A study has shown that fish oils are more effective than the statin drug Lipitor in positively affecting the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in obese and insulin-resistant men. HDL cholesterol protects against atherosclerosis by removing excess cholesterol from arterial cells, and low HDL levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly for those who are obese or insulin resistant.
In the six-week study, fish oils and Lipitor were given to 48 men, both separately and combined. Fish oil and Lipitor together greatly lowered plasma triacylglycerols and raised HDL cholesterol levels.
But only fish oil also influenced HDL cholesterol by altering the production and catabolism rates of HDL apolipoproteins (catabolism is the breakdown of complex molecules metabolically into simpler ones). Lipitor did not increase this effect when combined with the fish oils, and did not produce a similar effect on its own.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition July 2006; 84(1): 37-43
Dr. Mercola’s Comment:
The omega-3 fats in fish oil will influence your HDL cholesterol levels far more safely and effectively than taking a pill will — and for a small fraction of the cost, typically even less than the copayment to purchase the expensive medications.
Just remember Pfizer is on track to make $13 billion this year from selling Lipitor, which is up 11% from last year. A 30 day supply of the 10 mg pill is $90 while the 20 mg is $130. Of course anyone with half a brain who was taking the 10 mg could get a 20 mg dose, cut it in half and cut their drug bill by 25%, but since most of the drug bill is paid by insurance companies, very few people do this.
Lipitor is not only less effective and more costly, but it stands a good chance of depressing your immune system and even increasing your risk of atherosclerosis.
Statin drugs like Lipitor may treat one symptom by lowering your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, but they do nothing whatsoever to treat the underlying disease, which is causing the problem in the first place. That’s the same as putting a band-aid on an infected wound — it might stop the bleeding, but it won’t solve the real problem.
And in addition to doing you no good, they also actively cause you harm. Statins kill people — lots of people — and they wound many, many more.
For example, taking statins eventually depletes important Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels, which can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness and heart failure.
So why risk your health by taking drugs when there are very simple things you can do to normalize your cholesterol levels?
Regular exercise is one important tool that may reduce your risk of heart disease, as it effectively addresses one of the primary reasons nearly everyone’s cholesterol becomes inappropriately elevated, and that is elevated insulin levels.
You can also lower your insulin levels by eliminating sugar and grains. Grains rapidly break down to sugars that increase your insulin levels. And, for most people with high cholesterol levels, the primary reason is high insulin levels. This approach normalizes cholesterol levels in nearly everyone — unless they have a genetic defect called familial hypercholsterolemia.
Eliminating sugar and grains will also normalize your weight, increase your energy and lower your blood pressure and triglycerides. You can find out many helpful tips and recipes about this topic in my book, Total Health Program.
And, as the study above indicates, you can take a high-quality fish or krill oil that is chock full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. To really enjoy all the benefits these oils have to offer, it’s important to find one that has been independently tested in a laboratory and conforms to strict purity guidelines (ensuring that the oil you consume is free from toxins like mercury).