Chapter 5 – The Greatest Medical Tragedy of All Time
CoQ10 and Statins: The Vitamin C Connection
An opinion by
Owen R. Fonorow © 2003 – Vitamin C Foundation
“We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical establishment knowingly created a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people.” Peter H. Langsjoen, MD
Ubiquinone (CoQ10) is a popular heart medication. Until 2001, it was only available by prescription in Japan. Much of the public is unaware that an increasingly popular class of cardiovascular drugs called statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) interferes with the body’s synthesis of CoQ10. Top selling statin drugs, such as Lipitor® and Zocor®, earn their makers over 20 billion dollars per year. These drugs lower the endogenous production of cholesterol and are often touted as “life saving” by cardiologists and the media.
Are the statin drugs really good for us, or are cardiologists mistaken? How can drugs that lower the body’s production of CoQ10, a co-enzyme required for energy utilization, benefit heart patients? Are the health benefits attributed to CoQ10 supplementation hype, or is it that there is something fundamentally wrong with the thinking and science being used by those who market statin drugs?
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like fat-soluble antioxidant found in the body, and the highest concentrations have been measured in vital organs such as the heart and pancreas. At age 20, the heart has a higher CoQ10 level than other major organs. At age 80 this is no longer true, as the heart levels reduce by more than half. Over 35 controlled clinical trials in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. have proven that CoQ10 therapy is highly effective in treatment of congestive heart failure, angina and ischemic heart disease, and myocardial infarction. It is now believed that CoQ10 is the key nutrient for generating 95 percent of the total energy required by the human body.
A healthy, youthful human body can make its own CoQ10. Endogenous production or biosynthesis of CoQ10 has 17 steps, requiring at least seven vitamins (vitamin B2 – riboflavin, vitamin B3 – niacinamide, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and pantothenic acid) and several trace elements.
Merck, a pharmaceutical giant, has known for more than 15 years that statin drugs interfere with CoQ10 biosynthesis, which leads to low serum levels. Low serum levels can cause damage to one’s body, specifically causing muscles (and internal orgams) to atrophy. The following claim from a 1990 Merck patent (4,933,165) discusses the addition of CoQ10 to statin drugs, in order to overcome statin induced myopathy.
“A pharmaceutical composition comprising a pharmaceutical carrier and an effective antihypercholesterolemic amount of an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor and an amount of Coenzyme Q.sub.10 effective to counteract HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor-associated skeletal muscle myopathy.”
This invention has never been implemented, most likely because the entire world supply of CoQ10 is limited, and current production would only supply one-sixth of the world’s statin users.
VARIOUS HEALTH BENEFITS ATTRIBUTED TO COQ10
The CoQ10 science has accelerated from its discovery in 1957 until the present day. The following headlines summarize the many clinical studies that have shown CoQ10 supplementation beneficial in disease conditions ranging from Parkinson’s disease to cataracts. Dosages studied range from 30 mg to 1200 mg daily. Higher dosages have generally been found to be more beneficial.
1. CoQ10 gives complete protection against stroke
Since 1972, in studies of stroke in three animal models (dog, rat, gerbil), ubiquinone (coq10) was the only agent giving complete protection. This was over two times more often than the next best agent (naloxone) of the many tested to date. – John Ely
2. CoQ10 benefits patients with cardiovascular disease
CoQ10 levels in heart tissue decline disproportionately with age. CoQ10 pioneer Karl Folkers (1985), in agreement with earlier Japanese studies, found lower CoQ10 levels in patients with more severe heart disease and showed that CoQ10 supplements significantly raised blood and heart tissue levels of CoQ10 in these patients.
3. CoQ10 improves high blood pressure
“At least six clinical trials have shown a blood pressure-lowering effect of CoQ10.
4. CoQ10 for Parkinson’s disease
“Less disability developed in subjects on CoQ10 than in those on placebo, and the benefit was greatest in people receiving the highest dosage (1200 mg).”
5. CoQ10 benefits people with kidney failure
“Because CoQ10 has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of chronic renal failure, a large-scale, long-term study should be initiated as soon as possible.” -Alan Gaby
6. CoQ10 for youthful skin
“Just recently scientists have also discovered that this natural supplement may even slow down the skin’s aging process. Gerson Unna confirmed that, like vitamin E, Co-Q10 slows down tissue damage by decreasing the effect of free radical molecules. In a placebo-controlled study, researchers at Beiersdorf discovered that after six weeks of daily treatment on crow’s feet (eye wrinkles), wrinkle depth was reduced by 27 percent; after 10 weeks, fine lines and wrinkles were reduced by a surprising 43 percent. The enzyme also has been effective in the reduction and fading of age spots and is touted by Beiersdorf for its lack of toxicity.”
