need to make one distinction that will be very important later. Cholesterol, a steroid alcohol, can be “free” or “unesterified” (“UC” as we say, which stands for unesterified cholesterol) which is its active form, or it can exist in its “esterified” or storage form which we call a cholesterol ester (“CE”). The diagram below shows a free (i.e., UC) molecule of cholesterol. An esterified variant (i.e., CE) would have an “attachment” where the arrow is pointing to the hydroxyl group on carbon #3, aptly named the “esterification site.”

One of the biggest misconceptions is that cholesterol is “bad.” This could not be further from the truth. Cholesterol is very good! In fact, there are (fortunately rare) genetic disorders in which people cannot properly synthesize cholesterol. One such disease is Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (also called “SLOS,” or 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase deficiency) which is a metabolic and congenital disorder leading to a number of problems including autism, mental retardation, lack of muscle, and many others.

Cholesterol is absolutely vital for our existence. Every cell in our body is surrounded by a membrane. These membranes are largely responsible for fluidity and permeability, which essentially control how a cell moves, how it interacts with other cells, and how it transports “important” things in and out. Cholesterol is one of the main building blocks used to make cell membranes (in particular, the ever-important “lipid bilayer” of the cell membrane).

Beyond cholesterol’s role in allowing cells to even exist, it also serves an important role in the synthesis of vitamins and steroid hormones, including sex hormones and bile acids. Make sure you take a look at the picture of steroid hormones synthesis and compare it to that of cholesterol (above). If this comparison doesn’t convince you of the vital importance of cholesterol, nothing I say will.

One of the unfortunate results of the eternal need to simplify everything is that we (i.e., the medical establishment) have done the public a disservice by failing to communicate that there is no such thing as “bad” cholesterol or “good” cholesterol. All cholesterol is imperative for life to exist!

The only “bad” outcome is when cholesterol ends up inside of the wall of an artery, most famously the inside of a coronary artery or a carotid artery, AND leads to an inflammatory cascade which results in the obstruction of that artery (make sure you check out the pictures in the links above). When one measures cholesterol in the blood we really do not know the final destination of those cholesterol molecules!

3. The cholesterol we eat has little to do with the cholesterol we measure in our bloodstream.

We ingest (i.e., take in) cholesterol in many of the foods we eat and our body produces (“synthesizes”) cholesterol de novo from various precursors. About 25% of our daily “intake” of cholesterol – roughly 300 to 500 mg – comes from what we eat (called exogenous cholesterol), and the remaining 75% of our “intake” of cholesterol – roughly 800 to 1,200 mg – is made by our body (called endogenous production). To put these amounts in context, consider that total body stores of cholesterol are about 30 to 40 gm (i.e., 30,000 to 40,000 mg) and most of this resides within our cell membranes. Nearly every cell in the body can produce cholesterol, and thus very few cells actually require a delivery of cholesterol. Cholesterol is required by all cell membranes and to produce steroid hormones and bile acids.

Of this “made” or “synthesized” cholesterol, our liver synthesizes about 20% of it and the remaining 80% is synthesized by other cells in our bodies. The synthesis of cholesterol is a complex four-step process (with 37 individual steps) that I will not cover here, but I want to point out how tightly regulated this process is, with multiple feedback loops. In other words, the body works very hard (and very “smart”) to ensure cellular cholesterol levels are within a pretty narrow band (the overall process is called cholesterol homeostasis). Excess cellular cholesterol will crystalize and cause cellular apoptosis (programmed cell death). Plasma cholesterol levels (which is what clinicians measure with standard cholesterol tests) often have little to do with cellular cholesterol, especially artery cholesterol, which is what we really care about. For example, when cholesterol intake is decreased, the body will synthesize more cholesterol and/or absorb (i.e., recycle) more cholesterol from our gut. The way our body absorbs and regulates cholesterol is really amazing, so I want to spend a bit of time discussing it.

  • The blue circle in this figure represents something called a Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 protein (NPC1L1). It sits at the apical surface of enterocytes and it promotes active influx (i.e., bringing in) of gut luminal unesterified cholesterol (UC) as well as unesterified phytosterols into the enterocyte. Think of this NPC1L1 as the ticket-taker at the door of the bar (where the enterocyte is the “bar”); he lets most cholesterol (“people”) in. However, NPC1L1 cannot distinguish between cholesterol (“good people”) and phytosterol (“bad people” – for reasons I won’t discuss here) or even too much cholesterol (“too many people”).
  • The pink circle in this figure represents a structure called the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-binding cassette (ABC) transporters ABCG5 and ABCG8. This structure promotes active efflux (i.e., kicking out) of unesterified sterols (cholesterol and plant sterols – of which over 40 exist) from enterocytes back into the intestinal lumen for excretion. Think of ABCG5/G8 as the bouncer at the bar; he gets rid of the really bad people (e.g., phytosterols, as they serve no purpose in humans) you don’t want in the bar who snuck past the ticket-taker (NPC1L1). Of course, in cases of hyperabsorption (i.e., where the gut absorbs too much of a good thing) they can also efflux out un-needed cholesterol. Along this analogy, once too many “good people” get in the bar, fire laws are violated and some have to go. The enterocyte has “sterol-excess sensors” (a nuclear transcription factor called LXR) that do the monitoring, and these sensors activate the genes that regulate NPC1L1 and ABCG5/G8.

There is another nuance to this, which is where the CE versus UC distinction comes in:

  • Only free or unesterified cholesterol (UC) can be absorbed through gut enterocytes. In other words, cholesterol esters (CE) cannot be absorbed because of the bulky side chains they carry.
  • Much (> 50%) of the cholesterol we ingest from food is esterified (CE), hence we don’t actually absorb much, if any, exogenous cholesterol (i.e., cholesterol in food).
  • Furthermore, most of the unesterified cholesterol (UC) in our gut (on the order of about 85%) is actually of endogenous origin (meaning it was synthesized in bodily cells and returned to the liver), which ends up in the gut via biliary secretion and ultimately gets re-absorbed by the gut enterocyte. The liver is only able to efflux (send out via bile into the gut) UC, but not CE, from hepatocytes (liver cells) to the biliary system. Liver CE cannot be excreted into bile. So, if the liver is going to excrete CE into bile and ultimately the gut, it needs to de-esterify it using enzymes called cholesterol esterolases which can convert liver CE to UC.

4. The cholesterol in our bloodstream has little to do with the cholesterol in our artery walls (i.e., atherosclerosis).

To understand how cholesterol travels around our body requires some understanding of the distinction between hydrophobic and hydrophilic. A molecule is said to be hydrophobic (also called nonpolar) if it repels water, while a molecule is said to be hydrophilic (also called polar) if it attracts water. Think of your veins, arteries, and capillaries as the “waterways” or rivers of your body. Cholesterol is precious “cargo” that needs to move around, but it needs a “boat” to carry it.

The proteins that traffic collections of lipids are called apoproteins. Once bound to lipids they are called apolipoproteins, and the protein wrapped “vehicle” that transports the lipids are called lipoproteins. Many of you have probably heard this term before, but I’d like to ensure everyone really understands their important features. A crucial concept is that, for the most part, lipids go nowhere in the human body unless they are a passenger inside a protein wrapped vehicle called a lipoprotein. As their name suggests, lipoproteins are part lipid and part protein. They are mostly spherical structures which are held together by a phospholipid membrane (which, of course, contains free cholesterol). The figure below shows a schematic of a lipoprotein.

You will also notice variable-sized proteins on the surface of the lipid membrane that holds the structure together. The most important of these proteins are called apolipoproteins, as I alluded to above. The apolipoproteins on the surface of lipoprotein molecules serve several purposes including:

  1. Assisting in the structural integrity and solubility of the lipoprotein;
  2. Serving as co-factors in enzymatic reactions;
  3. Acting as ligands (i.e., structures that help with binding) for situations when the lipoprotein needs to interact with a receptor on a cell.

Apolipoproteins come in different shapes and sizes which determine their “class.” Without getting into the details of protein structure and folding, let me focus on two important classes: apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein B. ApoA-I is the apolipoprotein that wraps HDL particles. ApoB is the apolipoprotein that wraps VLDL, IDL, and LDL particles.

5. The only way sterols end up in artery walls – the one place we don’t want them to be – is if the sterols are carried there by an apoB-containing lipoprotein particle.

So what drives a LDL particle to do something as sinister as to leave the waterway (i.e., the bloodstream) and “illegally” try to park at a dock (i.e., behind an endothelial cell)? Well, it is a gradient driven process which is why particle number is the key driving parameter.

As it turns out, this is probably a slightly less important question than the next one: what causes the LDL particle to stay there? In the parlance of our metaphor, not only do we want to know why the boat leaves the waterway to illegally park in the dock with its precious cargo, but why does it stay parked there? This phenomenon is called “retention” in lipidology-speak.

Finally, if there was some way a LDL particle could violate the endothelium, AND be retained in the space behind the cell (away from the lumen on the side aptly called the sub-endothelial space) BUT not elicit an inflammatory (i.e., immune) response, would it matter?

