Could high cholesterol have some benefits?

It never ceases to amaze me how we, as Americans, feel the need to demonize things. We do it over and over again, especially when it comes to health issues. First it was fat, then cholesterol, and now salt.

I am sure I have missed quite a few other nutritional pariahs, but you see my point.

Things like this don’t happen in other countries. Maybe that’s why they have better health outcomes than we do — better obesity rates, less diabetes, better food.

Here in the U.S., we get so hung up on the either/or, the good vs. bad, that we don’t leave room for the gray area. The idea that something can be good in moderation, but damaging in excess. Or the idea that certain things are good for some people and not good for others.

That stubborn adherence to dogma isn’t doing us any favors. Take cholesterol, for instance.

If you believe everything you’ve read about cholesterol, you probably think of it on par with poison. But the fact is, cholesterol is a lot more complicated than the mainstream medical establishment would have you believe.

In fact, a large new study found that higher cholesterol is actually associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease in men.

It’s hard to believe that anything good comes of cholesterol, based on how vilified it is. But if you just think about it for a minute, it makes sense.

Our brains are mostly fat. So when you take a statin to reduce cholesterol, or when you strip fat from your diet, what do you think is going to happen to your brain?

And yet, we all had the “fat is bad, cholesterol is evil” message drilled into our minds for so long that we’re still struggling to shake it. Even with all the evidence (and this study is just the latest example in a long line), plenty of people are still clinging to the belief that they need to avoid fat and lower cholesterol at all costs.

What this study points to, though, is the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach in clinical practice just doesn’t work. Higher cholesterol can actually be of benefit in some patients, like those at risk of Parkinson’s disease.

The lead author even said, “Tailoring individualized therapeutic strategies based on stratifying risk and personal background is important.”

Ya think? That is precisely what’s wrong with medicine today — at least American medicine and the Big Pharma approach. They think we’re all the same. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth, as anyone with any self-awareness knows. Good physicians know this too. Which is why we “practice” medicine instead of just assigning it to robots.

Not all things work the same in all people. But the Big Pharma approach most Americans adhere to doesn’t work with this really simple concept (which is why it probably won’t surprise you that the study I’m referring to today came out of Israel).

Here is an interesting twist on the matter (and I do love a good bit of intrigue):

This manuscript was rejected by several high-profile journals for years because the authors’ hypothesis ran counter to statins being “wonder drugs.”

And in even better news, this team’s latest paper, published earlier this year, showed that statins themselves are a likely risk factor for Parkinson’s.

Likely. That’s the understatement of the century…