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Monday, 13 June 2016

High cholesterol 'does not cause heart disease' new research finds, so treating with statins a 'waste of time'

Cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time, an international group of experts has claimed.

A review of research involving nearly 70,000 people found there was no link between what has traditionally been considered “bad” cholesterol and the premature deaths of over 60-year-olds from cardiovascular disease.

Published in the BMJ Open journal, the new study found that 92 percent of people with a high cholesterol level lived longer.

The authors have called for a re-evaluation of the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the arteries, because “the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated”.

The results have prompted immediate scepticism from other academics, however, who questioned the paper’s balance.

High cholesterol is commonly caused by an unhealthy diet, and eating high levels of saturated fat in particular, as well as smoking.

It is carried in the blood attached to proteins called lipoproteins and has been traditionally linked to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and aortic disease.

Co-author of the study Dr Malcolm Kendrick, an intermediate care GP, acknowledged the findings would cause controversy but defended them as “robust” and “thoroughly reviewed”.

“What we found in our detailed systematic review was that older people with high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, lived longer and had less heart disease.”

Vascular and endovascular surgery expert Professor Sherif Sultan from the University of Ireland, who also worked on the study, said cholesterol is one of the “most vital” molecules in the body and prevents infection, cancer, muscle pain and other conditions in elderly people.

“Lowering cholesterol with medications for primary cardiovascular prevention in those aged over 60 is a total waste of time and resources, whereas altering your lifestyle is the single most important way to achieve a good quality of life,” he said.

Lead author Dr Uffe Ravnskov, a former associate professor of renal medicine at Lund University in Sweden, said there was “no reason” to lower high-LDL-cholesterol.

But Professor Colin Baigent, an epidemiologist at Oxford University, said the new study had “serious weaknesses and, as a consequence, has reached completely the wrong conclusion”.

Another sceptic, consultant cardiologist Dr Tim Chico, said he would be more convinced by randomised study where some patients have their cholesterol lowered using a drug, such as a stain, while others receive a placebo.

He said: “There have been several studies that tested whether higher cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol in elderly patients and observing whether this reduces their risk of heart disease.

“These have shown that lowering cholesterol using a drug does reduce the risk of heart disease in the elderly, and I find this more compelling than the data in the current study.”

The British Heart Foundation also questioned the new research, pointing out that the link between high LDL cholesterol levels and death in the elderly is harder to detect because, as people get older, more factors determine overall health.

“There is nothing in the current paper to support the author’s suggestions that the studies they reviewed cast doubt on the idea that LDL Cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease or that guidelines on LDL reduction in the elderly need re-valuating,” a spokesman said.

Link to BMJ paper:



Revrunner said...

So much is still unknown.

Margaret-whiteangel said...

I also heard that - they the researches or someone just keeps contradicting each other. Pity really.

Francisco Manuel Carrajola Oliveira said...

Um artigo muito interessante.
Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

There's no better substitute than good nutrition!

This message is for Jan: Thank you so much for visiting my peonies! Wishing you a healthy and vibrant summer, Jan! Anita

Galina L. said...

I suspect that the attempt to regulate a blood cholesterol level with medications is an important part of a global health crisis. Unfortunately it adds to the effects of industrial diet.

Anonymous said...

All the usual suspects again, fringe against concensus, like when a TV show has a "balanced" discussion between an astronomer and a ufologist. You better be right on this one because that's thousands of patients dumping prescription medicine into the dustbin. If that's just a few hundred funerals a year your blog can be counted as a co-conspiritor.

Galina L. said...

@ Anonymous,
But the theory that a high blood cholesterol level is the cause of cardiovascular disease is yet to be proven. Meanwhile millions of unsuspected patients take a very questionable substance with well-known and debilitating side-effects (impaired blood sugar regulation,impaired immune system functioning, memory loss problems, muscle pain/weakness and a permanent muscles damage, increased inflammation and allergies). Why do you think it is reasonable to take a medication with unproven benefits which causes proven side-effects?

Lowcarb team member said...

To anon

"You better be right on this one because that's thousands of patients dumping prescription medicine into the dustbin. If that's just a few hundred funerals a year your blog can be counted as a co-conspiritor."

Let's do a deal, you flog your dangerous drugs, and we will keep pushing whole fresh foods and modest exercise. Sounds cool to me.


Lowcarb team member said...

Galina you are 100% right. Have you noticed the antis and drug pushers are always anonymous?

Regards Eddie

Galina L. said...

Eddie, probably they are secretly ashamed that they can't stay away from your blog ,and they feel like keeping their identity hidden from fellow-pharmproducts enthusiasts. It makes your audience well-balanced.