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Q: Is LDL cholesterol really ‘bad’?

Posted March 05, 2014 in Adel, Advice Column

A: The newly-published cholesterol guidelines remove the emphasis on lowering LDL-cholesterol, so called “bad cholesterol,” levels. The scientific data prove no association between cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease. Why, then, are so many people prescribed the cholesterol-lowering drugs “statins”? These drugs do appear to have a benefit in certain situations, but it is not due to their cholesterol-lowering effect. We should all stop referring to cholesterol as “bad” and “good,” since realistically we need all cholesterol to survive, and the more the cholesterol the better when it comes to brain health. Studies have shown a lower risk of death in elderly people with higher cholesterol levels, and higher levels also equate to better functioning on cognitive tests.  Indeed, common side effects of statin drugs include memory loss, confusion and “brain fog.” Cholesterol is vital to proper cellular structure and function. If you deprive the brain of cholesterol, then it cannot properly release neurotransmitters which are required for its thinking and memory functions. I am not suggesting that everyone stop taking their statin drug, but certainly a risk-benefit analysis is warranted. This is true especially in the elderly who are already at increased risk of developing dementia and memory impairment. The beneficial effect of statins is likely due to decreasing markers of inflammation. However, dietary choices alone can decrease inflammation in the body. Avoid processed foods, eat whole foods and limit your intake of breads and sweets.

Information provided by Toni Sumpter, Sumpter Pharmacy and Wellness, 628 Nile Kinnick Drive South, Suite A, 993-1119.





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