The Complexities of Cholesterol
What do we really know about
cholesterol? The lower the better,
doctors have told us since
the 1960s, when the “cholesterol hypothesis” became widely
accepted as fact, and millions
reluctantly gave up bacon and
eggs for cereal with skim milk.
Despite shaky science, Americans
were quick to accept the
thinking that high cholesterol
foods were the chief villain in the
disease of atherosclerosis—the
process whereby fatty deposits
build up in arteries, hardening
and narrowing them, eventually
starving the heart of blood.
If we could just reduce our intake
of cholesterol, less of it
would build up, we were told.
It made sense; if you avoid
grease down the kitchen
your pipes are less likely
Finally, cholesterol is getting a
The Magic of Cholesterol Numbers by Sergey A. Dzugan, MD, PhD
Reviewed By Carol Petersen, RPH, CNP - Women's International Pharmacy
Dr. Dzugan may just turn the medical industry upside down with this book. He sets the stage by explaining that—fueled by pictures of seriously clogged arteries—we have bought into the delusion that elevated cholesterol levels signal that cholesterol is on the warpath to attack our arteries. Statins aim to reduce cholesterol levels by interfering with the production of cholesterol, and to do so in a limited fashion; hence, they are currently the most commonly prescribed drug. Dr. Dzugan contends that this approach is not viable, and asks the question: Why does cholesterol get such a bad rap?
First of all, he says it is because cholesterol is a steroid, which in and of itself carries negative connotations. We immediately think of the synthetic testosterone-like hormones abused by body builders. Or maybe we think about prednisone, which is close enough to hydrocortisone and cortisone to relieve inflammation but does so at the cost of other severe side-effects. Dr. Dzugan believes that there is no place in the human body for these man-made hormone mimics. Cholesterol, on the other hand, is so prevalent in and important to the brain that it is formed independently in the brain. Thankfully, statin drugs cannot pass the blood brain barrier to interfere with that process!
Homocysteine, Hormones and Heart Disease
Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD - Women's International Pharmacy
High levels of homocysteine have been associated with an increased risk for heart disease and other chronic medical conditions. While age, gender and kidney function are the primary factors that determine homocysteine levels, the B vitamins also play an important role in keeping homocysteine in check, particularly among the elderly.
The role that hormones play in the regulation of homocysteine is less clear. However, it turns out that the same B vitamins that keep homocysteine in check also help the body “methylate” or metabolize and excrete estrogens. And a high homocysteine level also typically reflects a lack of methylation, which can be a significant source of hormone imbalance.
Research suggests that higher estradiol levels in pre-menopausal women may be keeping homocysteine in check. Preliminary studies suggest that testosterone may play a role as well. Further research is needed to fully understand the relationships among homocysteine and hormone levels.
"Homocysteine: The Amino Acid with Life or Death Implications" by Kimberly Pryor. Available at http://www.vrp.com/heart-health/homocysteine-the-amino-acid-with-life-or-death-implications as of January 2, 2013.
"Testosterone Regulation of Renal Cystathione B-synthase: Implications for Sex-dependent Differences in Plasma Homocysteine Levels" by Vitvitsky V, Prudova A, Stabler S, Dayal S, Lentz S, and Banerjee R; American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology; 2007 Aug; 293(2): F594-F600.