Here’s why your body actually needs cholesterol to thrive
I recently consulted with a new patient who happens to be a cardiologist. He came to see me at the insistence of his wife, after she had put him on a “horrible” diet (his words, certainly not mine).
As it turns out, he lost 45 pounds and was able to reduce his cholesterol and blood pressure medications because of it. The patient—a heart doctor—was stunned. His wife and I, on the other hand, were not.
I share this story for a couple of reasons. First, to demonstrate just how powerful the right nutritional plan can be. And secondly, to demonstrate just how misinformed and misguided conventional doctors are when it comes to prevention.
This is especially true for conventional cardiologists, whose modus operandi is to medicate by the numbers. And their drug of choice? Statins, of course.
But the intense focus that mainstream medicine puts on lowering cholesterol isn’t merely unnecessary. It’s also dangerous… and potentially deadly, too.
Low LDL more than doubles deadly stroke risk
I’ve been a doctor long enough to see past the numbers. I’ve watched “normal” total cholesterol thresholds drop from 300 mg/dL to 200 mg/dL and now to 150 mg/dL—along with corresponding drops in thresholds for LDL (the supposedly “unhealthy” cholesterol).
I became particularly alarmed when that number bottomed out to 70 mg/dL. Because despite what conventional wisdom might have you believe, this is one department where lower isn’t always better.
But if you need proof, consider the results of this recent study, published last year in the journal Neurology: Researchers looked at the lipid profiles of roughly 28,000 women, aged 45 or older, all enrolled in the Women’s Health Study.
The follow-up period lasted nearly two decades, during which the researchers also reviewed medical records to see how many of the subjects suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. (These types of strokes, which occur when blood vessels weaken and burst, causing bleeding into the brain, are much less common than ischemic strokes, which result from blockages. But they’re also tougher to treat, and more likely to kill you.)
Among women with LDL cholesterol at 70 mg/dL or lower, 0.8 percent went on to suffer a hemorrhagic stroke. But if that sounds insignificant, get this: Among women with LDL cholesterol between 100 mg/dL and 130 mg/dL, only 0.4 percent suffered the same fate.
After adjusting for every factor imaginable, researchers ultimately discovered that women with the lowest levels of LDL cholesterol were 2.2 times more likely to experience a hemorrhagic stroke.1
And considering that these are precisely the levels that most conventional cardiologists are aiming for, it should give any woman receiving aggressive treatment for “high” cholesterol serious pause.
But in case you’re wondering whether it’s only older women who have to worry about this risk, allow me to explain further…
Even “bad” cholesterol does a body good
Another recent study of nearly 100,000 people delivered evidence pointing to the role of low LDL cholesterol in intracranial cerebral hemorrhage (ICH)—brain bleeding that includes hemorrhagic stroke—just this past year.
I’m not talking about a weak association, either. The results of this study showed that subjects with an LDL below 70 mg/dL had 65 percent higher odds of ICH over the course of nine years. And subjects with an LDL below 50 mg/dL?
Well, they had a 169 percent higher risk compared to subjects with LDL levels between 70 and 99 mg/dL.2
Meaning all those statin medications can more than double your stroke risk, depending on how low your doc likes to keep your LDL cholesterol levels.
There was no significant difference in heart risk among those with LDL levels between 70 mg/dL to 99 mg/dL and those with LDL levels of 100 mg/dL or greater. So these rock bottom targets aren’t just dangerous. Like I said above, they’re also completely unnecessary.
Of course, there were also subjects with cholesterol levels that were naturally that low to begin with. But results didn’t even change significantly when researchers excluded patients taking statins or blood thinners.
Which means that low LDL cholesterol is an independent health risk, regardless of how you get there.
Why? Well, the simple answer is that, despite mainstream medicine’s efforts to vilify it, our bodies need cholesterol to function. Not least of all because it plays a key role in the structural formation of your cell membranes—it literally holds your body together.
Lower it too much, and of course you’re inviting in a whole host of serious problems. That’s just plain common sense.
Safe stroke prevention isn’t rocket science
If this isn’t a wake-up call to cardiologists and patients alike, it should be. So the next time your doctor tells you that you need to have your LDL below 70 mg/dL, or even at 70 mg/dL… think twice.
Because every time you listen to that advice you’re seriously increasing your risk for a bleed into your brain—the worst type of stroke you can suffer. (It’s even a more dangerous threat than a heart attack, which usually has a better prognosis, with less disability.)
To make matters worse, stroke isn’t even the only threat on the table. In fact, my December 2013 Logical Health Alternatives issue discloses the hidden dangers of our war on cholesterol and all of the underlying risks.
Here’s an example: Low total cholesterol levels have been linked to a 20 percent higher risk of death—mainly from cancer, respiratory and digestive disease, suicide, and stroke.3-4
Yet the naysayers are already screeching about this latest outcome—insisting that LDL-lowering drugs are still necessary to prevent ischemic strokes.
The medical community should be taking this opportunity to loosen cholesterol targets in favor of a bigger heart-health picture. But sadly, that’s not going to happen. It seems they would rather let patients bleed to death while Big Pharma collects their money.
It’s truly shameful. Because ischemic stroke prevention isn’t rocket science: Simply eat right, exercise consistently, and keep your blood pressure under control. (Targeted supplementation is also key—as I discuss on page 1.)
Or, you can listen to the mainstream nonsense, take a statin medication, and potentially increase your risk for lethal brain bleeds… among other nasty consequences. I don’t know about you, but I know which strategy I’m choosing, every single time.
- Rist PM, et al. “Lipid levels and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke among women.” Neurology. 2019 May 7;92(19):e2286-e2294.
- Ma C, et al. “Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and risk of intracerebral hemorrhage: A prospective study.” Neurology. 2019 Jul 30;93(5):e445-e457.
- Jacobs D, et al. “Report of the Conference on Low Blood Cholesterol: Mortality Associations.” Circulation. 1992 Sep;86(3):1046-60.
- Meilahn EN. “Low serum cholesterol: Hazardous to health?” Circulation. 1995 Nov 1;92(9):2365-6.