The NCEP guidelines, statins, and the multifactorial view of heart disease:
The latest NCEP guidelines call for about 110-120mg/dl of cholesterol for general health; yet, low cholesterol has been associated with increased suicide rates, increased cancer mortality, vascular dementia (Alzheimer's), among other things.
The NCEP guidelines are made by 9 doctors, the latest guidelines had 8 doctors with substantial funding from statin companies- of course no conflict of interest, am I right?
Statins are supposed to be a cure-all for heart disease, or so they say. The most recent large study done with statins (JUPITER) showed a great reduction in heart attack rates- or did it? The relative risk was large, but the amount of heart attacks they actually prevented was .9%- woo, feel the cure.
Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme (HMG-CoA if you care that much) that produces the "bad cholesterol" - LDL (which is actually a lipoprotein), but that part of the liver also produces one of the most potent antioxidants for the body- CoQ10.
Statins, frankly, do nothing for any primary risk prevention, even in high risk situations- a July 2010 meta-analysis confirmed what we've known all along... Only men with heart disease benefit from statins- and even then, the reduction isn't grand.
If saturated fats are all that is evil, why do the Inuit eat 75% of their caloric intake in saturated fat, the Inuit 66%, the French 15.5%, the Swiss 15.3%, the Dutch 15.1%, and the Austrians 14%? Sure the Inuit lifespan has gone down, but it's not unusual for an Inuit to have 300+mg/dl of cholesterol- but let's stick with saturated fat.
Since it's been "well-established" that unsaturated fats are healthy for us, we should eat more unsaturated fats than saturated fats, right? Well, considering that polyunsaturates create easily oxidized LDL, and that polyunsaturates increase cancer rates when they replace animal fats, I'd say that that's bogus. Lipid researchers suggest 4% of caloric intake in polyunsaturated fat.
The main causes of heart disease: stress and inflammation (stress possibly via interleukin-6 (a proinflammatory protein), and inflammation is easily detectable through c-reactive protein.
What does this all mean? That saturated fat is not the demon it has been made out to be. Hydrogenated oils are still a heart disease risk factor, as well as overconsumption of polyunsaturated fats. The amount of saturated fat that makes up arterial clogs is 26%, while over 50% is polyunsaturated fat.
The age-adjusted statistics on heart disease show that heart disease rates have not gone down since we've had statins at our disposal, and giving statins to women in particular is just plain wrong- even if they have heart disease- they don't benefit from statins even if they have heart disease.
hs-CRP (High sensitivity/Ultra sensitivity/Cardio C-Reactive Protein)
HbA1c (glycated blood sugar)
Homocysteine (despite recent attempts to debunk this as a heart disease risk factor)
Recommended diets (top two):
"Primal Blueprint" by Mark Sisson
"Principles of a Healthy Diet" by Weston A. Price
(if going on ANY major diet change, make sure you wait at least 7 months until testing lipids (HDL, LDL, triglycerides) and even longer for hs-CRP, HbA1c, and Homocysteine (I usually recommend not testing until 1.5 years after diet change))
Further reading: Amazon.com: Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You... Heart Health - Dr. Dwight Lundell, The Great Cholesterol Lie