If Not Drugs, What?
Julian Whitaker, MD
“I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica as used now, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind—and all the worse for the fishes.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes (1860)
If the current National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines are fully implemented, 36 million Americans—one in every five adults—will be taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, to the tune of $30 billion a year!
The goal in lowering cholesterol is obviously to reduce the risk of heart disease, which, despite significant declines since the 1960s, remains our number one killer. Yet obsessing about cholesterol levels is not the best way to tackle this problem. And dispensing drugs to a significant portion of our population to address this single risk factor is certainly not the way to go.
Cholesterol Isn’t the Whole Story
The expert panel that developed the NCEP recommendations is afflicted with a common problem in conventional medicine: They can’t see the forest for the trees. While it is true that elevated LDL cholesterol is a proven risk factor for heart disease (and the panel appropriately noted the protective role of HDL cholesterol), it is by no means the only risk factor.
Fully half of all patients who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels. Other, perhaps more important determinants of heart disease risk include elevated levels of homocysteine and lipoprotein(a), inflammation, abnormal clotting factors, and low antioxidant status.
Nowhere in these guidelines is there any mention of the importance of folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6, which keep homocysteine levels in check and have been proven to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. Nor is there an emphasis on the role of antioxidants in preventing LDL cholesterol from damaging the arteries. By concentrating solely on cholesterol—and emphasizing drugs to lower it—these heart disease “experts” have lost sight of the big picture.
The Rest of the Story
If you came to the Whitaker Wellness Institute with heart disease or high cholesterol, we would start you on an intensive lifestyle program of diet, exercise, and supplemental nutrients aimed at lowering not only your cholesterol but also other risk factors for heart disease. The benefits of these safe, natural therapies are vastly underestimated. In order for you to get a sense of their staggering potential, consider these things.
Lifestyle Changes: According to Walter Willett, MD, at the Harvard School of Public Health, smoking cessation, weight control, proper diet (low intake of saturated and trans fats and refined carbohydrates), and regular exercise (a 30-minute daily walk) would result in an 80 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin E: Studies involving more than 130,000 health professionals found that women and men taking at least 100 IU of supplemental vitamin E daily had a lower risk (40 percent and 37 percent, respectively) of heart attack or death from heart disease than those who took no vitamin E.
Vitamin C: Dr. James Enstrom, of the UCLA School of Public Health, demonstrated in a study of 11,348 people that men who consumed more than 300 mg of vitamin C per day had a 45 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who consumed less than 50 mg. The degree of protection was less significant for women, but still an impressive 25 percent reduction.
B Vitamins: Harvard researchers determined that men with the highest homocysteine levels were three times more likely to have a heart attack than those with the lowest levels. It has been firmly established that supplemental folic acid (400-800 mcg), vitamin B12 (150 mcg), and vitamin B6 (75 mg) keep homocysteine in check.
Fiber: Numerous studies have demonstrated that adding just 5 to 10 grams of dietary fiber per day lowers cholesterol levels by 5 points, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease. At the Whitaker Wellness Institute, we have found that a quarter cup of ground flaxseed, added to a high-fiber diet, results in even more dramatic reductions in cholesterol and thus in risk of heart disease.
Fish: Regular consumption of cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, or tuna, confers a 40-60 percent reduction in risk of coronary artery disease, especially in those with existing heart disease. Daily supplementation with fish oil capsules is also highly protective.
Nuts: In the Nurses’ Health Study, a 14-year study of 84,000 women, eating nuts five times a week reduced heart disease risk by 35 percent.
Aspirin: A Harvard study of 22,071 male physicians assigned to take either aspirin or a placebo every other day was stopped early because the men taking aspirin had a 44 percent reduction in heart attacks. A baby aspirin every day or half a regular aspirin every other day provides protection without significant risk of gastrointestinal complications.
If you implemented just a few of the therapies listed above (and they are quite doable—the only one that requires much effort is the daily walk), you would dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease. And as a side benefit, you’d also cut your risk of stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative diseases.
The cost of these changes would be a mere drop in the bucket, compared to the $30 billion that would go into the drug companies’ coffers with the proposed drug agenda. No matter how you do the math, it is obvious that a natural program for lowering cholesterol and protecting against heart disease is the hands-down winner.
- To learn more about the Whitaker Wellness Institute’s safe, natural approach to lowering cholesterol, contact a Patient Services Representative at (866) 944-8253 or click here.
- Executive summary of the third report of the NCEP expert panel on detection, evaluation and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults. JAMA. 2001 May 16;285(19):2486-97.
- Ghirlanda G et al. Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. J Clin Pharmacol. 1993;33:226-229.
- Stampfer, MJ et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women. New Engl J Med. 1993 May 20;328: 1444-1449.
- Enstrom, JE et al. Vitamin C intake and mortality among a sample of the United States population. Epidemiology. 1992;3: 194-202.
- Stampfer, MJ et al. A prospective study of plasma homocyst(e)iene and risk of myocardial infarction in US physicians. JAMA. 1992 Aug 19;268(7): 877-881.
- Hu, FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. BMJ. 1998 Nov 14;317:1341-5.
- Final report on the aspirin component of the ongoing Physicians’ Health Study. New Engl J Med. 1989; 321:129-135.
Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2001. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.