Ask me what my cholesterol level is

In my practice and through other work that I do I encounter a steady stream of men who are ‘concerned’ about their cholesterol. These men have turned up a ‘raised’ cholesterol on routine screening, Their doctor may have suggested that they swap cholesterol-reducing margarine for butter and cut back on cheese, eggs and red meat. However, if that doesn’t work (like it hardly ever does), the next step is to ‘go on a statin’.

I really have lost count of the number of men for whom ‘raised’ cholesterol is the only supposed abnormality in their blood markers of health as well as other measurements such as weight and blood pressure. Many of these men live what would generally be regarded as healthy lives: non-smoking with a decent diet and some physical activity thrown in for good measure. So, how can it be that so many people have so much evidence of good health throughout the body, yet quite consistently fail in this one measure (cholesterol)? What occurs to me when I see men like this is just how the ‘raised’ cholesterol sticks out like a sore thumb.

Well, one reason has to do with concept of what is termed ‘normal’? Usually, what is normal is determined by so-called ‘normal ranges’. Basically, the normal range is the range of levels of, say, sodium or thyroid hormones, seen in a ‘healthy’ population of people. The middle of the normal range normally corresponds to the average level of a substance in a population.

However, for cholesterol, normal ranges are not set in this way. The upper level of cholesterol is not represented by the upper end of the normal range in a population, but decided by panels of people who ‘weigh up the evidence’ and then set an arbitrary ‘upper limit’ of cholesterol over which, we are told, risk of heart disease is raised and efforts should be made to lower cholesterol…

Read the complete article @ Dr Briffa's Blog - A Good Look at Good Health.

Articles on Dr. Massen's Reading List reflect the original author's views, which Dr. Massen may or may not agree with. No information or opinions provided here should be used for the purpose of self-diagnosis or as a substitute for medical advice by a physician licenced in your state. Always consult your family doctor before beginning any new treatment, changing your diet, starting a new exercise regimen. If you live in the East Bay, feel free to call our Hayward office for health consultation by Dr. Massen.