By Dr. Mercola
Statin cholesterol-lowering drugs are widely touted as the best way to lower your cholesterol and thereby prevent a heart attack. They’re recommended to people who have “high cholesterol,” those who have heart disease, and even for some healthy people as a form of preventive medicine.
Statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs on the market, with more than 1 in 4 Americans over 45 taking them. This already inflated number is set to increase significantly due to draft recommendations issued earlier this year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
This federal advisory board recommended statin treatment for people between the ages of 40 and 75 with a 10 percent or greater risk of heart problems in the next 10 years (based on the 2013 AHA-ACC online calculator1) — even if they have not had a previous heart attack or stroke.
Needless to say, if you’re a U.S. adult aged 40 or beyond, there’s a good chance your doctor may bring up statins at your next visit, so you need to do your homework to determine if these drugs are truly right for you — and there’s a good chance they’re not.
5 Reasons Why You Should Not Take Statins
- They Don’t Work
Statin drugs work to lower cholesterol, and as your levels fall, you may assume that is proof that you’re getting healthier and lowering your risk of heart disease and heart attack. But that would be far from the truth.
There is far more that goes into your risk of heart disease than your cholesterol levels. Further, there is evidence showing that statins may actually make your heart health worse and only appear effective due to statistical deception.
One report published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that statin advocates used a statistical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR) to amplify statins’ trivial beneficial effects.2
If you look at absolute risk, statin drugs benefit just 1 percent of the population. This means that out of 100 people treated with the drugs, one person will have one less heart attack. This doesn’t sound so impressive, so statin supporters use a different statistic called relative risk.
Just by making this statistical sleight of hand, statins suddenly become beneficial for 30 to 50 percent of the population. As STATS at George Mason University explained, “An important feature of relative risk is that it tells you nothing about the actual risk."3
- Statins Reduce CoQ10
Statins deplete your body of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which accounts for many of their devastating results. Although it was proposed to add a black box warning to statins stating this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided against it in 2014.
CoQ10 is used for energy production by every cell in your body, and is therefore vital for good health, high energy levels, longevity, and general quality of life. CoQ10’s reduced form, ubiquinol, is a critical component of cellular respiration and production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is a coenzyme used as an energy carrier in every cell of your body. When you consider that your heart is the most energy-demanding organ in your body, you can surmise how potentially devastating it can be to deplete your body's main source of cellular energy.
So while one of statins' claims to fame is warding off heart disease, you're actually increasing your risk when you deplete your body of CoQ10. The depletion of CoQ10 caused by the drug is why statins can increase your risk of acute heart failure.
So if you're taking a statin drug, you MUST take Coenzyme Q10 as a supplement. If you're over 40, I would strongly recommend taking ubiquinol instead of CoQ10, as it's far more effectively absorbed by your body.
In every study conducted so far, ubiquinol has been shown to be far more bioavailable than the non-reduced form (CoQ10). Dr. Steven Sinatra,cardiologist and founder of the New England Heart Center, recommends taking at least 100 milligrams (mg), but preferably 200 mg of high-quality CoQ10 or ubiquinol daily.
One study in the European Journal of Pharmacology showed that ubiquinol effectively rescued cells from the damage caused by the statin drug simvastatin, thereby protecting muscle cells from myopathies.4
The other part most people don't realize is that CoQ10 and ubiquinol are lipid-soluble materials biosynthesized in your blood. The carrier is the blood lipid cholesterol.
The ubiquinol actually keeps your LDL (often referred to as the "bad" cholesterol) reduced, as it's an exceptionally potent antioxidant.
Reduced LDL cholesterol isn't bad cholesterol at all. Only the oxidized version will cause a problem. So by reducing CoQ10 production in your body, you're also removing the mechanism that keeps your LDL cholesterol from doing harm in your body.
- Statins Reduce Vitamin K2
A new finding was published in March 2015, and it is not yet widely known.
Research published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology revealed that, in contrast to the current belief that cholesterol reduction with statins decreases atherosclerosis, the drugs may instead actually stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure.5
There were several physiological mechanisms discussed in the study that show how statin drugs may make your heart health worse, one being that they inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 protects your arteries from calcification. Without it, plaque levels worsen.
Vitamin K2’s biological role is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn't be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.
According to a 2009 Dutch study, vitamin K2 is associated with reduced vascular calcification even at small dietary intakes.6
Statin drugs inhibit the function of vitamin K2 in your body, which means taking them may put you at risk of vitamin K2 deficiency, a condition known to contribute to a number of chronic diseases, including:
Osteoporosis Heart disease Heart attack and stroke Inappropriate calcification, from heel spurs to kidney stones Brain disease Cancer
- Statins Reduce Ketone Production
Statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme in your liver that produces cholesterol (HMG coenzyme A reductase). Unfortunately this is the same enzyme that produces not only CoQ10 but also ketones, which are crucial nutrients to feed your mitochondria.
Ketones are vitally important biological signaling molecules. There are three ketone bodies, acetoacetate, beta hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
“Ketone bodies are emerging as crucial regulators of metabolic health and longevity, via their ability to regulate HDAC [histone deacetylases] activity and thereby epigenetic gene regulation.”
Ketone bodies appear to inhibit HDAC function, which is implicated in the regulation of aging. Further, researchers noted “ketone bodies may link environmental cues such as diet to the regulation of aging.”9
- Increased Risk of Serious Diseases
Because statins deplete your body of CoQ10, inhibit synthesis of vitamin K2, and reduce the production of ketone bodies, they increase your risk of other serious diseases. This includes:
Research has shown that long-term statin use (10 years or longer) more than doubles women's risk of two major types of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma.10 According to Dr. Sinatra, statins block the squalene pathway (squalene is the precursor to cholesterol), which he believes is essential in preventing breast cancer.
In addition, the use of any statin drug, in any amount, was associated with a significantly increased risk for prostate cancer in a separate study, and there was an increasing risk that came along with an increasing cumulative dose.11
According to a letter to the editor published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology:12
“Several cholesterol-lowering drugs, including statins, have been found to be carcinogenic in rodents in doses that produce blood concentrations of the drugs similar to those attained in treating patients.
In accordance, breast cancer occurred in 12 of 286 women in the treatment group of the CARE (Cholesterol and Recurrent Events) trial, but only in one of 290 in the placebo group … In the PROSPER (Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk) trial, cancer occurred in 245 of 2,891 patients in the treatment group, but only in 199 of 2,913 in the placebo group …
In the SEAS (Simvastatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis) trial, cancer occurred in 39 of 944 patients in the treatment group, but only in 23 of 929 in the placebo group …
In the two first simvastatin trials, nonmelanoma skin cancer was seen more often as well, and with statistical significance if the results are calculated together … The latter finding may explain the current so-called epidemic of nonmelanoma skin cancer.”
Statins have also been shown to increase your risk of diabetes via a number of different mechanisms. The most important one is that they increase insulin resistance, which can be extremely harmful to your health. Secondly, statins increase your diabetes risk by raising your blood sugar. Statins work by preventing your liver from making cholesterol.