7. CoQ10 Effective for Migraine Prevention
8. CoQ10 Therapy can improve glucose control in Type 2 diabetics
9. 400 mg CoQ10 reportedly induced cancer remissions.
These are just a few of the benefits that scientists uncovered when supplementing with CoQ10.
COQ10 SUPPLEMENTATION IS NECESSARY AS WE AGE
The late Dr. John Ely of the University of Washington believed that CoQ10 supplementation is essential in the aged. Most people make approximately 500 mg of Coq10 daily in the body, at least up until age 21. Between ages 21 and 30, levels of CoQ10 begin to drop, perhaps because of aging. This causes the degeneration of cells, which may contribute to age-related diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and the breakdown of skin tissue.
Statin drugs and deficiencies in several other vitamins also cause blood levels of CoQ10 to drop.
According to the late Dr. Ely,
“Possibly the most important details not reported previously are those related to CoQ10 body pool and turnover rate that mandate human supplementation. Adult human body pool has been found to be approximately 2 grams and requires replacement of about 0.5 grams/day based on its average turnover rate of about 4 days in various tissues. This must be supplied either by endogenous synthesis or from exogenous sources. Synthesis decreases progressively in humans above age 21. Furthermore, the average ubiquinone content of the western diet is less than 5 mg/day. Thus, ubiquinone supplementation appears to be the only way for older people, and certainly the ill, to obtain the major proportion of the 0.5 gram/day need. Failure to supplement by the aged, ill or stressed, can have tragic consequences in the form of irreversible damage in the brain, other organs and mitochondria everywhere” (http://faculty.washington.edu/ely/turnover.htm).
CoQ10 pioneer Karl Folkers claimed that the primary source of CoQ10 in man is biosynthesis. Folkers argues that “suboptimal nutrient intake in man is almost universal causing subsequent secondary impairment in CoQ10 biosynthesis.” According to CoQ10 expert Peter H. Langsjoen, MD. “This means that average or “normal” levels of CoQ10 are really suboptimal and the very low levels observed in advanced disease states represent only the tip of a deficiency iceberg.”
THE VITAMIN C CONNECTION
Vitamin C is a “natural” HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. It was observed experimentally that when vitamin C levels are low, cholesterol becomes elevated; and when more vitamin C is consumed, cholesterol levels decline. The mechanism by which vitamin C lowers cholesterol was discovered circa 1985. High vitamin C levels inhibit the same the HMG-CoA Reductase enzyme as statin drugs. The inescapable conclusion is that vitamin C does what statins do, lowers cholesterol, without side effects. If the statin drugs were patterned after vitamin C, they lack many other benefits of the vitamin. For example, vitamin C promotes the production of coenzyme Q10 and lowers Lp(a).
It is interesting that in addition to vitamin C, our bodies require many B vitamins to synthesize CoQ10. Voluminous research has found beneficial effects from ascorbic acid supplementation similar to the effects found from smaller dose CoQ10 supplementation. For example, in a recent study, hydro soluble CoQ10 supplementation was shown to lower circulating levels of Lp(a). One could speculate that some of vitamin C’s similar effects may be due to increased endogenous CoQ10 synthesis, induced by the ascorbic acid along with generally better nutrition.
Every human body makes up to 500 mg of CoQ10 daily, and no human body can make vitamin C. As important as CoQ10 is for health, vitamin C is even more important, perhaps an order of magnitude. Most mammals synthesize ten times more vitamin C than CoQ10, when adjusted for body weight. Under normal circumstances, the daily amount of ascorbic acid produced by mammals lies between 3,000 mg and 15,000 mg, with an average of 5,400 mg, when adjusted for comparison to the weight of the average male human being.
The Vitamin C Foundation concludes that everyone should supplement 3,000 mg to 6,000mg vitamin C daily from birth, including during pregnancy. On the other hand; healthy, well-nourished children will usually synthesize their own CoQ10. With the possible exception of athletes, persons taking vitamin C should not have to supplement CoQ10 until the fourth or fifth decade of life (unless they are taking several drugs, including statins). Athletes have a high requirement for CoQ10 and may benefit from supplementation earlier in life.
