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High Cholesterol does NOT cause heart disease

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The lipid hypothesis needs to be re-evaluated - it has very serious flaws.

First of all, it is important to understand that that "risk factor" does not mean the same thing as "cause". A risk factor is a characteristic that is associated with a diagnosis. For example, for women, being tall is associated with breast cancer. Does that mean that being tall causes breast cancer? Of course not.

It is also important to understand cholesterol is an essential component of our cell membranes, it acts as an anti-oxidant, it is a precursor for the synthesis of vitamin D as well as bile for digesting fats, and is the only source out of which our steroid hormones, such as cortisol, as well as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone which are key to reproduction, can be made. Therefore it is safe to say that without cholesterol we would not survive. Cholesterol is also the precursor to calcitrol, the steroid hormone that regulates calcium levels in our bodies by helping us absorb calcium from our food, thus playing a key role in the mineralization of our bones and teeth. Cholesterol is also manufactured in the glial cells of the brain to aid with synapses.

Cholesterol is used by our bodies to repair lesions in the arteries. Dr. Mary Enig, fat researcher, suggests that blaming cholesterol for heart disease is something like blaming firefighters for starting fires. Is it really a good idea to reduce our arteries' firefighters? The key to stopping heart disease is to stop the lesions (fires) in the arteries from occurring in the first place, by minimizing glycation by eating less sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and minimizing free radical damage by not consuming refined and therefore rancid vegetable oils AND by reducing systemic stress.

Our bodies consider cholesterol to be so essential to our survival, that every cell in our body can manufacture it as needed. If we eat little or no cholesterol, our bodies manufacture more, and if we eat a lot, our bodies don't manufacture as much. This way our cholesterol levels maintain homeostasis irrespective of our diet, and this is the reason it is so difficult to reduce or raise cholesterol levels much with diet alone.

Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, who wrote the book The Cholesterol Myths, goes through study after study destroying the idea that high cholesterol levels are the cause of heart disease. In the Framingham heart study done near Boston that spanned 30 years , the researchers concluded that high cholesterol was a risk factor for heart disease, but when one really dissects the data, one must question how they came to that conclusion. For example, when the participants of the study are plotted on a graph it clearly shows that those with cholesterol levels between 182 and 222 did not survive as long as those with higher cholesterol levels of between 222 and 261. The study shows that about half the people with heart disease had low cholesterol, and half the people without heart disease had high cholesterol.

Most studies have found that for women, high cholesterol is not a risk factor for heart disease at all - in fact, the death rate for women is five times higher in those with very low cholesterol. In a Canadian study that followed 5000 healthy middle-aged men for 12 years, they found that high cholesterol was not associated with heart disease at all. And in another study done at the University Hospital in Toronto that looked at cholesterol levels in 120 men that previously had heart attacks, they found that just as many men that had second heart attacks had low cholesterol levels as those that had high. The Maoris of New Zealand die of heart attacks frequently, irrespective of their cholesterol levels. In Russia, it is low cholesterol levels that are associated with increased heart disease. The Japanese are often cited as an example of a population that eat very little cholesterol and have a very low risk of heart disease. But the Japanese that moved to the US and continued to eat the traditional Japanese diet had heart disease twice as often as those that maintained the Japanese traditions but ate the fatty American diet. This suggests that it is something else, like stress perhaps, that is causing the heart disease.

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick noticed that in the MONICA study that has been going on for about 40 years, there is no association between high cholesterol levels and heart disease. See the graph for yourself at the bottom of the article. (Dr. Kendrick wrote another interesting piece about the "disappointing results" of low fat diets in the Women's Health Initiatives heart intervention study, and the lack of association between death rates from CVD and saturated fat consumption based on the MONICA study).

These are but a small sample of the studies that contradict the idea that cholesterol is the villain in heart disease. So why has this idea held on so long? Perhaps pharmaceutical companies and the processed-food industry have a lot to gain by keeping this belief alive. Statin drugs (Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor etc.) are mega money makers, and they definitely do lower cholesterol, but if high cholesterol does not cause heart disease, why are they necessary?

Furthermore, statin drugs may not lower overall mortality rates, as lower cholesterol levels seem to be associated with higher rates of cancer. Statin drugs work by blocking the synthesis of mevalonate, which is a vital step in the body's
synthesis of cholesterol
. By blocking this step, every following step is also blocked, and this is a problem, because the synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and squalene, both precursors to cholesterol, is also blocked. Coenzyme Q10 is very important for heart function, it acts as an antioxidant in conjunction with Vitamin E, and it is important in energy metabolism in the mitochondria of muscles, which is why muscle pain is a common side effect of statin drugs. Coenzyme Q10 is important for healthy brain function as well, and when Coenzyme Q10 levels are low, through statin use or otherwise, memory is affected. Squalene is also an antioxidant and is a potent cancer fighter. If you are on statin drugs, supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 and squalene may be very helpful.