As a result, your liver returns the sugar to your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels. These drugs also rob your body of certain valuable nutrients, which can also impact your blood sugar levels. Two nutrients in particular, vitamin D and CoQ10, are both needed to maintain ideal blood glucose levels. A 2011 meta-analysis confirmed the higher the dosage of statin drugs being taken, the greater the diabetes risk.
The "number needed to harm" for intensive-dose statin therapy was 498 for new-onset diabetes — that's the number of people who need to take the drug in order for one person to develop diabetes.13 In even simpler terms, 1 out of every 498 people who are on a high-dose statin regimen will develop diabetes.
The following scientific reviews also reached the conclusion that statin use is associated with increased incidence of new-onset diabetes:
- A 2010 meta-analysis of 13 statin trials, consisting of 91,140 participants, found that statin therapy was associated with a 9 percent increased risk for incident diabetes.14 Here, the number needed to harm was 255 over four years, meaning for every 255 people on the drug, one developed diabetes as a result of the drug in that period of time.
- In a 2009 study, statin use was associated with a rise of fasting plasma glucose in patients with and without diabetes, independently of other factors such as age, and use of aspirin, β-blockers, or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.15
The study included data from more than 345,400 patients over a period of two years. On average, statins increased fasting plasma glucose in non-diabetic statin users by 7 mg/dL, and in diabetics, statins increased glucose levels by 39 mg/dL.
Cholesterol is also essential for your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is critical for synapse formation, i.e. the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things, and form memories. So perhaps it’s not surprising that memory loss is widely reported in association with statin use.
Further, remember that statins reduce ketone production. Ketone bodies are used as fuel by your brain, and they have also demonstrated the capacity to protect against neuronal disease, seizures, and age-related brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's. Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine even found statins were associated with an increased Parkinson’s risk.16
High total cholesterol and LDL were also associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. The study concluded, “Statin use may be associated with a higher PD [Parkinson’s disease] risk, whereas higher total cholesterol may be associated with lower risk.”
Statin users are more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal conditions, injuries and pain than non-users.17 Myalgia, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis, autoimmune muscle disease, and tendinous diseases have all been reported in association with statin use.
One reason for this may be statins’ interference with selenium-containing proteins. Selenoproteins such as glutathione peroxidase are crucial for preventing oxidative damage in your muscle tissue. As reported by Wellness Resources:18
“Blocking the selenoprotein enzyme glutathione peroxidase is akin to pouring gasoline on the fire of inflammation and free radicals, which damages muscle tissue. In fact, the scientists described this blocking of the selenoproteins reminiscent of selenium deficiency induced heart failure, known as Keshan’s disease first identified in the 1930s.”
Further, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine:19
“ … [S]tatin use is associated with an increased likelihood of diagnoses of musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies, and injuries … Several factors may explain the musculoskeletal AEs [adverse events] of statin therapy, including the inhibitory effect on coenzyme Q10 synthesis, selenoprotein synthesis, and the mitochondrial respiratory chain.
In addition, in vitro studies indicated that statins may affect apoptosis genes; misregulation of apoptosis is associated with myopathy. Pathologic studies also have shown that statin use may be associated with myopathy in the presence of normal creatine kinase levels, even in the absence of symptoms.
Statin-associated necrotizing autoimmune myopathy was noted to persist or progress despite cessation of statin therapy.”
An objective review of PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane review databases found that for every 10,000 people taking a statin, there were 307 extra patients with cataracts.20 This was supported by a separate JAMA study, which further revealed that the risk of cataracts is increased among statin users compared with non-users.21 Cataract is a clouding of your eye lens and is a main cause of low vision among the elderly.
If You Take Statins, Be Sure You Also Take Vitamin K2 and CoQ10
If you decide to take a statin, a vitamin K2 supplement is highly recommended. MK-7 is the form you'll want to look for in supplements; it’s extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called natto. Professor Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top vitamin K2 researchers, recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults.
You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily. You’ll also need to make sure you take CoQ10 or ubiquinol (the reduced form) with it. One study evaluated the benefits of CoQ10 and selenium supplementation for patients with statin-associated myopathy.22
Compared to those given a placebo, the treatment group experienced significantly less pain, decreased muscle weakness and cramps, and less fatigue.
How to Protect Your Heart Health
Are you looking for a non-drug way to boost your heart health? Here are some of my top recommendations:
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. It is vitally important to eliminate gluten-containing grains and sugars, especially fructose.
- Consume a good portion of your food raw.
- Make sure you are getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg of krill per day may improve your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.
- Replace harmful vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil, butter and coconut oil (remember olive oil should be used cold only; use coconut oil for cooking and baking).
- Include fermented foods in your daily diet. These will not only optimize your intestinal microflora, which will boost your overall immunity, but will also introduce beneficial bacteria into your mouth. Poor oral health is another powerful indicator of increased heart disease risk.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through appropriate sun exposure as this will allow your body to also create vitamin D sulfate — another factor that may play a crucial role in preventing the formation of arterial plaque.
- Exercise regularly. Make sure you incorporate high-intensity interval exercises, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol excessively.
- Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.
- Practice regular stress-management techniques.
New Recommendation for Adults Turning 40: Preventive Statin Use
Statin Use Inhibits Vitamin K2
By Dr. Mercola
On January 7, 2016, the U.S. government released its 2015 to 2020 dietary guidelines 1,2,3,4,5 many of which are steps in the right direction. Perhaps one of the most promising changes is a shift away from focusing on specific nutrients toward a general focus on eating real food.
My main objections are that they still do not consider the hazards of eating too many non-fiber carbs, which can exacerbate insulin and leptin resistance. And they still inaccurately accuse saturated fats of promoting heart disease.
On the upside, they do suggest reducing processed grains overall. The following graph, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,6 shows the discrepancies between the 2015-2020 dietary recommendations and what Americans actually consume, comparing statistics from 1970 and 2013.7
Beneficial Changes in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines
Among the beneficial changes brought forth in the 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans, we have:
- New sugar limit: For the first time, the guidelines recommend limiting added sugars to a maximum of 10 percent of your daily calories. Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that would equate to about 50 grams of sugar per day, which is still too high if you’re insulin-resistant or diabetic.
I recommend limiting your total fructose intake to 25 grams per day for optimal health, and as low as 15 grams a day if you’re insulin resistant or diabetic.
- Artificial sweeteners should not be used for weight loss. While they say artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are probably OK in moderation, they should not be promoted for weight loss.
This recommendation reflects the overwhelming amount of evidence showing that artificial sweeteners in fact tend to promote weight gain, and have been shown to worsen insulin resistance and metabolic disorders to a greater degree than refined sugar.
- Moderate protein consumption. The new guidelines note that men in particular, tend to eat too much protein.
The guidelines do not go so far as to suggest a limit, however, although it does specify eating 8 ounces of seafood per week which, besides protein, is a source of healthy omega-3 fat.
Nor does it strictly warn against eating processed meats, even though it mentions processed meats have been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
For reasons detailed in my previous article, “The Very Real Risks of Consuming Too Much Protein,” I recommend limiting your protein to about one-half gram of high-quality, organic, pastured/grass-fed protein per pound of lean body mass, which for most would be 40 to 70 grams a day.