THE STATIN DILEMMA
The question persists, how can statin drugs that deplete levels of CoQ10 be “life saving?” Not only do statins used to treat elevated blood cholesterol levels by blocking cholesterol biosynthesis also block CoQ10 biosynthesis, most CoQ10 and vitamin E molecules circulate through the bloodstream attached to LDL particles.
According Dr. Langsjoen,
“The resulting lowering of blood CoQ10 level is due to the partially shared biosynthetic pathway of CoQ10 and cholesterol. In patients with heart failure this is more than a laboratory observation. It has a significant harmful effect which can be negated by oral CoQ10 supplementation.”
So, are “safe” statin drugs the next “aspirin?” There is considerable hype in reporting the science behind cholesterol lowering drugs. We found, by chasing down many of the media stories which suggest benefit, that most stories are either hoaxes or highly speculative. In the world of media hype, an estimated 0.4 % reduction in plaque creates worldwide news. Furthermore, it is difficult to formulate an overall theory that explains the reported benefits.
The first “red flag” one encounters researching the statin studies is that the raw mortality data is being kept a closely guarded secret. The data is summarized, but it is surprisingly hard to inspect the raw data of studies published in peer-reviewed journals. This mortality data allegedly supports the “life saving” claims made for statins. This is true of the Heart Protection Study (HPS) managed by Oxford University.
According to Candian statistician Eddie Vos, after millions of statin pills, the studies that have summarized or released the data have reported no change in mortality curves. Within these studies, the graphs of the placebo and statin groups touch.
“Massive benefits proclaims Oxford University about its 2002 HPS study, “the world’s largest cholesterol-lowering trial”. 75% of heart attacks still happen and 300 people on the drug for 12 months to postpone the death of just 1 of them. Massive drug use, few lives saved. The next European study claiming benefit in high-risk elderly, PROSPER, found 6 lives saved but 24 more cancer deaths, and more new cancers in each of 4 years in a group with 52 fewer smokers. Zero “anything” benefit was next found in the ALLHAT trial in 10 year younger North Americans: 1 death postponed per 1.1 million $3-pills taken! Next was Lipitor’s ASCOT study: also no mortality benefit. From 10 years ago: cholesterol lowering by any means caused 150 more deaths per 100,000 patient-years of intervention” (www-health-heart.org).
The HPS paper published in the Lancet medical journal could cause one to be wary of the claims made by the authors. HPS reportedly had four study groups, 1) a placebo group, 2) a placebo-plus-antioxidant-vitamins group, 3) a statin group and 4) a statin-plus-antioxidant-vitamins group. A second paper devoted to the antioxidant vitamins was published; implying that claims of “massive benefit” in the first paper is between the statins and placebo. However, the paper is written without even a summary of the supporting data, and these results could very well have been between the statins-plus-antioxidants group 4 against the placebo group 1. The authors appear to carefully avoid this issue.
The HPS paper does not discuss the differences between the statins group 3 and statins-and-antioxidants group 4 versus placebo, a point of interest to many. Instead, they published the second paper diverting attention from this issue. The refusal to publish and share the data may indicate that there is something to hide.
British author/researcher Malcolm Kendrick, MD, comments about HPS study,
“In the Heart Protection Study (HPS), a major study in which the rate of deaths was (reportedly) reduced in patients taking a statin (simvastatin), at post-mortem, the people who had been taking the statin had bigger and more complex plaques than those who had not.”
VITAMIN C AND MORTALITY
Vitamin C’s proven effect on mortality stands in stark contrast to the statin drugs. According to author Bill Sardi,
“Vitamin C is the only vitamin repeatedly proven to increase the human life span when taken in doses that exceed dietary levels of this vitamin.”
This observation was recently confirmed again in Britain.
CONCLUSION: Low blood vitamin C concentrations in the older British population are strongly predictive of mortality.
Antioxidant vitamins and mortality in older persons: findings from the nutrition add-on study to the Medical Research Council Trial of Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community.
In November 2003, the British Centre for Ageing and Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom published their findings of a direct correlation between low vitamin C and increased mortality.