I realize that suggesting that cholesterol levels are not associated with heart disease goes against current dogma. I am not making this suggestion in order to create controversy. After looking at the evidence, I am convinced that we are going down the wrong path. I am not alone in thinking this way - there are more and more scientists and physicians that believe that cholesterol and saturated fat stand wrongly accused. For me, the epidemiological evidence is most convincing. If we ate saturated fat and cholesterol in the form of animal fats, eggs, and full-fat dairy liberally for millennia and were heart-disease free up until the early 1900s, and just as we reduced our consumption of these foods and replaced them with sugar, vegetable oils and processed food, heart disease rates began to climb - to me it seems rather obvious that we are putting the blame on the wrong thing. Feel free not to believe this idea, but please don't simply dismiss it out of hand, either. If you have high cholesterol and you are taking, or thinking about taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, please read The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease so that you can make an informed decision regarding this important issue. Two other very well researched books worth reading, written by scientists but geared to the lay person are Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Dr. Weston A. Price, on primitive cultures, their health and their eating habits versus more modern cultures, their health and their eating habits (probably the most important book on nutrition ever written), and Mary Enig's book on lipid chemistry, Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer For Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol. These books are each very different from the other, but they will open your eyes to the other side of the argument, and only then will you be able to come to an informed conclusion on this issue.

Related Posts

Saturated fat - the misunderstood nutrient

Fats - the good, the bad and the ugly (It's not what you think!)

Food Guide Fallacy



Ravnskov, Uffe, MD, PhD The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease, New Trends Publishing Inc., Washington D.C., 2000.

Online at Cholesterol And The French Paradox, The Swiss Paradox, The Russian Paradox, The Lithuanian Paradox...Etc... by Malcolm Kendrick (an interesting article about the MONICA study, a long term study of cardiovascular disease, comparing cholesterol levels to CHD deaths in various countries.)

Online at How to bury $400 million by Malcolm Kendrick (an article about the "disappointing" results of the low fat Women's Health Initiative's heart intervention study, and even more interesting, a statistical analysis of deaths from CHD vs. % saturated fat consumption in various countries in Europe, based on MONICA 1998 data)

Online at Cholesterol - Friend or Foe? by Dr. Duane Graveline (an article that explains all the roles cholesterol plays in the body)

Online at The dangers of low blood cholesterol by Barry Groves

Online at bmj.com Rapid Response - Statins and Cancer: Cause for Concern by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD.

Online at The Oiling of America by Dr. Mary Enig, lipids researcher (an article about how the lipid hypothesis came about)

Online at Cholesterol - A Vital Building Block of Life (a website devoted to cholesterol)

Online at The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (a website of researchers, scientists and medical doctors that do not believe in the lipid hypothesis)

Online at Cholesterol, longevity, intelligence and health by Ray Peat


Anderson KM, Castelli WP, Levy D. Cholesterol and Mortality. 30 years of follow-up from the Framingham Study Journal of the American Medical Association 257, 2176-2180, 1987.

Krumholz HM and others. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. Journal of the American Medical Association 272, 1334-1340, 1994.

Forette B, Tortrat D, Wolmark Y. Cholesterol as risk factor for mortality in elderly women. The Lancet 1, 868-870, 1989.

Dagenais GR and others. Total and coronary heart disease mortality in relation to major risk factors - Quebec cardiovascular study. Canadian Journal of Cardiology 6, 59-65, 1990.

Shanoff HM, Little JA, Csima A. Studies of male survivors of myocardial infarction: XII. Relation of serum lipids and lipoproteins to survival over a 10 year period. Canadian Medical Association Journal 103, 927-931, 1970.

Bottiger LE, Carlson LA. Risk factors for death for males and females. Acta Medica Scandinavica 211, 437-442, 1982.

Beaglehole R and others. Cholesterol and mortality in New Zealand Maoris. British Medical Journal 1, 285-287, 1980.

Shestov DB and others. Increased risk of coronary heart disease death in men with low total and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol in the Russian Lipid Research Clinics prevalence follow-up study. Circulation 88, 846-853, 1993.

