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The myth of high cholesterol and heart disease

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The myth of high cholesterol and heart disease

High cholesterol is not linked to heart disease risk; nor is saturated fat consumption nor is there a link between high (‘bad’) LDL and mortality in the elderly

In a 2014 meta-study review of 72 studies looking at the link between fatty acids and coronary disease (heart attacks, coronary heart disease and angina) researchers found ‘no significant evidence that saturated fat consumption increases the risk of heart disease’ (1)

The study (published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine) was carried out by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council, University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Bristol, Erasmus University Medical Centre and Harvard School of Public Health. The meta-analysis involved over 699,000 participants in 18 countries from 72 unique studies. And there was no difference whether saturated fat consumption was chosen, nor whether blood markers of ‘bad’ fat were used.

Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, the lead author of the research at the University of Cambridge, said: “These are interesting … encourage careful reappraisal of our current nutritional guidelines”.

Slight differences did occur, for example circulating long-chain omega-3 (EPA and DHA) from fish oils were each associated with lower coronary risk; while palmitic and stearic acids (found largely in palm oil and animal fats, respectively) were linked with slightly higher risk.

Two years later, a second International study (2) involving 68084 people over 60 and reviewing all cause mortality concluded that high LDL-C is inversely associated with mortality in most people over 60 years. In fact, elderly people with high LDL-C live as long or longer than those with low LDL-C.

Elsewhere on this website we have research showing:

i) Women with higher cholesterol live longer

ii) Eating fish wards off existing heart problems

iii) Environmental Toxins are linked to more cardiovascular risk

iv) Gut bacteria and especially pathogens increase risk

v) Exercise and red wine reduce heart risk

vi) Low vitamin D linked to more severe heart attacks

vii) Sun exposure reduces heart attack risk

viii) Switching to Rainbow Diet decreases risk of heart attacks

ix) Common Sugar linked to heart risk beyond doubt

x) Obesity in young men increases risk early in life 

ED: What is interesting here, in the two studies on fat, is that the conclusions reflect the often ignored French Paradox – that they eat more fat and consume more alcohol than people in other nations, yet have less heart disease and less cancer. The Paradox is ignored because medical mythology argues that high cholesterol causes heart problems and this is why people need statins. We are also seeing that there are greater risk factors than ‘saturated fat alone.

Heart expert Dr.Chauncey Crandall of the Palm Beach Cardiac Clinic has argued that the real culprit is sugar causing inflammation in the arteries and then the fat sticks. While Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a cardiology registrar at Croydon University Hospital, wrote an article in the British Medical Journal saying there was too much focus on the fat with other factors such as sugar often overlooked.

It is time to “bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease”, he wrote in his opinion piece, expressing concerns over the widespread use of statins, adding that reducing cholesterol through drugs or other means does lower heart risk.

References:

  1. New Evidence raises questions about the link between fatty acids and heart disease – https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/new-evidence-raises-questions-about-the-link-between-fatty-acids-and-heart-disease
  2. Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review – Uffe Ravnskov et al; https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/6/e010401