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high cholesterol

How did your eating change after you found out you have high cholesterol? Or did it? Or what do you do to keep your cholesterol low?

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  1. From my reading on the subject, dietary intake of cholesterol has only a minimal effect on blood cholesterol (+/- 10%, perhaps), so my diet hasn't changed much. Far more important is heredity, which you can't do anything about.

    Which is not to say there's nothing you can do - exercise helps quite a bit, and has lots of other health benefits as well. My doctor recommended fish oil capsules as well, in largish quantities (six or more grams a day). That also made a difference for me. One caveat: if you do decide to try them, be sure to get the odorless ones.

    1. When I was diagnosed, the initial recommendation from the doctor was to moderate the fat in my diet. My other lipids were also high so there was a recommednation to moderate alcohol as well - that was before I went on the wagon for other reasons.

      I did quite well in cutting back on fat - pretty much eliminating fried foods, big cutbacks on things like cheese and swapping butter out for a low fat sunflower spread. It made something of a difference but not enough to prevent the need for daily medication. As Bob says, high levels are mostly genetic.

      1. Animal fat and transfat can be two of the biggest culprits. I try to limit my full fat dairy, focus on drier or higher flavor cheese (in small quantities) and have found brown rice is great in pilaf and whole wheat tortillas taste the same as white ones. Still working on finding a non-white pasta that I really love as much as white/semolina--pasta is my favorite.

        1. I once did the NCEP Level III diet for about 22 weeks as part of a project and was really strict about it. Lost weight, but cholesterol didn't really budge (I dropped just over 4% on LDL-C).

          You can regulate via diet to some extent (more fibre, garlic+fish oil, flax seed, plenty'o fibre) but would need to incorporate exercise and some additional lifestyle changes (e.g. dropping sweet sweet booze, regular mealtimes, stopping smoking).

          And if it's genetics, blame your parents, do all that other stuff, and go speak with your physician about what pharmaceutical alternatives are available to you which makes sense for you.

          1. My cholesterol is consistently high, but while my HDL levels are abnormally high, the LDL is well down there, so my doctor is pretty happy with that. What worries both of us is my triglycerides, which have apparently been chronically high even back in my skinny days. If I were willing to give up my regular wine consumption, that would probably help, but I'm not. I am taking simvastatin for the cholesterol and fish oil too, despite the fact that my otherwise sane doctor insists it has NO EFFECT on triglycerides. I've been taking just one 1.2 gram capsule a day - since I tolerate such things well, I think I'm going to do three a day and see what happens. I've also caved in to the inevitable and am signing up with a gym on the Silver Sneakers program; I've lost about 18 lbs on diet alone (mostly fish and salad for supper), but I've been stuck on a plateau for a while, so it's time for some organized sweat.

            The only radical changes we've made to our diet is cutting simple carbs as much as is tolerable, generally eating NO carbs for supper - maybe brown rice once a week. Portion control is another biggie; having grown up in a family in which such comments as, "Is that all you're taking? You need to put some meat on those bones!" were not uncommon, cooking one salmon fillet for two people and stll having leftovers for my lunch has become the new Normal.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Will Owen

              Lopid (Gemfibrozil) is what my friend was prescribed for high triglycerides, high HDL and low LDL after having a mild heart attack. The cardiologist also recommended Omega 3 supplements...specified Omega 3 and not Omega 6, preferably krill oil. He was also told to cut back on sugars, fats, eat more whole grains, get more fiber and more exercise.

              BTW, the high triglycerides, low LDL and high HDL can be symptoms of metabolic syndrome, too.

            2. Cutting out sugars, flours, and other starches worked for my spouse. I have long followed a low-carbohydrate diet for weight control and found as a bonus my cholesterol levels fell to a level that makes my doctor gleeful. My spouse believes he has inherited the tendency towards high cholesterol and was resigning himself to taking medications, when I convinced him to do a trial low carbohydrate diet combined with niacin and fish oil to see if it made any difference in his cholesterol.