Marmot MG, Syme SL. Acculturation and coronary heart disease in Japanese-Americans. American Journal of Epidemiology 104, 225-247, 1976.

Newman, Thomas B. et al. Carcinogenicity of Lipid-Lowering Drugs Journal of the American Medical Association. January 3, 1996-Vol 275, No. 1.

Caso G et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 on myopathic symptoms in patients treated with statins 2007 May 15; 99(10):1409-12.

Eric J G Sijbrands et al. Mortality over two centuries of in large pedigree with familial hypercholesterolaemia: family tree mortality study BMJ 2001;322:1019-1023 ( 28 April )

 

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Comments (29)

Submitted by high cholestrol (not verified) on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 9:50am.

For so long it was believed that high cholesterol causes almost 50% of the heart problems. This news will put scientists in a bad light. So many questions will be raised. Patients with heart problems who believed that cholesterol is what causes them will need to be rechecked for other possible causes.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 11:49pm.

the egg is the most well balanced perfect food... I can't agree they
are bad for you... also if you eat salmon the amount of cholesteral is
off the charts ... I think it is worth the risk to eat salmon..

Submitted by sam (not verified) on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 10:37am.

totally agrree,  cholesterol is not the only concern, their are many more aspects then this  much spoken word.  lack  of proper sleep, anxiety ,  work overlaod, sedentry life, all add to making heart a slow working animal and lipids add to that. so better be   covering ll the stuff, rathern then cholesterol to live a helth life

Submitted by Antioxidant (not verified) on Sat, 10/18/2008 - 7:29am.

Large amounts of them combined with stress can cause diseases. They are like a catalyst for trouble. Especially when you need it the least.

Submitted by Medication Online (not verified) on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 6:47am.

High Cholesterol is crippling. My father had high cholesterol and because of it he developed a range of ailments, like unbearable joint pain. He was literally unable to move!

Submitted by discount pharmacy (not verified) on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 10:30pm.

As is the case with any other drug, overdose can have a significant
bearing on your health. Last but certainly not least, immediately
contact your doctor for any erection that lasts for more than 4 hours
because an extended erection can damage the penis.

Submitted by Dr Marc Benton (not verified) on Mon, 03/15/2010 - 3:00am.

Yes, it's only an urban myth that high cholesterol causes heart disease. In fact, cholesterol is an indicator of the percentage of fat in our body. There are certain people with high cholesterol that never develop heart problems because of an innate strong heart muscle, still it's always good to keep a low cholesterol level. Dr.Marc Benton

Submitted by Steve Felker (not verified) on Thu, 03/25/2010 - 7:16am.

I have had cholesterol of 225 or higher for 15 years. My latest results were 304. To date I have refused cholesterol lowering drugs after even niacin raised my liver enzymes. Yet at age 53 I have no symptoms of heart disease. For the 2nd time in 5 years my heart scan showed a zero score of calcified plaque in my heart arteries. Why? I have little to no family history of heart disease. My C-Reactive Protein score (measuring a marker of inflamation) was .51 (even lower than 5 years ago), which indicates a very low risk of a future cardiac event. I take fish oil, & eat a better than average diet of fruits, vegatables, nuts, fish, etc. I also take 1000+ I.U. of vitamin D when I do not get sun exposure. I rarely get sick. Thanks for your article, especially outlining the positive benefits of cholesterol.

Submitted by cheap ghd (not verified) on Tue, 05/04/2010 - 11:55pm.

Last but certainly not least, immediately
contact your doctor for any erection that lasts for more than 4 hours
because an extended erection can damage the penis.

Submitted by LoweringYourCholesterol (not verified) on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 11:43pm.

I believe high cholesterol related to heart diseases. Of course, high cholesterol may or may not cause heart disease but I believe it will increase the risk of getting heart disease. I also against of treating high cholesterol with medication unless the condition reach very critical condition. If not, I prefer to advise people around me to eat more vegetables and fruits and less fried, less fats and less oily foods to avoid of high cholesterol content food.

Submitted by antioxidants (not verified) on Sun, 07/11/2010 - 3:55pm.

Antioxidants also help you to recover better from exercise… and that means you can build more muscle and burn more body fat in the long term!

Submitted by gmeades on Fri, 09/10/2010 - 11:48pm.

Time and again we find articles that explain if you lower your fat intake, your body produces more all on its own. These same articles explain that if you increase your fat intake, your body produces less. Researchers and doctors have documented this time and again, and this information is readily available to those looking to understand how this works.

