DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to know about cholesterol. What part of the body makes it? Does it make bad as well as good cholesterol? What foods contain bad and good cholesterol? – B.A.
ANSWER: Cholesterol is cholesterol; there is no good or bad. Most cholesterol is made in the liver. Cholesterol foods contribute only a minor fraction to total blood cholesterol. Saturated fat stimulates liver production of cholesterol. Saturated fat is the fat that surrounds meat and the fat that’s found in whole-milk dairy products. Cholesterol has important body functions. It’s a part of every cell’s membrane. It’s a component of many body hormones.
Because cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in water, it has to be modified to be transported in the blood from the liver to distant body sites. The modification consists in hitching it to lipoproteins – part fat, part protein molecules. Lipoproteins can be though of as trucks.
LDL (low density lipoprotein) takes cholesterol to arteries, where it dumps it. LDL cholesterol infiltrates the artery wall and eventually builds an obstruction in the artery. This is “bad” cholesterol. The lower the LDL cholesterol, the better off arteries are.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) transports cholesterol from artery walls and takes it back to the liver, where it is degraded. It’s “good” cholesterol. The higher the HDL cholesterol, the better off arteries are.
Dietary changes can increase HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. Eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Minimize the intake of saturated fats – fat found in red meats and in whole-fat dairy products. Low-fat dairy products are good. Avoid trans fats. Trans fats are listed on food labels, and they’re found in many commercial baked products and deep-fried fast foods. Lose weight, if need be. Exercise daily.
The booklet on cholesterol treats this subject in all its details. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 201W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
QUESTION: In the past two years, I swear my tongue has gotten bigger. I have mentioned this to several people, and they laughed at me. I even mentioned it to my doctor, and he laughed at me. Am I imagining this? What can cause tongue growth? – B.M.
ANSWER: Is there any pain, color changes or sores along with the tongue enlargement? If the answer is no, then there are at least two explanations for an enlarging tongue.
One is acromegaly. It’s due to an excessive production of growth hormone from a tumor of the pituitary gland. Other things enlarge too. The hands and feet widen, and facial features coarsen.
Amyloidosis is another condition in which the tongue enlarges. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that infiltrates many organs, the tongue being one of them.
The next time you see your doctor, ask about these. The possibility of either is far-out, but you are the best judge of your tongue’s increasing size.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475.
©2008 North America Synd., Inc.