Another Look at Cholesterol Tests [Health Fallacies]

Having read and written about The Great Cholesterol Myth, it had actually been a while since I had taken a test and could understand my results.

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When I got this last week, I was of course worried. (H Flags denote issues) I had been on a (lower) carb diet since 2013, and in the process had dropped over 20 pounds. For the most part I do not eat rice, bread, potatoes, or drink soda or beer, though if I am being social or go out to eat, I consume more of all those. During the last year at Kellogg, I have not been the best at working out (during the Fall, I occasionally played basketball and swam, during the winter, I did nothing and broke my finger during basketball, during the Spring, I swam), but I wondered if I was just super stressed out (I feel reasonably fine) or if I was doomed for heart problems down the road. After a restless night, I remembered that the book argued that traditional cholesterol benchmarks were based on faulty research(read the book to see the extensive history of traditional cholesterol tests and disproving research), and I needed to check my findings with the book’s.

If, for example, your triglycerides are 150 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 3 (150:50). If your triglycerides are 100 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 2 (100:50). This ratio is a far better predictor of heart disease than cholesterol ever was. In one study out of Harvard published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association, those who had the highest triglyceride-to-HDL ratios had a whopping sixteen times the risk of developing heart disease as those with the lowest ratios.1 If you have a ratio of around 2, you should be happy, indeed, regardless of your cholesterol levels. (A ratio of 5, however, is problematic.)

My Triglycerides : HDL ratio is .84, well below the happy ratio of 2, where the lower ratio is best. WIN!

A cholesterol level of LDL 160 mg/dL or less has been linked to depression, aggression, cerebral hemorrhages, and loss of sex drive.

My LDL is 172. WIN! (The book explains that cholesterol drugs lower LDL, are actually inflammatory drugs, and that memory loss is a side effect of these drugs)

Triglyceride levels higher than 120 mg/dL and HDL levels below normal (less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women) are usually associated with the small, dense, atherogenic LDL particles you don’t want!

I am both well beyond these levels (Triglycerides is 63 < 120, HDL is 75 > 40). WIN!

Thus, now I can feel a lot better about things. The only thing I wish I had gotten was a LDL particle size test, which was not included in my physical results. If you need help interpreting your results or in better understanding cholesterol’s impact on health, definitely check out The Great Cholesterol Myth or my blog post about 10 Things to Learn from the book!

Driving in Fear in the Midwest Rain

Coming back to Chicago from Cleveland last week, it started raining. At first, this wasn’t anything special as I’ve driven in the rain plenty of times, but then we hit a spot in which it was raining so hard, I lost complete visibility. When the rain first started, I had already slowed down to around 60MPH and kept a distance of over 5 car lengths behind the car in front. We (Ha and I) then hit an area where that car completely disappeared and I could not even see the left (I was in the left-most lane) barrier to the freeway.

This was the scariest time I had ever experienced driving. My heart breaking out, sweat creeping out, I knew I needed to slow down, but I was fearful of the other cars around me. If I couldn’t even see the road or other cars, that would likely mean they couldn’t see me. Thus, it wouldn’t be a good idea to just stop in the middle of the freeway. However, to keep going would risk that I would hit someone else or drive into the barrier. I saw a car in another lane slowing down as I did with its caution blinkers on. I signaled to the right and slowly switched lanes to the right. I wanted to get off the road completely and stop, but I couldn’t even see it. I could only see my neighboring caution car and wanted to go along with him. During this entire time, I was expecting to get hit from behind – it is one thing to see a crash in front of you or have a few seconds of fear. I think this patch of rain was about a minute long, which may sound short, but is intensely terrifying if you are in it. When I finally got to the right most lane and was looking for a way to stop off the road, we passed the rain, and things became more reasonable in terms of visibility.

Since I am from the West Coast, I wonder if this type of rain happens to everyone in the Midwest area from time to time. All the cars involved were very lucky, and I hope no one got hurt. Keep in mind that this was around noontime, during the day. If this had happened at night, I don’t know if there is any way we could have avoided an accident.

How Reggie Miller Cost Me an Autograph from Tim Hardaway (and Junior) [Funny Memories]

“I’m Tim Hardaway of the Miami Heat and blah blah blah…[redacted from memory]”

My sister went to the Warriors game versus the Knicks last week and she mentioned Tim Hardaway’s son, and this brought back my own memories of both son and father.

In the summer of 1995, I was 14 years old, waiting at the San Francisco International (SFO) Airport for my relatives (family of aunt, uncle, and two cousins) to arrive from Indianapolis. As they were my only other relatives in the United States, they were my favorite relatives, and Indianapolis was my adopted second favorite city. In addition, the Colts and Pacers were my second favorite professional sports teams in their respective leagues to the 49ers and Warriors (I stopped supporting the Colts after they fired Ted Marchibroda. Nearly 20 years later, I may be on the verge of ending my support for the 49ers because of their stupidity in letting Jim Harbaugh go. Harbaugh was also Marchibroda’s quarterback with the Colts and the Baltimore Ravens and was replaced with whom I fear to be the next Mike Singletary.)

Continuing the story:

“Hi Tim,” said the man behind the counter on the phone in between moments of talking to customers.

I was five feet away from Tim Hardaway and his three year old (had to look it up) son (the aforementioned Tim Hardaway, Jr.), wearing a Reggie Miller (my first jersey, shown below, still in pristine shape) Pacers jersey. Our family had come to SFO to pick up my cousins’ family and I had worn my jersey proudly to show that I love Indiana (please remember I was 14). And yes, I loved Reggie Miller, the Knick killer as well.

However, there was Tim Hardaway so close to me. I wanted an autograph (in 1995, it was not so common just to have cameras on one’s person) of course – it was Tim Hardaway, former all-star (and soon to be once again, sigh. WARRIORS!) and Run-TMC member who had just been traded from the Warrior a few months prior. But I was shy and of course, had branded Reggie Miller and the Pacers across my body. How could I do this, how ridiculous would it be? Plus, what if Tim was a super jerk or just too busy and rejected me. (By the way, Tim was either trying to rent a car at the time or claiming lost luggage at this moment)

Tim looked at me (I can only imagine what he was thinking), and I shied away. I was too ashamed (not of Reggie, but appearing like a bandwagon fan. Tim was never to know that I LOVE the Warriors and always have) and could not do it.

Today, I have kept my Reggie Miller jersey (another embarrassing note, I used to think I would grow into a size 48 jersey. While part of this was the era of baggy everything, I was clearly very optimistic. I am today 5’6, essentially the same height I was at in 1995, and can wear a size 36. NBA players wear size 48 and above.) Recently, I have also purchased a vintage Tim Hardaway jersey as well as a recent issue Chris Mullin (also of Run-TMC) one, shown below.