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By Dr. Mercola
In 2004, the US government's National Cholesterol Education Program panel advised those at risk for heart disease to attempt to reduce their LDL cholesterolto less than 100, or even less than 70, if you’re very high risk. Prior to this, a 130-milligram LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy.In order to obtain the incredibly low LDL levels now recommended, you typicallyhave to take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, and sometimes two or three of them in combination.Now, a new class of cholesterol drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors promises to reduce LDL cholesterol levels to previously unheard of lows. Indeed, this type of drug can drop your level below 50!My prediction? These drugs will absolutely kill people—not just some, but MANY. I cannot warn you against this terrible idea enough. While many worry that their cholesterol is too high, few give any thought at all to the damage that can result if your cholesterol is too low.This is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I drove (without drugs) my own total cholesterol levels down to a risky 75 when I was a naive young doctor. Alas, when it comes to cholesterol, lower is not always better. In fact, when your cholesterol levels go too low, a host of negative things happen in your body.Unfortunately, lowering cholesterol levels has become so common in the US that nearly every American reading this either knows someone struggling to do so, or has struggled to do so themselves.This despite the fact that there is no evidence to support the notion that having an extremely low cholesterol level is beneficial, and increasing numbers of studies point to significant risks associated with cholesterol-lowering drugs.
How Do PCSK9 Inhibitors Work?
Whereas statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) reduce your cholesterol by blocking an enzyme in your liver that is responsible for making cholesterol, these newer drugs, PCSK9 inhibitors, target and suppress a particular gene involved in the regulation of how much cholesterol your liver can actually filter out.Researchers discovered that people with underactive PCSK9 genes had low levels of LDL. They also had low levels of cardiovascular disease. Since high cholesterol has long been mistaken as a primary cause of cardiovascular disease, these findings were akin to striking scientific gold... As reported in the featured article2:“It's this discovery that has Sanofi and two other major drug companies, Amgen and Pfizer, racing to develop a drug that mimics the gene's effects. The best approach, experts say, will be through monoclonal antibodies: antibodies that are created in a lab and help your immune system fight a disease or, in this case, fight cholesterol...'This is not to replace statin therapy,' said Joe Miletich, senior vice president of research and development at Amgen. 'This is actually to get patients to (their) goal who can't get there.'... 'With a statin medication, you can often get somebody's cholesterol between 70 and 100 mg/dL,' said Dr. Elliott Antman, president-elect of the American Heart Association and a dean at Harvard Medical School. 'If you use these monoclonal antibodies, you could see a number way less than 50.'"I’ve told you before that the odds are very high— greater than 100 to 1—that if you're taking a statin, you don't really need it. From my review, the only subgroup that might benefit are those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes them resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol.In my view, this warning is just as applicable when it comes to PCSK9 inhibitors. Your body needs cholesterol and it doesn’t matter how you lower it: statins, PCSK inhibitors, or diet and exercise like I did. If your cholesterol drops too low, you will suffer health problems that I review in the next section.
The Health Hazards of Having Too Little Cholesterol
Your body needs cholesterol for the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that help you to digest fat. It’s not hard to see then why too little cholesterol can have such detrimental effects on your body—especially your brain, where it helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function.For example, research published in 20083 showed that low HDL is associated with poor memory and decline in memory in middle-aged adults. If you value your brain and want to keep it functioning into your senior years, you’d be well advised to pay attention to what it needs, and that includes cholesterol, along with healthful fats like omega-3. But impaired memory and dementia are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to low cholesterol’s impact on your brain. If your levels get too low, you also increase your risk of:Even more importantly, heart disease may in fact be a sign of cholesterol deficiency, according to MIT researcher, Dr. Stephanie Seneff. Considering the fact that conventional medicine has been telling us that heart disease is due to elevated cholesterol and recommends lowering cholesterol levels as much as possible, Dr. Seneff's claims may come as a complete shock to some."Heart disease, I think, is a cholesterol deficiency problem, and in particular a cholesterol sulfate deficiency problem..."She points out that all of this information is available in the research literature, but it requires putting all the pieces together to see the full picture. Through her research, she believes that the mechanism we call "cardiovascular disease," of which arterial plaque is a hallmark, is actually your body's way to compensate for not having enough cholesterol sulfate. In a nutshell, high LDL appears to be a sign of cholesterol sulfate deficiency—it's your body's way of trying to maintain the correct balance by taking damaged LDL and turning it into plaque, within which the blood platelets produce the cholesterol sulfate your heart and brain needs for optimal function...
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