I’ve got it. You’ve probably got it. Manhattan holiday banquets and blowouts will ensure that, by January, the majority of your neighbors will have it. Loads of celebs have it, but won’t cop to it, because it’s like being a secretly fat person. These days, everyone who is anyone has got high cholesterol.
In my mid-40’s, my doctor told me that my low-density lipoprotein level (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) was elevated. He then told me that if I did not figure out a way to reduce my L.D.L., he would have no choice but to prescribe me a drug with a list of side effects longer than Michael Jackson’s list of intergenerational slumber-party justifications. I was flummoxed, shocked. Dietary modifications were out of the question: A macrobiotic enthusiast of long standing, I was already subsisting on a borderline anorexic diet of soy products and cardboard. With crossed fingers, I embarked on a samurai-type regimen of fish oil (Nature’s Way Fisol, 90 soft gels, $11.99 at Vitamin Shoppes around the city) and obsessive exercise. After ingesting the oil from about 60 tons of red snapper and jogging eight million marathons each week, I was able, finally, to produce acceptable good/bad cholesterol numbers. As a fabulous bonus, I also lost about 10 pounds of ugly fat, which on a person of my Dr. Ruth–ish stature is not inconsiderable. Thanks to my L.D.L.-reducing regime, my body weight now hovers around 135 pounds. I have developed a guilt-free obsession with maintaining this weight: It’s a kind of doctor-recommended vanity which is keeping me at my 28-year-old poundage, even as I hurtle towards my twilight years. Without the threat of plaque-clogged arteries, I might well have become a rollicking, jolly 160-pounder. I might have become a BEAR!
Bears are a relatively new and fast-growing gay subculture. When I say fast-growing, I mean growing in numbers and girth. You’ve seen them: cuddly, hirsute poofters who have elected to fetishize tubby redneck trucker style. Even though he collects fine china and Streisand albums, a Bear’s proudest possessions are his macho beer-belly and a dense rug of back hair. The anti-Atkins Bears, with their enthusiastic embrace of middle-age spread, would be a fantastic target group for the purveyors of Lipitor and the like. Whenever I come across a group of these innocuously marginal middle-aged chubsters waddling down Christopher Street on their way to the Dugout for the Sunday afternoon Bear beer-blast, I have to restrain myself from screaming out, “Girls! What about your cholesterol?”
For those of you cholesterol-battlers who are averse to both exercise and conventional pharmaceuticals, there is an alternative. He’s holistic, handsome and hairy-like an Italian Ben Casey-and he’s just opened his very own Macrohealing Center at 92 Barrow Street. I’m talking about Dr. Adriano Borgna.
I spoke to this licensed acupuncturist, 49, during the recent blizzard and got an earful of his provocative opinions about medicine and fish heads. “There is no such thing as ‘bad’ cholesterol-it’s preposterous! Everything in your body has a function,” said Dr. Borgna, who insists on evaluating all aspects of your life, including the electromagnetic fields at your home and office, before recommending treatment.
His battery of techniques includes, but is not limited to, acupuncture, tuina (Chinese massage, like shiatsu) and auricular therapy, an acupuncture alternative in which gold or silver pellets are placed in the ear. A two-hour initial consultation with Dr. Borgna costs $300. Call 212-242-3280 for an appointment.
In addition to exotic Chinese medicinal techniques, a visit to Dr. Borgna includes oodles of thought-provoking rants about contemporary medicine. “Today, everyone wants to convince us that everything is genetic,” he said. “The truth is, if you have reached 30, then your genes are pretty good. Our polluted environment is the real culprit.”
On the subject of cholesterol, Dr. B. feels that the drug companies have enabled the traffic of misinformation in order ( quelle surprise ) to make money, “Sugar also affects cholesterol,” he said, “but they only talk about animal fat!” For more cholesterol conspiracy theories, visit the Web site of the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics at http://thincs.org.
Re fish oil: Dr. Borgna recommends the Carlson brand ($18 for 100 soft gels) because it’s tested for mercury contamination-and, more importantly, it’s fresh. “If the fish heads are left lying around on the deck of a trawler for days,” he said darkly, “the oil gets rancid.”
Bon appetit ! And happy holidays!