Eating more high-fat/low-mercury fish in lieu of red meat is one great way to reduce your protein consumption, as fish is far lower in protein than meat. As for processed meats, they have far more risks than benefits, and are best avoided as much as possible.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, has actually classified processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, as the evidence strongly shows it can cause colorectal cancer in humans.
- Eat more veggies. The guidelines recommend eating 2.5 cups of a wide variety of vegetables. In my view, you can’t really overdo it when it comes to vegetables, as they’re very low in calories, and supply much needed fiber and prebiotics that nourish beneficial gut bacteria.
Good News: Limit on Dietary Cholesterol Has Been Removed
For the past four decades, the U.S. government has warned that eating cholesterol-rich foods, such as eggs, would raise LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream and promote heart disease. Alas, decades’ worth of research has utterly failed to demonstrate this correlation.
Now, finally, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has addressed this scientific vacuum, announcing that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”8
In the past, the guidelines suggested a limit of 300 milligrams (mg) per day; the equivalent of about two eggs. Now, the limit on dietary cholesterol has been removed entirely. This is good news, since dietary cholesterol is actually one of the most important molecules in your body.
Cholesterol plays an important role in brain health and memory formation, and is indispensable for the building of cells and the production of stress and sex hormones, as well as vitamin D. (When sunlight strikes your bare skin, the cholesterol in your skin is converted into vitamin D.)
Eggs are a healthy source of cholesterol, provided you buy high-quality eggs, meaning organic and pasture raised. The Cornucopia Institute has created an egg scorecard,9 based on 28 organic criteria, to help you select eggs of the highest quality possible.
Bad News: Saturated Fat Myth Remains
Unfortunately, they still do not retract their previous misinformation and do not tell the truth about saturated fat. Insisting that it raises LDL, while ignoring that it only raises safe fluffy LDL particles, they still omit the very important fact that it actually increases HDL.
This is surprising, considering all the evidence. For example, a 2014 meta-analysis10 published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (which included data from 76 studies and more than a half-million people) found that those who consume higher amounts of saturated fat have no more heart disease than those who consume less.
Moreover, those who ate higher amounts of unsaturated fat, including both (healthy) olive oil and (unhealthy) corn oil — both of which are recommended over saturated fats — did NOT have lower incidence of heart disease.
Another meta-analysis11 published in the British Medical Journal last year also failed to find an association between high levels of saturated fat in the diet and heart disease. Nor did they find an association between saturated fat consumption and other life-threatening diseases like stroke or type 2 diabetes.
Saturated Fat Recommendations Do Far More Harm Than Good
Despite such findings, the updated dietary guidelines still recommend limiting both trans fats (which are indeed harmful) and saturated fat (which is not) to less than 10 percent of your daily calories. This is a far cry from what most people probably need for optimal health. Saturated fats not only are essential for proper cellular and hormonal function, but also provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet.
If you’re insulin-resistant, which most Americans are, then you’d likely benefit from getting as much as 50 to 80 percent of your daily calories from healthy fats. I personally consume about 75 percent of my diet as healthy fat.
For weight loss, they also recommend sticking to low- and non-fat dairy, which I believe is a serious mistake. Low-fat recommendations do more harm than good across the board, but it may be particularly counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, mounting evidence clearly shows that a high-fat, low-carb diet can be exceptionally effective for weight loss — provided you’re eating the right kinds of fats.
For example, research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows low-carb, high-fat diets promote faster weight loss than a low-fat diet. Low-carb dieters lost 10 pounds in 45 days, while the low-fat dieters needed 70 days to lose the same amount of weight.
Summary of Heart Healthy Diet
To break it down into simple terms, to protect your heart health you need to address your insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains (non-fiber carbs). To safely and effectively reverse insulin and leptin resistance, thereby lowering your heart disease risk, you need to:
- Eat REAL food, ideally as close to their natural state as possible. Avoid processed foods and other sources of refined sugar and processed fructose, and limit non-fiber carbs to under 50 grams a day.
- Focus your diet on whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs with:
- Large amounts of vegetables
- Low-to-moderate amounts of high-quality protein (think organically raised, pastured animals and high-fat/low-mercury fish, such as wild Alaskan salmon, anchovies, and sardines)
- As much high-quality healthy fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated from animal and tropical oil sources). Sources of healthy fats that you'll want to add to your diet include the following:
Organic seeds Coconuts, and coconut oil (for all types of cooking and baking), MCT Oil Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk Raw nuts, such as macadamias and pecans Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados Grass-fed meats Palm oil Raw cacao nibs
Flawed Cholesterol Treatment Guidelines Turn Healthy People Into Statin Users
According to the U.S. cholesterol treatment guidelines, issued in 2013, if you answer "yes" to ANY of the following four questions, your treatment protocol calls for a statin drug:
- Do you have heart disease?
- Do you have diabetes? (either type 1 or type 2)
- Is your LDL cholesterol above 190?
- Is your 10-year risk of a heart attack greater than 7.5 percent?
Your 10-year heart attack risk involves the use of a cardiovascular risk calculator,12 which researchers have warned may overestimate your risk by anywhere from 75 to 150 percent13 — effectively turning even very healthy people at low risk for heart problems into candidates for statins. The guideline also does away with the previous recommendation to use the lowest drug dose possible and instead basically focuses all the attention on statin-only treatment and at higher dosages.
While shifting attention to LDL cholesterol rather than total cholesterol is a step in the right direction, the guidelines still ignore the density of the lipoproteins. The division into HDL and LDL is based on how the cholesterol combines with protein particles. LDL and HDL are lipoproteins — fats combined with proteins. Cholesterol is fat-soluble, and blood is mostly water. For it to be transported in your blood, cholesterol needs to be carried by a lipoprotein, which is classified by density.
Large fluffy LDL particles are not harmful. Only small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem, as they can squeeze through the lining of your arteries. If they oxidize, they can cause damage and inflammation. So, you could potentially have an LDL level of 190, but still be at low risk, if your LDLs are large, and your HDL to total cholesterol ratio is above 24 percent. And remember, saturated fat increases your HDL.
Five Reasons to Avoid Statin Drugs
So, while the dietary guidelines no longer focus on reducing dietary cholesterol to protect your heart, and the cholesterol treatment guidelines have stopped using total cholesterol as a measure of heart disease risk (honing in on elevated LDL cholesterol instead), we’re still far off the mark when it comes down to how to best prevent heart disease.
Refined sugar and processed fructose are in fact the primary drivers of heart disease, so that’s where the focus needs to be; not on driving down your cholesterol with the aid of a statin drug (and/or avoiding healthy saturated fats in your diet). The ONLY subgroup that might benefit from a statin are those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes them resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol.
There are many great reasons why you should NOT take a statin drug unless you have this genetic defect, including but not limited to the following five:
- They don't work as advertised. A 2015 report14 published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that statin advocates used a statistical tool called relative risk reduction (RRR) to amplify statins’ trivial beneficial effects. If you look at absolute risk, statin drugs benefit just 1 percent of the population. This means that out of 100 people treated with the drugs, one person will have one less heart attack.
