Cholesterol-lowering foods beat low fat diet

General Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Health
A dietary intervention study of cholesterol-lowering foods with either two or seven counseling sessions significantly lowered LDL cholesterol (the lethal or bad cholesterol) compared with a control diet emphasizing reduced saturated fat consumption. The results between the groups receiving two versus seven counseling sessions were not significantly different. The bottom line? Cholesterol lowering foods are more highly healthy than a low fat diet. (more…)
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Red yeast rice products NOT recommended for high cholesterol

Alternative Medicine, Medical Economics
The Chicago Tribune "Julie's Health Club" blog reported that "some red yeast rice products have been shown to lower cholesterol levels as effectively as moderate doses of statin drugs." However, "the supplement isn't quite 'ready for primetime,' according to researchers who found that 12 over-the-counter red yeast products had strikingly inconsistent amounts of active ingredients." The research, "published in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, also showed that four of the 12 products (one third of the sample) contained citrinin, a contaminant that is toxic to kidneys of animals." WebMD and MedPage Today also covered the story. It for this reason that I do NOT recommend anyone take red yeast rice. In addition to the above study, a recent analysis by ConsumerLab found red yeast rice products varied sharply…
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High cholesterol in youth may increase heart risks later in life

Children's Health, Heart Health, Parenting
For the last couple of years, I've been offering my adolescent patients the option of checking their lipid panels, especially if they are overweight or obese. Now, new research is showing the wisdom of this approach. The Wall Street Journal reports that research published in the Annals of Family Medicine suggests that even younger people should pay attention to their cholesterol levels, being that they may have an impact on health later in life. The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported that researchers "analyzed data from 3,258 men and women who have been tracked by the CARDIA , or Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, study for the last 20 years and were ages 18 to 30 at the start of the study." The investigators "found that participants with…
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Nuts may help lower cholesterol levels

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that nuts may help lower cholesterol levels. HealthDay reported that investigators "pooled data on 583 men and women who had participated in 25 nut consumption trials." "Patients in the trials ate an average of 67 grams, or about 2.4 ounces, of nuts daily," WebMD reported. While MedPage Today reported that the researchers found that "eating an average of 67 grams of nuts a day (2.4 ounces) reduced total cholesterol by 5.9% and LDL cholesterol by 7.4%." The bottom line, a couple of ounces of nuts per day may be heart healthy and highly healthy.
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Should Cholesterol Drugs Be Used By Those Without High Cholesterol?

Health Headlines
Some experts say statins help healthier people, but others worry about risks. So, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the cholesterol-lowering statin drug Crestor for some people with normal cholesterol levels, cardiologist Dr. Steven E. Nissen cheered the decision. But, not everyone did. Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News: "You have to go with the scientific evidence," said Nissen, who is chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "A clinical trial was done and there was a substantial reduction in morbidity and mortality in people treated with this drug." But Dr. Mark A. Hlatky, a professor of health research and policy and medicine at Stanford University, has expressed doubts about the FDA move. He worries that more people will…
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Obese Children Twice as Likely to Die Young

Children's Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
In my Amazon.com best-selling book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I predicted that if we did not stem the epidemic of childhood obesity, that our children could become the first generation in American history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Now, the New York Times is reporting on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine "that tracked thousands of children through adulthood found the heaviest youngsters were more than twice as likely as the thinnest to die prematurely, before age 55, of illness or a self-inflicted injury." While "youngsters with ... pre-diabetes were at almost double the risk of dying before 55, and those with high blood pressure were at some increased risk," it was obesity that was "most…
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One in five US teens may have abnormal lipid levels — most related to overweight or obesity

Children's Health, Heart Health, Nutritional Health
The Washington Post reports that "one out of every five US teenagers has a cholesterol level that increases the risk of heart disease," according to a new study published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. For "the study ... researchers analyzed data collected from 3,125 youths through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey." The data indicated that "20.3 percent had abnormal 'blood lipid' levels." Bloomberg News reports that "obese children were at the highest danger of abnormal levels, with 43 percent testing outside the recommended ranges." Ashleigh May, an epidemiologist at the CDC's division of heart disease and stroke prevention, said, "Parents should inquire about whether their child is eligible for this lipid screening, especially if their child is overweight or obese." MedPage Today reported that "an unsigned commentary by…
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Readers ask about my response to the Zetia / Vytorin study that is all over the news

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Cholesterol Drug Controversy Continues Some of you are wondering about my response to this news. First of all, you should know that I'm on Vytorin. My doctor had recommended a statin, along with omega-3 fatty acids for my increasing triglycerides and decreasing LDL (lethal) cholesterol. When my cholesterol particle counts (we don't just follow my lipid profile) didn't meet goal, my doctor added Zetia (using the statin and Zetia combination drug of Vytorin). Voilà, my particle counts are way normal. Does this new information change my view about the reasonableness of adding either nyacin or Zetia to a statin as add-on drugs? Absolutely not. You can read my previous blogs on Zetia here: Cholesterol Drug Controversy Continues A trusted expert speaks out on the Vytorin fiasco (for doctors) In the…
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Guys, keeping your cholesterol low may reduce your prostate cancer risk

Men's Health
There's good news for men concerned about developing prostate cancer. The AP reports, "Men may protect more than their hearts if they keep cholesterol in line: Their chances of getting aggressive prostate cancer may be lower." Want to learn more? Then, read on as scientists at two institutions have detailed the research that led them to that conclusion in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. According to the AP report, even though the papers "are not definitive and have some weaknesses," they do "fit with plenty of other science suggesting that limiting fats in the bloodstream can lessen cancer risk." HealthDay reported that NCI investigators reviewed "data from a study that has followed more than 29,000 Finnish men for 18 years," finding that "cholesterol levels below the generally recommended 200 milligrams…
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“The Russert Effect”: Docs Report Surge in Appointments

Health Headlines, Heart Health, Men's Health
ABC News is reporting a phenomena that family physicians around the country are reporting to me: Tim Russert's death Friday from sudden cardiac arrest may have hit a nerve deeper than sadness. Russert's death may have lead some to fear for their own seemingly healthy bodies, or the health of a loved one – and doctors are seeing the effects. Calls are up dramatically for exams for middle aged men. (more…)
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