Well, even with a bribe we only got email addresses for 10% of our patient mailing list. Also, I found that fewer people take the time to read the newsletter when they have to go to the web site. So we will be sending it out via email and snail mail both to make sure everyone gets a copy. The newsletters will still be posted on the web site to view as well as any office announcements (www.drcraigreese.com).
Atkins in the News
Last newsletter I praised the Atkins diet and how it can help you lose weight and lower cholesterol. A few weeks later a major study was published that proved the Atkins Diet was better than the American Heart Association Diet for losing weight and lowering cholesterol. Good timing on my part, huh! Well actually studies have proven that fact for years but it's nice to see the main stream media finally promote it so openly. This is the same media that has been vilifying Atkins and his diet for 30 years.
There are basically two types of heart problems, electrical interruptions or a blockage problem. Dehydration or severe electrolyte imbalances (lack of minerals and water) interrupt the electrical signal to the heart and cause it to beat erratically. These electrical interruptions can also cause the heart to stop suddenly. Several people died back in the 70's from this electrolyte imbalance created by consuming only a predigested liquid protein to lose weight. After months of drinking only this protein their hearts went into fibrillation and they died. The liquid protein was devoid of minerals and that caused the imbalance.
Coronary Heart Disease
One of the major blockages, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), is a slow build up of cholesterol in the arteries that feed the heart muscle. The heart muscle slowly dies from the lack of circulation and eventually you suffer a heart attack or a Myocardial Infarction. For years I have been telling patients that your cholesterol level is not something to worry about. It has never been a good indicator of whether you are going to have a heart attack or not. Better indicators are C-reactive protein, homocysteine, fibrinogen and triglycerides. I learned about these tests years ago through the research done by the Life Extension Foundation. Now another study has been made public that shows C-reactive protein is a much better indicator of heart problems than cholesterol. It measures the amount of inflammation in the body. Elevated levels have also been linked to Alzheimer's and cancer. Cholesterol levels are good for telling you the condition of your liver, which is where most of your body's cholesterol is made. Cholesterol is an essential nutrient to your body.
In his book The Cholesterol Myth, Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease, Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD debunks the following nine myths:
Myth 1: High-fat foods cause heart disease.
Myth 2: High cholesterol causes heart disease.
Myth 3: High-fat foods raise blood cholesterol.
Myth 4: Cholesterol blocks arteries.
Myth 5: Animal studies prove the diet-heart idea.
Myth 6: Lowering your cholesterol will lengthen your life.
Myth 7: Polyunsaturated oils are good for you.
Myth 8: The cholesterol campaign is based on good science.
Myth 9: All scientists support the diet-heart idea.
Dr. Ravnskov is a distinguished researcher from Sweden who has reviewed all the studies and the research that has been used to promote the cholesterol theory of coronary heart disease. He conclusively demonstrates that the whole theory is baseless and is used to help promote the agendas of the researchers and the drug companies who sell the cholesterol lowering drugs. Several leading researchers and doctors who also are speaking out against the perpetuated lie of fat consumption causing heart disease join him. If you look on Dr. Ravnskov's web site http://www.ravnskov.nu/cholesterol.htm he lists many of these doctors and their comments about the myth of the connection between your diet and heart disease.
Dr. Ravnskov also talks about the new statin drugs, "But a new type of drugs, the so called statins (for instance Zocor®, Mevacor®, Lescol®, Lipitor® and Pravachol®) have been successful. However, their effect isn't exerted through cholesterol-lowering, they have other and more useful properties. Unfortunately they also stimulate cancer growth, at least in rodents."
These drugs do show a slight lowering in mortality from all causes. If you are a 55 year old male with blood cholesterol level of 272, you have a 98.2 % chance of living 5 years untreated and a 98.8% if you are treated by one of the statin drugs. This "magic pill" is now being passed out by the medical community like Halloween candy. I have seen patients in their 30's put on these drugs because their cholesterol was slightly elevated. The problem is that no one knows what are the long-term effects of these drugs. There are no 20 and 30-year studies. We do know that these drugs can cause serious muscle damage when taken alone or with certain antibiotics and heart medications.
Even taking niacin and grapefruit juice can increase the chance of serious muscle damage. Rhabdomyolysis is a rare disease that dissolves your muscles and destroys your kidneys. This disease is on the rise due to the use of these drugs. Now if you read the Zocor advertisement found in medical publications like TV Guide, they downplay the side effects to be similar to the placebo (sugar pills). A quick aside on placebos, did you know that the drug company gets to pick what they use for a placebo in their test and they don't have to reveal what it was? When was the last time you saw a pure sugar pill cause the side effects listed for Zocor? Liver and kidney damage, severe digestive problems, muscle and joint pain, memory loss, tremors, progression of cataracts, anxiety, depression, and cancer are just a few of the other side-effects of this drug. That's some pretty powerful sugar and it seems like a big price to pay in health for such a small decrease in risk from heart disease. Also, looking at the side effects listed, are these the kind of drugs you want the elderly to take? Especially when all the research shows that after age 50 in men the cholesterol levels have no effect on mortality and in women higher cholesterol is actually protective of other diseases.
The other interesting thing in the Zocor ad is that is states, "Precautions: Before starting treatment with Zocor, try to lower your cholesterol by other methods such as diet, exercise and weight loss." How many of you on this drug were first instructed by your doctor to exercise, diet and lose weight? Not many people that I've surveyed.
So to summarize, moderately elevated cholesterol is not a real problem. Highly elevated cholesterol is a sign that you are having problems with your liver and pancreas and that can be helped with nutrition and exercise. If you are told to get your cholesterol down you must first try diet and exercise. If you have a problem with your body producing too much insulin, you will have high cholesterol, LDL's and triglycerides. Following a low carbohydrate diet will lower those levels. Walking daily for 15-30 minutes and taking supplements like niacin, garlic, guggul, etc. will help normalize the blood fats listed above. We can help you get healthy without the little magic pill with the hidden dark side.
See Notes on Atkins for more information.
Have a great holiday season and a prosperous New Year! We will be open all December except for Christmas and New Year's Day. The week of Jan 6-11 we will have limited evening hours due to prior family commitments. Call for the exact times the office will be open.