Cholesterol Isn’t the Problem in Heart Disease; Inflammation Is
Cholesterol Isn’t the Problem in Heart Disease; Inflammation Is by Dr. Mercola – Lew Rockwell
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in nearly every cell of your body and is essential to good health. Your body uses it to make hormones, protect your cell membranes, digest food and manufacture vitamin D after exposure to the sun. Your liver manufactures most of the cholesterol your body requires from nutrients extracted from your food.
Animals use cholesterol in much the same way. This means the meats from beef, pork or chicken have similar levels of cholesterol. Even fat cells in animal meat have the same amount of cholesterol as other cells. All meat averages 25 milligrams of cholesterol per ounce.1 Dietary cholesterol is absorbed at different rates, between 20 and 60 percent, depending upon the individual.2
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans3 addressed past vilification of dietary cholesterol, announcing4 “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” These same guidelines also advise limiting sugar to no more than 10 percent of your diet,5 which is approximately 50 grams of sugar, or 200 calories, in a diet consuming 2,000 calories each day. This level is still far higher than what is healthy as net carbohydrates are a prime factor in the development of inflammation.
Recently published research from a clinical trial sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals demonstrates a reduction in recurring heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths in participants who took a targeted anti-inflammatory medication that did not lower cholesterol levels.6
Although the results of the study were encouraging as they scientifically demonstrate the association between inflammation and cardiac disease, I do not recommend using a pharmaceutical intervention to achieve what lifestyle choices can easily accomplish.
Lowering Inflammation Helps Lower Cardiac Risk
This study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital was the culmination of a nearly 25-year cardiovascular research work. The trial was designed to test if reducing the amount of inflammation in the body would also reduce the risk of a recurrent heart attack or stroke. The researchers enrolled 10,000 people who had previously had a heart attack and had persistently elevated levels of C-reactive proteins, a strong biomarker of inflammation.
The participants were split into four groups, all of which received aggressive standard health care. Three groups were administered the drug canakinumab at various levels and the fourth placebo group received no drug. The drug, currently priced at $200,000 a year by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, demonstrated an ability to reduce inflammation with a reduced risk of cardiac events and reduced the need for interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery or angioplasty.7