Evidence Turns Common Cholesterol Assumptions On Their Head

| August 18, 2014

Cholesterol in the bloodstream is carried within protein-rich packages known as ‘lipoproteins’. These come in two main types, so-called ‘low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol’ (LDL-C) and ‘high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol’ (HDL-C). Conventional wisdom has it that LDL-C is responsible for dumping cholesterol on the inside of arteries, and is dubbed ‘bad cholesterol’ as a result. On the other hand, HDL-cholesterol is said to be a sign of cholesterol being cleared from the inside of arteries, as is generally thought of as ‘good cholesterol’.

I was interested to read a recent study in which the associations between LDL- and HDL-C levels and the degree of arterial disease were assessed in a group of individuals aged 80 and over [1]. In this study, low levels of HDL-C were associated with a greater degree of arterial disease. This finding is consistent with conventional wisdom. However, this study also found that there was no association at all found between LDL-C levels and the degree of arterial disease. This result does ask questions about the general assumption that higher levels of LDL-C are a ‘bad sign’ in older individuals.

In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. For instance, in a study published earlier this year, higher levels of both total cholesterol and LDL-C were found to be associated with a reduced risk of death in individuals aged 85 followed for 10 years [2].

In another study, researchers assessed the levels of cholesterol and risk of death in almost 120,000 adults living in Denmark [3]. The researchers found that having higher than recommended levels of total cholesterol was associated with a reduced risk of death.

For instance, in men aged 60-70, compared with those with total cholesterol levels of less than 5.0 mmol/l, those with total cholesterol levels of 5.00-5.99 had a 32 per cent reduced risk of death. For those with levels 6.0-7.99 mmol/l, risk of death was 33 per cent lower. Even in individuals with levels of 8.00 mmol/l and above, risk of death was no higher than it was for those with levels less than 5.0 mmol/l. The results were similar for women too.

In short, we are misguided if we assume that higher levels of cholesterol are a sign of increased death risk. In older individuals, there is evidence that the reverse is true.

Here's to a healthy heart

Dr John Briffa
Editor
for The Cholesterol Truth



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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


References:

1. Freitas WM, et al. Low HDL cholesterol but not high LDL cholesterol is independently associated with subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in healthy octogenarians. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2014 Jun 7. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Takata Y, et al. Serum total cholesterol concentration and 10-year mortality in an 85-year-old population. Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:293-300

3. Association of lipoprotein levels with mortality in subjects aged 50 + without previous diabetes or cardiovascular disease: A population-based register study. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care 2013;31(3):172-180

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Comments (2)

Testimonials are based on the personal experience of individuals. Results are not typical and the potential benefits of taking any drug or supplement may vary depending on your individual needs and health requirements. Please consult your GP before making any changes to your medical regimen.

  1. Glyn says:

    What I cannot understand, is being that 80% of cholesterol is produced in the liver, why would the body produce something that was not needed and not good for it?

    • Editor says:

      Cholesterol is naturally occurring substance in your body that has an essential function in every sell of your body. So, your body is NOT producing a ‘dangerous’ substance that it has no need for. This is just what the mainstream wants you to believe. The real enemy is inflammation.

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