Question:  Now you are recommending vitamin C and lysine for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.  How exactly does lysine help to prevent cardiovascular disease?

Many investigators contributed to showing that lipoprotein (a) is what is deposited in plaques, not just LDL, but lipoprotein (a). If you have more than 20mg/dL in your blood it begins depositing plaques and atherosclerosis, so the question then is, "What causes lipoprotein (a) to stick to the wall of the artery and cause these plaques?"  Well, countless biochemists and other chemists are pretty smart people and they discovered what it is in the wall of the artery that causes lipoprotein (a) to get stuck to the wall of the artery and form atherosclerotic plaques and ultimately lead to heart disease, strokes and peripheral arterial disease. The answer is that there is a particular amino acid in a protein in the wall of the artery - lysine, which is one of the 20 amino acids that binds the lipoprotein (a) and causes atherosclerotic plaques to develop. I think it is a very important discovery.

Well, now, if you know that there are residues of lysine, lysyl residues, that hold the lipoprotein (a) to the wall of the artery and cause hardening of the arteries, then any chemist, any physical chemist, would say at once that the thing to do is to prevent that by putting the amino acid lysine in the blood to greater extent than it is normally. Of course you get lysine normally in your food. Meat, in particular, contains a good bit of lysine, and you need lysine to be alive.  It is an essential amino acid. You have to get about a gram a day to keep in protein balance, but you can take lysine, pure lysine, a perfectly non-toxic substance in food, as 500-mg tablets and that puts extra lysine molecules in the blood. They enter into competition with the lysyl residues on the wall of artery and accordingly count to prevent the lipoprotein (a) from being deposited or even will work to pull it loose and destroy the atherosclerotic plaques.

Question:  Do you think the treatment of lysine and vitamin C can reverse the atherosclerotic process?

I think so, yes. Now I've got to the point where I think we can get almost complete control of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes by the proper use of vitamin C and lysine. It can prevent cardiovascular disease and even cure it. If you are at risk of heart disease, or if there is a history of heart disease in your family, if your father or other members of the family died of a heart attack or stroke or whatever, or if you have had a mild heart attack yourself, then you had better be taking vitamin C and lysine.

Linus Pauling - Excerpts From The
Last Published Interview
Institute for Optimum Nutrition, 1994

Excerpts from interviews with Tony Edwards for QED BBC Television, and with Patrick Holford at the
Power of Prevention conference.