New Cholesterol Screening Done With Picture of Hand

by Colin Carmichael

Can you check your cholesterol without taking a blood test?

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Are we close to testing for cholesterol levels without drawing blood?

Researchers in India are saying yes you can.

N.R. Shanker and colleagues at Sree Sastha Institute of Engineering and Technology have found a way to check cholesterol without taking a blood test.

The noninvasive approach uses only a digital picture of the back of the hand as the source to measure the patients cholesterol level.

Sound a little far-fetched? Here’s how they went about it…

There are concentrated levels of cholesterol in the creases of the finger. An extensive database of patient hand images was cataloged along with the cholesterol readings and used as the basis for comparison.

An image processing computer program can take the image of a new patient’s hand and compare it against the database. The program searches until a match is made that relates to a specific cholesterol number.

The cost and inconvenience of blood tests still prevent many from getting their cholesterol checked. So the purpose of creating the new test was to provide a less expensive and noninvasive way to test for a cholesterol problem.

Will this imaging test become the new standard?

On the surface, this may sound like a good way to check your cholesterol without getting poked with a needle.

But even if we find out that this is an incredibly accurate test, there’s one big drawback with this.

Despite what we’ve been told repeatedly and what the drug companies want us to believe…

Your total cholesterol level is a meaningless number when it comes to evaluating the health of your cholesterol profile.

The idea of some magical cut-off of 200 or 240 or any other number to determine if you have a cholesterol problem is junk science.

At a bare bones minimum, you want to know your HDL and LDL breakdown. And knowing that only provides a rough estimate of the overall health of your cholesterol.

Ideally, you want to know if the LDL is small and dense … thus, more likely to become oxidized.

Or is the LDL larger, more buoyant … LDL that isn’t bad for you at all. (Yes, it's true. Not all LDL is bad!)

You’re definitely not going to get that level of detail with this image screening.

If you go with a conventional blood test, you can at least get the HDL, LDL and triglyceride breakdown.

As a rule of thumb, the higher your HDL to LDL ratio and the higher your HDL to triglyceride ratio … the less likely you are to have small, dense LDL that is either already oxidized or about to become oxidized.

Conversely, the less HDL per LDL or triglycerides is a sign that maybe you really do have a cholesterol problem that needs your attention.

This hand imaging screening simply feeds into the notion that we need to keep an eye on our Total Cholesterol number. An idea that many scientists today are already mocking and calling a worthless tool for determining risk of atherosclerosis or heart disease.

My hope is that common testing for cholesterol will become more elaborate and definitive by looking at the details of the cholesterol particles, not simpler and more crude requiring greater levels of guess work.

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