from Hyperlipidemia Part 1...

No-one is suggesting for a moment that very high levels of cholesterol should not be dealt with, but these are mostly the result over eating anyway, and those patients with such levels are usually well overweight. What you may not know is that the very thin person is very often at high risk simply because they think they can eat anything at all, as they just 'burn it off'. This is not so, and the thin person is often clogging up on the inside, rather than the outside.


Cases of truly genuine familial (genetic) hypercholesterolemia are actually quite rare. I haven't seen one for a couple of years. The worst case I've seen was a young woman in her twenties with a reading above 11mmol/L. Often patients are told they have a genetically high level, but this is mostly nonsense; it is nearly always the case that there is some other aetiological cause, and because the GP can't recognize it, the patient is told it's genetic.


So, lets have a look at the problems associated with too low a cholesterol reading, and begin by defining just what that means. Roughly speaking, if we are taking good quality antioxidants, we probably need a cholesterol reading of about 1mmol/L for every decade of life. So, a reading of about 6 for a person in their sixties is probably a level that is going to provide you with optimal protection. However, I'm not suggesting that if you are say sixty and your reading is 6.5 you should go on to cholesterol lowering herbal medicines, as it might be that, provided you are eating sensibly, that figure is probably what you biologically need. You might increase your intake of antioxidants a bit, but that's about all.


Cholesterol is concentrated in the brain, adrenals and spinal chord. It is both anti-carcinogenic and neuroprotective. Since the 1960's, GP's have been trying to keep it as low as possible using statin therapy, and during this time we have seen an explosion of cancer and dementia. GP's say this is because we are living longer - what utter nonsense! Look at all the old folk in agrarian societies who've never had their cholesterol checked in their entire lives - there's a marked absence of dementia and cancer in all but the very, very old. The studies are out there - Georgians, Okinawans, and so forth. The case numbers of dementia in western societies have increased disproportionately to the average age of death. Age simply does not equate proportionately to dementia. Additionally, anorexia cases have huge proportions of mental illnesses, and anyone well acquainted with such a case will tell you that the mental disease followed the malnutrition. To be fair, it isn't hypocholesterolemia which is the sole cause, of course.


Some scientists believe that cancers may be the cause of low cholesterol readings - either way, there is a definite correlation of some sort, and therefore a conservative approach rather than an extreme approach appears sensible. A study in Scotland pointed to patients with low cholesterol levels as having the highest levels of both lung and colorectal cancers. This would appear to support the association, and if it's the case that patients with low serum cholesterol are over-represented as cancer cases, it well supports the idea that that is the body's way of fighting the cancer. Certainly, no clinician ever tries to lower cholesterol in a present or past cancer sufferer. 

haemorrhagic stroke

Another area for concern in hypocholesterolemic patients is that of brain haemorrhage. The levels of haemorrhagic stroke in men with low cholesterol and high blood pressure is three times in cases where the reading falls below 4.14mmol/L. and it has long been known that cholesterol protects both the vascular wall and red cell membranes. Conversely, those with high levels had a higher risk of thrombus stroke - obviously, both these studies support the need for anti-oxidants. 



Next week in Part 3, we'll look more closely at vascular damage, commercial fats and oxidation,  where fat is carried in the body, and the other lipid no-one ever seems concerned with, triglycerides.