I don’t know.  But it seems that not long after a LDL particle gets into the sub-endothelial space and takes up “illegal” residence (i.e., binds to arterial wall proteoglycans), it is subject to oxidative forces, and as one would expect an inflammatory response is initiated. The result is full blown mayhem. Immunologic gang warfare breaks out and cells called monocytes and macrophages and mast cells show up to investigate. When they arrive and find the LDL particle, they do all they can to remove it. In some cases, when there are few LDL particles, the normal immune response is successful. But, it’s a numbers game. When LDL particle invasion becomes incessant, even if the immune cells can remove some of them, it becomes a losing proposition and the actual immune response to the initial problem becomes chronic and maladaptive and expands into the space between the endothelium and the media.

The multiple-sterol-laden macrophages or foam cells coalesce, recruit smooth muscle cells, induce microvascularization, and before you know it complex, inflamed plaque occurs. Microhemorrhages and microthrombus formations occur within the plaque. Ultimately the growing plaque invades the arterial lumen or ruptures into the lumen inducing luminal thrombosis. Direct luminal encroachment by plaque expansion or thrombus formation causes the lumen of the artery to narrow, which may or may not cause ischemia.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of The Straight Dope on Cholesterol: 10 Things You Need to Know

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219 thoughts on “The Straight Dope on Cholesterol: 10 Things You Need to Know – Part 1”

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  1. Great post. Ive always wondered about the cholesterol in our bloodstream vs the cholesterol we eat. I had a pretty solid idea that they were not the same. I guess this post just confirms that for me. Love the eating academy also. It gets a little bit more into the science than MDA, but still gotta love them both.

    1. Well done for making a subject that probably needs a Phd to understand accesible to us!

      Something else to show my doctor who still cannot believe my cholesterol levels in view of what I eat!

      1. I agree. This is a great post. As someone whose blood cholesterol was super high and yet a heart scan showed absolutely no signs of a problem, I have read a huge amount of data including Peter’s site on this problem. Statins are the result of people not understanding and handing over their heart health to someone else so this kind of information is priceless.

      2. My doc can’t believe my cholesterol either… went from 204 pre-diet to 138 post… in 8 months! She actually demanded a diet recall, haha. Then had the nerve to ask me where the wheat and sugar were in my diet. It would be helpful if they had more than a 1/2 day of nutrition education in medical school.

  2. Actually, I can refute T. Colin Campbell’s half-lie in a few words- “Cholesterol rich foods are some of the healthiest foods you can eat.” It just might take long, arid dissertations to back that up.

    1. Amen to that John. I’ve eaten two eggs almost every day for the last 12 years. Cholesterol level between 155 and 157. It has reached that number primarily because of my love of fast food. Wendy’s, Burger King, etc. I lived on an island with no fast food places and my cholesterol was 127 despite the egg routine.

  3. I’ve been thinking I should do a cholesterol test just to see where I’m at but articles like this and the ones by Chris Masterjohn kind of confuse me on what to do with the information. If I just did a test at Walgreens would that give me any useful info?

    1. The original 10 part series had a pretty good rundown on what to do with the testing data & what it actually means. I’m guessing that Dr. Attia will touch on that in the next part of this summary.

  4. If T. Colin Campbell was even half the doctor he claims to be, why did he make such an erroneous statement that clearly can be defined by seemingly simple science?

    Additionally, how to we keep the boat from illegally parking in the first place? Perhaps this will be cleared up in a future post or maybe I missed it?

    1. To answer the first part of your question, refer to the old axiom, “Fifty percent of all doctors graduated in the lower half of their class, so they didn’t know much to begin with. The other half never bother to update their antiquated data base. They’re too busy making money.”

      A couple more things to remember (actually told to me by a doctor): “You don’t have to be smart to be a doctor; you just have to have a good memory.” And: “The only really healthy people are the ones who have never gone for a medical exam; if they had done so, the doctor would have surely found something ‘wrong’ with them.”

      These things aren’t true of all doctors, of course, but most of us have at least a few horror stories regarding visits to an MD.

      1. Coincidentally I had a chat with a Japanese friend yesterday (I live in Japan)who sounded concerned why I don’t go for regular medical check ups.
        I told him I am doing daily exercise and eating healthily. I am losing weight at the rate of average .15 kilos a day I am now 218 targeting 156. What can a doctor tell me ? only to lose weight and take pills for BP and Cholesterol.
        I had on two occasions ages 26 and 38 (in Australia) had duodenal ulcers which I was advised to take medications and avoid certain foods. I did neither and have never had an ulcer problem since. I am now a young 66 yo. I also was diagnosed (in UK) with having holes in my colon when I was 42 and was required to take medication for the rest of my life. I didn’t even pick up the prescription. 22 years later I had a colonoscopy and results were normal. Just goes to prove the healing powers inside each of us providing we have a healthy outlook and a positive mindset
        (Grok style of course :).

      2. Can I use your post above on my Facebook page? I can reference your blog or not say anything at all of where I got it! This is exactly what I have been trying to say to my fellow friends and family.

        1. In case you’ve not yet come across these good sources of info on cholesterol, check out the following:

          The Cholesterol Myth by Prof Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD

          The Great Cholesterol Con by Anthony Colpo (1497 medical references, examines major cholesterol studies, foreward by Dr Ravnskov)

          The Great Cholesterol Con by Dr Malcolm Kendrick MD

          Cholesterol and the French Paradox by Frank Cooper (naturopath and who has the genetic condition familial hypercholesterolaemia – permanently high cholesterol level)

          and http://www.thincs.org – The International Network of Cholesterol Sceptics (all members are medically qualified in some discipline or other)

          Google for articles using the terms cholesterol site:westonaprice.org

          and the Cholesterol & health site by Chris Masterjohn (PhD student specialising in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition):
          http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/

      3. It might just be due to a greater level of irresponsiblity, which according the Hippocratic ethic, is simply incompetence but I think it’s more likely, given the amount of effort and scholarship that is required in order to put together a study as exhaustive as Campbell’s “China Study,” that he is guilty of another indiscretion..and that is of the idea of putting his own personal politics ahead of medical truth.

        I believe that Campbell is simply an animal lover to the extreme and the “China Study” is simply his part in the ongoing war on animal cruelty, meat consumption and any other similarly alignned political belief that he adheres to. “Forks Over Knives” obviously expounds upon that platform.

    2. cause (and anyone please correct me) Dr Campbell is not and has never been a “practising” doctor with regular patients to cure etc etc. he is the head of a science research doctor-kind of operation and has massive investment in exactly the twisty little con he has played with the china data.

      he “sells” ongoing education and “plant-based nutrition” certification training and certificates so you can go on to con others in his esteemed name.

      so, half a doctor would be a generous estimation…

    3. Not sure what part II will bring, but I have heard that the endothelium can be “nicked” by high blood-sugar levels caused by excess starch/sugar consumption and/or diabetes. Here’s a link to several studies linking the 2: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=endothelial+inflammation+and+diabetes&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=K3Q-UK6pI-KEjALJu4E4&ved=0CBwQgQMwAA

      This causes the gaps that allow the sterols to enter the lumen and get lodged there. So I’m pretty sure this series of articles will wind up saying that as long as you avoid processed carbs/sugars, you won’t have to worry much about atherosclerosis…

      1. Correct…factors that “harm” the endothelium make this problem worse. Smoking and high blood pressure are two examples of forces that challenge the integrity of the endothelium and increase the probability of an apoB containing particle violating it.

        1. I seem to remember in Dr Mary Enig’s book “Know Your Fats” that she mentions the TYPE of fat consumed eventually comes to affect the quality of cell membranes throughout the body. More PUFAs and particularly trans fats make cells less pliable and more friable (my rewording btw! Dr Enig uses excellent scientific terminology) and so more likely to become damaged. This may be a part contributor to the “car crashing into the artery wall”.

        2. Peter,
          Does the parking of sterols inside endothelial walls initiate inflammation or is it the result of it? Or are both possible?

  5. Why do they only lodge themselves in the coronary and carotid arteries? Why not throughout the entire body? Why only are humans and the few animals that don’t make their own vitamin C affected?

    1. They can lodge in any artery; the author says they “most famously” lodge in the coronary and carotid arteries. Big difference.\

      1. OK, so “most famously” sounds like a cop out to me, like they don’t know or won’t address it. Never heard of anyone having a “leg attack” or “kidney attack”. Even if they do lodge in other places, my question remains, WHY do they “most famously” lodge in the coronary and carodid arteries??

        1. My mother has a stent in each femoral artery. She was experiencing numbness in her legs, got it checked out and found they were blocked.

          When blood flow is blocked to your legs they stop working. When blood flow is blocked to the heart, it stops working.

          You can live with legs that aren’t working.

        2. Do a search on “Peripheral Vascular Disease” or PVD. It’s poor circulation/infarction in your extremeties due to atherosclerosis.

        3. I recall hearing that it had to do with the fact that arteries have higher pressure and oxygenated blood. Perhaps the heart and neck arteries being especially high traffic, high pressure, high oxygen compared to the arteries that lie farther away from the lungs and heart. What do you think?

