The release of the new cholesterol guidelines on Nov. 10, 2018, shows that the American Heart Association and Co. have doubled down on the cholesterol theory of heart disease and the related notion that statins are the solution to everything.
The new guidelines say we should aim for lower LDL numbers—“as low as possible, in some cases less than 70”, said GMA’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton. When asked if statins were safe, Ashton replied emphatically, “One-hundred percent!” adding that we should use statins even more aggressively in pursuit of lower cholesterol numbers—“at whatever dose is necessary”, says Ashton)
It’s the greatest marketing plan for a drug I’ve seen in my lifetime. And it will undoubtedly work.
The AHA has evidentially learned the lesson of modern-day politics: double down and play to your base. In this case, the “base” consists of doctors and patients who have never shown much inclination to question the party line on cholesterol, and seem blissfully unaware of the raging debate about the continued relevance of cholesterol lowering as we know it.
The debate on cholesterol and heart disease affects their life about as much as the Russia investigation impacts the life of a farmer in Iowa, which is to say not at all. The overworked docs get a lot of their info from pharmaceutical reps and from studies sponsored by Big Pharma. And the patients listen to the doctor. It’s a nice solid base from which you can control the narrative (and the policies) on heart disease and the drugs that treat it. Modern-day politics shows that if you have an enthusiastic base that supports a policy—like lowering cholesterol because it “causes heart disease” — your policy can win the day, even when it’s completely wrong.
As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.
Screening should start at age 2. On what planet was that, again?
The new guidelines also suggest screening for cholesterol at as early as two years old.
Let’s look at that one for just a sec, shall we? Fact one: Cholesterol is absolutely essential to brain development. You need it for memory and thinking. Without cholesterol, your brain is pretty much screwed. Fact two: Your kid’s brain doesn’t get fully developed until about age 25 when the cerebral cortex finally comes online.
Now put those two facts together and do the math.
We still have free speech in this country, so let me say this very clearly: In my opinion, putting a child with a developing cholesterol-dependent brain on a cholesterol lowering medication is medical malpractice.
Statins in the water supply?
As far as statins being safe for everybody, that’s patently and demonstrably false. How do we know? From groundbreaking peer-reviewed research by Beatrice Golumb of Stanford University.
Statins produce a laundry list of side effects—from muscle pain to memory loss to plunging libido—and, as Golumb’s research shows, about 65% of doctors don’t report these ADR’s (adverse drug reactions) to the FDA.
Why, you ask? The doctors don’t “believe” these side effects were caused by statins, (which, of course, is exactly what the statin manufacturers say! Quelle surprise!) Research shows that most doctors strongly believe they themselves are not susceptible to drug- company marketing influences, though the research shows the exact opposite.
The next era in personalized medicine? Not so fast…
The new guidelines are being marketed as the “next phase in personalized medicine”. Not even close. What the AMA and Co. is doing here a classic marketing ploy—take a buzzword everyone is talking about (personalized medicine) and slap it on your product so it seems relevant, even if your product is as unrelated to the buzzword as a peacock is to a salamander.
Personalized medicine—which nearly everyone agrees is the future of medicine and nutrition—involves very specialized and detailed genetic testing that can help suggest the proper dose of any medicine or nutrient for a given individual. The new cholesterol guidelines have zero to do with cardiometabolic genetic testing, and everything to do with giving this old, tired package of recycled and outdated ideas the appearance of being “current” and “cool”.
Did someone mention triglycerides?
It’s worth noting that, in this 120-or-so page report, no guidelines were provided for the treatment of triglycerides. This is a clue to the real agenda of the AHA, a clue that’s hiding in plain sight. Here’s why.
Triglycerides—a form of fat that can be measured in the blood—are a serious risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The very telling Triglyceride: HDL ratio—which you can calculate yourself from any blood test (just divide HDL number into Triglyceride number)—is an extremely important indicator of your risk for cardiovascular disease (as well as other cardiometabolic diseases like diabetes). We want triglycerides to be low, and since the guidelines are, after all, about lowering blood lipids (both cholesterol and triglycerides fit into that category), you’d think someone would address the triglyceride problem.
Nope. No recommendation from the committee on how to lower triglycerides.
Here’s my guess as to why. There’s no good drug for lowering triglycerides.
However, there is a treatment for high triglycerides that’s effective close to 100% of the time. It’s called a low-carb diet.
In study after study after study (just Google Professor Jeff Volek) triglycerides drop like a rock on a very low-carb diet, and with it the risk factors for heart disease.
Will the real agenda please stand up?
It’s my opinion that the main agenda of the committee wasn’t lowering the risk for heart disease. The main agenda of the committee was expanding the market for statin drugs.
And they couldn’t have written a better business plan to accomplish that than the new cholesterol guidelines. Congratulations, boys. Statin shareholders, get out your kazoos. The rest of us should start getting second opinions from doctors trained in functional medicine, and others—like licensed NDs—who are not in the powerful shadow of statin drug makers.
And please—if you want my opinion– run the other way if your doctor suggests a statin for your two-year-old.