August 15, 2012
Why you shouldn't raise
your HDL cholesterol
For years, the medical establishment has told you that raising your HDL cholesterol is good for you. Since HDL is supposedly the good cholesterol, more is better, right? Well, not according to a new study. This new study found that raising HDL doesn’t give you any benefit. I know it’s confusing. But let me explain.

At least a half-century of research has connected higher levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein) with less risk of heart disease. Conversely, other research has determined LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol. But it’s never been that simple. There are subfractions of LDL that cause more damage than the total LDL fraction. That’s why I often order the test for subfractions, which is readily available. The dense LDL subfraction seems to convey greater risk. So just having high total LDL might not be problematic at all. But what about HDL?

A recent report in the prestigious journal The Lancet looked at the genes of about 170,000 people for slight variations. These variations caused the person to have higher levels of HDL, even up to 10% higher than without it. The researchers accordingly expected a 13% drop in heart attacks. But their risk was the same as non-carriers.

This research has significantly dispelled the widely held notion that raising your HDL will lower your heart attack risk. And it’s thrown a real monkey wrench into drug development to raise HDL. Big Pharma is spending billions of dollars to develop petrochemicals to raise your HDL. Of course, a drug like this would be good for everyone – at least that’s what the drug companies would say. But this study shows that this new class of drugs will likely do nothing to reduce your risk. (But, perhaps give you lots of toxic “side effects.”)

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Here’s my take. I still agree that having a higher HDL level means less risk. But, and this is a BIG “but,” higher HDL itself might not be what is protective. Higher HDL levels might be a marker for other factors that reduce your risk. For example, if you simply carry a gene giving you 10% more HDL than the next guy, that might mean nothing for your risk. But, if you keep a great lifestyle that includes exercise and my diet recommendations, your HDL might naturally migrate up to the highest level your genetics permit. The higher HDL won’t be what is protecting you, but might simply be a marker for a healthier status.

I’ll put it differently. Suppose your genetics set your range of optimal total cholesterol at 160-200. Your friend’s genetics set him at a range of 200-240. If you keep a poor lifestyle and your cholesterol rises to 195, my bet will be that you’ll be at a far higher risk than your friend, who keeps a great lifestyle and gets his cholesterol to the lower end (205) of his range.

Please take this new information in stride. As I’ve reported here many times, the real culprit in the cholesterol story is oxidized or rancid cholesterol. This damaged form of cholesterol comes from heating vulnerable oils or cholesterol itself. These vascular endothelial cells, which line your arteries, rapidly pick up these rancid lipids and cause damage. There, your immune system sees the damaged fats as a foreign invader and launches an attack causing inflammatory damage right inside your vessel walls.

Eliminating all fried foods, heated oils, and cooking animal foods less will reduce oxidative damage to the cholesterol. Supplements like vitamin E, tocotrienols, Alginol, and other bioflavonoids can help reduce oxidation of fats that can occur even after ingestion. Natural cholesterol-lowering supplements, like Advanced Cholesterol Formula, might reduce your body’s total production of vulnerable LDL cholesterol. Exercise will go far to burn the unwanted fats before they can do damage. Cayenne pepper’s hot compound capsaicin has been found in animals to lower cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and actually reduce plaque in their arteries. There are many ways to “skin a cat.” But forcibly raising your HDL is not necessarily one of them.

So please, worry less about HDL. Instead, direct your efforts to make damaged cholesterol less of a problem for you. It could save you from a heart attack.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

Ref: CBS News, 5-17-12.

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