“We found a strong inverse relationship for blood ascorbate (vitamin C) concentrations with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, which were only marginally reduced after adjustment for confounders or supplement use. Those in the lowest fifth (< 17 micromol/L) had the highest mortality, whereas those in the highest fifth (> 66 micromol/L) had a mortality risk nearly half that (hazard ratio = 0.54; 95% CI: 0.34, 0.84). Similar r
esults were found after the exclusion of those subjects with cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline (hazard ratio = 0.51; 0.28, 0.93). In fully adjusted models, there was no evidence for an influence of alpha-tocopherol (vitamin-E), beta-carotene, or retinol (vitamin-A) on total mortality. Dietary antioxidants measured by the food-frequency questionnaire were not associated with all-cause or cardiovascular disease mortality” (email@example.com).
ADVERSE SIDE EFFECTS OF STATIN CHOLESTEROL-LOWERING DRUGS
The following headlines from HEALTHFREEDOMNEWS reveal the many little-known side effects of the ‘artificial’ Statin drugs. Some of these side effects are required to be reported in Canadian statin drug ads, however this is not required in the U. S. medical journals.
Possible Side Effects of Statin Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs:
1. Deplete the ubiquinone (vitamin-like) Coenzyme Q10 causing cardiomyopthy and heart failure
2. Change, weaken, damage or destroy muscle (depending on dose and concomitant use of other drugs)
3. Do not slow atherosclerosis
4. Induce sudden total memory loss
5. Increase eye cataract risk
6. Suppress immune function
7. Are linked to cancer
8. Have been linked for 10-years with Rhabdomyolysis and Myoglobinuria
9. Have been linked with elevated transaminase (indicator of liver and kidney damage)
10. Are linked to nerve damage
11. Induce muscle pain
12. Do not extend life
13. Increase serum Lp(a) concentrations** (Increasing odds of heart attack or stroke up to 70% SOURCE: CIRCULATION)
14. Reduce left ventricular function
15. Elevate the lactate to pyruvate ratio
16. Enhance LDL cholesterol oxidation
17. Would be expected to interfere with any function (e.g. sex hormone production, hair growth, sleep, or proper brain and nerve function) that depends on cholesterol or CoQ10
18. In 2003, are prescribed to 13 million (in the U.S., 25 million worldwide) creating a $20b market
19. Will cause 65,000 predicted myopathies Source: Merck Patent (NOTE: Biopsy is the only reliable test for statin induced myopathy)
Supplemental Vitamin C and CoQ10 are completely nontoxic and would lessen or eliminate most of these statin-induced effects.
Headlines from BolenReport.COM illustrate the health benefits of Vitamin C:
1. HARVARD: VITAMIN C ONLY 1 OF 880 SUBSTANCES TO REGENERATE HEART MUSCLE FROM STEM CELLS
2. 15-YEAR HARVARD STUDY OF 85,000 FINDS SINGLE VITAMIN C PILL REDUCES HEART DISEASE ALMOST 30% (Saving 300,000 lives)
2. THE RISK OF STROKE WAS 70% HIGHER AMONG THOSE IN THE LOWEST QUARTILE FOR SERUM VITAMIN C THAN AMONG THOSE IN THE HIGHEST
3. VITAMIN C INHIBITS LIPID OXIDATION IN HUMAN HDL
4. MORE VITAMIN C AS PILLS REDUCE CATARACTS BY 77%
5. HIGH-DOSE VITAMIN C COMPLETELY PREVENTED DRUG-INDUCED AMNESIA IN MICE
6. CARNITINE, WITH ITS BUILDING BLOCKS VITAMIN C AND LYSINE, INCREASE MUSCLE STRENGTH
7. MATTHIAS RATH, MD, CLAIMS CANCER GROWTH HALTED WITH VITAMIN C/LYSINE/PROLINE AND GREEN TEA EXTRACT
8. VITAMIN C BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM IN AS LITTLE AS 5 HOURS (NIH)
9. VITAMIN C PILLS EXTEND LIFE 6-YEARS (USC)
10. VITAMIN C (AND LYSINE) HALT ATHEROSCLEROSIS (unpublished)
11. IV VITAMIN C REVERSES ENDOTHELIAL DYSFUNCION
12. VITAMIN C – NEW TREATMENT FOR OSTEOPOROSIS
13. VITAMIN C CAN (1) PREVENT THE DETERIORATION COMPLETELY; AND (2) CURE EVEN LARGE AORTIC ANEURYSMS WITHOUT SURGERY.
A 20 billion dollar market may have blinded some scientists. Merck and the other pharmaceutical companies have known about the CoQ10 biosynthesis “issue” for more than a decade, though few medical doctors in the U.S. are aware of this problem. There exists no theory that justifies the use of statin drugs. This author has seen no data or evidence that demonstrates any real health benefit for statin drug use that overcomes the proven detriment of hampering the production of CoQ10.
