Review by Duane Graveline MD MPH:
One might ask why, with the thousands of books that have been written about Alzheimer's disease, I should choose this book by Henry Lorin, an obscure member of the health care team whose only claim to authority in this disease is to observe his step-father die before his eyes - of Alzheimer's.
This man is an independent researcher who has come on to a novel interpretation of the Alzheimer's story. After a comprehensive review of the literature he has focused on a compelling role for cholesterol insufficiency as the fundamental cause of this disease, excepting only those relatively few associated with heredity, trauma or debilitating conditions.
Since I am focused on the wide scale use of statin drugs, designed purely to decrease the synthesis of cholesterol, naturally I was attracted to his hypothesis. He begins his story well:
There is a bias against cholesterol in the medical and medical research worlds, Lorin acknowledges. This is parallel to the bias in the health and medical agencies of the government, in the health book publishing business, and in many parts of the food processing industry.
He understands why this bias exists. It is because heart disease is a major killer of people in the industrialized nations and most importantly, it is because people have been conditioned to believe that heart disease is caused purely by cholesterol in the foods we eat. Then Lorin acknowledges that cholesterol is not only the most important molecule in our bodies, it is practically the only one that is common to all of the different types of cell membranes in the organs and tissues.
Ordinarily the demand for cholesterol is high but under certain conditions demand exceeds supply introducing the second major actor in this Alzheimer's play, amyloid. All cells have a ready supply of amyloid in the form of amyloid prescursor protein. When cholesterol is needed but cannot be supplied it is this amyloid that becomes an emergency, temporary filler.
Amyloid then is purely an emergency patch job when cell membranes need repair under conditions of insufficient cholesterol. Incidentally, cholesterol is usually carried about in LDL form while amyloid is carried about primarily in platelets. Lorin now begins to weave these major players together with impressive skill to produce a very compelling view of the Alzheimer's process. Certainly his story is extraordinary and yet it fits better than anything else I have read on the subject.
More importantly he emphasizes my motto that cholesterol is the most important molecule in our bodies. Our minds have been so saturated by the anti-cholesterol hoop-la over these past four decades that most brainwashed souls are unable to accept the novelty of an innocent, angelic cholesterol. Naturally the critics of this book have much to feast on but viewed with an open mind it will do much to help one emerge from the deadly propaganda barrage of the misguided war on cholesterol.
So relevant to both our research interests is Lorin's description of the recommendations of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) in place at the time he was researching this book. The NCEP then defined low total cholesterol as being under 200 mg/dl and that everyone should try to work towards that goal. High total cholesterol was defined as being above 240mg/dl and people at this level, they said, were definitely at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
As many of you know the NCEP cholesterol guidelines have been progressively decreased since that time to levels most would consider perilously low in today's world. One cannot help but wonder what effects our new, desirable cholesterol levels of 70 -130 mg/dl are going to do with the Alzheimer's of the near future.
Henry Lorin Background:
Part of Henry Lorin's qualifications to write this book came from his almost daily contact with the Alzheimer's victim in this book from the beginning of the illness in 1981 to death of the victim in 1999, at the age of 80.
Dr. Lorin graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1981 with the Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree (DMD). Before dental school it is relevant that Lorin graduated from College as a chemistry major giving him a solid understanding of the scientific method when it comes to medical research.
Also relevant to a full understanding of this book is the fact that the Alzheimer's victim in this book was his beloved father-in-law, who also had been placed on statin drugs before his first signs of Alzheimers disease because of coronary artery blockage. His initial cholesterol levels in the mid three hundreds were brought down to just under two hundred by the use of statins and diet.
Alzheimers disease began in his father-in-law in1990, nine years before death. Prior to writing this book Dr. Lorin reviewed thousands of references taking a remarkable 77 pages in his book just to list them. That in itself is an incredible task of the type usually required only for major review articles.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor
Updated October 2011