- They deplete your body of CoQ10. Statins block HMG coenzyme A reductase in your liver, which is how they reduce cholesterol. But this is also the same enzyme that makes CoQ10, which is an essential mitochondrial nutrient that facilitates ATP production.
- They inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2 — a vitamin that protects your arteries from calcification.
- They reduce ketone production.15 If you take CoQ10 while on statins you did not solve the problem, as the same enzyme also inhibits your liver’s ability to produce ketones, which are not only water-soluble fat nutrients important for tissue health but also important molecular signaling molecules.
- Because of Nos. 2, 3 and 4 they increase your risk for other serious diseases, including:
- Cancer. Research16 has shown that long-term statin use (10 years or longer) more than doubles women's risk of two major types of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma.
- Diabetes. Statins have been shown to increase your risk of diabetes via a number of different mechanisms, two of which include increasing your insulin resistance, and raising your blood sugar.
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Musculoskeletal disorders and motor nerve damage. Research17 has shown that statin treatment lasting longer than two years causes “definite damage to peripheral nerves.”
New Class of Cholesterol Drugs May Be Even More Harmful Than Statins
Also beware of a newer class of cholesterol absorption inhibitors called PCSK9 Inhibitors.18 PCSK9 is a protein that works with LDL receptors that regulate LDL in the liver and release LDL cholesterol into the blood. The inhibitors work by blocking that protein and thus having less LDL to circulate in the blood; in clinical trials, these drugs lowered LDLs by about 60 percent.
While these drugs are being touted as the answer for those who cannot tolerate some of the side effects of the other drugs, such as severe muscle pain, trials have already discovered that PCSK9 inhibitors can produce “neurocognitive effects,” with some patients experiencing confusion and attention deficits.19 There’s evidence suggesting these drugs may actually be even more dangerous than statins.
Making Sense of Your Cholesterol Levels, and Assessing Your Heart Disease Risk
Embed this infographic on your website:
Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.
As a general rule, cholesterol-lowering drugs are not required or prudent for the majority of people — especially if high cholesterol and longevity run in your family. Also keep in mind that your overall cholesterol level says very little about your risk for heart disease.
For more information about cholesterol and what the different levels mean, take a look at the infographic above. As for evaluating your heart disease risk, the following tests will provide you with a far more accurate picture than your total cholesterol or LDL level alone:
HDL / Cholesterol ratio HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your total cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent Triglyceride/HDL ratio You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2 NMR LipoProfile Large LDL particles are not harmful. Only small dense LDL particles can potentially be a problem, as they can squeeze through the lining of your arteries. If they oxidize, they can cause damage and inflammation.
Some groups, such as the National Lipid Association, are now starting to shift the focus toward LDL particle number instead of total and LDL cholesterol, in order to better assess your heart disease risk. Once you know your particle size numbers, you and your doctor can develop a more customized program to help manage your risk
Your fasting insulin level Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates like fructose and refined grains generates a rapid rise in blood glucose and then insulin to compensate for the rise in blood sugar.
The insulin released from eating too many carbs promotes fat accumulation and makes it more difficult for your body to shed excess weight. Excess fat, particularly around your belly, is one of the major contributors to heart disease
Your fasting blood sugar level Studies have shown that people with a fasting blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dl had a nearly 300 percent increase higher risk of having coronary heart disease than people with a level below 79 mg/dl Your iron level Iron can be a very potent oxidative stress, so if you have excess iron levels you can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease. Ideally, you should monitor your ferritin levels and make sure they are not much above 80 ng/ml.
The simplest way to lower them if they are elevated is to donate your blood. If that is not possible you can have a therapeutic phlebotomy and that will effectively eliminate the excess iron from your body
How to Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease Without Drugs
Heart disease is predominantly the end result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and cholesterol-lowering medications are far from being magic bullets to lower your risk of dying from heart disease — especially when you consider that your body needs cholesterol for optimal functioning.
In a nutshell, preventing cardiovascular disease involves reducing chronic inflammation in your body. Proper diet, exercise, sun exposure, and grounding to the earth are cornerstones of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. For more details on how to naturally reduce your risk of heart disease, please review the following 10 heart-healthy strategies:
Eat REAL FOOD. Replace processed foods (which are loaded with refined sugar and carbs, processed fructose, and trans fat — all of which promote heart disease) with whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, ideally organic, and/or locally grown. Avoid meats and other animal products such as dairy and eggs sourced from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Instead, opt for grass-fed, pastured varieties, raised according to organic standards. Limit your protein intake to one half gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass which is about 40 to 70 grams for most people. Eliminate no-fat and low-fat foods, and increase consumption of healthy fats. Those with insulin resistance would likely benefit from consuming 50 to 85 percent of their daily calories from healthy saturated fats, such as avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts, and grass-fed meats.
No- or low-fat foods are usually processed foods that are high in sugar, which raises your small, dense LDL particles.
Balancing your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is also key for heart health, as these fatty acids help build the cells in your arteries that make the prostacyclin that keeps your blood flowing smoothly.
Omega-3 deficiency can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. For more information about omega-3s and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article.
You also need the appropriate ratios of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and all of these are generally abundant in a whole food diet. To get more fresh vegetables into your diet, consider juicing. Optimize your vitamin D level. Some researchers, like Dr. Stephanie Seneff, believe optimizing your vitamin D level through regular sun exposure, opposed to taking an oral supplement, may be key to optimizing your heart health. If you do opt for a supplement, you also increase your need for vitamin K2. Optimize your gut health. Regularly eating fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, will help reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria that may play an important role in preventing heart disease and countless other health problems. Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption. Exercise regularly. Exercise is actually one of the safest, most effective ways to prevent and treat heart disease. In 2013, researchers at Harvard and Stanford reviewed 305 randomized controlled trials, concluding there were "no statistically detectable differences" between physical activity and medications for heart disease.
High-intensity interval training, which requires but a fraction of the time compared to conventional cardio, has been shown to be especially effective. Exercise is one of the most important stimulants of mitochondrial biogenesis.
Pay attention to your oral health. There's convincing evidence linking the state of your teeth and gums to a variety of health issues, including heart disease. In one 2010 study,20 those with the worst oral hygiene increased their risk of developing heart disease by 70 percent, compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day. Avoid statins, as the side effects of these drugs are numerous, while the benefits are debatable. If you are taking statins for any reason it is imperative to take Coenzyme Q10. I believe the best is the reduced form called Ubiquinol.
7 Factors to Consider if You’re Told Your Cholesterol Is Too High
5 Lifestyle Changes Could Prevent 80 Percent of Heart Attacks
By Dr. Mercola
Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars to influence, “educate,” and entertain doctors around the world.1
According to ProPublica’s “Dollars for Docs” website, which you can use to find out if your doctor accepts money from the drug industry, 1,630 companies have made payments to more than 681,000 doctors, totaling more than $3.5 billion.2
Drug companies have long tried to influence doctors’ prescribing habits by paying them for research activities, speaking and other “consulting,” or offering gifts of free meals and travel. However, it hasn’t always been possible to find out what gifts your own doctor might be accepting.