How could the FDA have approved the statin drugs, despite the existing claims? Apparently, the dosage of a statin is important. At lower dosages, the negative side effects are reduced such that the mortality curves between the control and statin groups are similar. The studies rarely quantify muscular aches and pains, and instead usually focus on lowered cholesterol as the end-point. Ergo, if the drug lowers cholesterol, beneficial effects on heart patients are assumed.
According to Dr. Langsjoen,
“In my practice of 17 years in Tyler, Texas, I have seen a frightening increase in heart failure secondary to statin usage, “statin cardiomyopathy.” Over the past five years, statins have become more potent, are being prescribed in higher dosages, and are being used with reckless abandon in the elderly and in patients with “normal” cholesterol levels. We are in the midst of a Congestive Heart Failure epidemic in the US with a dramatic increase over the past decade. Are we causing this epidemic through our zealous use of statins? In large part I think the answer is yes. We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical establishment knowingly create a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people.”
No human who consistently consumes 10,000 mg or more Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C) and 300 mg or more of ubiquinone (CoQ10) daily has heart disease.
Studies that purport to show that statins benefit heart patients either has mischaracterized the data, or will be shown to be fraudulent.
We defy any researcher to find a contrary example to our postulate, and we stand by the prediction. Cardiologists, as a rule, are highly trained professionals, yet they are being duped by drug company efforts to expand markets. They love these statin drugs, and why not; patients keep coming back!
It is unconscionable that editors of mainstream medical journals and elements of the U. S. government and the news media continue to hide the explosive research results on vitamin C and CoQ10 from U.S. doctors. Disregarding malpractice, this author believes that the continuance of ignoring vitamin C and CoQ10, while marketing and prescribing statin drugs for heart patients, is criminal.
Owen R. Fonorow
Group Asks FDA to Ban New Crestor® Cholesterol Lowering Drug…
Public Citizen Sites Safety Concerns
“A 39-year-old woman has died of a muscle-destroying condition linked to the controversial new anti-cholesterol drug Crestor, a consumer group said Thursday, citing 16 cases of serious side effects in urging a ban of the drug.”
Editor’s note: The following examples are “news” stories from 2004. The links are no longer valid.
MONITORING THE BIG PHARMA PROPAGANDA MACHINE
Listed below are some recent propaganda examples that promote the sale of just one class of top selling prescription drugs, statin cholesterol-lowering drugs. These stories all appeared in February and March of 2004. Author’s notes on these articles are listed below each article.
Statin Drugs Reduce Strokes…
These are the same researchers who keep their “heart Protection Study” mortality data secret. This stroke result could very well be for statins + antioxidants. They don’t (and won’t) tell us…)
Scientists overturn accepted theory of disease
(Tell that to Ames’ rats. Why attack antioxidants? Hmmm… let me think)
Statins reduce sepsis in ITU patients…
Cholesterol-lowering drug greatly reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack…
(Small, one-year study. This report is printed in various forms, designed to look like multiple studies. Apparently news “reporters” care little about perspective.)
Heart patient’s lives saved by cheap four-drug combo
(Don’t bet your life on it.)
More Potent Therapy Slows Plaque Build-Up..
(These drug companies can afford advertising. But they get these free news stories all the time…)
(Must perpetuate the myth that cholesterol causes heart disease…)
Atkins diet dangerous for kids.
(High fat diets cause public to question the entire cholesterol-causes-heart-disease myth.)
Diabetic women heart attack deaths drop dramatically…
(Maybe cardiology IS doing something right? Nah.)
