The ‘right’ thinking people in the pharmaceutical lobby must have had a brilliant idea: why not use the Chinese red yeast rice plant to block essential cholesterol from the liver?
Small plants survive very precariously in a valley in north China, where the environment is cold, dark, hostile and lonely. Red yeast rice is one such plant that grows there. Nature equips all of us, including red yeast rice plants, to thrive in hostile environments. The red yeast rice produces a poison, known as lovastatin, which kills anyone who consumes it.
A researcher from the US government found that the poison was seen blocking a very important enzyme known as HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme is known to be responsible for cholesterol production in the liver. The pharmaceuticals lobby found out that lovastatin, in smaller doses, blocks the cholesterol production in our liver.
The main lifeline of our existence, cholesterol, is being made into a demon to be killed at any cost. The ‘right’ thinking people in the pharmaceuticals lobby must have had a brilliant idea: Why not use the Chinese red yeast rice plant poison to block cholesterol from the liver? The other leading drug consumed is cholesteramyine, a sand-like powder which had to be taken three times a day in two large tablespoons. Majority of the patients used to vomit and stopped taking it.
Very soon, they created enough ‘evidence’ to show that lovastatin reduces cholesterol level. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it. Industry-sponsored ‘thought leaders’ showed the benefits of the drug and went round the world delivering talks based on ‘science’ and succeeded in convincing the gullible medical world about the virtues of the poison. Lavish conferences were organised where the invited ‘scientists’ were feasted and entertained. Profits went up exponentially and executives laughed their way to their banks!
One such conference—Transatlantic Conference on Cholesterol—was presided over by the famous Scottish scientist, Sir Michael Oliver. He was a no-nonsense scientist and the conference ended in total disagreement about the role that fat plays in vascular disease. While on his flight back home, Sir Michael was reading the New York Times (NYT) which had a report on the conference with his name mentioned. He was surprised, and equally enraged, with the blatant lie. When he landed in Edinburgh, in an article published in The Lancet, he rebuked NYT. There was a long-drawn debate that raged for a long time. This will give you an idea as to how clouded cholesterol research is.
Now we have enough and more evidence to show how dangerous this red yeast rice poison is for the human body. While it definitely reduces the fat profile in the blood report, there is still no evidence that it reduces premature death. In fact, there is evidence to show that, in the long run, these drugs increase total mortality. In medical research, patient death is of no consequence. It is only a statistic! How does this happen? The enzyme HMG-CoA reductase blocks many routes in the liver including the most important one which produces mavalonic acid, a vital part of good health and longevity. There are rare births with congenital mavalonic acid deficiency children. The child looks like an old man at the age of one year and dies after a year or two! If a doctor has seen a child with that disease, s/he will never prescribe the poison. Another salient feature needs to be mentioned here: the cell wall in our body is made up of cholesterol. The wall has to be strong to be hydrophobic. Low cholesterol levels make cell walls weak inviting cell necrosis which abets cancer growth!
Although the final verdict on this controversial poison is yet to be established, there is enough and more evidence to show that the red rice plant is very powerful to survive in the extremely hostile terrain of the valley of north China. I dare not prescribe it, unless one has terminal illness.
Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.
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Medical developments from around the world
Ugly Side of Statins
Researchers from Ireland undertook an objective review of the PubMed, EM-BASE and Cochrane review databases relating to statins. Lifestyle modifications trumped statins hands down. For a drug that does precious little for primary prevention, the side-effects are alarming.
It was found that for every 10,000 people taking a statin, there were: 307 extra patients with cataracts, 23 additional patients with acute kidney failure, 74 extra patients with liver dysfunction. However, there was no evidence for statin therapy in primary prevention. The flip side of the study was that statins, in fact, increased the risk of heart diseases in women, the young and people with diabetes.
Other findings were:
• Muscle fatigability increased 30% with more than 11% incidence of rhabdomyolysis, a life-threatening muscle condition;
• Coronary artery and aortic calcification;
• Erectile dysfunction which is 10 times more common in young men taking the lowest dose of statin;
• Diabetes, cataract and cancer, all increased in statin-taking people, especially if they are young.
All side-effects are dose-dependent and persist during treatment. These findings on the major adverse effects of statins had been under-reported.
Low levels of cholesterol might result in your brain not having the raw materials it needs to make bio-chemicals critical for memory and cognitive function. High cholesterol levels may, in fact, be protective, as has been found in the case of elderly and heart failure patients.
Too Much Medicine Is Not Good
A recent conference organised by British Medical Journal and other universities in Hanover, NH, where more than 500 scientists and interested people gathered, came to the conclusion that too much medicine is bad for people.
Sports Stars Mislead the Younger Generation
Young audiences, especially teenagers, look up to sports and film stars as role models of fitness and athleticism. A new study, scheduled to appear in the November issue of Pediatrics, finds that sports celebrities are routinely misleading young audiences because of their commercial endorsements of unhealthy junk foods. When TV ads come with celebrity sports or film personalities extolling the virtues of junk food and drinks, an entire generation is misled. These twinkling stars do not realise their folly in converting a whole generation into junk food addicts.
Much of the educated class no longer sticks to Indian healthy foods and drinks. I was shocked to hear, through BBC, that India imports 800 million pork sausages from the United Kingdom!
Celebrity athletes cover up the acidifying effect of dye-injected, sugary junk composition of drinks and highly salted preserved junk foods like pizzas, cornflakes, fruit juices loaded with sugar or sugar equivalents and so on.
Since these celebrity athletes have plenty of money, why do they compete to endorse junk food brands for multi-crore rupees? Getting more does not satisfy them. How much money does one need after all? Why this lust for more money, even at the cost of changing the eating habits of a whole generation with disastrous health consequences? Today, young boys and girls are diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes!
My fervent appeal for celebrity athletes is to desist from money.