The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, went into effect in 2013. For the first time, the Act requires drug and medical device makers to collect and disclose any payments of more than $10 made to physicians and teaching hospitals.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is in charge of implementing the Sunshine Act, which it has done via its Open Payments Program. You can easily search the site to find out what (if any) payments your doctor has received, along with the nature of the payments.
Many Doctors Believe They’re Not Affected by Drug Company Freebies
It is the rare physician who has not been given something by a drug company at some point during his or her career. Many physicians have regular contact with the drug industry and its representatives.
One study found physicians began interacting with pharmaceutical reps in medical school and continued at a rate of about four meetings a month.4
A New England Journal of Medicine study also highlighted the prevalence of physician-industry relationships, noting that “most physicians (94 percent) reported some type of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.”5 This included:
- Receiving food in the workplace (83 percent)
- Receiving drug samples (78 percent)
- Reimbursement for costs associated with professional meetings or continuing medical education (35 percent)
- Payments for consulting, giving lectures, or enrolling patients in trials (28 percent)
Despite these cozy relationships, many physicians believe they’re immune to the effects of free food, free travel, and speaking gigs that essentially amount to free money.
They understand there’s a conflict of interest there, but employ a number of psychological dynamics, including denials and rationalizations, to justify the relationship.
According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, in order to resolve their state of cognitive dissonance, the physicians:6
- Avoided thinking about the conflict of interest
- Disagreed that industry relationships affected physician behavior
- Denied responsibility for the problem
- Enumerated techniques for remaining impartial
- Reasoned that meetings with detailers were educational and benefited patients
Do Doctors Remain Impartial When Receiving Drug Company Gifts?
It’s possible for a physician to not be swayed by a drug representative’s gifts of free food and travel, but it isn’t likely. Many studies show that even well-intentioned physicians are often influenced by such gifts; if they weren’t, the drug companies would have stopped this practice long ago.
According to one JAMA study:7
“Meetings with pharmaceutical representatives were associated with requests by physicians for adding the drugs to the hospital formulary and changes in prescribing practice.
Drug company-sponsored continuing medical education (CME) preferentially highlighted the sponsor's drug(s) compared with other CME programs.
Attending sponsored CME events and accepting funding for travel or lodging for educational symposia were associated with increased prescription rates of the sponsor's medication.
Attending presentations given by pharmaceutical representative speakers was also associated with nonrational prescribing.”
'Doctors … Respond to Financial Incentives'
Money clearly clouds objectivity. As written in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine:8
“Several studies have shown that financial benefit will make doctors more likely to refer patients for tests, operations, or hospital admission, or to ask that drugs be stocked by a hospital pharmacy.
Caesarean section rates vary dramatically across the world and are higher when women are cared for by private practitioners who are paid for the operation.
Doctors in Britain performed screening examinations on older people when paid to do so — even though most argued that there was no evidence to support such screening.
Dentists in Britain carry out many unnecessary fillings because they are paid much more to fill teeth than to simply clean them. Doctors, in other words, do respond to financial incentives, and it would be surprising if they did not.”
My point is not to call out any individual physician or researcher who is currently receiving income from the industry. In many cases, these individuals truly do not believe the relationship influences their medical advice, research or prescribing habits. And in some cases, the payouts may be justifiable.
I speak from experience because, in fact, I used to be a drug company lecturer. I was hired as a "rising star" shortly after I finished my residency training in 1985 and flew across the U.S. lecturing on estrogen replacement therapy — and receiving handsome checks from the drug companies for doing so.
I stopped more than 20 years ago when I realized the entire approach was a scam. However, there are tens of thousands of U.S. physicians and researchers who have replaced my lecturing role and are currently on Big Pharma's payroll. Now that these payments are being made public, this may begin to change.
Patients Tend to Distrust Doctors Receiving Drug Company Money
Most physicians would rather their patients not know about any kickbacks they’ve received from the drug industry. But now that this has become public information, it may very well prompt some physicians to cut their ties to the industry. In 2012, research showed that accepting gifts from the pharmaceutical industry does have implications for the doctor-patient relationship, and “doing so can undermine trust and affect patients’ intent to adhere to medical recommendations.”9
Not surprisingly, most people surveyed in one study said they would have less trust in their physician if they learned he or she accepted gifts worth more than $100 from the pharmaceutical industry, or went on industry-sponsored trips or sporting events.
One-quarter even said they would be less likely to take a prescribed medication “if their physician had recently accepted a gift in return for listening to a pharmaceutical representative's presentation about that drug.”10
Even Federal Health Officials Are Often on the Drug Industry’s Payroll
It’s bad enough that a private physician may be tempted to prescribe one treatment over another because of a financial tie to its maker. Worse still is when financial interests affect the voting behavior of committee members tasked with making broad policy and public health recommendations.
Research has shown, however, that conflict of interest is rampant among U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee members.
FDA advisory committees are created to help the agency make approval decisions on drugs, and the presence of external experts is supposed to ensure that decisions are unbiased and grounded in sound science. After carefully examining the financial relationships between 1,400 FDA committee members and drug makers, one study showed:11
- On average, 13 percent of the members in any given committee had financial interest in the company whose drug was up for a review by that committee.
- About one-third of financial interests involved consulting for a drug maker; 25 percent involved ownership interest; 14 percent involved serving on an industry advisory board or steering committee
- Committee members with financial ties to the company sponsoring the drug under review voted in favor of approval 63 percent of the time, while members who did not have financial ties had a 52 percent chance of favoring approval
- Committee members who served on a sponsoring firm's advisory board had a whopping 84 percent chance of voting in favor of the drug's approval
- Committee members with financial ties to several competing drug firms did not, on average, show pro-industry bias in their voting behavior
In an Era of Bias, Conflict of Interest and Confusion: Take Control of Your Health
Virtually every measurable index indicates that despite the ever-increasing amounts of money invested, if you live in the U.S., your chance of achieving optimal health through the conventional medical system is getting progressively worse. As just one example, while the U.S. spends more than twice the amount on health care as other developed nations, we rank 49th in life expectancy worldwide — far lower than most other developed nations.
When it comes to your health, you simply cannot accept claims at their face value. Quite often — definitely too frequently for comfort — treatment recommendations are biased in favor of a specific drug simply because people making the decisions stand to profit from it.
Whatever your health problem might be, I strongly recommend digging below the surface using all the resources available to you; including your own commonsense and reason, true independent experts' advice and others' experiences to determine what medical treatment or advice will be best for you.
Ultimately, you are responsible for your and your family's health, so be sure you feel completely comfortable with any related decisions you make. If you're facing a health challenge, choose healthcare practitioners who really understand health at a foundational level, and have extensive experience helping others (and don't be afraid to ask for references and seek corroboration).
I always advise taking control of your health as well, which you can easily do by reviewing my comprehensive nutrition plan that summarizes my 30 years of clinical experience and treating 25,000 patients.
I put this together so you can stay well and avoid having to rely on information that gives the perception of science when it is actually too heavily flawed or manipulated to benefit your health. Most of us live in free enough countries where we still have the ability to take back control of our health — we just need to grab the initiative.