Sleep Soundly for Heart Health… and Post-Traumatic Stress Boosts Heart Attack Risk… and Walking good for the heartand Eating fiber reduces risk of Heart Disease…
(Ever wonder why there are so many confusing reports about Heart Disease? Deliberate confusion provides cover for cardiology and the medical profession. Doctors can later say with a straight face, “How were we to know which claim was real?”, especially after the Pauling/Rath heart disease theory and cure becomes public and undeniable…)
The following material is reprinted from the Pauling-therapy Handbook Volume 1. The Irrational Fear of Cholesterol
THE TRUTH ABOUT CHOLESTEROL
Compiled by Owen R. Fonorow, 2003
“At Framingham, we found that the people who ate the most saturated fat, the most cholesterol and the most calories weighed the least, were more physically active and had the lowest serum cholesterol levels.” –William Castelli, M.D., Director of the Framingham Study. The Archives of Internal Medicine, July 1992, Vol. 152, pages 1371-72
EVERYTHING WE KNOW IS WRONG
“Much of what we are told by our most trusted authorities turns out to be the exact OPPOSITE of what is true and what should be heeded. “Avoid foods that are high in cholesterol.” This is yet another example of thoroughly misguided advice from our so-called health authorities.”– Thomas E. Levy, MD JD
Far from being a health destroyer, cholesterol is absolutely essential for life.
Although most people think of it as being “fat in the blood,” only 7 percent of the body’s cholesterol is found there. In fact, cholesterol is not really fat at all; it’s a pearly-colored, waxy, solid alcohol that is soapy to the touch. The bulk of the cholesterol in the body, the other 93 percent, is located in every cell of the body; where its unique waxy, soapy consistency provides the cell membranes with their structural integrity and regulates the flow of nutrients into and waste products out of the cells.
“In addition, among its other diverse and essential functions are these: Cholesterol is the building block from which you body makes several important hormones: the adrenal hormones (aldosterone, which helps regulate blood pressure, and hydrocortisone, the body’s natural steriod) and the sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone). If you don’t have enough cholesterol, you won’t make enough sex hormones.” — Michael R. Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D.
“Cholesterol is the body’s natural detoxification mechanism High cholesterol levels develop in response to the presence of toxins; the toxins are neutralized by the cholesterol. When patients with high cholesterol levels (over 240 mg%) had their mercury amalgams and sources of dental infection removed, these levels usually dropped dramatically within a few days When toxin levels have been minimized, most people’s cholesterol levels will be between 160 and 220mg%” — Thomas Levy, MD, JD, Optimal Nutrition for Optimal Health.
“The concept that cholesterol can inactivate or neutralize a wide variety of toxins is not new; researchers have identified cholesterol as an inactivator of multiple bacterial toxins. Other researchers have shown that elevation of serum cholesterol actually served as a marker for various toxic exposures. The toxicity of pesticides reliably elevates the cholesterol levels of those exposed individuals and one researcher showed that dogs exposed to low levels of methylmercury developed progressively higher levels of cholesterol in the blood over time.” — Thomas Levy, MD, JD, Optimal Nutrition for Optimal Health, pg. 89-91.
CHOLESTEROL’S ROLE IN THE BODY
- Cholesterol is a precursor of vitamin D in the skin. When exposed to sunlight, this precursor molecule is converted to its active form for use in the body.
- Cholesterol is the main component of bile acids, which aid in the digestion of foods, particularly fatty foods. Without cholesterol we could not absorb the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the food we eat.
- Cholesterol is necessary for normal growth and development of the brain and nervous system . Cholesterol coats the nerves and makes the transmission of nerve impulses possible.
- Cholesterol gives skin its ability to shed water.
- Cholesterol is important for normal growth and repair of tissues since every cell membrane and the organelles (the tiny structures inside the cells that carry out specific functions) within the cells are rich in cholesterol. For this reason newborn animals feed on milk or other cholesterol-rich foods, such as the yolks of eggs, which are there to provide food for the developing bird or chick embryos.
- Cholesterol plays a major role in the transportation of triglycerides — blood fats — through the circulatory system.
“A quick review of this list should give a better idea of what cholesterol does and to dispel any notion that it is a destroyer of health to be feared and avoided at all costs. Far from being a serial killer, cholesterol is absolutely essential for good health; without it you would die. Without cholesterol we would lose the strength and stability of our cells, rendering them much less resistant to invasion by infection and malignancy. In fact, a grave sign of serious illness, such as cancer development or crippling arthritis, is a falling cholesterol level.” –Michael R. Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D., PROTEIN POWER, 1996.
CHOLESTEROL DOES NOT CAUSE HEART DISEASE
The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, a steadily growing group of scientists, physicians, other academicians and science writers from various countries, are questioning the common dogma that dietary saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Not only is there no proof to support this hypothesis, says spokesman Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, of Lund, Sweden; but the available scientific evidence clearly contradicts this claim.