        4. Because it’s pretty noticeable when you die abruptly.

          So – lemme get this straight – you’re complaining that you’re not getting spoon-fed information in a digestible enough manner? This guy writes a freakishly long series about cholesterol and then, because he’s crazy passionate about sharing his knowledge with others, tries to condense it into 2 brief posts & you can’t be bothered to google “plaque in kidneys”? And then to top it off, you accuse him of ignorance and avoidance?

        5. People do have “strokes” in other parts of their bodies… I believe it’s called an infarction. IF it’s in your brain it’s called a stroke, if it’s your heart, it’s a heart attack, (myocardial infarction?) and if it’s somewhere else it’s an infarction… wasn’t Dr House from “House” a fictional eg of this?

          🙂

        6. Yes, both leg attacks (peripheral vascular disease) and kidney attacks (renal artery stenosis) are very common. Atherosclerosis can affect vascular beds anywhere, though the worst disease tends to occur in the areas of highest turbulence (which is why the carotid bifurcation is a common locus)

        7. JimB, I had the EXACT question! You’re right. Why don’t they get stuck in the femoral artery? Maybe they do and it’s easier for the body to deal with that? I hope we get an answer.

        8. This post help me understand something that happened to my grand father, almost 15 years ago. He had a ‘tongue stroke’ (infarctus de la langue) and trust me it made more than a few ‘chuckle’ but it’s true. At the time the doctors reported he was a very rare case, as in maybe 1 in 8 they had ever heard of.

    2. My understanding is that they do lodge in all arteries in the body. The coronary and carotid arteries are particularly important because blockage in the coronary artery results in a myocardial infarction (heart attack), while blockage of the carotid can result in a cerebrovascular accident (stroke).

    3. In some cases, they do lodge themselves in other vessels, hence peripheral vascular disease (PVD). They get “claudication” symptoms in their calves or thighs/buttocks usually, similar to angina in the chest. The vessels are larger, though, so symptoms generally show up later. It’s a BAAAAD thing.

    4. “Why only are humans and the few animals that don’t make their own vitamin C affected?”

      As I understand it:
      Not enough Vit C = ‘leaky blood vessels’
      Body makes cholesterol plaques to block the leaks.
      This causes blood vessels to stiffen and narrow – ‘atherosclerosis’.

      Enough vit C = healthy blood vessels = no leaks for body to plug.

      Check out the ‘Optimum Nutrition Bible’ by Patrick Holford for a more in-depth look at this phenomenon (‘m just reciting from what I remember reading). 🙂

  6. Great reading, all 5 times. But after 5 times, I think I have a layman’s understanding of the point. However, what seems to be missing is an instructive piece that would direct indicate what measures a person can take against having their sterols carried to their artery wall by an apoB-containing lipoprotein particle. How does one prevent that “illegal residence” from happening? Awaiting part II in the hope of an answer.

    1. John,

      The more LDL-P (LDL Particles) you have, the more tickets you have bought to the ‘apoB int he artery wall’ lottery.

      So you want to keep LDL-P low.

      LDL-C (LDL Cholesterol) is typically what is measured (or estimated) on a standard cholesterol test.

      If your LDL-P is big, then each one can carry lots of LDL-C, and a high LDL-C reading means nothing.

      If your LDL-P is small, then a high LDL-C means a high LDL-P, and that is frown town.

      What can you do about it? Eating low carb will decrease your Triglycerides and increase your LDL-P size.

    2. Based on the best available evidence, it seems there are 2 major steps to take:
      1. Reduce the number of boats. Fewer boats = lower probability of boats sneaking past the gate.

      2. Reduce factors that damage the endothelium (e.g., smoking, high blood pressure)

      While it is also highly likely that reducing inflammation plays a role, it’s not exactly clear this is sufficient in the absence of the other points. It might be — but it’s not demonstrated by the data.

    1. I LOVE The Eating Academy, but I have to have Wikipedia open to research words and terms I don’t understand when I read Peter’s posts. I really enjoy the science behind it all. Great stuff.

    2. Just read the headings, that is the layman’s version:

      1. The sine qua non of atherosclerosis is the presence of a sterol in an artery wall. How it gets there is the only thing we should be worrying about.

      2. Cholesterol is vital for life; no cholesterol = no life.

      3. The cholesterol we eat has little to do with the cholesterol we measure in our bloodstream.

      4. The cholesterol in our bloodstream has little to do with the cholesterol in our artery walls (i.e., atherosclerosis).

      5. The only way sterols end up in artery walls – the one place we don’t want them to be – is if the sterols are carried there by an apoB-containing lipoprotein particle.

      I can see 1. and 5. maybe needing a bit of translation:

      1. Hardening of the arteries is caused when sterols (including cholestorol) go where they are not supposed to, their mere presence in other places does not indicate any problems.

      5. We don’t know why they illegally park where they shouldn’t go. But it’s only an issue when too many people illegally park AND there aren’t enough tow trucks to remove them.

      1. Reply to 5 about cholesterol “parking” where it is not supposed to. It’s one one the nature’s jokes, I call it.

        I study inflammation (which is the ROOT of so many diseases and it seems it’s part of aging) and in Wikipedia there is an article about it and the arachidonic acid (ARA):
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arachidonic_acid

        ARA can be metabolized to both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules…

        In people who have some inflammation
        “it is being more readily converted to inflammatory compounds” while “does not appear to have proinflammatory effects in healthy individuals”….

        Another nature’s joke!!!

    3. I have condensed comic book versions of cholesterol that lays it down in in a more layman’s manner if you’re interested.

      LDL cholesterol comic:http://thefatnurse.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/cholesterol-for-all-ages/

      How HDL works comic:http://thefatnurse.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/hdl-for-all-ages/

      Cardiovascular markers comic: http://thefatnurse.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/cardiovascular-markers-for-all-ages/

      Even tho the material is presented in comic form they are still semi long reads tho!

  7. I read part 1-9 last week. He did a terrific job. Can’t wait for part 10 to be released. Haven’t found that on his site yet.

    More info can be found on lecturepad.org as well from the lipid gurus.

  8. Does the cholesterol content on food labels take into account esterified/unesterified cholesterol?

    1. Great question. I don’t know the answer, but I would shocked if it explicitly did. Most cholesterol we eat is, in fact, esterified (hence, most cholesterol we eat is not absorbed, since the esterification prevents absorption).

  9. I’m looking forward to reading this series – great way to break it down. I just had a conversation with a friend who told me that he gave up eggs for breakfast because his cholesterol was too high. Now I’ll have something to point him to that will back up my claims!

  10. Well, I’ve been following the Primal Blueprint for about a month and my total cholesterol has gone from 261 mg/dL to 208 mg/dL!! No statins and farm fresh eggs everday! Take that conventional wisdom!!

    1. Hi Laura,

      Those values are LDL-C. That’s how much cholesterol you have in each LDL particle (average value). This value is almost meaningless for predicting heart disease risk (it’s more a marker of insulin resistance and you have obviously improved along those lines). For heart disease, it’s the LDL-P particle number that’s important (i.e. how may particles you have). I’m sure Peter will clarify this, and dip into discordance, tomorrow. But if you want to jump the gun, check out his website. Kudos to you.

  11. I could fist pound you for mentioning Frederic Bastiat…brilliant Looking forward to the follow-ups.

  12. I hope to see an email from marks daily apple inviting paleoers to participate in detailed study- one that includes a questionnaire on diet history, exercise history and tests for artery build up. Please chime in if you’d volunteer or not. I would.

    Im new to this, so please forgive me and inform me if I’ve missed the extensive data comparing modern paleoers risk for heart disease to the general western population.

    1. Unfortunately, such a self-selected study would have little value. If it came out poorly, paleo advocates could (rightly) claim that the population was searching out an alternative because they were sick in the first place, and paleo critics could (possibly rightly) claim that the people who volunteered for the study are the ones who are most likely to already be healthy.

      Fortunately, Attia is working with Taubes on a non-profit called NuSci that will advocate the study of diet in detail in randomized, controlled conditions. The ancestral weight loss registry at http://www.awlr.org/ is the closest thing I know of to the data you’re talking about in the last paragraph.

    1. The majority of cholesterol in foods are esterified. That’s why we don’t absorb much of it. And that’s one of the reasons it doesn’t make much of a difference to cut down on cholesterol-rich foods. The other reason is cholesterol homeostasis–if you cut down in the amount of cholesterol you eat (it does contain some unesterified/free cholesterol), the body will produce more to compensate.

      Why bother worrying about it?

  13. Is there an animation to explain this? Or perhaps something like “eggs don’t cause this, your body will make cholesterol if you don’t eat it, do this to keep cholesterol from being an issue.” All I’m getting is some weird cellular malfunction making our immune system go all keystone cop berserk.

      1. ACH! still too hard! I’m sorry for deriding everyone who found the food pyramid too confusing!

        I guess it boils down to “what simple statement should I use as a guideline.” I know that’s what made people start blindly throwing out eggyolks, but I just hopped on the “eggyolks aren’t bad” wagon because they’re the point of eating eggs.

        1. The thing is – there are no shortcuts. There are no easy answers. The science on this stuff is REALLY hard. Nobody KNOWS much of anything with regard to the optimum human diet, and if they claim to they’re either lying or unwise, especially given human diversity.