Conflicts of Interest Rampant Among FDA Advisors, Study Shows
How Drug Company Money is Undermining Science
By Dr. Mercola
Genetically engineered (GE) food comes from crops in which genes from one species have been integrated into another species — even between species in which this is biologically impossible in nature. The end result is a gene sequence that would never have occurred naturally.
There are two main types of GE crops:
- Herbicide-tolerant crops: Plants engineered to withstand heavy herbicide spraying without sustaining damage, such as Roundup Ready crops
- Pesticide-producing crops: So-called Bt plants are engineered to produce their own internal pesticide, so that when a bug takes a bite of the plant, it dies
Trying to control genetic changes via artificial modification is a dangerous game. An organism's genome is not static but fluid, and its biological functions are interconnected with its environment and vice versa.
Contrary to what the industry would like you to believe, the process of genetic engineering is imprecise at best, and is riddled with unintended and often unforeseeable consequences.
Of course that is about to change with the new technology, CRISPR-Cas9 that I reviewed last month. Once this technology is implemented, we will need to pay very careful attention to what the researchers are planning.
Genetic Engineering Is Riddled With Unintended Consequences
Viruses are typically used to genetically engineer the genes into a new species. These are known as viral transgenes, and there’s a profound lack of understanding of how this process actually works and what the ultimate ramifications are.
Compared to natural genetic modification (vertical gene transfer), artificial genetic modification is inherently hazardous because it lacks the precision of the natural process, enabling genes to be transferred between species that would never have been otherwise exchanged.
Artificial genetic modification uses horizontal gene transfer, which involves injecting a gene from one species into a completely different and naturally incompatible species, yielding unexpected and often unpredictable results — some of which may pose a hazard to animal and human health.
Approval Does Not Mean GE Crops Have a Proven Safety Record
In 1995, Novartis (which later became Syngenta) received approval to cultivate the GE maize known as Bt1761 in the U.S. It was the first Bt corn commercialized for animal feed. Due to controversies, it never gained much market success and the registration was allowed to lapse in 2001.2
In Europe, it was officially withdrawn from the market in 2007. Last month, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini published a feeding study on this particular Bt corn, showing it was in fact toxic to cows over the long-term.
Prior to its introduction, Novartis had conducted just one feeding test on four cows for the duration of two weeks.3 One of the animals died one week into the test with electrolyte and mucosal problems. No scientific explanation could be found for the death, and the cow was removed from the protocol.
It’s really important to realize that animal feeding trials are not required to be done prior to the commercial release of a GMO, and if they are done, they’re typically extremely small, and very short in duration, like this one was.
Long-Term Studies Keep Finding Serious Health Problems With GMOs and Associated Chemicals
As an expert for the French government within the Biomolecular Engineering Commission, Séralini had access to the industry dossier on Bt176, and expressed strong objections to and concern over the lack of long-term feeding tests — the kind that have since become Séralini’s own hallmark specialty.
As you may recall, Séralini produced the first-ever lifetime feeding study on rats in 2012. The 2-year-long study evaluated lifelong effects of a Monsanto-produced GE corn that is prevalent in the U.S. food supply.
The rats developed massive breast tumors, kidney and liver damage, and early death. The major onslaught of diseases set in during the 13th month, which in human terms equate to about the age of 43, assuming that the average person lives to the age of 80.
Séralini has also investigated the health effects of glyphosate and Roundup.
In a study4,5 published last year, he found that long-term exposure to ultra-low amounts of Roundup — which is used on both GE and conventional crops in ample amounts — may cause tumors, along with liver and kidney damage in rats.
First GE Corn Shown to Be Toxic to Cows in the Long Term
In 1997, Gottfried Glöckner, an award-winning dairy farmer in Germany, became the first farmer to grow and feed Bt176 corn to his prized Holstein cows. The test continued until 2002.
According to Séralini, this was the longest running and most detailed observation of farm animals ever performed for a GE crop.
Since 1986, when Glöckner took over the farm, he’d had no cases of serious disease on his farm. That all changed once he started feeding his cows Bt176 in 1997. As noted on Séralini’s website:6
“When partial paralysis (paresis) accompanied by great fatigue, and problems in the kidneys and mucosal membranes arose in the animals, followed by death in 10 percent of cases, microbial causes were sought. All kinds of analyses were conducted ...
At this time, the dose of GMO Bt maize, which had been progressively introduced, had reached 40 percent of the diet. By 2002, the farmer had become convinced that Bt maize was the cause of the diseases. He sued Syngenta and had partial compensation for his losses7 ...
After all these court cases ended, Prof. Séralini gained access to veterinary records and to very complete archived data for each cow ... For the first time ever, an analysis of these data has been published8 ... New scientific data on Bt toxins and a thorough study of the records show that this GMO Bt maize is most probably toxic over the long term.
This study reveals once again the urgent need for specific labeling of the identity and quantity of GMOs, especially in food and feed. Long-term testing of GM food and the pesticides they are designed to contain must be carried out and made public. This is now more essential than ever.”
The Higher the GMO Content, the Greater the Health Risks
As Glöckner increased the amount of Bt176 corn in the cows’ feed, gradually going from 2 to 40 percent over the course of two years, the worse his cows fared. At the outset, 70 percent of his cows produced high yields of milk, which is considered normal.
Once the GMO content of the feed reached 40 percent, a mere 40 percent of his cows were high-yielding. In 2000, milk tested positive for the Bt176 DNA specific fragment, which under European law meant the milk had to be labeled as coming from GE-fed animals.
Peak mortality was reached in 2002, when 10 percent of his cows died after suffering a long period of partial paralysis. Thirty percent of the herd was sick with a variety of ailments.
A number of cows were diagnosed with liver disease, mucosa problems, irregular heart function, mammary gland breaks (which is exactly as disturbing as it sounds: the study includes pictures), and general “abnormal behavior” suggesting chronic lack of energy.
As the GMO ratio peaked, fertility also began to drop significantly. Some of the animals tested positive for Chlamydia, but had no visible infection. Overall, kidney function appeared to be the most affected.
Because the farmer introduced new cows to his herd here and there to replace those who had died or were too sick to be milked, the toxic effects may actually be underestimated, as the replacement animals had not previously eaten the GMO feed, and were therefore exposed to it for a much shorter duration.
Indeed, Séralini points out that toxic effects such as these would likely be missed under common conditions on factory farms with high and rapid animal turnover for that very reason. Especially when the feed is not specifically labeled, identifying the type of GMO and precise amount.
Pesticide-Producing Plants May Also Harm Human Health
Like other Bt crops, Bt176 was genetically engineered to produce Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt toxin) — a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. Bt plants are engineered to produce this pesticide internally, so it’s present in every cell of the plant, from root to tip, and cannot be washed off.
Pesticidal crystal proteins Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac, two subspecies of the Bt toxin, were tested on cells from the embryonic kidney cell line 293, looking at specific biomarkers indicating cell death. Concentrations ranged from 10 parts per billion (ppb) up to 100 parts per million (ppm).
Cry1Ab caused cell death starting at 100 ppm. Roundup alone was found to cause necrosis (cell death resulting from acute injury) and apoptosis (cellular “suicide” or self-destruction) starting at 50 ppm, which the researchers noted is “far below agricultural dilutions.”
