An Insulin Assault

Now let's reverse this line of thought. High blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL and being overweight all turn out to be consistently associated with high insulin levels. If that's the case, then presumably high insulin itself should predict heart disease. Four significant studies done in Wales, Finland, France and Canada support this theory:

1. The Caerphilly, Wales, heart disease study, which observed 2,512 men aged 45 to 59, found a connection between fasting plasma insulin levels and heart disease that existed independently of other risk factors.

2. In the Helsinki Policeman Study, 1,059 men aged 30 to 59 were tracked for five years. The data revealed that fatal (and nonfatal) heart attacks were most common in those who had the highest insulin levels.

3. The Paris prospective study followed 7,246 men for an average of sixty-three months. Again coronary heart disease was proportionate to insulin levels, and the relationship was greater when the subjects were obese.

4. A study done in Quebec was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1996. The researchers had collected blood samples from 2,103 men. Over five years, 114 of them had heart attacks. The insulin levels of these individuals were eighteen percent higher on average than those of the rest of the group.

These large, statistically powerful epidemiological efforts really put insulin high on the list for concern when combined with the work done by Dr. Reaven. The total picture that he dubbed Syndrome X is becoming exceedingly clear. The abuse of highly refined and starchy carbohydrates in most regions of the modem world constitutes a long-term abuse of the body's insulin system. As that system begins to crumble, glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinism occur together with other damaging events. Arterial passageways are injured by insulin itself and by unhealthy cholesterol ratios. Arterial damage promotes high blood pressure, which will be even more aggravated in an overweight person. And let us not forget how being overweight, combined with blood-sugar and insulin imbalances, has resulted in an estimated twenty million diabetic Americans, plus an even greater number of pre-diabetic citizens.

For your heart health, it's vital to know about this combination of factors that cluster together to form Syndrome X. When you're doing Atkins, you're following the very nutritional approach that corrects this entire syndrome while nourishing yourself with healthy foods.

So heart disease isn't just about the other guy. No such luck. (And who would wish it on anyone?) If you've struggled with your weight, the message of this chapter is of crucial importance to you!

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