Posts Tagged cholesterol


Posted by on Monday, 23 December, 2013
cartoon about apples



Science has lots of busy corners. Technology, even more. I can’t use up all my blog time on health related stuff. It wouldn’t be fair to physics, chemistry, biology, and North Korean tablets. But I  would be a b-a-d science blogger if I didn’t tell you about apples.


You know about statins? They’re drugs that  lower cholesterol. Doctor’s love them. Pitivistatin, lovostatin, atorvastatin, , zocor are statins. Others too. Long list.

Statins are amazing. They don’t just  lower cholesterol, it seems they do other good stuff. They help with cataracts and dementia, and gum inflammation. They also reduce the incidence of  heart attacks and strokes, and one study even says that statins might slow aging by protecting your telomeres. Supposedly they can cause some problems with muscles but, for most people, that shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve seriously toyed with  trying to talk my way on to statins, myself.

Well here’s the thing.

Dr Adam Briggs (BHF Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University)  looked at the effect of eating a single apple each day (that’s right – “an apple a day”) vs statins. The results, cardiovascular wise, were about the same for apples as statin drugs. Dr. Briggs’ conclusion was that you could do as good a job for yourself eating apples as taking statins (probably because apples contain pectin which has similar effects on cholesterol to statins).

If you can lower your cholesterol and lower your heart risk without taking drugs, who am I to say you shouldn’t?

This report didn’t get into whether apples did all  the good stuff that statins do.


Apples? Hot dang!

A final point:  Statins, like anything, have pluses and minuses. Don’t rush off and stuff yourself full of statins on my account. First go over the particulars with your doctor. Better yet? Try fruit.

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A reader left a comment (see comments) suggesting that this study from the BMJ is less than serious. Perhaps so. But you’ve gone out and bought all those apples, right? You might as well eat them.

What could it hurt?

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I drew that apple!

To leave a comment, click “comments” which can be found at the top right of each article just beneath the headline.





Posted by on Friday, 23 July, 2010



The guy in the next cubicle grabs his chest and passes out.  Five long minutes later, the paramedics show up. On goes the oxygen mask. That should help, right?

Not exactly.

An article in the Cochrane Systematic Review lays it out.  387 patients. 14 deaths. The ones on oxygen? Three times as likely to croak.

Dr. Juan Cabello, says it’s amazing that emergency medical personnel have been routinely administering oxygen without proof that it works.


Much more data is needed before the profession changes a “gold standard”. But this information will get ’em thinking.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 6 .

Startling and intriguing. Larger study needed.


According to Paul Sanberg (Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair) blood keeps circulating in the umbilical cord for a little while after delivery. And that blood contains pluripotent stem cells.

Waiting at least an extra 30 seconds is good. Less intraventricular hemorrhage, sepsis,  and anemia. Less need for  for blood transfusions too.

So, OBVIOUSLY, we should wait, right?  Except those durn stem cells are mighty valuable. If you wait, you may lose them.

What’s the right thing to do?


ScienceAintSoBadRating = GBTYOTO (Get Back To You On This One)

How come everything’s so durn complicated?


Neuropsychopharmacology Journal: A study about coffee habituation . Do you get the same buzz, the same “wake up” effect, from a cup of coffe if you’re a heavy coffee drinker?

Wanna guess?

Of COURSE not! It’s like anything else. You build up tolerance. You even get a little hooked. Try going  “cold caffeine” sometime.


Coal, gas, and oil are hydrocarbons. They start out as living things.  Old reptiles, fish, leaves.

Even poop.

Which gets buried, compressed, and “cooked”.

That’s how it works.  Living things are the raw material. Geological processes take over from there.  That’s where most of our energy comes from.

That’s the official story, anyway.

But there may be a d-e-e-p-e-r explanation. Maybe way down in the earth’s mantle, nature manufactures hydrocarbons direct from the raw materials without requiring the intermediate steps that rely on dead life forms.

Would that mean there’s enough oil for a billion trillion years if we can figure out how to get down to it? Could we, mayhaps, have enough black stuff to TOTALLY cook the atmosphere?

It’s a theory.

We, obviously, know some GREAT ways to drill a couple of miles under the Gulf Of Mexico, but sampling the hydrocarbons 40, 50,  60 miles down’s an awful crimp for the budget of most research labs.

Researchers at Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory described (Nature Geoscience) a more convenient way to figure out if there’s anything to this idea.

They had a diamond anvil cell lying around. And a laser. So they thought, “Well, wouldn’t it be fun to see what happens to methane at, say, 20 thousand times atmospheric pressure and at 2240 degrees Fahrenheit?” The same conditions that exist miles and miles down below your feet.

So they did.

The result? According to the article, ethane, propane, butane, hydrogen, and graphite. The process appears to be somewhat reversible too. Ethane to methane.

What’s this got to do with anything?

If deep sources of hydrocarbons migrate, gradually, to the surface of the earth, this may suggest that our nonrenewable  energy sources are likely to endure far longer.

That’s a good thing.

I guess.


Well it does. Alcoholic drinks have histamine in them. That’s the stuff that gets your allergies going.  Anahad O’connor (New York Times) explains.

Twice as bad for women.


Kids don’t have high cholesterol.

Well, hold on; they might (article in the Journal of Pediatrics). In fact, 1 in 3 kids have high levels of “bad” cholesterol.

Which is scary.

But what do you do? You gonna put a kid on cholesterol drugs?  Could be forever.

Would this give them healthier, better, longer lives?

Unless we do put kids on cholesterol reducing drugs, we’ll never know. Should kids be guinea pigs?

Should guinea pigs be guinea pigs?

ScienceAintsoBad‘ll be sure and let you know when they clear this up. For now, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some new guidelines which seem reasonable.

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