Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Vital Role of Cholesterol in Health

"Cholesterol is vital to the healthy function of your body, actually core to survival. You want good levels of HDL and LDL because you are healthy, not because you have drugged them to look better on paper. The idea of cholesterol fitness, like physical fitness, is a proper way to look at this issue. "

Read full article here.

Also read...

New Insights on the Importance of Cholesterol

"Statins are just plain bad news. Being deficienct in vitamin D makes matters worse. "

Also from Wellness Resources:

Low Vitamin D Leads to More Muscle Injuries in Those Taking Statins

Byron's Comments:
Statins are just plain bad news. Being deficienct in vitamin D makes matters worse.
Study Title:Among patients with vitamin D <20>30 ng/mL (P < .01).

Study Abstract:
From press release:

  • Vitamin D deficiency appears to be prevalent among patients with hyperlipidaemia, but it occurs more frequently in patients with statin-associated myalgias, according to findings presented here at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions.
  • Myalgia occurs frequently among patients taking statins, but it is sometimes uncertain whether it is drug-related. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the general population and is sometimes associated with reversible myalgia, according to Barton Duell, MD, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
  • Dr. Duell and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether vitamin D deficiency may contribute to symptoms of myalgia in 99 patients referred for tertiary care with a diagnosis of hyperlipidaemia.
  • Patients were aged 58.7 years on average (range 20-84) and 43% were men. The mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level was 26.7 ng/mL (range 5-64).
  • Statin-associated myalgias were reported by 38.8% of patients. These patients had a 32% lower mean vitamin D level (20.5 vs 30.1 ng/mL, P = .0003) and were more likely to be female (68% vs 49%, P = .095).
  • Vitamin D levels were similar in men and women (24.3 vs 28.8 ng/mL, P = .09). Deficiency was prevalent in the group (62.6% <30 ng/mL; 31.9% <20 ng/mL).
    Patients with myalgias were more likely to have vitamin D levels <30 ng/mL (81.3% vs 52.5%, P < .01) and <20 ng/mL (62.5% vs 18.6%, P < .01).
  • Among patients with vitamin D <20>30 ng/mL (P < .01).
  • About one-third of patients with myalgia reported fewer statin-associated myalgias after 8 to 12 weeks of unblinded treatment with high-dose ergocalciferol, but most subjects also changed to a different statin, according to the researchers.
  • They concluded that while vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with hyperlipidaemia, statin-associated myalgias were more commonly related to vitamin D deficiency, with a mean vitamin D level 32% lower than the mean for the entire group.
  • They noted that vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL were associated with 4-fold higher rates of myalgias than levels higher than 30 ng/mL, and reduced myalgias were anecdotally related to treatment with vitamin D in some of these patients.
  • According to Dr. Buell, vitamin D deficiency either leads to statin-induced myalgias or may cause drug-unrelated myalgias in a subset of patients taking statins. This matter requires additional studies, he said.

Study Information:
Barton Duell et al. Among patients with vitamin D <20>30 ng/mL (P < .01). American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions. New Orleans. 2008. 2008 November Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.

15% of Population at High Risk for Statin Injury

In an August 2008 article from Wellness Resources a NEJM study is referenced stating:

"Scientists have uncovered an alteration in a gene that causes statin drugs to be more readily absorbed by the liver, thereby making the drug very toxic. 15% of our population has the risk-related gene variant."

The article concludes...

Let’s look at it another way. For those who enjoy playing Russian roulette the odds are 1 in 6, close to 15%. How many people do you know who play Russian roulette? How many people do you know who take statins? Big Pharma and its salesman are more than willing to play this deadly game with the American public, as they rake in 20 billion in sales every year on this one class of medication. Whatever happened to “first do no harm.”

  • Do you take a statin drug?
  • Had your genes checked?
  • Do you have the rs4363657 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located within SLCO1B1 on chromosome 12?

Statins Can Injure If You Have a Common Gene Variant

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vitamin D

Why am I interested? This article from Canwest News Service states:
"The Journal of the American College of Cardiology says people with low levels of the vitamin, which comes from sunshine and pills but not much else, are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke..."

Here is a larger exerpt from the article

Another study has emerged that says vitamin D is good for you - this time, for your heart.