              We consume half and half in our coffee, the real stuff, whole fat yogurt (tho I will purchase Fage 2% if that's all I can get), butter, red meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables and greens. We do not consume sugar or things made from sugar except as a very occasional treat (and that means honey, agave nectar, corn syrup, HFCS, etc are also out), bread, pasta, cereals, rice, other grains or other starchy processed foods; potatoes are out too. Basically we control for sugars and starches, not fats, follow a diet of overwhelminghly fresh foods, and it works extremely well. My spouse's cholesterol has fallen to a level low enough that his MD is no longer suggesting medication to control it.

              The conventional wisdom is that it is the animal fats one consumes that cause high cholesterol, however, more and more it seems the conventional wisdom has been misguided and it is after all the sugars and starches that may be the culprit.

              2 Replies
              1. re: janniecooks

                <<more and more it seems the conventional wisdom has been misguided and it is after all the sugars and starches that may be the culprit.>>

                I've heard that, too and am pretty sure you're onto something! Sadly, not only am I a fool for sugars and flour-based treats, but my genes fail me on the cholesterol front, too. I do take fish oil. I'm sure it would help more if I could stay away from sugar. I'm either on my bicycle or on foot walking up a storm, so presumably, that's keeping me on the good side...time will tell in about a month when I get tested again. Oatmeal's supposed to help, too.

                I really commend you for kicking sugar. I'm a strong lady, but not that strong! :)

                1. re: janniecooks

                  For anyone interested in using lower-carb as a key to lowering cholesterol and more important, triglycerides, this lecture is very interesting. (If you're kind of a geek. ;))
                  http://academicearth.org/lectures/bat...
                  LECTURE DESCRIPTION
                  The case for low-carbohydrate diets is gaining weight. Christopher Gardner, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, has completed the largest and longest-ever comparison of four popular diets using real-world conditions, which he discusses - the lowest-carbohydrate Atkins diet came out on top.

                2. Mine was just a bit high; I tried to eat a bit less fried food and, most of all, started having oatmeal for lunch a couple of times a week, usually with a chopped apple or packet of raisins in it. Lowered it by 30 for my next appointment.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: occula

                    I am 59 years old. My cholesterol is 400. It has been that high since I first had it measured 30 years ago. My LDL/HDL ratio is perfect. We inherited this from my mother. 3 out of 4 siblings have it. Our triglycerides are perfect. My mother lived to 90. I guess that I am not going to worry about it.

                  2. More fiber. This goes for cereal, and adding Metamucil. No "white" anything (pasta, bread), subbing whole grains.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pinehurst

                      More fiber is right. I just received my degree in Nutrition, and lowered my own hereditary high cholesterol with a high fiber diet. The body secretes cholesterol-containing bile into the intestine for fat absorption. Lower in the intestine, the body reabsorbs this cholesterol. Increasing fiber ensures that less of this cholesterol is reabsorbed, and essentially is flushed down the drain and out of your body. Aiming for at least 30g a day in the form of whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables is best. Whether the condition is genetic or caused by diet, increasing fiber works. There is nothing wrong with supplementing with Metamucil or Benefiber as well. I often buy a double fiber bread, 6 g per slice. This is a great boost to the diet.

                      1. re: wendy8869

                        aaaaaaaand...if you add 2 TB. ground flax seed to your oatmeal or any other food (salad, smoothie, etc.) you get even more awesome fiber plus healthy fats and lignans.
                        http://www.ameriflax.com/default.cfm?...

                    2. Originally my total cholesterol was 302 of which LDL was 213, triglycerides fine (only 70). Ratio of HDL/LDL fine too (3:2). I always have the VAP cholesterol test which is much more accurate and informative than the standard "garden variety" test which doesn't break down the LDL cholesterol into its size pattern subtypes (I am mixed, A/B).