According to the authors: “In these results, we argue that modified Bt toxins are not inert on nontarget human cells, and that they can present combined side effects with other residues of pesticides specific to GM plants.”
Monsanto and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed the Bt toxin produced inside the plant would be completely safe for human consumption because it would be destroyed in the human digestive system. This has been proven false more than once.
Research11 published in 2007 found that antibiotic resistance marker genes from Bt176 maize were able to survive for longer periods in gastric juices taken from patients on anti-acid drug treatment, thereby potentially increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance. According to the authors:
“Our data indicate the possibility that in particular cases the survival time could be so delayed that, as a consequence, some traits of DNA could reach the intestine. In general, this aspect must be considered for vulnerable consumers (people suffering from gastrointestinal diseases related to altered digestive functionality, physiological problems or drug side-effects) in the risk analysis usually referred to healthy subjects.”
Then, in 2011, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women tested, 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67 percent of non-pregnant women.12 It’s quite clear that Bt toxin is not destroyed when passing through your digestive system, and that it can bioaccumulate in your body.
According to one study,13 Bt toxin may produce a wide variety of immune responses, including elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, typically associated with allergies and infections, and an increase in cytokines, associated with allergic and inflammatory responses — conditions that have markedly risen in prevalence since the advent of Bt crops.
Transgenic Bt Crops Promote Resistant Pests and Destroys Soil Biology
One of the selling points and touted benefits of GE crops like Bt cotton and Bt corn is reduced pesticide usage, as the plant itself will kill any bug that chews on it. As with so many other GMO claims, this one cannot stand up to scrutiny. For starters, just like exaggerated herbicide use has led to the rapid development of resistant superweeds, so have Bt plants led to the emergence of resistant pests.
According to The Times of India,14 farmers in Punjab and Haryana are seeing significant losses of their Bt cotton crops to the whitefly. To address the problem, increasing amounts of pesticides have been applied. During an outbreak in 2002 farmers applied so much pesticide to fend off the whiteflies that soil and groundwater are thought to have been affected.
Many now blame the exaggerated use of pesticides on the clustering of cancer cases being detected among those living in India’s cotton belt. Research15 has also shown that Bt crops, just like topical pesticides and herbicides, alter and destroys soil microbiology. According to the authors:
“Our data showed that the cultivation of Bt maize significantly increased the saturated to unsaturated lipid ratios in soils which appeared to negatively affect microbial activity.”
Beware: Bt Toxin Produced by Bt Plants Is Not Counted Toward Total Pesticide Exposure
Last but not least, it’s well worth noting that the Bt toxin produced in these Bt crops are NOT included as part of the total human pesticide exposure. This despite the fact that Bt plants are actually registered with the EPA as a pesticide.16 This also helps explain why Bt plants damage the soil just like topical pesticides do.
Ignoring Bt toxin produced by Bt plants, as if it never were to reach a dinner plate, is a gross misrepresentation of facts and outright fraudulent propaganda. How can they claim reductions in pesticide exposure as a result of Bt plants when every single cell of the plant contains it?
And how can they not include the plants in the pesticide usage data when the plant itself is registered as a pesticide? The failure to count the toxin inside the plant, and only counting the pesticides applied topically, is a significant loophole that makes Bt plants appear to provide a benefit that in reality simply isn’t true.
In reality, Bt exposure has likely increased exponentially with the introduction of Bt plants. Why? Because the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the topical spray, and while topically applied Bt toxin biodegrades in sunlight and can be washed off, the Bt toxin in these GE plants does not degrade, nor can it be removed or cleaned off the food since it’s integrated into every cell of the plant.
Besides that, Bt toxin in GE soy, cotton, and corn has also been exempted from residue tolerance levels by the EPA, so absolutely no one is looking for or paying any attention to the amount of Bt toxin you’re exposed to via the food you eat!
How to Avoid Bt Crops
So, if you want to avoid eating Bt plants, which foods end up on the “buy certified organic” list? The following list shows which Bt crops have received approval for commercialization in which countries as of 2013.17,18 (A Bt poplar tree has also been approved for planting in China.)
Cotton is of course not a food, but is used for cotton clothing. The genetic engineering of cotton is one reason why I recommend buying clothing made with organic cotton.
Bt crop Country Cotton Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, European Union (EU), India, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and United States of America (USA) Eggplant Bangladesh Maize/Corn Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, EU, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Uruguay Potato (“Atlantic NewLeaf potato”19,20) Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Russian Federation, South Korea, and USA Rice China and Iran Soybean Argentina, Australia, Brazil,21 Canada, China, Colombia, EU, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Uruguay Tomato22,23,24 Canada, Chile, and USA
Monsanto Decimates Their Credibility With Bt Crop
Why Did Officials Approve this Bt-toxin Corn Chip that Creates a 'Pesticide Factory' in Your Gut?
By Dr. Mercola
Breastfeeding is known to be protective against respiratory infections among infants in early life, so researchers with Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, Germany decided to test whether another type of milk, cow’s milk, might also be protective.
Nearly 1,000 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, and Switzerland were followed for the first year of life, and their consumption of different types of cow’s milk was analyzed, along with rates of common respiratory infections.
Children who drank raw milk had a 30 percent lower risk of respiratory infections and fever compared to those who did not.1
Milk that was boiled at the farm had a diminished protective effect, and milk that was ultra-pasteurized, which is heated to about 135°C (275°F) for a few seconds, showed no protective effect, likely because the protective compounds are being killed off or otherwise damaged by the heat processing.
Study author Georg Loss, Ph.D., epidemiology, told Science Daily, “Compounds that are sensitive to heating seem to play a particularly important role in protection against respiratory-tract and ear infections.”2
Raw Milk May Reduce the Risk of Infection, Fever and Inflammation in Infants
Multiple benefits were seen among the infants consuming raw milk. Loss explained:3
“Among children who were fed on fresh, unprocessed cow's milk the incidence of head colds and other respiratory infections, febrile and middle-ear inflammation was found to be significantly lower than in the group whose milk ration consisted of the commercially processed ultra-pasteurized product.”
The researchers further concluded that the public health impact of minimally processed raw milk might be “enormous, given the high prevalence of respiratory infections in the first year of life and the associated direct and indirect costs.”4 It’s not the first time raw milk has shown a benefit to children.
The PARSIFAL study, published in 2007, also found the consumption of raw milk was inversely associated with asthma and “may offer protection against asthma and allergy.”5 That study involved data from 15,000 children.
The GABRIELA study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2011, included data from 8,000 children.
It found school-aged children who drank raw milk were 41 percent less likely to develop asthma and about 50 percent less likely to develop hay fever than children who drank store-bought (pasteurized) milk.6
Whey Protein in Raw Milk May Offer Protection Against Asthma
The GABRIELA study noted that the protective effect of raw milk consumption on asthma might be associated with the whey protein fraction of milk. According to Mark McAfee, the founder of Organic Pastures Dairy:
"… [T]wo huge studies were done in Europe — the PARSIFAL study done in 2006, studying 15,000 kids, and the GABRIELA study done in Basel, Switzerland.