This adds to evidence that people lacking vitamin D have a higher risk of various cancers and diabetes as well. ...
"Vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized, emerging cardiovascular risk factor, which should be screened for and treated," said the study's main author, cardiologist James O'Keefe of the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo. "Vitamin D is easy to assess, and supplementation (with pills) is simple, safe and inexpensive."
The new evidence comes from the Framingham Heart Study. This is a famous study in a suburb of Boston that has followed thousands of ordinary people, beginning in the 1950s, to find links between their lifestyle and their cardiovascular health."

Read the full article here.

The Vitamin D Council is an excellent source of information on the research and news about vitamin D. Be sure to check out their web site.

I just received the December 2008 newsletter from the council with information on vitamin D blood tests which is produced in full below.

The Vitamin D Newsletter
December 28, 2008

The Vitamin D Council is happy to announce that we have partnered with ZRT Laboratory to provide an inexpensive, $65.00, in-home, accurate, vitamin D [25(OH)D] test. The usual cost for this test is between $100.00 and $200.00.

If you read this newsletter, you know about our interest in accurate vitamin D testing. In the next few weeks, you may read about the Vitamin D Council's quest for accurate vitamin D blood tests in the national media. Before we partnered with ZRT, we verified, repeatedly, that ZRT provides accurate and reliable vitamin D tests and that their method corresponds very well to the gold standard of vitamin D blood tests, the DiaSorin RIA.

Our ZRT service is not just inexpensive, it means no more worrying about your doctor ordering the right test or interpreting it correctly. You buy the test kit on the internet or by phone, a few days later the kit comes in the mail, you or a nurse friend do a finger stick, collect a few drops of blood, and send the blotter paper back to ZRT in the postage paid envelope provided with the kit. A week later you get results back in the mail and know accurate 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels of you and your family.

For every test you order, ZRT will donate $10.00 to the Vitamin D Council. Please read the new page hyperlinked below on our website as it both explains the procedure and how to order the test.


Executive summary: keep your family's 25-hydroxy-vitamin D blood test above 50 ng/ml, year around. Most adults need at least 5,000 IU per day, especially this time of year. Most children need at least 1,000 IU per day per every 25 pounds of body weight. Bio Tech Pharmacal provides high quality and inexpensive vitamin D. Currently Bio Tech Pharmacal is providing vitamin D for numerous scientific studies. To see their prices and for ordering, click the hyperlink below.


As a gift to our readers for the New Year, Thorne publications have provided a free download to a basic paper about vitamin D. I wrote it earlier this year for educated lay people as well as health care practitioners. Please read this paper carefully, your family's well-being, even lives, may depend on you understanding it.


Seasons Greetings
John Cannell, MD

Thank you for subscribing to the Vitamin D Newsletter from the Vitamin D Council. The
Vitamin D Council is a non-profit trying to end the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Please reproduce this newsletter and post it on Internet sites. Remember, we are a non-profit and rely on donations to publish our newsletter and maintain our website. Send your tax-deductible contributions to:

The Vitamin D Council
9100 San Gregorio Road
Atascadero, CA 93422

Be sure to read the article by John J. Cannell, MD and Bruce W. Hollis, PhD titled "Use of Vitamin D in Clinical Practice" at the link provided in the newsletter.

See also "Vitamin D may be essential for heart health" in this article at CNN.com

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Should medical science ignore the past?

In a letter in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) independent researcher Uffe Ravnskov states the following:

  • No association between cholesterol and degree of atherosclerosis has been found in postmortem studies of unselected individuals
  • High cholesterol is not a risk factor for women, patients with renal failure, diabetic patients, or old people
  • Old people with high cholesterol live longer than those with low cholesterol
  • In cohorts of people with familial hypercholesterolaemia, cholesterol is not associated with the incidence or prevalence of cardiovascular disease, and their average life span is similar to other people’s
  • No randomised, controlled, unifactorial, dietary, cholesterol lowering trial has ever succeeded in lowering coronary or total mortality
  • No clinical or angiographic trial has found exposure-response between individual degree of cholesterol lowering and outcome
  • More than 20 cohort studies found that patients with coronary heart disease ate the same amount of saturated fat as did healthy controls
  • Seven of 10 cohort studies found that patients with stroke ate less saturated fat than did healthy controls
  • The concentration of short chain fatty acids in adipose tissue, the most reliable reflection of saturated fat intake, is similar or lower in patients with coronary heart disease compared with healthy individuals in five case-control studies
  • The effect of statin treatment is grossly overstated and is not due to cholesterol lowering
  • Only a small percentage gain benefit—and then only if they are men at high risk—and the benefit is easily outweighed by side effects that are more common and more serious than reported in the statin trials, if reported at all.

Read his full letter here.