                      Since I flatly refuse to ever take statins (I will not take any medication that messes with my liver) I made these dietary changes:
                      * eliminate red meat entirely
                      * restrict chicken to skinless white meat, no more than 3x per month
                      * daily breakfast is large bowl of steel cut oatmeal, every day, without fail
                      * Carlson fish oil/omega 3s capsule daily
                      * switch from whole milk to either skim or 1% (ditto for baking) - usually skim
                      * switch from regular to either 1% or 0% fat Greek yogurt
                      * eliminate eating "whole" eggs (I will make all-whites omelets and quiches instead), and although I do use them in baking I will not make any recipe that includes more than 2 whole eggs. I have occasionally used Ener-G egg replacer in recipes that call for 3 whole eggs and in that case I use either 1 or 2 real eggs and the remainder the Ener-G equivalent
                      * switch to feta cheese, and that no more than a couple of times a month (usually in a feta/eggwhite/broccoli crustless quiche)

                      I freely admit I am not into the exercise thing, except for gardening when the season and weather permit. I don't go to a gym, I don't go walking (though I probably should), but then again I am not overweight (in fact I'm techically underweight by 5-10 lbs depending on what chart you use). So if I did exercise I'd probably end up as a wraith, LOL.

                      After a year of following the new diet I had my cholesterol retested. New results: Total cholesterol 206, of which LDL was 133. Triglyercides still fine at 70. LDL/HDL ratio still fine.

                      So I dropped 96 points in total cholesterol, and 80 points in LDL, just by changing my diet. That's 31% and 37%, respectively, and so I don't buy the claims (no doubt pushed by studies funded by Big Pharma) that dietary intake has only about a 10% effect on blood cholesterol results. Obvioiusly that's not always true.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: skyline

                        Yep, President Clinton has had success too by going stricly vegan, I am NOT saying it's for everyone, but dietary changes can help if you are motivated. Skyline, do you purposely NOT eat any fatty fish like wild salmon? I see you take the fish oil supp's...you could knock those out if you ate wild salmon and sardines, I think...but not everyone LIKES the flavor of those fishes, I realize, just curious, I'm not preaching or attacking. Almost all of my "animal" protein is from salmon, sardines and kippers now...I eat 3-5 servings each week, the rest is plant protein, okay and some weeks 2 omega 3 eggs.

                        1. re: Val

                          Actually I used to love salmon, until at about the half-century mark my digestive system informed me in no uncertain terms that fatty fish was Not A Good Idea, LOL. In fact one of the unintended benefits of my giving up red meat entirely is that my stomach is far less "touchy" than it used to be. Even if I overindulge in chicken (especially if I 'cheat' and eat the dark meat which I do like much better) my tummy will let me know about it afterwards.

                          I suspect that it's the fat in animal (or fish) flesh that my 'older' stomach now has problems in dealing with, because I've never had a problem with taking the fish oil supplement. I used to eat more fish (sole, flounder) but always in restaurants because I can't stand the smell that results from cooking seafood in house ... always has been a quirk of mine. But on the other hand I totally do not trust restaurant fish either (to be honest, I don't really trust restaurant FOOD much, LOL!) so I just take the fish oil capsules instead. :-)

                          My protein comes from beans, fat-free or 1% yogurt, the occasional cheese, the very occasional chicken, and Skim Plus milk (which is luckily available in this part of the country) http://www.skimplus.com

                          They also make SkimPlus half-and-half which I have tried in baked goods instead of regular half-and-half and even regular cream, with quite acceptable results.

                          1. re: Val

                            No he hasn't, he looks like crap and he takes statins! His level of facial inflammation from rosacea is the worst it's been in many years, and he and Hillary have aged 20 years each in the last couple of years, she's noticeably heavier, too. He looked best ever on South Beach, not perfect but much healthier. He's backed Ornish, the wrong horse to bet on.

                            1. re: mcf

                              whoa...mcf, can you please *site* your information about him CURRENTLY being on statins? I've read that he's been on and off them since 2004 but could not find anything about his current status. ((((thanks))))

                              1. re: Val

                                No, I'm not going hunting for that, but they raised his statin dose (you can find the doctor's quote, probably, if you're more interested than I) when he had to have another procedure. Since diets like his raise TGLs so much and drop HDL like a rock, it's very doubtful that his very conventional cardiologists have decided to drop the statin.

