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I am a Type A-non-secretor who has been strictly adherent to the bloodtype diet for 4 years and I love it. I have the inherited familial high cholesterol and I am not overweight. My total cholesterol is 400 and my daughters' was 383 at birth. My mom had quadruple bypass at 50 y.o. and died at 53. My aunt had triple bypass at 46 y.o. and is still alive at 65. My cousin dropped dead last month at 42 of a heart attack. Males die earlier. I don't want to be another statistic as I am 48yo but I have also refused to take statin drugs because my aunt got systemic lupus & pericarditis from statins and I think they are far more dangerous than everyone makes them out to be. I have tried gugulipids but I get horrible/debilitating headaches from them. What is effective that is relatively safe and what is your opinion on the safety of the new pill on the block--Zetia? I would appreciate any advise or suggestions as I have two grown children and I would like to live to see my grandchildren with this disease.
As you are probably aware, blood group A non-secretor is at most risk from high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. You also have another genetic factor that increases your cholesterol, which makes it twice as difficult to bring your levels down with diet alone, but you should still continue to be very careful with your diet, as your cholesterol is high.
Blood Group A individuals have the lowest levels of intestinal alkaline phosphatase of all blood groups, and non-secretors even lower. This reduces your ability to metabolise dietary fats, and therefore increases blood cholesterol levels. A low animal fat diet is essential in your case.
The book 'Cardiovascular Disease, Fight It With The Blood Type Diet' contains a list of super beneficial foods for secretors and non-secretors, and specific recommendations for lowering cholesterol.
Pantethine (active vitamin B5) is suggested to safely help reduce cholesterol. Stress reduction techniques will also help, but remember that your non-secretor status means you will have a tendency to high catecholamines, so keep up the exercise as well as the A-type relaxation methods.
The drug Zetia (ezetimibe) belongs to a new class of lipid-lowering agents that selectively inhibit the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and phytosterols. Its mechanism of action results in a synergistic cholesterol-lowering effect together with a statin that inhibits cholesterol synthesis by the liver.
The manufacturers of Zetia say when it is prescribed with a statin it should not be taken by anyone with active liver disease, and that your doctor may do blood tests to check your liver before you start taking Zetia with a statin and during treatment. (1) This is not good news for individuals of blood group A, who often have more liver problems than other blood groups.
The natural equivalent to the pharmaceutical Zetia is beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol. Sterols and sterolins, also known as phytosterols, are fats present in all plants, including fruits and vegetables. Although they are chemically similar to the animal fat, cholesterol, they have been shown to exert significant unique biochemical effects in humans. Because they are bound to the fibres of the plant, they are difficult to absorb during the transit of digested food through the gut. (2)
Your family history and secretor status means that you are also more likely to get autoimmune disease, although this is not one of the recognised side-effects of statins, which are known to suppress the immune system along with numerous other side-effects. (3)
Statins are not that effective at lowering cholesterol, but it is claimed that they prevent death from heart disease by lowering inflammation. There are plenty of natural alternatives that will reduce inflammation without causing other problems.
One alternative to statins is red yeast rice, which has a similar action to lovastatin. Red yeast rice is a fermented rice product that has been used in Chinese cuisine and as a medicinal food to promote ‘blood circulation’ for centuries. The HMG-CoA reductase (statin) activity of the food comes from a family of naturally-occurring substances called monacolins. Monacolin K, also known as mevinolin or lovastatin, is the ingredient in red yeast rice that Merck asserted as a patent violation because it was sold in the United States as a food that promoted normal cholesterol levels. Red yeast rice contains a family of nine different monacolins, however, that all have the ability to inhibit HMG-CoA reductase. Other active ingredients in red yeast rice include sterols (beta-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol, sapogenin), isoflavones, and monounsaturated fatty acids. At a daily dosage of 2.4 grams of red yeast rice, the lovastatin content is 4.8 mg. The dosages used in clinical efficacy trials with lovastatin were 20-40 mg. It is unlikely that the effects achieved with red yeast rice are solely a result of the lovastatin content of the supplement, and more likely that other monacolins, sterols, and isoflavones contribute to the cholesterol-lowering effect the studies achieved. (4)
Remember that both statins and red yeast rice lower Co Q10 in the body, and a supplement of Co Q10 should be taken at the same time as either of them (5).
It is worth looking at the financial implications of taking medication: the consumer price of statins represent about a 4,000 % markup on the cost of the generic ingredient. (6)
Cholesterol lowering guidelines were issued in July by the US National Institutes of Health. Eight of the nine authors of the guidelines had failed to disclose financial associations with the manufacturers of cholesterol lowering agents. The guidelines, devised by the national cholesterol education programme of the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, were endorsed by the American Heart Association-which also receives funding from the makers of statins. (7)
For those who still want to take statins and contribute to the profits of pharmaceutical companies, this medicine is as effective when taken in a lower dose in combination with niacin (vitamin B3) (8). The abstract admits the difference between the research and the reality of the effect of statins: “However, in spite of the dramatic success in large randomized clinical trials, two thirds of patients administered statins are not protected against cardiovascular events. This has prompted a search for additional targets for therapy.”
Niacin should only be taken under the supervision of a physician, but then so should statins. "Niacin lowers cholesterol, elevates high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and reduces the ravages of heart disease, but causes flushing when it is first taken. The flushing reaction dissipates in time and in most cases is gone or very minor within a matter of weeks. Niacinamide, which is not a vasodilator, does not produce a flush, but it has no effect on blood fats (lipids). Inositol hexaniacinate will lower cholesterol without the flushing side effect, but does not do so as well as plain niacin." (9)
Dr. Parsons Jr. points out that increase in the liver function tests, unless they are very substantial, i.e. over three fold, usually does not indicate liver pathology. There are many compounds that elevate liver enzymes, including all the statins, as well as acetaminophen (Tylenol), and ibuprofen (Advil). (10)
Choose a naturopathic physician to monitor your progress.
1. Website: Zetia
2. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2004 May;52(5):597-601.
Effect of a new beta-sitosterol analogue on plasma lipid concentrations in rats.
Song YH, Hong S, et. al.
3. Website: Statins
4. Altern Med Rev 2001;6(3):248-271
Cardiovascular Disease: C-Reactive Protein and the Inflammatory Disease Paradigm: HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, alpha-Tocopherol, Red Yeast Rice, and Olive Oil Polyphenols. A Review of the Literature.
Patrick, L, Uzick, M.
5. Website: Co Q10
6. Website: Statin Alert
7. BMJ 2004;329:759
US consumer body calls for review of cholesterol guidelines
8. Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2004 Mar;5(3):306-12.
Combination therapy for the treatment of dyslipidemia.
9. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.
Abram Hoffer, M.D.
10. Cholesterol Control Without Diet. The Niacin Solution.
Parsons WB Jr.
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