Medication Induced Cholesterol Reduction And Subsequent Cancer
Coronary artery disease (angina, myocardial infarction, most of sudden death) and its ramifications of angiography, angioplasty, bypass surgery, arrhythmia therapy, etc., have known causes. In areas of the world where there is:
- Calorie restriction,
- Low fat, high fiber diets,
- Physical life,
- No or minimal nicotine exposure, there is virtually no coronary artery disease.
Interestingly, the causes of many cancers are turning out to be identical to the causes of coronary artery disease:
- High calorie intake,
- Tobacco exposure,
- High fat, low fiber diets,
- And even reduced exercise, have all been shown to have an effect on immunity decline and/or carcinogenesis.
Vegetarian populations such as Seven Day Adventists and other high fiber, low fat, low calorie intake groups have been noted to have considerably lower incidences of not only heart disease, but also cancer.
With the recent work of Dean Ornish, M.D., there has been scientific documentation of regression of coronary artery disease through a combination of:
- A vegetarian (high fiber) diet,
- Not smoking,
- Meditation and group support.
The work of others (R. Greg Brown, M.D., etc.) have also documented regression of coronary artery disease by the use of cholesterol lowering medications. The "set point" of coronary artery disease regression appears to be at a cholesterol level of approximately 180 for an entire group.
It is believed by many that coronary artery disease is an "unnatural" disease that occurs because of what people do. Not doing those things is what causes prevention and/or regression of coronary artery disease. There are those of us who have championed the idea that the human body is biologically-genetically designed to be essentially (90%) vegetarian and being such prevents coronary artery disease as well as many cancers. Obviously, there is more to it than just diet, but it is believed that the single most important of the risk factors for coronary artery disease and cancer is nutrition.
This lengthy prologue is an introduction to an unfortunate trend, which I have recently noted in my practice. This information is not presented as a scientific study; it is simply my impression, which I hope others will comment on. Patients with a high cholesterol and documented coronary artery disease who have been placed on medication that is effective in dramatically lowering the blood cholesterol seem, to me, to have an excess incidence of carcinoma. I do not believe that the medications themselves are carcinogenic, I believe that which causes coronary artery disease also causes cancer as listed above.
Caring physicians are aware that all medicines are unnatural chemicals in the body. The purpose of medicine is to do as much good, and as little harm, as possible but as all physicians know, virtually all medicines do some harm. Lowering cholesterol by means of pills (and probably surgery, although probably not by diet) may enhance carcinogenesis and/or simply allow the cancer tendency to be more easily or rapidly expressed. I do not believe that it is 1:1 tradeoff, and I do believe that people's lives are definitely extended by the medical therapy of cholesterol reduction. However, it is my belief that protecting a patient from one disease (high cholesterol-CAD) does not protect from all diseases, and hence those pills which are used to lower blood cholesterol ultimately allow that patient to live long enough to develop the cancer that he/she was predisposed to by virtue of their still unnatural diet, etc. uncontrolled risks plus genetic tendency. However, it may also be that medicine-induced low cholesterol levels is a co-carcinogen.
In summary, it is my formal recommendation that the only method to avoid both coronary artery disease-high cholesterol and those nutritionally induced cancers, such as colon-breast-prostate-uterus-etc. is to follow the Natural Human Design and to eat approximately a 90% vegetarian high fiber, whole foods diet, not including margarine-skim milk-egg white. As I say to my patients, "I didn't write the (genetic) rules, I'm just informing you of what they are" in my best guess.
This information is offered as a tickler for further discussion.
H. Robert Silverstein, MD