There are several long term studies that have indicated having a high cholesterol level (defined by mainstream medicine as being over 200 mg/dl) lowers your risk of death from all causes (stroke, cancer, diabetes, CHD).
The 1986 MRFIT study was widely touted as proof that the rate of mortality increases as cholesterol levels increase.
However, the relationship between high cholesterol levels and heart disease mortality was shown in only one age group – men aged 37-54. Overall mortality rates weren’t reported.
When another team of researchers looked at the MRFIT data and compared overall mortality rates for each successive category of cholesterol levels, the results were very different.
Those participants in the lowest cholesterol level category had a greater “all-cause” death rate than participants in the other cholesterol level categories, with an exception for the group with very high cholesterol levels (>300 mg/dl).
The lowest “all-cause” mortality rates were seen in the group whose cholesterol levels were in the 160 – 219 mg/fl range.
Here are a paper and a blog with more information about the inadequacies of the MRFIT data.
This result parallels the results from a 30-year analysis of the Framingham Study, a study often quoted as proof of the hypothesis that high cholesterol causes heart disease.
The results of the Framingham study were published in 1964. At that time, researchers claimed to have found a weak association between mean cholesterol levels and heart disease in people under the age of 50.
However, when you look at the cholesterol levels of those who developed CHD and those who didn’t, the actual data was inconclusive. Some of the participants with low cholesterol developed heart disease, and some with high cholesterol did not.
However, more importantly, the Framingham researchers found NO correlation for high cholesterol and heart disease in those participants who were over 50. Since 95% of all CHD deaths occur in people over the age of 55, this was certainly significant.
But here’s the most important result: In 1987, the Framingham researchers published a 30 year follow up report on the “all-cause mortality rates” of the Framingham residents.
They looked not only at coronary heart disease deaths, but deaths from stroke, cancer, and other illnesses.
The researchers reported a surprising outcome.
For those participants who were over age 50, lower cholesterol rates were associated with a higher risk of death from CHD and all causes. In fact, for every 1 mg/dl drop in cholesterol levels, there was a 14% increase in heart-related death and an 11% increase in overall mortality.
In other words, declining levels of cholesterol increased the risk of death from all causes, not just CHD.
This newer information from the Framingham study, and indeed most study results that don’t support the low-fat hypothesis, have been largely ignored by the National Institutes of Health, the AHA, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the mainstream media. You won’t find mention of this 30 year follow up paper on the Framingham website. And you certainly won’t find it on the American Heart Association’s website either.
Evidentially, after 30 years of scaring people into believing that high cholesterol levels are deadly, advising physicians to prescribe dangerous statin drugs which override the body’s natural mechanisms to maintain cholesterol as a protective mechanism, and building huge financial structures on this advice, these groups can’t confess to having been wrong.
The Protective Nature of Cholesterol
If we consider the supposition that cholesterol is a necessary and protective substance, it’s not a big leap to suppose that forcibly lowering it with drugs might cause injury to your body.
Unfortunately, that is just what is happening to people taking statin drugs to lower their high cholesterol levels.
Dr. Duane Graveline writes:
“There is no doubt that the present notoriety of cholesterol has all but obscured its physiological importance and necessity in our bodies. Cholesterol is not only the most common organic molecule in the brain, it is also distributed intimately throughout the entire body.
It is an essential constituent of the membrane surrounding every cell. The presence of cholesterol in this fatty double layer of the cell wall adjusts the fluid level and rigidity of this membrane to the proper value for both cell stability and function.
Additionally, cholesterol is metabolized into other essential body steroids known as the steroid hormones and is, therefore, the sole source for the formation of the very powerful chemicals in our body that determines our sexuality, control the reproductive process and make possible our very existence.
In its misguided war on cholesterol as the primary cause of atherosclerosis, the pharmaceutical industry would lead us to believe that a rapid bottoming out of our natural cholesterol levels through the use of statin drugs is a relatively innocuous process of definite benefit to society. But as we learn more each day of this ubiquitous and unique cholesterol substance, we must question the veracity of this advice. Cholesterol is perhaps the most important substance in our lives.”
Here’s some science to back that up… This recent study highlighted the “paradox” of why patients with high cholesterol levels survive hospital stays more often. (Paradox, in this case, is short for “hmm, this result doesn’t fit our belief that cholesterol is a killer.”)
Cholesterol-Lowering is Big Business
Given all the evidence which confirms that cholesterol is protective and necessary for good health, I find it bizarre that the US government and most physicians work very hard to get people to lower their cholesterol levels as much as possible. The message that high cholesterol is harmful is embedded deeply in the American psyche, and so the public doesn’t question this misguided and harmful agenda.
