Diet Versus Drugs for High Cholesterol

Diet Versus Drugs for High Cholesterol
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Though official recommendations are to first treat high cholesterol with dietary change, many physicians jump right to cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins, that can have an array of adverse side effects.

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To combat dyslipidemia, which includes high cholesterol, patients have several treatment options that include drugs, diet, and/or lifestyle changes. Drugs are effective, but produce adverse side effects in a significant proportion of patients. Statins, such as Lipitor, are the most widely prescribed, but they produce adverse effects in up to a third of patients. Adverse effects are also associated with the other drugs in common usage.

“Adverse effects may include liver, muscle, and kidney dysfunctions; skin disorders; abdominal pain; nausea; constipation; dizziness; flushing; neurological disorders; and cognitive impairment. On the other hand, therapies based on dietary and lifestyle changes produce little or no adverse effects [in fact, tend to have positive side effects] and are the cornerstone of recommendations by the [official U.S. body]…American Heart Association…[as well as the international guidelines]. Recommendations include reduced intake of saturated fat and cholesterol while increasing physical activity and intake of dietary fiber.”

So, we need to eat fewer animal foods, the only source of cholesterol, and more plants, the only source of fiber.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

To combat dyslipidemia, which includes high cholesterol, patients have several treatment options that include drugs, diet, and/or lifestyle changes. Drugs are effective, but produce adverse side effects in a significant proportion of patients. Statins, such as Lipitor, are the most widely prescribed, but they produce adverse effects in up to a third of patients. Adverse effects are also associated with the other drugs in common usage.

“Adverse effects may include liver, muscle, and kidney dysfunctions; skin disorders; abdominal pain; nausea; constipation; dizziness; flushing; neurological disorders; and cognitive impairment. On the other hand, therapies based on dietary and lifestyle changes produce little or no adverse effects [in fact, tend to have positive side effects] and are the cornerstone of recommendations by the [official U.S. body]…American Heart Association…[as well as the international guidelines]. Recommendations include reduced intake of saturated fat and cholesterol while increasing physical activity and intake of dietary fiber.”

So, we need to eat fewer animal foods, the only source of cholesterol, and more plants, the only source of fiber.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

I debated whether or not to include this video, since it’s not anything I haven’t covered before (see, for example, What Women Should Eat to Live LongerTrans Fat, Saturated Fat and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of ZeroHeart Attacks and Cholesterol: Purely a Question of DietEliminating the #1 Cause of Death; and Statin Muscle Toxicity). I just liked how the researchers summed it up. And, since heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in most countries (see Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death on how to prevent 14 other top killers), I figured a little repetition couldn’t hurt. 

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk and Cholesterol Lowering in a Nut Shell.

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