You’ve Been Cholesterolled.

Do you ever get the feeling you've been taken for a ride? When it comes to cholesterol, you almost certainly have been. You just need to look at the basics of what cholesterol is and does, to know something about what you've been told, isn't quite right. For all intents and purposes, you should love your cholesterol.

The main reason you should love cholesterol, is because at a fundamental level, cholesterol is protecting you, and that’s all you really need to understand to start protecting yourself from misleading information, which often ends up convincing people to hate and fear their own biological function.

The modern medical model tends to give the impression that things are pretty much black and white. High cholesterol is said to be bad, lowering cholesterol by any means is what you need to do, and a blood test will tell you whether or not you are healthy. But that’s not really how things work from a biological perspective.

Low Levels of Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Mortality Outcomes in Non-Statin Users; J Clin Med. 2019 Oct; 8(10): 1571.

The lowest LDL-C group had a higher risk of all-cause mortality, CVD mortality, and cancer mortality compared to the reference group…Low levels of LDL-C concentration are strongly and independently associated with increased risk of cancer, CVD, and all-cause mortality.

A better way to look at cholesterol is to see it as a fundamental part of the function of your system, and to understand that, in almost every circumstance, cholesterol is there to protect you. Your system produces most of your cholesterol needs, and cholesterol levels go up and down depending on your ability to properly produce it, and on how much is required in order to try to keep things working optimally.

These factors can impact the levels of cholesterol detected in the blood, as can variations in energy metabolism performance, which determine how much cholesterol gets converted into the more specialized protective hormones like progesterone and testosterone. So looking at the numbers on their own, isn’t always that helpful. High cholesterol has been demonized, but there are plenty of scientific explanations as to why it’s usually probably not such a bad thing. Not to mention the fact that low cholesterol is very often a sign something serious is going on.

Quantitative and Qualitative Assessments of Cholesterol Association With Bacterial Infection Type in Sepsis and Septic Shock; J Intensive Care Med. 2020 Jun 24;

Reduced cholesterol levels are associated with increased organ failure and mortality in sepsis. Cholesterol levels may vary by infection type (gram negative vs positive), possibly reflecting differences in cholesterol-mediated bacterial clearance…Cholesterol levels are significantly lower among patients with culture-positive sepsis and bacteremia.

Sepsis kills more people than heart disease and cancer, and one thing that cholesterol has been shown to do, is help protect against rising levels of exposure to bacteria, and bacterial toxins like endotoxin. All kinds of disease, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and diseases blamed on viruses, are driven by rising levels of systemic circulation of bacterial endotoxin. So the question becomes, what causes endotoxin to become a worsening issue, and cholesterol dysfunction is one part of the answer.

Low serum LDL cholesterol levels and the risk of fever, sepsis, and malignancy; Ann Clin Lab Sci. Autumn 2007;37(4):343-8.

…we investigated the associations of low serum LDL cholesterol levels…and the incidences of fever, sepsis, and malignancy…The first group demonstrated increased odds of hematological cancer by more than 15-fold…Each 1 mg/dl increase in LDL was associated with a relative reduction of 2.4% in the odds of hematological cancer…Low LDL levels also increased the odds of fever and sepsis between the groups…In summary, low serum LDL cholesterol level was associated with increased risks of hematological cancer, fever, and sepsis.

Low cholesterol can be explained by a worsening metabolic state, and it can also be responsible for a worsening metabolic state, but either way it isn’t something to aim for, or to be pleased about. High cholesterol can often be the result of rising stress, or interference with thyroid metabolism, and as people age it has been shown to be a protective factor improving longevity. Cholesterol blood test results can vary significantly from one day to the next, so at the very least it makes sense not to rush into coming to any conclusions, and to look at things more holistically.

Low Cholesterol is Associated With Mortality From Stroke, Heart Disease, and Cancer: The Jichi Medical School Cohort Study; J Epidemiol. 2011; 21(1): 67–74. 

Studies have shown a relationship between low cholesterol and non-cardiovascular mortality; however, in addition to cancer mortality, stroke mortality and heart disease mortality were also related to low cholesterol in our analyses…Because low cholesterol is associated with high cancer mortality, low cholesterol is a key finding in cancer…we observed that low cholesterol was associated with increased risks of cancer, hemorrhagic stroke, and heart failure…

I’m not a doctor or health professional, and none of this is medical or health advice, but from what I understand and have experienced over the years, the only good way to bring cholesterol to what might be considered optimal levels, is to lower stress and inflammation, and improve general metabolic function. That kind of approach applies both to lowering and to raising cholesterol. So in other words you need to fix the underlying issue, rather than look at cholesterol as a problem in and of itself.

Getting enough energy from sugar, and avoiding the PUFAs, can play a big role in lowering stress and improving thyroid, and subsequently improving cholesterol regulation. The PUFAs can bring cholesterol levels down by interfering with cholesterol production and that doesn’t sound very wise once you begin to understand how cholesterol really works. The PUFAs and their breakdown products are part of what damages cholesterol, and damaged cholesterol can potentially become an issue in and of itself.

Lipid levels are inversely associated with infectious and all-cause mortality: international MONDO study results; J Lipid Res. 2018 Aug; 59(8): 1519–1528.

The observation that infectious mortality is inversely associated with both LDL-C and HDL-C levels…is consistent with prior observations by us and consistent with reported protective effect of LDL-C and other lipoproteins from infection or bacterial toxins and protection against the lethal effect of injected LPS in animal models…The presence of increased inflammation and endogenous endotoxin exposure in dialysis patients would be expected both to increase CV risk from inflammation and change the overall effect of lipoproteins, specifically of LDL-C, to favor protection, as observed here.

I go into the issue of cholesterol in more detail in a number of articles on this blog, but one of the the main takeaways, is that the big picture of scientific evidence is rarely in line with the mainstream narrative, and unfortunately treatment methodologies tend to fall in line with the narrative. Even though there is no shortage of studies pushing this narrative, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of biological justification for the claim that high cholesterol is the big problem it’s made out to be. It’s clear, however, that the ‘cholesterol bad’ mantra, has helped create a highly lucrative industry. Come to your own conclusions.

I’m not suggesting high cholesterol isn’t ever a sign that there are some health issues, but that’s a completely different thing. It’s a similar kind of misinterpretation that leads to blaming sugar and sugar consumption, for diseases involved with blood sugar dysregulation issues.

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