Cholesterol is a meaningless measurement


It’s late on a Thursday and I don’t have much of a real rant in me. But I did just read this article by Dave Feldman and I thought was worth sharing.

For those of you who don’t know Dave, he’s another software guy turned health guy. There’s something about us software guys who can examine a problem and come to the root cause. I’m going after the fitness side, he’s going after the cholesterol side. Either way we’re subverting the standard way and trying to learn outside the system.

His hypothesis is that cholesterol is a meaningless measurement. True, there may be some gradient effects that mean a chronically high cholesterol may in some case contribute (in a small way) to heart disease. But even if it were true that high cholesterol is bad, the measurement you get at the doctor’s office is wrong.

That is, the current accepted idea is that cholesterol is a long term reflection of your health - you need to change your diet for a long time and do your health-care-system-approved exercises to bring down your cholesterol.

It turns out that cholesterol is a very transient measurement. It can change by hundreds of points in a few hours just depending on your meal. I’ve seen talks where Dave draws blood, eats a meal, gives a talk and draws blood again. Based on his meal he’ll make the prediction of up or down and by how much and he’s right! In the course of a morning he can move his cholesterol by hundreds of points.

That is the noise on the measurement is actually greater than the measurement itself! Your cholesterol value will depend more on time since last meal and what that last meal was than anything else. (One of his talks is about how to game the system to get your doc off your back.)

Long story, but Dave is moving out of pure nutritional effect on your cholesterol measurement to what exercise can do to your values. Here’s a link to his latest experiment where he was able to change his cholesterol readings based solely on resistance exercise (lifting weights). I’m tired and haven’t fully digested it, but it’s worth reading and seeing how quickly you can change these so called diagnostic values that so much of our healthcare is based on. I find it fascinating.

Michael Deskevich