Life Extension Magazine December 2010
Why Reading Mainstream Magazines Can be Detrimental to Your Health
By William Faloon
Asking Too Much and Doing Too Little
Fundamentally, these clinical studies were asking too much and doing too little. They produced only moderate reductions in homocysteine levels in people already gravely ill with cardiovascular disease. They add nothing to what we already know about the role of homocysteine in otherwise healthy people—people who still have a chance to make important changes in all of the known cardiovascular risk factors. It’s vital to make those changes early, before damage accumulates, and to make them in as many risk areas as possible. Homocysteine reduction is one such area, and we have solid evidence that an early start aimed at reducing levels substantially can make a big difference.
Traditional wisdom holds that endothelial dysfunction only begins to occur in otherwise healthy people when their homocysteine levels get above the upper limit of “normal,” 15 μmol/L.24 But we’ve known for more than a decade that even small increments in homocysteine levels—within the “normal” range—produce immediate and dangerous disruptions of endothelial function.
In a remarkable study in 1999, British researchers fed healthy young adults several different diets, two of which contained amino acid precursors of homocysteine, and one that was free of such molecules.25 At baseline, volunteers had mean homocysteine levels of 9.5 μmol/L. Both the homocysteine precursor-containing diets induced an immediate rise in plasma homocysteine, but only to the 11-12 μmol/L range. Nonetheless, there was an immediate decrease in flow-mediated dilation, a sensitive measure of endothelial function. The control diet had no effect. It’s hard to ask for more direct proof that small homocysteine elevations produce meaningful reductions in endothelial function and lay the foundation for atherosclerosis.
Doomed from the Outset
Armed with a realistic understanding of how homocysteine levels relate to cardiovascular risk, it is easy to see why the recent JAMA study failed to show any impact of minor homocysteine lowering on people with major heart disease. Reducing homocysteine by a few points, at the lower end of the scale, in people with pre-existing severe arterial damage (severe enough to have already had a heart attack), could not possibly be expected to have an impact.
The approach taken by mainstream physicians in studies like the JAMA report are tragically typical of their general strategy. That can be summed up as, “Find a single problem, focus on it and it alone, and judge success or failure by whether changing just the one factor makes a difference.” That’s a great way to sell drugs, of course—one drug per problem adds up to tremendous revenue. But it is a poor way to manage the complexities of cardiovascular disease, for which we can identify no fewer than 17 deadly risk factors (and perhaps many more).
The Bottom Line
It’s naive to claim that a single therapy can have an impact on a complex, multifaceted problem like cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine-lowering, by itself, will not prevent a heart attack. By the same token, however, throwing out several decades of solid evidence that homocysteine-lowering can substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease is worse than naive—it’s downright dangerous.
Studies like the JAMA report will no doubt continue to appear, and will continue to be misrepresented as “evidence” that close attention to homocysteine levels is unnecessary. It is in the financial interests of mainstream cardiology to deceive the public into believing the only way of treating heart disease is with bypass surgery, stents, and drugs.
A plethora of published data, however, reveals that aging humans can successfully circumvent the lethal atherosclerotic process and in many cases reverse it. It all starts with comprehensive blood testing.
The medical establishment charges around $1,000 for the wide-ranging blood tests needed to assess coronary risk markers. As a Life Extension member, you can obtain the same tests for only $269.
When you place your blood test order, we send you a requisition form along with a listing of blood-drawing stations in your area. You can normally walk in during regular business hours for a convenient blood draw.
The sidebar below describes the comprehensive Male and/or Female Blood Test Panels that all health conscious individuals should have done at least once a year. They can be ordered by calling 1-800-208-3444 (24 hours a day).
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
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