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This is an issue that has troubled and hounded me ever since I had my first cholesterol test about 9 years ago in my early 50's. Then, 8.5 was the figure I was given; which, overweight and with an elevated blood pressure reading meant that there was no hope for a long and happy life unless I took some medication to alleviate the perilous state of my health. This meant 40mg per day of Atorvastatin and a small 5mg dose of something to keep my blood pressure in check.
Sure enough, within days rather than months, my blood pressure dropped satisfactorily and my cholesterol levels to the national average. Saved, or so I was led to believe.
Over the weeks months and years that followed, I became aware that I had some of the side-effects of statins that the manufacturers helpfully underplayed. Not serious side-effects for me, although I have since heard of people whose lives have been wrecked as a result. All of these adverse effects could just be those that one might expect with the ageing process - I told myself. This is a readily believable thing.
I had argued with my doctor that raised cholesterol levels could be treated by diet and exercise, but it was explained that the major part of our natural cholesterol is produced in the liver, so diet would have little or no effect. Fade to black.
Move on eight and a half years and a friend gives me a book entitled The Great Cholesterol Con, by Dr Malcolm Kendrick. The good doctor's website carries this statement:
In this groundbreaking book, GP Malcolm Kendrick exposes the truth behind the hype, revealing: high cholesterol levels don’t cause heart disease; a high-fat diet – saturated or otherwise – does not affect blood cholesterol levels; and, the protection provided by statins is so small as to be not worth bothering about for most men and all women.
Now I have to say that Dr Kendrick's book - to me - seems well researched and promotes sound common sense, even if his tone of voice can get a little irksome at times. So I ditched the statins. Contrary to the experience of some others, my Cholesterol levels have skyrocketed to an impressive 9.5. 
In all other respects, my blood is doing quite nicely thank you, but the doctor is really keen to get me back on statins, as I must reduce that high reading. I have a 7% likelihood of having a fatal heart attack in the next 10 years, he informs me (4% if I reduce my blood cholesterol to average levels). Yet it is said that no one ever died of high cholesterol. Low cholesterol is positively dangerous, but not the other way around. So something else is happening here. We need cholesterol for a healthy brain and many other things, so what is it - in relationship with my high cholesterol - that makes me a candidate for a premature demise?
Research tells me that I now need to do more research - and I have discovered a whole wealth of 'more' out there in interweb-land that is in many respects confusing and sometimes downright contradictory. Everyone - medical professional or concerned enthusiast - has their own interpretation of the information available. Thus red wine is good for reducing cholesterol but contains sugars that will boost my triglycerides (a bad thing). In fact there are a wealth of foodstuffs that are essential for good heart health and yet are apparently a death sentence at the same time.
At present I am on a low fat / low carb diet with some added daily exercise. This should reduce the weight a little if nothing else. Some say that will guarantee me a reprieve from certain death in the near future; others that it will make no difference. Anyway, I have now embarked on further research to try and pin this thing down a little more. After all I am not ill... yet; even if I'm sick of thinking about my cholesterol.
More to follow, "if The Good Lord spares me".

In case you are wondering about the picture; it is the only picture I could find of mine which has a heart in it. (I have others, but they also have bears in them - explanation another time.) Also, I like the message, which is possibly the best advice available on any subject.


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