Is the concept of getting cholesterol down to a particular level evidence-based?

This week there’s been a big cardiological meeting (the European Society of Cardiology) going on in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. One of the studies presented at the meeting is reported here. The research compared the number of patients achieving recommended LDL-cholesterol levels in the UK with those in Germany. It turns out that the numbers […]

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Higher protein diets are better for fat loss and muscle preservation during weight loss

When people deliberately lose weight, usually what they are seeking to shed is excess fat. Unfortunately, evidence shows that a good proportion of any weight lost on a restrictive diet can come from muscle, and this is something that is generally best avoided. One thing that can help here is resistance exercise where the body […]

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Certain statin and antibiotic combinations appear to increase the risk of serious statin side-effects

Statin drugs are promoted for their ability to prevent heart attacks and strokes but, as with all medications, they are not without risk either. They can, for example, be toxic to the muscles and kidneys and, in extreme circumstances, can cause muscle breakdown known as ‘rhabdomyolysis’ as well as cause critical injury to the kidneys. […]

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Wide-ranging review links artificial sweeteners with weight gain

There are many aspects of conventional dietary ideology that I don’t agree with. Not because I look for conflict and disagreement, but because so many concepts within dietary ‘conventional wisdom’ are simply not supported by the evidence (and, in fact, may be harmful). One common theme we see crop up in dietary dogma centres around […]

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Research finds ‘raised’ cholesterol to be associated with a reduced risk of death

In the UK and Europe generally, it is recommended that levels of cholesterol in the blood should not be above 5.0 mmol/l (= about 190 mg/dl). We are given the impression that having levels above this puts us at increased risk of heart disease – a major ‘killer’. However, if this is true, it does […]

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New study suggests specific phasing of food can help women with PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition characterised by multiple cysts in the ovaries which can impair ovulation and therefore fertility. One common feature of the condition is raised levels of the ‘male’ hormone testosterone, which can lead to ‘masculinising’ side effects such as ‘hirsutism’ (abnormal, excessive hair growth), scalp hair loss, and acne. Another […]

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Evidence links cholesterol-reducing interventions with increased risk of dying from accidents, suicide and violence

While we are consistently encouraged to keep our cholesterol levels in check for the sake of our heart health, common sense dictates that we should be somewhat cautious here. After all, cholesterol is an essential element in the body and, for instance, is integral to the structure and function of all our cells, including those […]

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The medical director of the British Heart Foundation does not want to engage with the troubling science on sterols

Last month, I wrote a blog post about how there was no evidence that cholesterol-lowering ‘stanols’ and ‘sterols’ (found in some margarines and other ‘functional foods’) have benefits for health. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence explicitly states that they should not be used. Yet, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends […]

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How to improve sleep through seeking and avoiding light at the right times

I came across this report last week of a study into sleep-wake cycles. A group of adults were monitored in their normal environments (with electrical lighting, TV and electronic devices) and also had their levels of the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin assessed [1]. It was discovered that in their normal environment, melatonin secretion was generally delayed […]

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Evidence suggests stanols and sterols are ‘good’ for cholesterol but bad for health

Three weeks ago, one of my blogs focused on the presumed benefits of food products containing plant substances known as stanols or sterols. These partially block absorption of cholesterol from the gut and therefore can reduce blood cholesterol levels. The point I made in that blog, though, was that the impact these foods products have […]

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