A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that over 20 percent of teenagers in the U.S. have elevated cholesterol levels.
The national study covered more than 3,000 teens whose blood test results were collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
High levels of LDL or triglycerides, and low HDL levels were associated with weight, and the heavier the teenagers were, the more likely they were to have abnormal levels (nearly 43% if they were obese), but even among those with normal body weight over 14% had unhealthy levels.
High cholesterol levels were at first associated with the middle-aged and elderly, but are increasingly beginning to appear in late childhood and the teenage years.
This finding already has researchers urging cholesterol screening for about one-third of teens who are overweight or obese, which will put many of these kids right in the line of fire to be prescribed a dangerous statin drug.
In 2007, the American Heart Association first recommended the use of statin drugs for children with high cholesterol. Then in 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics followed suit, recommending cholesterol-lowering drugs for children as young as 8!
There is such overwhelming evidence — nearly 900 studies compiled in this link — showing the damage statins inflict, that this recommendation should qualify as criminal malpractice.
Some of the possible consequences of taking statins for a lengthy period of time, which many of these kids undoubtedly would do, include:
Then there is the serious risk of potentially permanent muscle damage, and the depletion of Co-Q10, which can harm your heart and muscles alike.
Statin drugs used to lower cholesterol are the best-selling drugs in the United States. In 2008 alone they brought in $14.5 billion in sales!
The odds are very high, greater than 100 to 1, that anyone taking statin drugs does not need them. The ONLY subgroup that MAY benefit are those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes them resistant to traditional measures to normalize cholesterol.
And the first step to understanding why lies in understanding the role of cholesterol in your health, not in disease.
Why Cholesterol is Not “Evil”
Cholesterol has been traditionally vilified, when in reality it is essential and crucial for a wide variety of vital functions in your body.
It’s an integral part of your cell membranes, and it’s also the precursor (the raw material) your body uses to make your steroid hormones – one of which is vitamin D. Your skin contains cholesterol, and when UVB rays from the sun hit your skin, it converts that form of cholesterol to vitamin D3, which is then transported to your blood. Your body then further converts it into the active form of vitamin D.
It’s important to realize that there’s a big difference between “average” and “healthy” cholesterol levels. It’s very similar to what we’re now seeing with vitamin D levels.
Please understand that you have not been told the whole truth about cholesterol. Rather, what you’re getting from most conventional health practitioners is little more than cleverly distorted marketing.
Before 2004, a 130 LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk.
In order to achieve these outrageous and dangerously low targets, you typically need to take multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs. So the guidelines instantly increased the market for these dangerous drugs. Now, with testing children’s cholesterol levels, they’re increasing their market even more.
Total Cholesterol Level is a Virtually Useless Test
If your doctor is urging your child to get a total cholesterol level check, you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about his or her risk of heart disease — unless it is 330 or higher.
And, perhaps more importantly, you need to be aware that cholesterol is not the CAUSE of heart disease.
If you become overly concerned with trying to lower your child’s cholesterol level to some set number, you will be completely missing the real problem.
In fact, I have seen a number of people with levels over 250 who actually were at low heart disease risk due to their elevated HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen even more who had cholesterol levels under 200 that were at a very high risk of heart disease based on the following additional tests:
Your HDL/Cholesterol ratio
Your Triglyceride/HDL ratios
HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.
You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2.
How to Get Your Children Healthy
While I don’t believe high cholesterol is typically a concern (again unless it is over 330), many teens are overweight, obese or showing signs of being at risk of heart disease based on the tests I described above.
In this case, you do need to take some steps to help him or her get healthy.
Fortunately, there are simple, basic strategies that can help your teen not only regulate cholesterol in a healthy way, but also build a foundation for a healthy heart and body that will support him throughout his life.
Get an appropriate amount of exercise.
Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your daily diet. Foods like these will increase your insulin levels, which will also contribute to high cholesterol by making your liver produce more of it.
Eat the right foods for your nutritional type.
Eat a good portion of your food raw.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega3-fats. I prefer those from krill oil.
Avoid smoking and alcohol.
Have solid strategies to address your emotional challenges.
Finally, please do make sure your, and your child’s, vitamin D levels are where they need to be. Vitamin D is not “just a vitamin,” but rather the only known substrate for a potent, pleiotropic (meaning it produces multiple effects), repair and maintenance seco-steroid hormone that serves multiple gene-regulatory functions in your body.
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, which is what parents of teens with “high” cholesterol are most concerned about.
About 70 percent of U.S. children have low levels of vitamin D, so this should be one of the first issues you address to keep your teen’s heart healthy.
NOTE: PLEASE SEE OUR POST ON “POLICOSANOL” A NATURAL STATIN DRUG TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL.