Sunday, December 2, 2012
I have my cholesterol checked every three to six months, when I see my doctor. After reading a health website today, I learned that cholesterol isn't all bad. I learned that cholesterol is not important to insurance companies, and the following myths I've listed are just not true.
"Life insurance companies know a surprising secret about cholesterol that most doctors never tell patients: When it comes to rating your risk for a fatal heart attack, the least important cholesterol number is your level of LDL (bad) cholesterol. In fact, life insurance actuaries don’t even look at LDL levels, because large studies show it’s the worst predictor of heart attack risk.
Instead, life insurance companies use a simple math formula to rate your heart attack risk: They divide your total cholesterol by the level of HDL (good) cholesterol.
If the ratio is below three, and there’s no inflammation in your arteries, you’re practically bulletproof against heart attacks and strokes, even if your LDL is high.
1. Cholesterol is evil
You couldn’t survive without cholesterol, since this waxy substance produced by the liver plays many essential roles in our body, from waterproofing cell membranes to helping produce vitamin D, bile acids that help you digest fat, and sex hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
2. Low cholesterol is a sign of good health
Although low levels of LDL cholesterol are usually healthy, a new study reports that people who develop cancer typically have lower LDL in the years prior to diagnosis than those who don’t get cancer.
3. High LDL leads to heart attacks
Nearly 75 percent of people hospitalized for a heart attack have LDL (bad) cholesterol levels that fall within current recommended targets, and close to half have “optimal” levels, according to a national study. The researchers also reported that levels of protective HDL (good) cholesterol have dropped in heart attack patients over the last several years, probably due to the rise in obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance. Only 2 percent of the patients studied had ideal levels of both LDL and HDL.
4. Triglycerides trigger heart disease
Triglycerides, a type of blood fat, don’t invade the artery wall and form plaque, the study says. However, high triglycerides mark another huge problem: insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that is the root cause of 70 percent of heart attacks. High triglycerides are also one of the warning signs of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of abnormalities that multiply risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
5. Eggs clog arteries
It’s true that eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, mainly in the yolk. Research shows, however, that eating three or more eggs a day boosts blood concentrations of both good and bad cholesterol. Most people’s bodies handle cholesterol from eggs in a way that’s unlikely to harm the heart."