                          2. re: skyline

                            "dietary intake has only about a 10% effect on blood cholesterol results. Obvioiusly that's not always true."

                            I doubt whether any serious medical study would claim it is always true.

                            When I was first measured, my level was 11.5. I made all the recommended diet changes which reduced it to around 9.0. At which point, the hospital recommended medication. This had the expected, and required, dramatic reduction to around the "safe" level of 5.0 in a very short space of time. My current medication, simvastatin, now maintains it at around 4.5.

                            1. re: skyline

                              I improved my own lipids by switching to a high fat, low carb diet, I began eating red meat, whole eggs again and full fat dairy again and my TGLs dropped to very low risk, my HDL doubled to 78 and improvements have remained for over a decade. I get these benefits whether I exercise or not.

                              For the record, lowering cholesterol is not a healthy goal; lowering triglycerides and elevating HDL by diet and lifestyle is, though. It's all about lipid ratios and particle size. As we age or when under stress, we need all the large, fluffy LDL our bodies make in order to manufacture enough sex hormones and other steroids that keeps us healthy and alive. They're all made from LDL.

                              Tightly controls my diabetes, too, and reversed kidney and nerve damages.

                            2. i think the key here, as with most things, is moderation! keeps you healthy physically AND keeps you from driving yourself insane with a whole bunch of crazy diets.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: mattstolz

                                I completely agree, and so when I do "cheat" (like in summer when the more-than-occasional scoop of vanilla ice cream is just too good to pass up, LOL) I never beat myself up about it.

                                I was on the diet outlined above for about 3 years and then was hit with a cancer diagnosis out of the blue. When I was on chemo it was important to keep both my red and white cell levels normal, which meant eating more protein than I normally would (I can't even swallow any of that canned protein cr*p) have done. So during those months I ate chicken 3 times a week, drank 1% or 2% milk, and ate cheese regularly. At the beginning I did stress out about it ("aaaarrrghh! it's heart-attack-on-a-plate!!!!") but quickly realized that it was more important AT THAT POINT IN TIME to put the cholesterol control on the back burner and concentrate on what my body needed during the chemo -- knowing that I would be able to change my eating habits "back" again afterward.

                                I actually like the "low-chol/low-fat" eating system though, and don't feel that I am missing anything on an ongoing basis. And it's not as if it's zero-cholesterol/zero-fat, after all. The things I do scrupulously avoid are those foods that I am allergic/intolerant of (there are several), anything that has HFCS or trans fats in it, and anything with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving. Or anything packaged in a can, other than Eden beans (the BPA factor, dontcha know ;) )

                                1. re: skyline

                                  i agree. in my offseason i still try to stay pretty lean and i follow the "relaxed but healthy" theory of eating. not stressing about everything and allowing the occasional cheat/trip out with friends. it makes everything much more enjoyable and do-able. i also imagine in many diseases/health issues, the fact that it is much lower stress and allows for the occasional food that makes you happy is a major plus!

                                2. re: mattstolz

                                  No two people agree on what moderation is. And since most folks become insulin resist ant and/or diabetic, moderation is no longer an adequate intervention to prevent progression and reverse effects.

                                3. I hope I can contribute to this thread in another month or 2. I had bloodwork done and I guess my cholesterol levels were enough for her to prescribe me a medication to pick up while I collected my asthma stuff.

                                  High cholesterol is genetic in this family. my skinny mother and sister are dealing with the same stuff. I think I'm the only one who agreed to take the medication..... and I'm the only one dealing with the side effects: nightmares and insomnia.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Njchicaa

                                    No; and if it lowers your LDL, your asthma may well get worse, too. Messing with LDL inhibits your body's ability to regulate your hormone levels, and I can tell you that adrenal steroid dysregulation will mess with your sleep, memory, cognition, mood and energy levels...