Peer reviewed, internationally published, wonderful documentation showing that whey protein in raw milk stabilizes mast cells and actually makes asthma get a lot better, and in some cases, completely gone.
What we have is this polarity, these polar opposites between pasteurized milk, which has lots of dead bacteria … which actually trigger inflammation in your body because your body doesn't recognize these waste products …
Your body then reacts by mast cells breaking open, histamines being released, and things like asthma and inflammation flaring like crazy; mucus being laid down, which causes ear infections.
Raw milk does exactly the opposite … [T]he milk is alive [with beneficial] bacteria and your body recognizes it … [These beneficial bacteria] colonize and become part of your immune system."
Demand for Raw Milk Is Surging
Interstate sales or distribution of raw milk is illegal in the U.S. because of the U.S. Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, which requires milk crossing state lines to be pasteurized. While Congress has never outright banned raw milk, it's the only food banned from interstate commerce.
This makes it challenging for small farmers to share their raw milk products with people living across state lines. As noted by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:7
“Raw milk laws are a hodgepodge in this country; due mainly to the federal ban on raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce, the laws are different state to state.”
While some states allow sales of raw milk in retail stores, others allow sales directly from the farm. Still others allow raw milk sales via herdshares, in which members of a co-op each purchase a share of the cow, or only when it’s sold as “pet milk.”
In other states, such as Iowa, Hawaii and Louisiana, the sale of raw milk is illegal. Despite these hurdles, demand for raw milk is surging. As noted by Food Dive:8
“The reasons for the consistent demand increase for raw milk … are varied. Consumers report everything from fewer allergic reactions and a better taste to cures for a variety of illnesses …
Consumers also point out that raw milk tends to come from family farms rather than ‘factory farms,’ — the same problem major food manufacturers face.”
The dairy industry, which is dependent on pasteurization to kill pathogens in the milk produced by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), has long been a primary opponent of raw dairy.
Major milk producers are a primary lobby within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. food system revolves around money. What we have is not a "free market" but a massive collusion between government and big business, which is facilitated through lobbying.
Regulators often take their power and influence and join private lobbying firms in return for big paychecks, going from regulating an industry to working FOR that industry, and then back again, like a perpetually revolving door.
Laws are adopted behind a public interest veneer — such as protecting your health by restricting raw milk sales — but underneath they are products of negotiation between industry leaders and government officials to eliminate the competition and enhance their economic status.
The Coalition for Safe Milk Tries to Defeat Raw Milk Bill in Wisconsin
Perhaps no other state is as synonymous with milk as Wisconsin, “the Dairy State.” With a $43.4-billion dairy industry, Wisconsin also has the most to lose should small farmers selling raw milk steal away too many of Big Dairy’s customers.
Still, in December 2015, Rep. David Murphy, who grew up on a dairy farm, introduced legislation that would allow consumers to purchase raw milk directly from a farm in Wisconsin. Murphy told the Journal Sentinel:9
“I have always been a supporter of people being able to buy raw milk ... to me, it's a matter of freedom of choice. It plays to my libertarian side … I think a lot of consumers would prefer to go to a farm that they trust and buy their milk.”
The bill, AB697, was assigned to the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, but will require legislative lobbyists to register their intent to either support or oppose the bill. The opponents are many, primarily those in the dairy industry.
To date, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Dairy Products, Wisconsin Grocers Association and others in the dairy and health industries have voiced opposition to the bill.
The Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition, a group of dairy farmers, health professionals, public health officials, dairy processor groups and veterinarians, was also formed in an effort to keep raw milk from becoming legal in Wisconsin. The Coalition is among those voicing opposition to the AB697.
As of mid-January 2016, 15 Assembly Representatives and three Senators have signed on to co-sponsor the bill (the more co-sponsors the bill has, the better chance it has of making it through a floor vote in the Senate and Assembly).
If you’re a Wisconsin resident and you’d like to get involved, especially if you live in Assembly District 96 (Crawford, Vernon and Monroe counties), the Wisconsin Raw Milk Association is asking for your help to call Assembly Representative Lee Nerison, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, to request the scheduling of a public hearing on AB697.10
More Health Reasons to Drink Your Milk Raw
Many people should not consume dairy, as they are allergic to the milk proteins, whether it is raw or pasteurized. Additionally, many who are seeking to lose weight, or have high blood pressure or diabetes would likely be better avoiding milk as it contains the dairy sugar lactose.
However, if you are healthy and want to drink milk then it makes more sense to drink it raw, assuming it comes from a high-quality source. Pasteurized milk is often contaminated with agricultural chemicals, like glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide.
This is because many dairy farmers feed their cows genetically engineered (GE) corn in lieu of their natural diet, grass. Their cornfields, in turn, are sprayed with Roundup. Raw milk, on the other hand, often comes from grass-fed cows, which is healthier from both purity and nutritional standpoints.
While pasteurized milk has few, if any, redeeming qualities besides being readily available at every convenience store, raw milk from grass-fed cows has a number of health benefits you simply will not obtain from drinking pasteurized and homogenized CAFO milk. For example, raw grass-fed milk is:
Loaded with healthy bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract High in omega-3 and low in omega-6, which is the beneficial ratio between these two essential fats Full of more than 60 digestive enzymes, growth factors, and immunoglobulins (antibodies). These enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization, making pasteurized milk much harder to digest Loaded with vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) in highly bioavailable forms, and a very balanced blend of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron) whose absorption is enhanced by live Lactobacilli Rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and boosts metabolism Rich in healthy unoxidized cholesterol Rich in beneficial raw fats, amino acids, and proteins in a highly bioavailable form, all 100 percent digestible It also contains phosphatase, an enzyme that aids and assists in the absorption of calcium in your bones, and lipase enzyme, which helps to hydrolyze and absorb fats
Support Raw, Grass-Fed Milk Products
Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. They are far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, safer, too. While many believe that milk must be pasteurized before it can be safely consumed, it’s worth remembering that raw milk was consumed for thousands of years before the invention of pasteurization.
It’s also important to realize that pasteurization is only really required for certain kinds of milk, specifically that from cows raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions, which is what you find in CAFOs. Your milk really needs to be pasture-raised, NOT pasteurized. Organically raised cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture where they can graze for their natural food source produce very different milk.
Their living conditions promote and maintain their health and optimize their milk in terms of the nutrients and beneficial bacteria it contains. The fight over raw milk stands as a symbol of the much larger fight for food freedom. If the FDA and other government agencies are allowed to impose their view of "safe food" on consumers, raw milk won't be the only thing lost — all food could potentially be pasteurized, irradiated, and genetically engineered.
The effort to reclaim your right to buy and consume raw milk is leading the way for everyone who wants to be able to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice. So please, get involved! Getting your raw milk and other food from a local organic farm or co-op is one of the best ways to ensure you're getting high-quality food.
You can locate a raw milk source near you at the Campaign for Real Milk Website. California residents can find raw milk retailers by using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com. As with all foods, the source matters, and this is just as true with raw milk as any other food. If you’re interested in raw milk, here are tips for finding high-quality raw milk sources.
Raw Milk and the Raw Deal
Members of Congress Drink Raw Milk in Support of Food Freedom