But make no mistake, the drive to lower cholesterol is a very big business. Billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and a multitude of agencies are involved in the overall goal of lowering American cholesterol levels. Huge amounts of money are spent to educate patients on the false benefits of low fat, low cholesterol diet. Big pharmaceutical companies spend millions on developing and marketing drugs that lower cholesterol, often with injurious or lethal consequences.
For example, statins, drugs design to interfere with cholesterol production in the body, cause serious and sometimes fatal nerve, muscle and kidney damage. They are being prescribed in mind-boggling numbers. Between 2000 and 2005, the total prescriptions for statin drugs nearly doubled, bringing the 2005 yearly total to 174 million.
And there are individual perks for physicians who participate in this cholesterol-lowering business too. Pharmaceutical companies pay doctors huge amounts of money to “educate” other doctors about the benefits of drugs. In a story from New York Magazine, one doctor speaks of the addictiveness of the $750 he was paid each time he briefly mentioned a particular cholesterol-lowering drug to colleagues during a lunch break.
That’s a great deal of money and effort being spent on a goal that in the end, is extremely harmful to the patient.
And here’s the real kicker: the original “healthy” cholesterol levels weren’t set by doctors using scientific trials and medical results. In classic American political style, it was chosen by three men trying to get funding from Congress to continue cholesterol trials at the NHLBI. (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute). They reasoned that a cutoff of 200 mg/dl would provide the largest population for use in future studies.
Mary Enig, Ph.D. was there and heard the whole conversation. She writes about it here.
The New Cholesterol Guidelines
The new cholesterol guidelines have turned tens of thousands of healthy people into patients, “eligible” for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
Most disturbing is that the development of these new health standards is shrouded in mystery. No one thinks to ask who is involved or how the guidelines are set.
When a correspondent asked the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) why there were no open meetings required for the development of the new standards, and why the New Guidelines were not published in the Federal Register, he received the following amazing reply:
“. . . the guidelines for cholesterol management released on May 15, 2001 were developed by a panel of experts–the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III [ATP III])–convened by the National Cholesterol Education Program, an educational program coordinated by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The ATP III panel is not an advisory committee to the NHLBI but rather a group of recognized experts providing their scientific judgment about cholesterol management to clinicians.
The panel’s recommendations for clinicians are based on a thorough review of the scientific evidence by the panel. The guidelines developed by the ATP III are not regulations and health professionals are not required to follow them.”
The “recognized experts” include Drs. Grundy, Hunninghake, McBride, Pasternak, Stone, and Schwartz, all of whom have received consultant fees from the producers of statin drugs. (source: Weston Price Foundation).
Why is the Truth Hidden?
The truth about heart disease and healthy cholesterol levels is obscured by the American government, the mainstream media, national medical associations, and the drug companies for reasons of financial income and prestige.
These organizations have major financial and credibility issues at stake in making sure the public believes in the importance of lowering blood cholesterol levels.
They ignore the contradictory evidence and research about the true causes of heart disease to keep the “high cholesterol causes heart disease” myth alive because they depend on it for financial gain and credibility with the American public.
If these organizations were to suddenly reverse position on the dangers of high cholesterol, all of that money and prestige would disappear.
Have no doubt that these organizations are choosing to put your life and the life of every American citizen at risk, every day, so they can stick to their lucrative, but the mythical story about heart disease.
The fact is heart disease is NOT caused by high cholesterol levels and saturated fat intake. This fact is supported by a multitude of controlled scientific studies commissioned and funded by some of these mainstream organizations trying to tell you otherwise.
Elevated cholesterol levels have been wrongly accused as the cause of heart disease for the past 40 years to the detriment of our national health. Our nutritional “experts” have given us advice based not on science, but on financial gain and plain old pride.
Alternatively, recent studies point to a strong correlation between heart disease and high blood sugar and insulin levels. Chronically high blood sugar can be measured with a test called the hemoglobin A1c or HBA1c.
The EPIC study results state:
“In men and women, the relationship between hemoglobin A1c and cardiovascular disease (806 events) and between hemoglobin A1c and all-cause mortality (521 deaths) was continuous and significant throughout the whole distribution. The relationship was apparent in persons without known diabetes. Persons with hemoglobin A1c concentrations less than 5% had the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality…these relative risks were independent of age, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol concentration, cigarette smoking, and history of cardiovascular disease.”
Yet, organizations like the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and the National Institutes of Health are still recommending that people eat a high carbohydrate, low-fat diet, and take drugs to lower high cholesterol.
Low-fat diets have the end result of raising blood sugar levels for most people. Given the facts about cholesterol and the dangers of high blood sugar, this “eat low-fat foods–lower your cholesterol” recommendation is tantamount to fraud and unbelievably shameful in the light that so many physicians and consumers depend on these nutritional authorities for drug and health advice.