                                  2. I'm in my early 30s and my cholesterol has been about 205 since I was first tested in my early 20s. Not exactly sky-high but higher than my doctors have wanted it to be, especially for my age. A couple of years ago I decided I really needed to lose weight, so I started Weight Watchers and lost 85 lbs. I still eat everything in moderation but I eat less of it, and the bulk of what I eat is whole grain, lean protein, LOTS of vegetables and fruits, and non-fat or low-fat dairy (with occasional small amounts of regular cheese -- I don't mess around with reduced-fat cheese). I also went from zero exercise (other than the short walk from subway to work) to running 30-35 minutes, 3x a week. I don't smoke and I don't drink a lot, mostly wine. I'm in the best shape of my life. My doctor was really excited to see my cholesterol levels after such dramatic health changes. The result: 205.

                                    It's possible if I made more severe cuts in my diet (red meat, eggs, cheese, sugar), I'd be able to bring it down, but I'm doubtful -- and I'd be pretty pissed if I cut out things I love and my cholesterol stayed the same! I'll keep eating and exercising the way I am, to keep my weight/overall health under control, but otherwise I'm pretty resigned to going on meds when I'm out of my child-bearing years.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: stomachofsteel

                                      My cholesterol and my MIL's are both around 300, but HDL is very high, TGLs low, LDL high by lart and fluffy with those ratios, not atherogenic. Her cardiologist (chief of dept) said not to listen to anyone who thinks we need to be treated... we're very low risk. When I plug my numbers into the Harvard online CVD risk estimator, my risk comes out below average.

                                    2. I should have a cholesterol problem due to heredity, but my doctor personally called me to give me my test results in June. He had never had a patient with such a high HDL level and my LDL was extremely low. All my other blood work was great.

                                      At 49 I attribute this to diet and exercise. I run 3 miles a day and eat a healthy, low fat diet. Don't get me wrong, I never deprive myself, but when I'm being "bad" it is in moderation. If I have chocolate, it is one small piece of bittersweet, or a single scoop of really good ice cream. I only use extra virgin olive oil, will use a very small amount of butter in just a few dishes. For example, sauteed scallops just need butter.

                                      I don't eat red meat and have a semi-vegetarian diet. I'll go for days and be perfectly satisfied with a vegetarian or even vegan diet and then I'll want a little chicken or fish. I eat a lot of whole grains, high fiber foods, lots of fresh veggies, etc.

                                      My doctor said I'm doing everything right. I don't ever want to be on any meds.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Barbara76137

                                        Not for nothing, but my MIL does everything wrong, lives for sweets and eats everything else, too, the more butter and salt the better. Her HDL at age 80 is 102, her triglycerides (the biggest risk factor) 77 and her LDL over 200, which is important for elderly folks, those with the lowest LDL have the highest mortality.

                                        Heredity gives some folks a better hand than others. My heredity had me with deadly lipids profiles til I began eating a lot more animal proteins and fats and veggies, dropping the starches and sugars. I had to work at it, she doesn't. But we both have the levels of cholesterol that makes less well read doctors faint.

                                      2. I'm a huge believer in "listen to what your body is trying to tell you" and also that the body is such an incredible machine that will often self-regulate if given half a chance (meaning, don't screw the system up with powerful meds -- note however that I am NOT talking about antibiotics here, WHEN they are needed!).

                                        Great example is the body's own production and maintenance of cholesterol levels. Initially when my LDL was 213, my HDL was 88. When I re-tested (same test, btw, the VAP) after modifying my diet, my total chol and also my LDL were both lower: LDL went down to 133, BUT the HDL also went down as well -- to 52. And the cholesterol/HDL ratios reported on both tests were exactly the same, which was 3:2 !

                                        Some cardiologists feel that the cholesterol/HDL ratio is just as important as the actual numbers (total chol, LDL, and HDL). It certainly seems that no matter what I ate or didn't eat, my body was determined to keep that ratio stable at 3:2 . Btw, any ratio of less than 4.5 is considered desirable.