          That said, some implementations of some theories seem to be working for some people. i.e. I think this is what you are looking for https://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/#axzz24xrcNJHg

          For me it boils down to
          a) stop eating refined foods, esp sugar
          b) minimize grains of any kind (less than 1 serving per day)
          c) maximize low intensity and some high intensity exercise
          d) eat the stuff that you (probably) thought was icky when you were 9 years old – vegetables, exotic cuts of meat, etc.

        2. Egg yolks are the best part of the egg! So sweet, smooth, and tasty!

  14. This is such a fantastic article. The subject of cholesterol is close to my heart (literally!) after being told to go on statins at the age of 48 as a result of super-high blood cholesterol. A heart scan showed zero signs of calcification but if I hadn’t done my research (thank you Dr Attia!) and left it at the blood test, I’d have been a lifelong drug-taker.

    This post is encouraging to me after reading yesterday the recommendation at a conference in Germany that statins should be given to all over-50s, regardless of their health history. Ugh.

    1. I think that’s all these companies want, a market for their pills. Doctors, unfortunately, buy into the scam.

      1. That’s because 85% of doctors get their “continuing education” from Big Pharma. Once they begin to practice, they are taught the latest “standard of care” from drug representatives. I should know, I work for Big Pharma and we have a huge team of reps that get extensive training on teaching doctors the latest in drug research, etc.

        Sad, but true. And that part is not going to change anytime soon. It works.

        1. RE: Pharma’s education to docs

          Have you seen well dressed people with bags in their hands walking to the doctor’s office? They are Pharma’s salespeople with samples of RXs to give away for free to patients.

          I heard that docs get kick-backs for prescribing RXs…

          I found a doc (functional medicine) that first tells you to take supplements, not RXs! I love that!

          I think, here is the order of “fixing” what’s wrong (and preventing)
          – diet
          – supplements
          – tests (this science is good)
          – RXs if nothing works and it’s serious

          The problem with diet is that our food is bad!!! Not everybody knows it. People trust the FDA and stores.
          Dr. Mercola (my mentor for over 10 years) writes about it often. Today he sent a HOPEFUL article:

          http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/01/growing-change-documentary-investigates-food-system.aspx?e_cid=20120901_DNL_artNew_1

          Eva

    2. The guy who recommended statins for all over-50’s has some links to the pharmaceutical industry.

  15. If I remember correctly from reading Chris Masterjohn’s posts, and others, “sheer pressure” (the pressure exerted on the artery wall as the blood pulses throuth them) makes the endothelium cells produce nitric oxide which helps to bind the endothelium cells together tighter. However, at a branch in the artery or a curve, the sheer pressure drops and, I belive, this is where plague is found most often. This is also why getting your heart rate up, intense exercise, helps, because it creates more sheer pressure, ergo, more nitric oxide.

    Chris Materjohn has also suggested that the LDL, which has a PUFA sheath, so to speak, can get oxidized if the LDL receptor sites are full or not functioning correctly and the LDL has to circulate in the blood too long. It’s the PUFA that gets oxidized and it causes a shrinkage in the size of the LDL, which may be a factor in slipping behind the endothelium cells.

    I haven’t gone back to verify this. I’m just pulling it out of my memory, but I pretty sure that’s correct.

    1. Excellent summary explanation and pretty sure your memory is bang on!

    2. It would be nice if Peter could comment on Chris’ interpretation. Chris seems to believe oxidation happens prior to entry into the endothelium, while Peter appears to believe it happens after. I’ve always been a “before” guy and that’s the only aspect of Peter’s theory I’m still having a difficult time wrapping my head around.

      However, if the strategy to decrease the oxidation is the same, then, for me, this is a rather moot point.

    3. I think that would be “shear” pressure, like in wind shear. Fluid mechanics lingo.

  16. I’m four months post bypass surgery at age 62. Active (4 to 6 triathlons / year)non smoker with LDL numbers a little above 100. ie no risk factors other than perhaps genetics. More than anyone I’d like to know the why as well. I have calcification up the wazoo and would like to understand why and do something about it.

    1. long duration aerobics have been found in recent studies to damage the right ventricle and create numerous inflammatory oxidative processes. Do short burst aerobics and resistance training, take curcumin & omega 3’s for inflammation and certainly the ubiquinol form of COQ10 (100 mg twice a day). If you take calcium supplements or ingest a fair amount of dairy you MUST take K1 & K2 to keep it out of your arteries.

  17. LOVE THE EATING ACADEMY – it is on my bookmark menu right next to MDA

  18. I’m still not convinced 100% I am still on the boat that its inflammation caused by oxidation or (whatever). THEN the cholesterol builds up to try and heal the inflammation… NO inflammation – no problems.

    I have a hard time believing Apo-B or small LDL “just happen” to get under the layer and start havoc.

    1. I’d like to read the rest of this series to see if this is clarified also. My understanding has been that there was damage to the endothelium prior to the ApoB lipos getting lodged there, and that damage could come from toxins like cigarette smoke, or even from viruses (hence some correlation between heart attacks and recent flu symptoms).

  19. I just got out if the hospital today. one artery was 99. something closed with atherosclerosis. had a stent put in, now I am on the plavix, this stent requires the plavix to stop clots from forming.

    now , I am not sure how to proceed, now how do I convince myself , my family , doctor that my lifestyle is ok? ( plus mos, primal and have not lost any weight , now have a stent? anyone else had this happen?

    1. I, too, have two stents since a year ago. Age 67, no “risk factors” other than genetic. Was told by family doctor and cardiologist that people with lipid profiles like mine don’t get these problems, but I did. Low carb diet for years. I’m taking a lot of vit-C now and arginine for vasodilation. Yes, also taking a statin now and the newest blood thinner.

    2. I’m not a doctor, so take this free musing for what it’s worth, but the first thing to note is that atherosclerosis, like cancer, is not an overnight thing. It’s a slow process over many years of inflammatory conditions. 9 months of living primal could not cure your heart disease any more than 9 months of stopping smoking could cure the lung cancer of a pack-a-day smoker. Once it’s gotten that bad, it’s going to take a long time and some drastic medical interventions to begin to heal. Primal living is a piece of that puzzle as you try to work toward restoring and healing your body as much as you can.

      You don’t elaborate on exactly what “9 months primal” means to you, either. Are you a quality-sleeping, sun-getting, organ-chowing, veggie packing, slow-moving, heavy-lifting, occasionally sprinting diehard? Or are you the guy trying to figure out how to “paleo” up his pancakes and muffins, who just replaced all those bread carbs with fruit carbs? If you’ve made all the right changes and have been dialed in for a long time, how have you been feeling independent of the (lack of) weight loss?

      Especially since you have these complicating medical issues, I think you could probably benefit from some more structured and hands-on expert help, such as engaging Robb Wolf’s team of consultants. We used them as a resource when trying to get a specific plan to manage my wife’s autoimmune disease. Their prices are pretty reasonable, especially compared to some of the expenses you’ll be facing on the hamster wheel of pharmaceutical heart maintenance.

      Good luck.

      1. Organ chowing? can you say more about that? was never big on liver since reading years ago that livers catch all the crap that an animal gets in its diet and other environmental exposures (as they are farmed). I do like a nice chicken liver marinated in curry spices and grilled, though.

  20. Uhhh… soooo…. can we get a more simple layman’s version of #5 which is the most crucial part to this series please! The paragraph that starts with “I don’t know” is very hard to understand, at least to me. What is he saying? The very last paragraph is ridiculous.

    1. Can you be more specific about what you don’t understand? It’s saying that your body doesn’t like having (chole)sterol particles in the arterial walls. The last paragraph is what your body does when this happens:

      Oversimplification: Basically, clean-up cells (kinda like white blood cells) are eating up the sterols, but they get stuck in the artery walls & pretty quickly, your body starts to build specialized tissue (inflammation/plaque) to protect the surrounding cells from the unwanted sterols. This plaque gets bigger and bigger until it starts to block the inside of the artery, and I think you know what happens from there.

      1. Thanks, I appreciate the “oversimplification” — what causes the sterols to get stuck there in the first place? If it’s NOT from eating cholesterol, which is what I’m gathering, then what causes it?

        Thanks again.

        1. I think the answer is nobody knows for sure. The leading theory is that the size and number of the LDL particles is more important than the amount of LDL stuff in your blood. The more saturated (high number of paticles) your blood is with LDL particles, the more it wants to leave your blood. Kind of like a damp sponge doesn’t leak much water, but a completely soaked sponge does.

          Something causes your body to make more cholesterol particles, rather than just bigger ones. Genetics obviously play a huge role here, but I think diet is as important – sugar and starch seem to encourage more cholesterol particles, whereas a fat based diet seems to encourage bigger particles.

          I think I stole this metaphor, but it’s like the cholesterol is people & the vehicles are the particles. If you can get everybody to ride the bus (big particles), you have less overall traffic than if everybody takes their own car (high number of particles).

          Please note that this all applies only to LDL particles. HDL particles is a whole ‘nother shebang.

