The Cholesterol Myths: Part 5 by Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D.

22 Feb 2012, by Dr. Marnie Wachtler in Health Information

5. Cholesterol-lowering may shorten your life

According to conventional wisdom it is wise to lower your cholesterol if it is too high. The main reason for this advice is the observation that people with a high cholesterol more often get a heart attack than people with a normal or a low cholesterol. The observation is correct, but it does not mean that the high cholesterol is the cause of the heart attack (see section 1). If it were, lowering of the high cholesterol by any means should prevent it, but it doesn´t (except with the new group of cholesterol-lowering drugs, the statins; see below).
More than 40 trials have been performed to test if cholesterol-lowering can prevent a heart attack. In some of the trials the number of fatal heart attacks were lowered a little, in other trials the number of fatal heart attacks increased. Overviews of the trials have shown that when all results were taken together, just as many died in the treatment groups (e.g. those whose cholesterol was lowered) as in the untreated control group (78,79).

That some overviews have shown a positive result after cholesterol-lowering is because they had ignored or excluded one or more trials with a negative outcome (79).

The mentioned overviews included mostly diet and/or the older cholesterol-lowering drugs. But a new type of drugs, the socalled statins (for instance Zocord®, Mevacor®, Lescol®, Lipitor® and Pravachol®) have been succesful. However, their effect isn´t exerted through cholesterol-lowering, they have other and more useful properties Unfortunately they also stimulate cancer growth.

The Cholesterol Myths #6