                                        As far as LDL particle size, another thing now considered possibly the most important, I am a mix of A (large fluffy good) and B (small dense bad) -- another thing that again did not change as a result of diet change. But again it pays to look closely at the numbers. The worst most dense small LDL is the VLDL3 and according to the both test ranges it should ideally be less than 10. Mine came back pre-diet as 11, and post-diet as exactly 10. Thus neither levels are DRAMATICALLY bad and nothing that is making me lose any sleep. On the other hand, what I found interesting is that my percentage of the MOST protective kind of HDL (HDL-2) was better BEFORE I changed my diet! It was 30 then, and the normal range (from Quest Labs result) is "more than 10". Yet after modifying my diet the same test showed my HDL-2 had dropped to 15 which as per LabCorp's normal range should be "more than 15". (different labs use different ranges for the same test) So apparantly when my body adjusted its HDL levels downward to keep the cholesterol/HDL range stable, it apparantly "dumped" more of the best type of HDL than the less good type. Go figure. LOL

                                        This is probably my body's way of telling me to make workable adjustments (no red meat, no scrambled/fried eggs, use the skim or 1% milk and the lowfat yogurt, etc) but to not ever get crazy about the summertime ice cream or the occasional cheese-in-salads binge. :-) And I do listen, because I have far more faith in my individual body's actions and reactions than in any mechanical test results, studies, or diets-du-jour.

                                        1. mcf said: “Statins have not proven safe nor effective. In fact, to reduce mortality at all, you have to treat a few hundred men over 65 with known blockages and previous heart attacks to save one death from CVD. But you have higher cancer rates, cognition losses muscle weakness....
                                          For women, statins have zero net benefit, and over 50 y.o. the risks are especially bad.”

                                          Mcf, you’re right that there are still very large gaps in the knowledge base on the net benefits of statins for people with lower risks of cardiovascular disease. You’re also right to be very wary of the potential conflicts of interest among researchers and of the effects of publication bias (including pharmaceutical companies’ suppression of data that reflects unfavorably on their products). Further, we don’t yet know how safe statins are when taken for decades by large populations because these medications haven’t been around long enough.

                                          That said, your anti-statins claims seem more than a bit overdrawn.

                                          I’d respond in detail, but I’m sure the mods would quickly turn the effort into an exercise in futility, since the OP’s question seemed to be focusing on dietary practices.

                                          Suffice it to say that for most people, it is quality of life that is of primary importance when deciding whether the potential benefits of a medication or a lifestyle change outweigh its costs. So whether treatment with a statin reduces the risks of experiencing a first heart attack, or of needing to undergo heart surgery or angioplasty, or of suffering a stroke are ALL important considerations -- apart from whether the drug might reduce the risk of death.

                                          The number of people who would need to be treated for several years to prevent a single case of any of those events from occurring is just a few dozen, not several hundred. This has been shown even in ostensibly healthy individuals with only a few risk factors for cardiovascular disease -- not just in people “with known blockages and previous heart attacks.”

                                          Women, like men, benefit from statins, but the benefits are less pronounced among younger women because, at younger ages, women have much lower baseline risks of cardiovascular disease than men. Few studies so far have been large enough to have had the statistical power to show as clearcut benefits for women as have been shown for men.

                                          Several large systematic reviews and meta-analyses have failed to show that statin use increases the risk of getting cancer or of dying from cancer. There are certainly other important possible risks that need to be explored further, but on balance, statins have thus far been shown to be relatively safe.

