One of the largest frauds perpetuated on the American public has been the false claim that high cholesterol causes heart disease. Even though this has been known for decades to be false the myth keeps getting promoted by the drug companies to increase drug sales of drugs, such as statins. The whole idea of high cholesterol causing heart disease started with a faulty, outdated rabbit study from the 1920s. No solid evidence of high cholesterol causing heart disease in humans has ever been shown. In fact, evidence is to the contrary. Several studies have confirmed that as cholesterol levels go down that the mortality rate goes up primarily from increased heart attacks and strokes. It has been known for a while that around 50% of people who die from heart vascular disease have normal to low cholesterol levels.
What I really find interesting is how doctors who should be reasonably intelligent don’t seem to be questioning how people can have low cholesterol and clogged arteries or high cholesterol and clean arteries. In fact I just heard a commercial for Lipitor where Dr. Jarvic is claiming that high cholesterol can lead to heart attack and stroke. I would love to ask him in person to explain this mechanism since there is absolutely no science whatsoever to back up his claim!
Cholesterol levels are actually totally irrelevant to the risk of atherosclerosis. It is inflammation, not high cholesterol that leads to atherosclerosis. Cholesterol is actually a healing agent for the body. Where there is an injury in the body cholesterol will increase in that area to aid in the healing by acting as both a patchwork and as a precursor for other substances such as hormones that play a role in healing. Various things can cause trauma and inflammation to the arteries and are well known for increasing the risk of heart disease. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and even bypass operations. Damage to the arterial lining leads to inflammation. In response, cholesterol floods the area and lays down as a “patchwork” over the injured area. The problem is that if the source of inflammation is not removed then the cholesterol will keep depositing in an attempt to heal the injured area narrowing the artery.