        2. Hopefully part 2 will address this but I think inflammation is the answer.

  21. Great article I am excited for the follow ups. It does take a tremendous amount of information to change paradigms. As Mark Twain said: “a lie can travel around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

    1. I always thought that was a Churchill quote but after a quick bit of googling – From politicsdaily :-
      >>>>
      The chestnut that “a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on” sounds like Mark Twain, and he’s often cited (by politicians, no less) as the source. But British pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon really deserves the credit, and he appropriated it from a proverb in 1855 — when Sam Clemens was 20, well before he was Mark Twain.<<<

  22. Alright I give. I am either baffled by science or BS. The LC Primal way is definitely improving every thing I can measure, feel and understand so I’m going to bet (my life) that this is my best course of action. I certainly don’t trust the medical profession to know best. I had that much figured out when I was five.

    1. Love the Eating Academy & Dr. Attia’s posts. Since finding MDA in Feb this year and EA (under a different name) in May, I’ve been transitioning to LC/Primal and have lowered by total cholesterol by 25 points, my Triglycerides by 250pts and raised my HDLs by 40! Reading these posts makes me wish I had stuck it out with biology/chemistry in undergrad…

  23. Great post Mark , my mom is another great testimony of High Cholesterol and has a perfect heart .

  24. So, what’s wrong with eating 2-3 free-range eggs every day cooked with lard and coconut oil?

    I read that also Paleo/Primal gurus believe that eating eggs every day is not a smart decision.

    Why???

    Thanks,
    Michael

    1. Not sure if this is what the “Paleo/Primal Gurus” are referring to, but my husband and son have some food sensitivities, and the allergist we went to warned us against eating anything day after day, especially something like eggs which is a known allergen for many people. We recently went on vacation and had a whey shake with raw eggs for breakfast every day, but I try to keep them to every other day usually. My husband, who tested positive for egg sensitivity at one time, tries to limit them to every third or fourth day to try and avoid reactivating the sensitivity. Hope this helps, Michael.

      1. Egg whites contain lysozyme which is an enzyme that breaks down intestinal mucosa. It probably is the driver for the egg allergy people have. Although there are paleo folks that eat MANY eggs (I did 20/week at some opin in time) the availability of such large quantities in real paleolitic diet is disputed.

  25. In England today they have said on the news that everyone over 50 should be prescribed Statins regardless of whether they need them or not and that this would cut out 10,000 heart attacks a year. Wonder how many they would cut if everyone went primal.

    1. Absolutely! We should be taught to start with what we put into our bodies — our diet!! So many people have no clue that they hurt themselves and their children (who cannot know any better) by sugar-grain diet! I try to tell but get mixed results, some think I am crazy! “No bread? No potatoes? No ice cream? No soft drinks! The TV commercials say otherwise…”

      BTW: If FDA would declare sugar as “poison” which it it, the food industry and the whole economy would collapse… it is so sugar oriented…

  26. Thank you Mark for featuring Dr. Peter Attia! He has one of the best blogs out there.

    This post was a great example of a very scientific approach to a controversial topic with the right mix of analogies for the lay person to get the idea.

    AS a trainer, I battle the egg yolk phobics every day. I think Peter’s work can chip away at the status quo and start the paradigm shift that we need. I just want to eat my steak and eggs in peace!

    Everyone has opinions so thanks for taking on the good fight with scientific facts and intelligence.

    Looking forward to part two!

    1. I wonder if these medical reports that suggest eating no fat and only 4 eggs per week are based on factory farmed produce.
      ie. caged hens and cattle. Which are fed grain and injected with antibiotics and steroids causing the animals to become sick. Grok only ever ate free range and ate as much as he liked. I am eating my grass fed and free range steak and eggs in peace !

      1. Yes, yes yes!! This, absolutely. There is a world of difference between factory farmed and free range animal produce, and I’d bet anything that the free range stuff is many, many times healthier due to the way that the animals have been allowed to live their lives.

        Keep a creature in a tiny cage, bred and fed specifically to put on as much weight as possible in as short a time span as possible, while feeding it antibiotics etc. and you’re going to get a fat, stressed, unhealty animal with no natural immune system (not so different from the human cubicle farmers/office workers then!)

        Give animals space to behave naturally, breed and feed them for natural health without drugs and allow them to grow slowly until they’re big enough and old enough to slaughter and you’ve got much, much healthier creatures, producing much healthier meat.

        Slaughter itself should also be looked into, as right now far too many animals are killed badly and suffer greatly in the last few minutes of their lives, thus causing even more stress hormones to flood through their bodies and thus into the meat that we eat. It’s poison, essentially and nothing at all like what Grok would have been eating. I do concede that the chase and kill of the hunt would cause the same sort of stress response in the animals being hunted, but they wouldn’t have had a lifetime of suffering before the final kill…

        1. See also ‘Eating Animals’ by Johnathan Safran Foer. I think it should be compulsory reading for everyone (especiall Americans) who eats meat, as it gives you the facts on the horrors of the factory farming industry while allowing you to make up your own mind as to how to source your meat (if you continue to eat it – and I do).

        2. When I catch ants and bite their heads off quick, they taste alright. If I hold onto them like they aren’t food as they wriggle around then eat them, they usually don’t taste as good. Less like a little mineral pill in shell form that spits lemon juice and more like urine. It’s best not to hesitate and play with your food when you’ve got to kill it like cats that aren’t hungry and batter a creature into a broken toy. Remember when hunting you’re committing murder for nutrition. Better be respectful about it.

        3. A couple theories to explain why cats play with their catch is to tire it out to make the kill safe and easy or to get the animal full of adrenaline to tenderize its meat.

  27. I have low testosterone and my cholesterol is really low 120, correlation? I try to get it up to about 180 or so no avail.

  28. cliff, I have a stent and my cardiologist lets me now take Nattokinase to thin my blood and also no wheat allowed. Things are much improved and I feel great. And arteries and heart was clean at last look.
    Ask them what to do to get off prescripts.

    1. I am 41yo male recently had a ‘drug eluting stent’ placed in my LAD, Promus Element Plus from Boston Scientific, and I have been prescribed 75 Plavix with 81 aspirin every day. How can I transition off of this to Nattokinase?
      Or who is your cardiologist? I desperately need suppport in doing this?

  29. I don’t want to have a stint with a stent…are all these folks with stents short term PBers? Or Longterm?

  30. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the “Pauling Protocol.” The vitamin regimen Linus Pauling (2 time nobel prize winner in bio-chemistry) as an absolute cure hor heart disease. He seemed to explain the accumulation of these lipids as being caused by a lack of Vitamin c and the amino acid Lysine, which when levels are low, the body must use inferior substances to heal wear and tear in the vascular system. Pretty simple program; 4-6 grams vitamin c, 2-3 grams lysine, and if you want, 1-2 grams of proline per day. Do a web search on it. pretty fascinating. I’ve been following it for years. I’m 48 and have been very active my whole life, and avoid doctors except the Emergency room! The navy did give me my cholesteral readings a few years ago. I was very high in HDL, and low in ldl’s, with a total near 200. since hdl’s are good for the system, I didn’t worry one bit about the over all total level.

    1. I eluded to it in an earlier post on here, but I’m glad you mentioned it. Baffles me how this potential cure for the #1 killer is all but ignored, just because there’s no big pharma money in it for anyone!

    2. If you are concerned, Louis, check your thyroid functions.
      Good luck,
      Eva

  31. Complex.. confusing. I’ll just eat some more cod liver in cod liver oil getting almost 100g fat a can and be satisfied.

  32. Great post!! My father suffered a heart attack a few months ago and he’s paranoid about cholesterol (per doctor’s orders). I’ve almost given up arguing with him about it but maybe this will finally help him.

  33. Not too many young people need to be concerned about this – what I mean is, there are too many “seniors” in the world already. Postponing death is not good for the economy, and a tremendous waste of resources that could feed future generations.

    1. When 40+ year old men die from heart attacks, they leave dependents without a parent and provider. And I’m sad that my little daughter has no grandpas to dote on her–she would have loved them. Old people rock. My mother is inactive and her health has greatly declined in the two years since retirement, because she devoted herself to TV watching. I would have preferred that she take care of herself, because a healthy and fully-alive elder would be a great plus to my family and community. Instead, her poor health has become a worry and I’m already mourning the loss of my zippy mum. This isn’t about living forever, but about living a full life between the start and ending of it, and giving our people the best of ourselves.

    2. You are right for so many reasons, and you are wrong for so many reasons.

    3. This reply is to:
      “Not too many young people need to be concerned about this – what I mean is, there are too many “seniors” in the world already. Postponing death is not good for the economy, and a tremendous waste of resources that could feed future generations.”

      YOU WILL BE A “SENIOR” TOO…

  34. I have some weird results.

    My ApoB-100 is 94 which is good.

    My particle count is 1500 which is bad.

    Which is the more important measure?

  35. I am very interested to see what the next post says. It is my understanding that the reason insulin resistance is an underlining cause of heart attacks is because much like epithelial cells, the endothelium of the arteries will never become insulin resistant. Therefore, as the muscles, liver, and other cells become insulin resistant the epithelial cells and the endothelium in the arteries takes a massive dose of anabolic insulin. This initiates inflammation and oxidative dammage thus causes a massive surge of cholesterol to be brought into the area to start rebuilding cells. Blaming cholesterol for heart attacks is therefore akin to blaming fire trucks for fires.