                                          Heneghan C. Considerable uncertainty remains in the evidence for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011 Jan 14;(8):ED000017
                                          http://tinyurl.com/cchstsreved

                                          Taylor F. Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011 Jan 19;(1):CD004816
                                          http://tinyurl.com/cchsttsrev11

                                          Ridker PM. Number needed to treat with rosuvastatin to prevent first cardiovascular events and death among men and women with low low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and elevated high-sensitivity c-reactive protein. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes 2009;2:616
                                          http://tinyurl.com/jupiternnt

                                          Mills EJ. Primary prevention of cardiovascular mortality and events with statin treatments. J Am Coll Cardiol 2008;52:1769
                                          http://tinyurl.com/millsnetstts

                                          Cholesterol Treatment Trialists Collaboration. Efficacy and safety of more intensive lowering of LDL cholesterol: a meta-analysis of data from 170,000 participants in 26 randomised trials. Lancet 2010;376(9753):1670
                                          http://tinyurl.com/cttc2010

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: racer x

                                            Thanks racer x. Statins have been on the market for at least 15 years and have been shown to be both effective and safe - so far. As has been mentioned diet certainly plays a role but heredity is more important. Important to note as well is the fact that as we age, co-morbidity factors increase. In other words there are usually several factors that come into play rather than any one single cause. Here’s an extreme example of the hereditary angle:
                                            http://www.minnesotamonthly.com/media...

                                            1. re: scoopG

                                              That's what they said about Premarin. For 25 years, women were rx'ed Premarin because researchers and clinicians said it was proven safe and protective against heart attacks, strokes and dementia.

                                              It turned out it caused them, instead, when independently studied.

                                              I've been reading case histories and the scientific research, especially by those without a financial stake in statin selling. We may be working from different information.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                True, and let's not forget several other notorious "shown to be safe" drugs, such as:

                                                Seldane, an allergy drug that took 13 years to be found unsafe

                                                PPA (phenolpropynolamine) which was on the market for 60 (!) years and appeared in everything from cold meds to diet pills.

                                                DES, which was given to pregnant women for 30 years and was later found to cause cancer in their female offspring.

                                                Fen-Phen which was put into almost every dieting drug made, and only pulled after 27 years

                                                Also, most cancer researchers will tell you that it normally takes at least 20 years of "availability" for a cause-and-effect to be established for a drug or a substance, in that respect. That's why all the surprise about the abnormally high incidence of cancers in the 9/11 WTC responders -- it has only been 10 years and yet the cancer incidence among them is so far out of the norm that it's difficult to account for it any other way. Researchers were not expecting to find that correlation for at least another decade, because that's how the human body normally responds.

                                                Also some of the clinical trials prior to the approval of statin drugs did not always document all (or sometimes any!) side effects, but instead looked only at their performance regarding lipid lowering. As a result, an interesting June 2011 study clearly states that myopathy is much more common in real-world use than it was in the clinical trials, stating that "The incidence of statin-induced myopathy is significantly lower in randomized controlled trials of statin efficacy than in observational studies of real-world patients."

                                                Also, drug company trials have been known to have deliberately withheld data in order to get their products approved (Vytorin, Zetia, and Crestor are 3 examples in the cholesterol-meds field). Frankly I don't trust the results of any trials that are (a) funded by the pharm company, (b) have a patient base only in the hundreds rather than the thousands (c) aren't long term (5-plus years) (d) are too restrictive in their patient base, (e) double blind randomize, or (f) any of the above. Especially (a), LOL.

                                                1. re: skyline

                                                  I nearly died from a Seldane reaction; a severe immune system one, not the cardiac one. I needed steroids to recover from it.

                                          2. When I was diagnosed w/ high cholesterol, GP immediately put me on drugs. Admittedly, my numbers were atrocious -- triglycerides so high that they couldn't be measured. And there is a history of high cholesterol and heart disease in my family. So I started taking a statin and something for my triglycerides. My dear friend, a nutritionist, suggested that I try a cholesterol lowering diet of lots of Omega 3, whole grains, more fiber and minimal sugars or fats. After 6 months of both diet and pills, my numbers improved to "better than optimal" in every way. My meds were cut in half. Another 6 months later, numbers were still stellar, so I talked my GP into taking me off the meds and letting me do this through diet only. While my numbers weren't as great, they were still in the "better than optimal" range. I've been off the meds for a full year now, and I've been following the diet fairly well. (If you check my other posts, you'll see a 4 meal fried chicken bender recently.) Blood work from this week shows "better than optimal" again. Diet and exercise can take care of cholesterol, and I'm glad to not have to take meds that could destroy my liver.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: mtbwustl