Also, other countries such as Japan warn their citizens against the dangers of low cholesterol. Yes, you read that right, the dangers of low cholesterol… and their information was based in large part on the same clinical studies that were done in the USA. Were you aware of this…?

If you’re interested in finding out more, click here –
http://thecholesterolmyth.wordpress.com/

Submitted by Canadian Pharmacy (not verified) on Wed, 10/06/2010 - 1:39pm.

An estimated 102.2 million adults in the United States have total blood cholesterol values of 200 mg/dL and higher, and of these about 35.7 million American adults have levels of 240 or above. In adults, total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher are considered high risk. Levels from 200 to 239 mg/dL are considered borderline-high risk.

Among non-Hispanic whites age 20 and older, the age-adjusted prevalence of total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL is 45.0 percent of men and 48.7 percent of women; 15.3 percent of men and 18.1 percent of women have blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher.*

Among non-Hispanic blacks age 20 and older, the age-adjusted prevalence of total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL is 40.2 percent of men and 41.8 percent of women; 10.9 percent of men and 13.1 percent of women have blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher.*

Among Mexican Americans age 20 and older, the age-adjusted prevalence of total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL is 51.1 percent of men and 49.0 percent of women; 16.8 percent of men and 14.3 percent of women have blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher.*

The age-adjusted prevalence of U.S. adults age 20 and older with LDL cholesterol levels of 130 mg/dL or higher, which is associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, is...*
For non-Hispanic whites, 31.5 percent of men and 33.8 percent of women.
For non-Hispanic blacks, 34.4 percent of men and 28.6 percent of women.
For Mexican Americans, 42.7 percent of men and 30.4 percent of women.

The age-adjusted prevalence of U.S. adults age 20 and older with HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL (HDL cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL are associated with a higher risk of CHD) is...*
For non-Hispanic whites, 25.4 percent of men and 7.9 percent of women.
For non-Hispanic blacks, 14.7 percent of men and 6.5 percent of women.
For Mexican Americans, 29.3 percent of men and 11.7 percent of women.
* National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2003–06, National Center for Health Statistics and the NHLBI.

Submitted by rosewhite666 on Thu, 01/27/2011 - 12:31am.

There is no one cause of "heart disease." "Heart disease" is a heterogeneous compliation of diseases of the heart and blood vessels with many different causes. Some of these include disturbances of the rhythm of the heart, calcification of the middle portion of the blood vessels and calcification of the heart valves, and congestive heart failure.

Drug

Submitted by roberrtt (not verified) on Sun, 02/27/2011 - 11:51pm.

You might be asking yourself what you can do. As it turns out a lot! Of course, the easiest and most profound change is through diets to lower cholesterol. Figuring out the right things to eat, not just avoid, is the most immediate and long lasting change that needs to be made.
Reference:
hdl cholesterol levels

Submitted by Nick5014 (not verified) on Mon, 04/25/2011 - 12:35am.

It might well be a myth but there are a lot of people out there who suffer from both heart disease and high cholesterol - they might be two unrelated conditions but they can both be created by the same problem, overeating certain types of (often unhealthy) foods.

Submitted by Vreni Gurd on Mon, 04/25/2011 - 9:48pm.

Vreni Gurd BPHE

 

Health and Vitality Coach

Corrective Exercise Specialist

Certified Integrated Somatic Therapist (INT)

Metabolic Typing Advisor

www.wellnesstips

Submitted by Testking 000-153 (not verified) on Fri, 10/14/2011 - 4:07am.

A great post but How visit my Website it is relevant to Exam and Certification you can get almost every exam in our site

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:12pm.

There is cholesterol in plaques.
If you do not overeat it, you do not have heart disease.
If your cholesterol is 150 or less, you will simply not have it.
Read Dr. Esselstyns book before you start telling everyone to what to eat. That is a big responsibility.
By the way, we only had large commercial farms that breed large commercial beef for the past 80-100 years. That beef is different that the meat hunter/ gatherers ate. Much lower in saturated fat an cholesterol, and nuch better for you. Their LDLs were in the 70s.

Submitted by auto repair (not verified) on Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:47am.

There is no one cause of "heart disease." "Bosom disease" is a mixed compliation of diseases of the hunch and gore vessels with many incompatible causes. Whatsoever of these include disturbances of the template of the viscus, calcification of the intermediate portion of the murder vessels and calcification of the mettle valves, and congestive pump insolvency.

Submitted by auto repair (not verified) on Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:51am.