Ravnskov says that the accumulated evidence from nine dietary trials, presented by a group of British researchers in the March 31, 2001 issue of British Medical Journal showed that not a single life has been saved by dietary changes to reduce fat intake that went far beyond the official recommendations.
Dr. Walter Willet, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, is the spokesman for the ongoing longest running, most comprehensive diet and health study ever performed, which involved nearly 300,000 subjects. As he recently noted, data from this study clearly contradicts the low-fat-is-good-health message, and “the idea that all fat is bad for you; the exclusive focus on adverse effects of fat may have contributed to the obesity epidemic” (www.redflagsweekly.com/Thursday_report/2002_sept05.html).
DANGERS OF CHOLESTEROL LOWERING STATIN DRUGS
There is little evidence that lowering cholesterol protects human beings from heart disease. According to the Life Extension Foundation, of those who suffer heart attacks under age 50, more than 50 percent have no recognized risk factors (www.lef.org).
According to noted nutrition expert Earl Mindell in his recent book Prescription Alternatives, “There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that normal cholesterol floating around in the blood does any harm. In fact, cholesterol is the building block for all your steroid hormones, which includes all the sex hormones and the cortisones. Even slightly low levels of cholesterol are associated with depression, suicide, and lung cancer in older women. . . For most people, eating high cholesterol foods does not raise cholesterol.”
Earl Mindell stated that “while a cholesterol-lowering drug will usually do a very good job of lowering your cholesterol, there’s scant, if any, evidence that it will help you live longer or reduce your risk of heart attack If the American public had even a clue of how destructive these drugs are, they wouldn’t touch them. . . Every information sheet on the most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs will tell you that they cause cancer in rodents when taken long term in relatively normal doses. It’s also well known that they can cause severe emotional imbalances in men, along with a wide array of life-threatening side effects. . . The wisest course of action is to avoid these drugs…”
CHOLESTEROL LOWERING DRUGS LINKED TO CATARACTS
Richard Cenedella, Ph.D., announced that a recent multinational scientific study supports his hypothesis that brief exposure to very high levels of some statins may irreversibly damage the lens of the eye. The study by Christopher Meiers of the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland, suggests that taking the antibiotic erythromycin in combination with the popular statin-cholesterol lowering drugs may increase the risk of cataracts. Erythromycin slows removal of most statins from the body and can greatly increase blood levels of these drugs. The study results published in Archives of Internal Medicine, indicate that a single course of antibiotic, typically 10 days, appeared to double the risk of cataracts and two or more courses tripled the risk (Richard Cenedella, Ph.D. ).
CHOLESTEROL LOWERING DRUGS LEAD TO INCREASED CANCER RISK
“All members of the two most popular classes of lipid-lowering drugs (the fibrates and the statins) cause cancer in rodents, in some cases at levels of animal exposure close to those prescribed to humans” (JAMA on-line).
“New research indicates that besides lowering levels of cholesterol, the statin drugs may also promote the growth of new blood vessels, which may not necessarily be such a great thing. Although this effect may help to prevent heart attacks and other forms of heart disease, it may have the potential to promote cancer growth as well” (Joe Mercola, ).
FEEDING THE IRRATIONAL FEAR OF CHOLESTEROL
© Owen R. Fonorow 2002
I admit my surprise when the public school Physical Education Department asked my permission to screen our eleven year-old child for elevated cholesterol. I then thought, one can never be too young to learn the health benefits of the cholesterol-lowering drugs. Since the faculty at our local grade school is obviously “cholesterol challenged” and may actually believe that such tests could in some way have value and benefit for sixth grade children, my concern that these tests might inadvertently brainwash them about the “hazards” of cholesterol is probably misplaced. Call me what you will, but I do not believe the public schools should act like marketing arms for pharmaceutical companies.
So what is it about “cholesterol” that strikes such fear into the hearts of men, women and children? In 1998 the American Medical Association (AMA) held a press conference and told doctors that public concern over elevated cholesterol was not warranted. In the same year, the AMA also warned that common cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) are carcinogenic.