  36. This post could probably also be entitled “Cholesterol: 10 things your doctor probably doesn’t know”

  37. Everyone go to eatingacademy.com and study Dr. Attia’s series on cholesterol. It will take you some time, but it’s great information.

  38. I noticed a few posters mentioning their cholesterol numbers.After reading the article,it seems that 120 or 295 would have no difference on whether the person has or would develop coronary artery disease.Am I wrong?

    1. You are mostly correct, Butch. It’s the LDL-P number that matters most. Whether one’s LDL-C is in the range you quote is not as predictive. As a matter of fact, whether one’s LDL is dense or fluffy is also not as predictive as LDL-P.

  39. More than a decade ago, Life Extension Magazine was touting c-reactive proteing (CRP) tests — if your CRP was low and showed no inflamation than your high cholesterol was irrelevant. If it the test was high, this MIGHT be an indicator that you have inflamation of the arteries which might be caused by cholesterol in which case you ought to be treating the cholesterol as a problem.

    a high CRP could be a symptom of something else as well, but if you are all clear on the CRP, well, there may be no need for the statins.

    1. I have very high cholesterol (~300 for overall number); it’s a genetic thing that we Finns sometimes inherit. But my HDL is super-high and my CRP test showed no inflammation. A cardiologist at UCSF looked at my numbers and said “Despite the high overall number, you’re clean. No arterial plaque, etc. No worries.”

      He said if I was worried about the overall number to take high-dose Niacin- about 1000mg a day, the kind that makes you flush. When I do that regularly, my overall level goes down to ~136, if not, it goes up. I’m not sure forcing it down is doing that much for me.

      Looking forward to more of this series!

      1. Hi Bonzo,

        Have you checked your thyroid?
        I posted here somewhere about the connection between cholesterol and thyroid.
        Search these three pages for ‘thyroid.’
        Eva

  40. Can you believe that the UK Government are actually considering prescribing statins to all over 50s even if they’re healthy??

      1. Yes, he will send his army of underground gnomes to kidnap us all and inject us with statins. Better put on your aluminum foil hat to block their mind-beams so they don’t get you!

        1. I would not mind if FDA would declare sugar to be a poison which it is and modify its food pyramid to also exclude all grains! But then the whole economy would really collapse!!!

        2. In Germany before WW2 women were FORCIBLY sterilized if there were any mental diseases in the their genetic line…
          Google it. We need to be vigilant not to allow too much power over us…

        3. Maybe not by this drastic way but
          1. by making you believing it’s good for you
          2. by lowering your taxes or insurance rates if you take statins (can be measured in your blood probably – as proof) — economic methods…
          3. by some other diabolic way we cannot even imagine…

        4. I can assure you, Eva, that the women were FORCIBLY sterilized in the US too and after WWII. Ah, my knowledge didn’t come from google.
          But you might want to check negative eugenics for example, to see who was pushing it.

        5. My “hee, hee, hee” was of course a response to Bonzo’s “gnomes.”

        6. Oh, Bonzo,
          So, are you a survivor of socialized medicine? How are you doing there? You must be lonely there after all the devastation caused by socialized medicine.

        7. anna5, I was poking fun at the idea that anyone will be forced to do anything by Obamacare, or any other socialized medicine program. I am 100% in support of socialized medicine. Sorry if my attempt at humor didn’t make that clear.

          I’d rather that people left politics out of their comments. I love the info sharing and support of the readers here, and political jabs are a distraction from that.

        8. Reply to:
          “I’d rather that people left politics out of their comments. I love the info sharing and support of the readers here, and political jabs are a distraction from that.”

          Unfortunately. Obamacare and socialized medicine ARE highly political issues!
          Our (U.S.A at least) entire food is politically motivated and subject to politics.
          Sorry for this grim view… just reality!
          I do not like it either!
          Eva

        9. I meant “food industry” is politically motivated and subject to politics…
          I am working today…busy…

        10. Bonzo,
          I understood what you were saying, but I probably jumped wrongly to the conclusion that you LIVE in Finland and are a “survivor” of European “socialized” medicine. I am of course all for universal health care.
          I apologize for not being clear.
          I am a political junkie, but it’s Eva who brought her absurd agenda here.

        11. Reply to: “I can assure you, Eva, that the women were FORCIBLY sterilized in the US too and after WWII. Ah, my knowledge didn’t come from google.
          But you might want to check negative eugenics for example, to see who was pushing it.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

          Ann5, thanks for the info… I had no idea…
          I found in Wikipedia an article (with 73 bibliographical references) titled
          “Eugenics in the United States” that says: “Eugenics, the social movement
          claiming to improve the genetic features of human populations through
          selective breeding and sterilization,[1]

          In 1907, Indiana passed the first eugenics-based compulsory sterilization law
          in the world.

          Eugenicists therefore predominately targeted women in their efforts to
          regulate the birth rate, to “protect” white racial health, and weed out
          the “defectives” of society.[25]

          After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States,
          it spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature
          promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German
          scientists and medical professionals.[61] By 1933, California had subjected
          more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined.
          The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired
          by California’s.[7]

          The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case that the state
          of Virginia could sterilize those it thought unfit.”–end of quotes

          WOW! My answer to Ann5: I see it’s the government so we are in agreement.
          That’s what I am saying too…

          I see this horrifying ideology may be still alive. Someone* in this blog wrote:
          “Not too many young people need to be concerned about this [cholesterol]
          – what I mean is, there are too many “seniors” in the world already.
          Postponing death is not good for the economy, and a tremendous waste of
          resources that could feed future generations.”

          However, Paul Ryan, vice president candidate, in his speech during the
          recent Republican National Convention (2012.08.30) said that a quality society
          protects the weak and those who cannot protect themselves. There is hope,
          hope that we can be in imperfect health but be allowed to live and practice
          our Primal way of life!

          P.S.1
          *Reply to this person: “Are you planning on committing a suicide at 60 or 65 not to burden the society?”

          P.S.2
          Thank you, Paul, for bringing to our attention the U.K. statin case.

          P.S.3
          Eugenics still practiced widely today.
          In China women are forced or coerced to have abortions if the child has the
          wrong chromosomes. Parents are offered a test for various genetic diseases,
          such as down syndrome, and the doctor explains if the baby has the disease,
          there is no treatment. Parents get the tests in case they want to “intervene,”
          which is a euphemism for having an abortion.

          Now there are many genetic tests for diseases, and soon there will be tests
          for eye color, athletic performance, and intelligence and will be “CHOICES”…

          Eva

        12. Reply to others and ann5: “I can assure you, Eva, that the women were FORCIBLY sterilized in the US too and after WWII. Ah, my knowledge didn’t come from google.
          But you might want to check negative eugenics for example, to see who was pushing it.”

          Ann5, thanks for the info… I had no idea…
          I found in Wikipedia an article (with 73 bibliographical references) titled
          “Eugenics in the United States” that says: “Eugenics, the social movement
          claiming to improve the genetic features of human populations through
          selective breeding and sterilization,[1]

          In 1907, Indiana passed the first eugenics-based compulsory sterilization law
          in the world.

          Eugenicists therefore predominately targeted women in their efforts to
          regulate the birth rate, to “protect” white racial health, and weed out
          the “defectives” of society.[25]

          After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States,
          it spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature
          promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German
          scientists and medical professionals.[61] By 1933, California had subjected
          more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined.
          The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired
          by California’s.[7]

          The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case that the state
          of Virginia could sterilize those it thought unfit.”–end of quotes

          WOW! My answer to Ann5: I see it’s the government so we are in agreement.
          That’s what I am saying too…

          I see this horrifying ideology may be still alive. Someone* in this blog wrote:
          “Not too many young people need to be concerned about this [cholesterol]
          – what I mean is, there are too many “seniors” in the world already.
          Postponing death is not good for the economy, and a tremendous waste of
          resources that could feed future generations.”

          However, Paul Ryan, vice president candidate, in his speech during the
          recent Republican National Convention (2012.08.30) said that a quality society
          protects the weak and those who cannot protect themselves. There is hope,
          hope that we can be in imperfect health but be allowed to live and practice
          our Primal way of life!

          P.S.1
          *Reply to this person: “Are you planning on committing a suicide at 60 or 65
          not to burden the society?”

          P.S.2
          Thank you, Paul, for bringing to our attention the U.K. statin case.

          P.S.3
          Eugenics still practiced widely today.
          In China women are forced or coerced to have abortions if the child has the
          wrong chromosomes. Parents are offered a test for various genetic diseases,
          such as down syndrome, and the doctor explains if the baby has the disease,
          there is no treatment. Parents get the tests in case they want to “intervene,”
          which is a euphemism for having an abortion.

          Now there are many genetic tests for diseases, and soon there will be tests
          for eye color, athletic performance, and intelligence and will be “CHOICES”…

          Eva

      2. I’d just like to point out that here in the UK, with the NHS, we still have a CHOICE as to whether we access/use the treatments recommended to us by our FREE GPs. We’re not forced to take drugs we don’t want. We may be recommeded to do so, but we have every right to not pick up the prescription if we don’t want to, and we have every right to look for alternative treatment if we want, including via private health insurance.