There is no one cause of "heart disease." "Bosom disease" is a mixed compliation of diseases of the hunch and gore vessels with many incompatible causes. Whatsoever of these include disturbances of the template of the viscus, calcification of the intermediate portion of the murder vessels and calcification of the mettle valves, and congestive pump insolvency.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/11/2011 - 2:56pm.

I am deeply worried that people reading this article would take it seriously, like there's some sort of a controversy about statin use.
The overwhelming evidence supports the use of statins because they do prevent heart disease.
This author simply ignores simple facts,
You get heart disease because bad LDL cholesterol (and let's correct something's not properly explained above) causes build up of plaque that narrows your arteries leading to blood pressure and if the arteries are totally blocked or ruppture you get myocardial infarction.
I am only 35 years, my father had a triple by-pass surgery at the age of 80 and he had been smoking all his life, I am only 7kg above my ideal body weight, because I've ignored my high cholesterol for last 2 years now I have hypertension. Had I started statins then, I would not have this at all.
I hope people do not simply believe what is said above and continue to take the advice of their dr because they should be following best practice rather than someone's personal opinion without endorsement of the wider scientific community.

Submitted by Vreni Gurd on Sun, 12/11/2011 - 3:24pm.

Statins work because they lower inflammation, not because they lower cholesterol.  If you actually look at the science you will find that just as many people die of low cholesterol as high. 

If you are worried about heart disease, lower your sugar, flour and plant oil intake (corn, soy, safflower, canola etc.).  Your blood lipids will improve dramatically, including LDL (which is a protein and not cholesterol, by the way.)

 While statin use increased, so did heart disease, strokes and diabetes (1999-2005) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_E3p56Ugm4&feature=g-all

If you get a chance, read Gary Taubes' book Good Calories Bad Calories.  The science simply isn't there to support the idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease, despite what the pharmacuetical companies want the doctors to believe.

Vreni Gurd BPHE

 Health and Vitality Coach

Corrective Exercise Specialist

Certified Integrated Somatic Therapist (INT)

Metabolic Typing Advisor

www.wellnesstips

Submitted by One Percent (not verified) on Wed, 02/29/2012 - 11:18am.

As someone who has overcome heart failure by doing the exact opposite (in most cases) of what is considered "heart healthy" and reading extensively, I know for certain that there is no link between cholesterol and heart disease. We spend over $30 billion a year on statins yet heart disease rages as the number one killer of adults. (yes, yes, I know - it's more complicated than that).

I was given only a 1% chance to overcome my heart failure, yet I did. I eat red meat, salt, eggs, whole fat dairy products and on and on. I am in shape and my heart fuction has been restored. I have written about my journey and my path to wellness in my book, "One Percent: My Journey Overcoming Heart Disease."

If you want to die of a heart attack, listen to your doctor and take statin drugs and eat all of the wrong foods. If you want to live long and healthy, do your own research. Or be prepared to die of cancer, heart failure or get dementia or Alzheimers (didn't your doctor tell you that those were long-term side effects of statins?)

Submitted by Haleybugs (not verified) on Thu, 06/21/2012 - 7:39am.

I am so glad for this article. Most doctors, especially cardiologists and Internists do not have this information. They go by what the sales force for these meds tell them. Neurologists see the end result which is nerve damage and fibromyalgia. Wake up! If fending off inflammation is he only culprit, then take Vitamin C. How simple is that? Statin drugs suck the very life out of a body. Your cognitive powers suffer greatly. I took a statin drug and could not add or subtract for a long time. I got lost in my own neighborhood. I had to stop driving because I also did not know the difference between a red light and a green light. It took several months to have all of these functions return to normal and I only took the statin for four months! Scary. Vitamin K 2 is also an excellent source for keeping the arteries pliable and resistant to holding plaque.

Submitted by Purple Bridesma... on Fri, 07/06/2012 - 12:37pm.

Heart disease is a generic term for all heart and circulation diseases including heart failure, disease, and stroke. High Cholesterol surely can't be the culprit for all these things!

Submitted by Ozone (not verified) on Sat, 09/08/2012 - 2:55am.

High cholesterol affected me a lot at the time of my schooling. I am a foody kind of person i like to eat a lot. but now i maintain a diet for my health. i face more problem and half of the year i remain ill.

Submitted by Cary (not verified) on Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:24am.

We would love to know whats causes heart disease....

Submitted by growth hormone reviews bodybuilding (not verified) on Wed, 05/29/2013 - 12:46am.

hgh vitamin shoppe



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