Don’t let your doctor scare you

August 12th, 2009, by

Scared to Death

It has been my experience that most doctors are slaves to the pharmaceutical companies and don't do much thinking for themselves. That is why they still believe in the diet-heart hypothesis and will steer you in the wrong direction when reading your lipid results. Here is what the numbers really mean:

Total Cholesterol - Don't be fooled here. Total cholesterol is not a good predictor of much unless you are setting a low score. In which case, you will likely suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression, cancer, or a stroke as you get older.

HDL - Often referred to as "good" cholesterol, the higher the better. 60-80 mg/dL is a good place to be, but if you work hard and get a score above 100 mg/dL, I'll give you a high-five!

LDL - Often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, this guy gets a bad rap. The size of the LDL particles is much more important than the generic number most doctors will give you. That's right, size does matter. Large and fluffy are nothing to worry about, while small and dense just might kill you.

Triglycerides - The lower the better here. The amount of triglycerides in your blood goes hand-in-hand with LDL particle size and insulin resistance. Because of this, your triglyceride level can generally be used as an indicator of your LDL particle size as well as your level of insulin resistance. Lower tri's equals large, fluffy LDL particles and less insulin resistance. Higher tri's equals small, dense LDL particles and a higher level of insulin resistance. A score less than 60 mg/dL is ideal.

4 Responses to "Don’t let your doctor scare you"

    • The generalization that "...most doctors are slaves to the pharmaceutical companies and don't do much thinking for themselves" could be one of the most narrow minded statements I have ever read. To make the sort of generalization that some of the worlds bightest and hardest working individuals are influenced by a pen or lunch provided by a pharmaceutical company is insulting to physicians on an incredible level. Granted, just as there are good contractors and bad contractors, some physicians have forgotten the oath they took in medical school and base certain decisions on reimbursement but by far and away, the overwhelming majority of physicians in the world dedicate their life to promote health, heal disease, and prolong life. You claim to promote a healthy lifestyle, yet by generalizing groups of people into broad categories based on your own unfortunate limited experience makes you dangerous to society and an unhealthy role model. When you get very sick (and you will at some point), you can swear, kick, punch, spit in the face of your doctor, and he/she will still try to help you. Spreading distrust for the medical community helps noone and it certainly doesn't help doctors, the majority of whom are just trying to do their job well.

    • Hi Rob. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I must respectfully disagree with you though.

      How many general practitioners, even cardiologists, do you know who keep up on the current research, analyzing the setup and data themselves? I already know the answer: not very many. Simple test proving so: How many doctors are still pushing the diet-heart hypothesis? For those who don’t know, the conclusion from Dr. Ancel’s study failed to include the data from 15 of the 22 countries studied. How convenient that he only used the data that supported his hypothesis and excluded the other 67%. The majority of these doctors simply don’t have the time to do so. Seeing patients is what pays their bills. Therefore, they must rely on the conclusions published in medical journals and what their colleagues share with them.

      This is where many of the problems stem from. You see, a lot of what is published in medical journals is funded by Big Pharma. There is no way that they are going to shoot holes in their own products; that just wouldn’t make good business sense. Not only that, but Big Pharma spends a large portion of their advertising dollars on doctors who serve as “Key Opinion Leaders”. These doctors are paid big money by the pharmaceutical companies to spread the good word amongst their collegues about the next best thing. Sometimes, they get paid more than they will ever make from their own private practice. For more numbers on this issue, check out http://projects.propublica.org/docdollars/. According to their numbers, over $11 million dollars was paid out to some 1,291 doctors in Illinois alone. Hopefully you are beginning to see how this goes far beyond a free pen or lunch.

      When I speak of the Hippocratic oath, I know that most doctors don’t intend to harm anyone. Ignorance is no defense in my book though. I believe our doctors should be held to a standard that requires them to think for themselves and not depend solely on the findings and conclusions of others. Just because a drug is approved or the government recommends a certain diet is not enough evidence to start blindly prescribing it to your patients. It is the doctors’ responsibility to do some homework and think for themselves.

      Telling someone to replace saturated fats with vegetable oils, to eat soy instead of red meat, and to consume copious amounts of whole grains and legumes is the exact opposite of promoting health. The science says so!

      Instead of healing disease, how about trying to prevent disease. Doctors medicate in hopes of not making you much worse, but along with that comes the likelihood of not making you much better either.

      Personally, I’m only interested if my doctor can increase the quality of my life, instead of artificially prolonging it. I have no interest in living an extra 5, 10, 20, or even 50 years if I have to be overmedicated and incapable of enjoying the physical and/or mental joys in life.