Doctors turning against the cholesterol hypothesis

Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are not the most accurate way of assessing the risk of heart attack and stroke, doctors believe.

Instead, measuring calcium build-up in the arteries [emphasis added] gives a better indicator of the likelihood of heart problems, they say.

In comparison, the traditional ways of assessing who should be prescribed preventative drugs such as statins are inaccurate.

…People with little or no calcium deposits in the arteries detected on CT scans are unlikely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, a study found. But doctors may have prescribed statins based on other factors. The study suggests up to a third of patients were taking them unnecessarily.

Calcium build-up in the arteries marks the calcification of plaque, which results in hardening that can lead to heart attacks.

The latest study, published in the European Heart journal, adds to mounting evidence about the value of calcium scans in predicting heart attack risk.

The technology is little used in the NHS, where there is limited availability of expensive scans, but widely used in private clinics.

Instead patients mostly have their risk calculated on family history, medical factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and lifestyle habits.

So, how to keep your arteries from clogging up like the heating element in your washing machine when a descaler isn’t being used? You guessed it, read my book.

[Source: Daily Mail]

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year!



Today the media has been fanning the outcome of a review that doesn’t think much of vitamin D supplementation. Some quick dismantling is required.

Prof Philippe Autier, from the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, carried out a review of data from 290 prospective observational studies and 172 randomised trials looking at the effects of vitamin D levels on health outcomes, excluding bone health, up to December 2012.

Stop, stop! The vast majority of reviews from time immemorial to present day rely on data that has three problems: use of vitamin D2, non-physiological dosages and deeply conservative recommended vitamin D levels.

…[T]he results of the clinical trials – where participants were given vitamin D supplements – found no reduction in risk, even in people who started out with low vitamin D levels.

Well, people with low vitamin D levels will probably find negligible improvement on the long-established RDA.

…[Autier said:] “Ageing and inflammatory processes involved in disease occurrence… reduce vitamin D concentrations, which would explain why vitamin D deficiency is reported in a wide range of disorders.”

Sure, illnesses reduce vitamin D levels, but for that reason one should not rule out vitamin D deficiency as an initial enabler of disease too.

…Peter Selby, consultant physician and honorary professor of metabolic bone disease at Manchester Royal Infirmary, said the French review was limited.

“It could very well be that the apparent negative results of this study have been obtained simply because they have not been looking at people with sufficient degree of vitamin D insufficiency to have any meaningful biological effect.”

This can be true, but, as above, I think the historical RDA negates most studies. Vitamin D work since the last 10-15yrs is often of the most value.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), an independent group of scientific experts who advise the government on nutrition, is currently reviewing the dietary recommendations for vitamin D for all population groups in the UK.

Don’t hold your breath over SACN! Act now!

[Source: BBC News]

Poverty or lack of D to blame for illnesses?

[A] study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Scotland and the Scottish Government claims the country’s inhabitants do get healthy levels of sunlight.

…The researchers said their findings indicated that average blood levels of vitamin D in adults living in Scotland are safely above the level thought to be beneficial.

According to the researchers, the study gives added credence to other documented links between vitamin D levels and wealth, with those from deprived areas and with the lowest incomes exhibiting lower levels of the vitamin.

While it is true that the wealthy can have better access to foods with more vitamin D and are able to take holidays to sunny countries quite frequently, vitamin D as a supplement is surprisingly cheap to even out this disparity.

I do not believe, however, that the Scottish as a whole get usable sun even though their skin colour is adapted for less sunshine. The definition of adequate levels must certainly be poor. Rich people can get illnesses treated better and faster than the poor, off-NHS, but they are not totally immune from the diseases that affect the impoverished.

[Source: Herald Scotland]