        FREE HEALTHCARE is NOT evil, bad or wrong in any way. Instead it allows millions of people who are otherwise too poor to access the same level of care as everyone else in their society.

        1. What if Obamacare will issue a MANDATE for us to take statin or anything else?
          There is no end of intrusion when it starts…

        2. ObamaCare is NOT for free. All U.S. citizens MUST buy health insurance or PAY A FINE!!! So poor people will still NOT HAVE it!
          Hope it will be abolished!!
          Unbelievable that a government would force its people to buy anything and punish if you do not!!!

          This may be just a beginning of the intrusion! This country used to be an oasis of freedom that attracted all of us, newcomers…

      3. So, Eva, I understand that you are not a teenager. Are you going to decline Medicare when eligible or if you are over 65 you are not on this “socialized” medicine?

  41. I have read about a theory on vitamin c and heart disease. It states the LDL is recruited there to repair damage of a low level type of scurvvy (from the lack of vitamin c (and therefore a weaker cartilidge that makes up the artery)
    . After the arteries start to crack from the scurvvy
    The cholesterol acts as a band aid.

  42. Hello from Australia…
    Thanks for the science!
    As someone with a Masters in Health Science, much appreciated (even if I skipped a few paragraphs!)

    I’ve been Primal for 10 months now and read here every day, but this is my first post!

    My understanding of the cause of atherosclerosis was the inflammation in the endothelium caused by the scratching and irruption of sugar molecules and PUFA’s. And that cholesterol was there for repair of that damage.
    But this article is saying that it might not be that simple? (if fact we don’t know why?)

    Side note: I have put a number of my patients onto Primal/Paleo (that I often refer to as an anti-inflammatory diet) and the overwhelming palpatory sense in the arteries is one of smoothness and loss of turbulence in blood flow. Its quite amazing! I can even tell when they have fallen off the wagon without them telling me just by palpating the quality of blood dynamics.

  43. Thank you so much for sharing this info. I have been battling people who are saying I’m killing myself for eating eggs and red meat even though they can’t tell me why. Now Ill just direct them to this post.

    Maybe I can figure out a small slideshow presentation or a few diagrams that I can write on the wall if they ask me. Then it can be all like “believe me or I will bore you to death with scientific fact!”.

  44. Thanks for the great work Peter and Mark. Apo-b and total particles may not be as important a risk factor on ancestral and or low-carb diets.

    I think we need to completely rewrite the book on cholesterol and lipoproteins. All current scientific evidence regarding cholesterol is based on standard American diets and or low fat diets.

    As a family physician I have seen the following results. On low-carb and or ancestral diets all metabolic parameters improve such as glucose, insulin, crp, HgA1c, etc. Triglyceride/HDL ratio improves, ldl particle size improve to the fluffy buoyant variety. And yet in some we do see Apo-B and or LDL particles increase, just like we have seen the classic rise in total LDL-C. Does that mean that this rise is a bad thing, probably not.

    To focus on Apo-b and LDL-p as the single most important cholesterol marker is making the same mistake mainstream medicine has been telling us for years, that low-carb diets will kill you because it raises cholesterol

    Jeff Gerber Md – Denver’s Diet Doctor

    1. I attended Peter Attia’s cholesterol lecture at the Ancestral Health Symposium, and there was a lively discussion afterwards about this very subject. My lipid numbers and ratios are all stellar except for high LDL and high Apo-B, and there seem to be a number of paleo and/or low-carb eaters in similar situations (Jimmy Moore included). Whether this means we are at increased risk remains to be seen.

  45. Luckily, I have a doctorate in physical therapy so I’m able to follow. Great post as usal, Mark. Also +1 on the Bastiat quote. Will be looking foward to post #2.

  46. Read a few lines of the article. I don’t care.

    Just focus on the solutions.

  47. do doctors know this? or, are they all pimps for the pharma companies..?

  48. “a lie can travel half-way round the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on”.

    One condition where you really want lots of dietary cholesterol is Hepatitis C, especially genotype 3.
    The viral strategy is to lower hepatic cholesterol production (while increasing HMG-CoA reductase activity), in an attempt to monopolize LDL-receptors for LDL-associated HCV virions.
    Low cholesterol or LDL is not a good thing in HCV infection.
    Dietary cholesterol inhibits hepatic HMG-CoA reductase, replenishes cholesterol, and works against the viral strategy.
    I go into more detail here:
    http://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/recent-blood-tests-hcv-genotype-3-and.html

  49. I knew a PhD in physiology would come in handy one day haha This reminded me of biochem classes during my Uni days…the science was clear, but then I’d go straight to health or nutrition class and be told that cholesterol is the mother of all evil (funny how science classes within the same University and even department can teach totally conflicting messages?!)

  50. Great article! Peter.

    I have to agree that cholesterol has been unduly maligned. It is a integral part of cell membranes and is vital for life. A more important factor for atherosclerosis is inflammation which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Importantly, physical activity and exercise can decrease inflammation and decrease risk of cardiovascular disease and aging, more so than cholesterol:

    http://drsamgirgis.com/2012/08/14/physical-activity-decreases-inflammatory-markers-associated-with-cardiovascular-disease-and-aging/

  51. Whether you believe they come from a god or just ‘are’, these ultra-complex, finely balanced microscopic processes of life are awe-inspiring: designs perfected over aeons in what, until recently, was our natural environment. Good to be reminded of the wonder of it all!

  52. I am 50 with arteriosclerosis (calcification ), hate the thought of being on statins and want to get off. Once this calcification is there can it be removed/dissolved???

    1. Erica, take vitamin K2 and/or eat Natto.
      BTW, my knowledge in this area is limited, so do research.

  53. I have also been wondering about eggs and cholesterol. The latest advice from the British Heart Foundation is to eat them in abundance.

  54. These are the articles I want to read: facts, real results of real researches. I’m looking forward to reading the second part.

    This is GOOD stuff. Please more!

    1. From the article, it seems that this recommendation is not the LAW yet but it may be if the government takes over our healthcare in this country, see Obamacare!

      1. Yes, Eva, you are so right.
        They are all dead there. No people in Sweden, no people in France (wow, Champs-Élysées can be mine), no people in Canada, etc.
        Horror, horror everywhere.

        1. I lived in socialized medicine country for 30 years and you would not like it. To get care, you would need to bribe a doctor!

          Choices and de-centralization of decision making are safe…
          When there is no competition and fee enterprise, nothing works…

        2. And which socialized medicine country do you have in mind, Eva? The former Soviet Soviet Union, by any chance? East Germany? Is it possible that there are structural differences between the FSU and let’s say … France?

        3. “When there is no competition and fee enterprise, nothing works…”
          Yes, Eva, some of us (I hope most) need this high quality lecture. Yeah. Sure.
          dr anna

        4. dr anna,
          You caught me on dropping the R. It was to be “free enterprise,” of course…
          You knew what I meant.

          Most people would agree it’s true that a competition (see Olympics) and free enterprise (see the last 200 years in this country alone) are the most dynamic force in any activity… in health care or elsewhere…
          And we all benefit from it.
          :=)
          Eva

        5. “Most people would agree it’s true that a competition (see Olympics) and free enterprise (see the last 200 years in this country alone) are the most dynamic force in any activity… in health care or elsewhere…
          And we all benefit from it.
          :=)”
          Yeah, life is simple. Eva, can I recommend that you open some decent book of history before … babbling?
          Yes, I can see the last 200. Hmmm – yes, I see slavery (it was free enterprise), elimination of many Indian tribes (as part of free enterprise), extermination of a significant portion of every immigration group in the past (before the New Deal) and increasingly again ( after the New Deal), etc.
          How people can spend their lives on the level of propaganda and demagoguery is beyond me.

      2. To repeat my comment:

        I’d just like to point out that here in the UK, with the NHS, we still have a CHOICE as to whether we access/use the treatments recommended to us by our FREE GPs. We’re not forced to take drugs we don’t want. We may be recommeded to do so, but we have every right to not pick up the prescription if we don’t want to, and we have every right to look for alternative treatment if we want, including via private health insurance.

        FREE HEALTHCARE is NOT evil, bad or wrong in any way. Instead it allows millions of people who are otherwise too poor to access the same level of care as everyone else in their society.

      3. Eva,

        Please cease and desist with the Obamacare. Go to a political blog. This is not the place, and it is becoming annoying.

  55. Thank you, Mark, for a well written explanation of the cholesterol scam. I always try to calm our patients down following their primary care doctor diagnosing them with elevated total or LDL cholesterol levels. Endothelial damage from lipid oxidation is the demon, rather than arterial plaque deposition of cholesterol. Cholesterol is merely the patching material to repair oxidation. Homocysteine, an amino acid present at the site of oxidation is really the villain. The problem is that the pharmaceutical industry does not have a homocysteine lowering drug, but they do have statin class of drugs which blocks the liver’s production of cholesterol. Every hormone made in the body is based on cholesterol, which is why liver enzyme status is monitored so closely. It is better to regiment your diet with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to reduce free radical damage.