“All members of the two most popular classes of lipid-lowering drugs (the fibrates and the statins) cause cancer in rodents, in some cases at levels of animal exposure close to those prescribed to humans.” [JAMA Ref]
More recently, one of these drugs, Baycol, was linked to hundreds of deaths and removed from the market by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA). [ABC News Story]
Far from being something of concern, much less fear; ordinary cholesterol is a miracle of evolution. Vitamin-like, cholesterol is a very important substance that makes it possible to transport life giving fat-soluble substances throughout the body, using the water of the blood stream. With it, our bodies make essential hormones and vitamin D (with sunlight). Low cholesterol is a symptom of depression and cancer. It is so important that if cholesterol intake is restricted, our livers make more to supplement.
WHY DOES CHOLESTEROL ACCUMMULATE IN THE ARTERIES?
Drug company advertising for cholesterol lowering drugs gives the impression that excessive cholesterol in the blood simply deposits on the artery wall, and that lowering cholesterol levels stops that process. We agree with Mindell, Pauling and others that high cholesterol is a symptom of an underlying nutritional deficiency and/or toxicity that damages the arteries, not the cause.
ARE CHOLESTEROL DRUGS A DEATH SENTENCE?
Lipid lowering drugs inhibit the formation of cholesterol by the liver, and some might say they “damage” the liver. This mechanism also has other unwanted effects.
“In 1987, Merck made headlines when it came out with Mevacor (lovastatin), the first cholesterol-lowering statin drug. Statins block enzyme pathways involved in the production of cholesterol, thereby lowering cholesterol levels. But that’s not all these drugs do. The same enzymes that are involved in the production of cholesterol are also required for the production of an essential compound called coenzyme Q10; not surprisingly, lower cholesterol levels in statin users are accompanied by reduced levels of CoQ10.”
Coenzyme Q10 — also called ubiquinone, which means “occurring everywhere,” plays an important role in the manufacture of ATP, the fuel that runs cellular processes. Though it is present in every cell in your body, it is especially concentrated in the very active cells of your heart. Depriving the heart of CoQ10 is like removing a spark plug from your engine. It just won’t work. Low levels of CoQ10 are implicated in virtually all cardiovascular diseases, including angina, hypertension, cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure.
Merck knew that statins deplete CoQ10, and knew that this could contribute to heart disease. In 1990, this drug manufacturer sought and received a patent for Mevacor and other statin drugs formulated with up to 1,000 mg of coenzyme Q10 to prevent or alleviate cardiomyopathy, a serious condition that can cause congestive heart failure. However, Merck has not brought these combination products to market, nor has this drug company educated physicians on the important of supplementing CoQ10 to offset the dangers of these drugs to the heart. Because they hold the patent, other drug companies are prevented from coming out with a statin/CoQ10 product.
If you’re taking a statin drug (Zocor, Provacol, etc.), don’t wait for your doctor to warn you of the substantial risks. Consider this fact: in the last 15 years (roughly the time that statins have been on the market), the incidence of congestive heart failure has tripled. If you want to avoid becoming a statistic, it is imperative that you take 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily.
LOW CHOLESTEROL LINKED TO STROKE
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “High cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for stroke. But new research suggests that low levels of cholesterol in the blood may also increase stroke risk. The study linking low cholesterol to increased stroke risk was presented recently at the 24th American Heart Association Conference on Stroke and Cerebral Circulation, which was discussed in last week’s newsletter. About 80% of all strokes are ischemic, and 20% are hemorrhagic.” [ Read more ]
Lp(a): THE REALLY BAD CHOLESTEROL
Much evidence is accumulating that so-called “bad” (LDL) cholesterol is no more dangerous than calcium. However, there is a component of cholesterol, a lipid that used to be grouped with LDL, that does signal danger when it is elevated. Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath singled out lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a), as the significant risk factor in heart disease. Under their theory, Lp(a) acts as a surrogate for chronic low vitamin C (see www.PaulingTherapy.com). Unfortunately, lipid-lowering drugs do not lower Lp(a). An Oxford meta analysis (September 2000) found that people with elevated Lp(a) are 70% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. [ ref ]
The Vitamin C Foundation has been investigating reports that high amounts of vitamin C, lysine and proline will lower elevated levels of Lp(a) in the blood after several months.
CHOLESTEROL SCREENING IN KIDS IS MADNESS
With this information in mind, I volunteered to address the Junior High School student body so that the students might hear another point of view. I even offered to show the student body Linus Pauling’s video, Heart Disease: A Unified Theory. I believe that our children should know that not everyone agrees that elevated cholesterol is to be feared, or is the cause of heart problems. So far, there has been no response to my offer.
Chapter 6 – Report from the The Twilight Zone (Coming Soon)