                                              If you cut the grains, the numbers will be even better. Particularly if you replace them with healthy fats and veggies with lots of colors and fiber. If by "optimal" your doc means low cholsterol and LDL, it's not optimal for your health. My high LDL is optimal for me, along with my very low TGL and high HDL... that's the most protective pattern against CVD, no matter how high the numbers.
                                              I know someone whose father had LDL of 395 his whole life and died at 95 of non CVD causes. My mother had high LDL and surgically observed clean as a whistle vasculature the day before she died.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                Without going into detail, my numbers are all in great shape from any perspective. I gave up grains about 3 weeks ago when I decided to really clean up my eating (see fried chicken bender mentioned above). So I'm eating mostly what you describe. I worry about my fruit and veggie intake as the winter approaches, but we'll deal with that later.

                                              2. re: mtbwustl

                                                mt: awesome...here's a recent article if I may, from ScienceDaily about how eating GREENS can overcome GENES related to heart problems:
                                                http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...

                                              3. My tri were high (273) so my Dr put me on Lovazza, which is a high-test fish oil. After 6 weeks, it's down to 161 (and all of my other numbers got better, too!). I usually eat oatmeal for breakfast, skip butter, eat meat rarely & go "vegan" a couple of times/week. I go heavy on the fruits & vegs, too.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: janbo19

                                                  It's a ratio under 3:1 HDL/TGL, preferably 1.5 or lower, that's protective and marks non atherogenic LDL no matter how high it is. TGL of 100 or less are also desirable.

                                                  You won't need Lovaza (but regular fish oil can't hurt you and it's cheap) if you cut out the oatmeal and the vegan days and eat more protein and healthy fats, like from nuts, fish, olives, avocadoes.
                                                  Carbs cause your liver to produce more triglycerides for storage in response to the excess glucose carbs produce so rapidly, all at once, after you eat. Fructose is notorious for elevating triglycerides, so cutting fruits in favor of more veggies should help a lot, too. We don't need a pill for every ill, just a good, independent reading of the actual endocrine basis of post meal metabolism. Another benefit if lowering carbs/fructose is the typical rise in HDL with TGL, a sign of vastly reduced heart disease mortality or morbidity.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    Thanks, MCF, for the thoughtful reply.... certainly lots to think about.

                                                  2. re: janbo19

                                                    @janbo19...what IF you ate more sardines, wild salmon and kippers? Just wondering...you might be able to forego the chemical drug? Not everyone likes how those fishes taste, I realize...I eat them 3-4 times each week (I DO like them)...interesting...thanks!

                                                    1. re: Val

                                                      Never had kippers, might be willing to give sardines another try (my dad would eat them w/ saltines when I was a kid) & I like wild salmon - should do that more often. Thanks.... jb

                                                  3. Salads during the week and Lipitor every day. Works like a charm.

                                                    1. although my total cholesterol is marginally high, i've SUBSTANTIALLY improved the ratio of "good" cholesterol to "bad" cholesterol by:
                                                      1) stopping all meat and poultry consumption,
                                                      2) i have ONE meal a week that contains cheese, and that meal is a flight of small portions of VERY high quality cheese so that i get enough flavor and pleasure to justify the saturated fat.
                                                      this is the only dairy i consume all week
                                                      3) i drink only soy milk and use only soy milk for smoothies, blended mochas, etc.
                                                      imho, there is tremendous variance in the flavor of the different brands of soymilk.
                                                      the brand that i like is the 365 brand that is sold by Whole Foods in the ORIGINAL flavor; this can be found in their refrigerated section.
                                                      4) also, will only order fried foods at restaurants that i can rely upon NOT to use transfats, animal fats, or any other type of "bad-for-you" type of fat. one of the restaurants in my regular rotation invited me into the kitchen to look at all the oil containers that they had to proudly show me that they only used "healthy" oil for frying.