    1. Thanks Marc- this is useful advice. I’m going to look for research on homocysteine now- appreciate the tip!

    2. Apparently the vitamins B are the ticket for scrubbing homocysteine – particularly B6, B12 and folic acid (although taking the whole vitamin B complex is probably a good idea.. there are a couple of the B’s that can cause a deficiency if one is taken to excess without the other (I think the pair is B3 and B6, but check this, I’m going from memory).

  56. Great article, I’ve learned a lot here. Every hormone, food and everything has 2 sides and a lot more functions than people are aware of.

  57. Hey, we can half truth it too! Anything which wasn’t eaten 60k years ago is unhealthy. See? It’s half right but completely excludes things like kombucha and cod liver oil.

  58. I am hearing mixed messages. On one hand, cholesterol is not bad, it is good. On the other hand, I see many articles here on how to lower cholesterol. So if it is not bad, why worry about lowering it? See how confusing this is?

  59. I just found this out and wanted to share. High cholesterol MAYBE due to the thyroid dysfunction. See below:

    “Fewer than half of the adults who had been diagnosed with high cholesterol know if they had ever been tested for thyroid disease, despite the well-documented connection between the two conditions.

    Ninety percent of those surveyed were unaware of the thyroid gland’s impact on cholesterol regulation.

    According to AACE President Richard A. Dickey, M.D., “Patients who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol should ask their physician about having their thyroid checked. If they have an underlying thyroid condition in addition to their high cholesterol, the cholesterol problem will be difficult to control until normal levels of thyroid hormone are restored.”

  60. Just found out and want to share.
    High cholesterol MAY BE due to the thyroid malfunctioning. See below:

    “Fewer than half of the adults who had been diagnosed with high cholesterol know if they had ever been tested for thyroid disease, despite the well-documented connection between the two conditions.

    Ninety percent of those surveyed were unaware of the thyroid gland’s impact on cholesterol regulation.

    According to AACE President Richard A. Dickey, M.D., “Patients who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol should ask their physician about having their thyroid checked. If they have an underlying thyroid condition in addition to their high cholesterol, the cholesterol problem will be difficult to control until normal levels of thyroid hormone are restored.”

    1. You bring up a good point. Someone else in the paleo blogosphere wrote a thorough write-up on the that and the mechanism is roughly as follows. Not enough iodine -> Low thyroid activity -> LDL receptors don’t absorb the LDL particles in your bloodstream -> LDL particles stay in the blood longer, giving a larger LDL number on your blood test, lowering bile acid production and digestion, lowering sex hormone production and libido

      Eat your seaweed or get enough iodine any way you can.

      1. I know about iodine and just tested this theory on my relative and it did not work. We suspect the Hashimoto’s disease in which case when the thyroid gland is damaged, no stimilation will help, unfortunately… We will do more tests:
        -antibodies against thyroglobulin (TG) and
        – thyroid peroxidase (TPO),
        both detected via blood test.

        If positive, then only taking RX is an option: either the synthetic thyroid hormone or from a pig thyroid called Armour Thyroid. There are no side effects from either but a patient must be monitored by a simply blood test for TSH (or also for T3 and T4 hormones) at least every 6 months. VERY important!

        I would pick the natural RX but the only problem with it that the amount of the thyroid hormone is NOT precisely accurate in the pig derivative…

  61. I would very much like to see a study of smokers who exercise and follow a paleo/ PBP diet.

    1. Reply to:
      “I would very much like to see a study of smokers who exercise and follow a paleo/ PBP diet.”

      Do these people exist? Can even smokers exercise? They probably cannot get up the stairs (after some time of smoking)!! If you you are paleo, you will not put these harmful chemicals into your body understanding how it works, right?

      I have a daughter who started smoking at 14 and there was nothing we could do. Now she is 28 with a thyroid problem. Of course, we do not know if smoking have caused it but I always say to her: NOBODY CAN BE HEALTHY WHILE PUMPING TOXINS INTO HIS/HER BODY, period.”

  62. I tend to differ slightly on meats that are high in cholesterol. If an animal has high cholesterol from being grainfed the meat contains many toxins. Therefore meats high in cholesterol should be avoided because of the toxins, not the cholesterol. Like humans, the cholesterol is an indicator the animal is not healthy and should not be consumed.

  63. I was diagnosed with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis about 12 years ago, an autoimmune disease that causes fibrosis of the small bile ducts. My gastro doc tells me that this causes my liver to not metabolize cholesterol well, causing me to have a relatively high (230) blood cholesterol level. I have been resisting his advice to go on statins. I always thought I was a healthy eater, but until recently ate a lot of grains. Does anyone know the relationship between liver disease and artherosclerosis, and whether the cholesterol that is spit out by my liver into my bloodstream really makes a difference? Does the fact that I obviously have issues with inflammation make me more prone to plaque buildup? Any links to research on this would be appreciated.

    1. Check out the med references in WHEAT BELLY about grains’ impact on insulin metabolism and cholesterol, among other things. Lots of grains = carbo overload = mucked up metabolism.

    2. I doubt if your gastro doc recommended your thyroid check. Did he? Let me know, please.

      I have a problem with so many docs. They do not see beyond their specialty.
      We need more like Dr. Mercola who has been my mentor for over a decade.

      Eva

  64. Great info! But not an easy read. I gotta bookmark this baby and come back and study!

  65. Awesome post as always. Now I have to go and translate this to my father who has a very high cholesterol. Finally I can’t tell him not to be afraid of eggs.

  66. So the medical/pharmacological dictate is based on lies, so we can’t trust them, nor can we trust our doctors, who are forced to practice according to these lying and false dictates. So we have to learn more than the doctors are taught, ignore the doctors advice, and learn the truth through long and arid dissertations. Well, I’ll try my best, but I did not take organic chemistry and this stuff makes my head hurt.

    What my pea brain can understand is that if you are over 50 and have a lower than normal serum cholesterol level, you have a higher chance of dying from heart disease. That fact alone tells me they (big pharma/medicine) are up to no good and don’t have my best interests at heart, despite what they say. Thanks for the information. This heavy lifting is harder than the pullups – HA!

  67. Lecithin (the solvent for cholesterol)and magnesium are the key to preventing artery disease. A protocol of calcium, magnesium, and lecithin will clean out your arteries like several of my friends have proved, and one verified with an angiogram. See Adel Davis’: Let’s Get Well. The body plugs the leaks with cholesterol, and lecithin gradually removes it. If you aren’t getting enough, the body covers the lesion with calcium.

  68. Very interesting material… I’ll forward to some friends and family who will neither read it nor listen when I discuss it… hey, I tried.

    Thanks to Stickwick from VP blog for recommending this place… I can see there’s a lot of good info to absorb here.

    For those trying to bring politics into this, allow me to offer a reality check. The powerful elites will do whatever they decide to do and the ignorant masses will praise their “vision” and “leadership” while marching into the mass graves, pill bottles in hand… you can do NOTHING to change that.
    Stay on point about the nutrition issues and focus on living as well as you’re allowed to, then dying honorably. Everything else is a waste of effort.

  69. Like I pointed out before, cholesterol level has to do with our thyroid
    function. Therefore, when cholesterol is elevated, it is a good idea to check
    what thyroid’s numbers are (TSH, T3 and T4).

    But there is more to it. All our systems are connected and depend on
    each other. Now, the thyroid health relies on our digestive system:
    gut and liver in particular.

    I get emails from a lady who is not an M.D, but calls herself a “thyroid
    coach” and knows this topic. I do not know her personally.
    She sent me a link to her new Video Class #1, where you will learn:

    The role of the digestive system in thyroid health.
    What digestive issues you should be worried about.
    What the liver does for your thyroid.
    How to know if you need to cleanse your gut and your liver, and
    How toxicity slows down your thyroid.

    I see that her main theme here is detoxification, “cleaning house.”
    I am going to watch it to learn from it:
    http://thyroiddetox.com/?utm_source=Thyroid%20Diet%20Coach%20Master%20List&utm_campaign=c0d970d35d-TD_Video_19_3_2012&utm_medium=email

    Eva

  70. I recently dealt with a bizar drop in red and white blood cell count, and increased cholesterol. The cause has yet to be determined, but interestingly when my anemia (low red blood cell count) and lukocytopenia (low white blood cell count) came back to normal range, my cholesterol levels balanced out as well. Perhaps the cholesterol was high due to a diminished WBC count. Anyway, I learned a TON in this post.

    Next book to tackle which speaks about cholesterol is “Good Calorie, Bad Calorie”.

  71. It is actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  72. At age 42 i have already had a 5 way bypass due to 4 blockages and 5 years later had a stent placed, what can i do to reduce the LDL which is higher than my HDL im already on Liptor. Thanks Mike

  73. “Well, it is a gradient driven process which is why particle number is the key driving parameter.”

    I guess what’s confusing me is, if it’s a gradient driven process, why don’t veins get atherosclerosis? Aren’t they exposed to the same LDL gradient as arteries are?

  74. Wow. That was a whirlwind of knowledge that I probably would not have understood as well had I not just taken bio, chem, and A&P. Its is so amazing how complex the processes of life are. And cholesterol is just one tiny piece of the picture. Hard to believe it just happened by chance, primal ooze, and some lighting, and I don’t care how many billions of years ago it was. great article!

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