Monday, January 9, 2012

The tide is turning - myths debunked...cholesterol is OK!


Lifehacker today had a post listing a series of health myths which are contradicted by science.....some are the obvious ones - e.g. cold weather does't give you a cold - but surprisingly for a "conventional wisdom" type blog, they also state:

Myth 9: High Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease

Until writing this article, I believed high cholesterol was the primary contributing factor towards heart disease. It's been a myth I've been told my entire life because I'm prone to cholesterol problems and have watched my levels very carefully since I was a child. According to Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, and many others, the data doesn't consistently link high cholesterol with heart problems. It seems the real culprit is more commonly high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems may have found themselves grouped in because the two issues often appeared together. This doesn't mean you want higher levels of cholesterol (with the exception of your HDLs), but that if you're worrying about a heart attack it's not the first sign of trouble.

Well there you go....who would have thought it?


Mark said...

It's worth reading Gary Taubes on this. It seems low cholestral (or at least low levels of HDL's) are a big predictor of heart disease and one of the best ways to improve or increase your HDL is to have eggs and bacon regualry : )

Null said...

the original "Myth 9" concerning cholesterol has been removed from LH

Anonymous said...

Lifehacker isn't the best source for any health information. They post a LOT of poorly sourced or incorrect information.

I'm not saying anything about their conclusions regarding cholesterol; I don't know much about the results they are citing.

Joe Gormally said...

Hi Guys, I'm a doctor training in internal medicine and this whole cholesterol issue is far more subtle and complicated than a simple soundbite on Lifehacker could clarify (which is understandable). I think the issue with cardiovascular risk is more related to LDL cholesterol particularly from genetic factors influencing how cholesterol is handled in the body.

While I fully agree that the longstanding 'dietary theory' of heart disease i.e. eating high cholesterol foods causes heart attacks is a bit of a myth that's not to say that a high fat diet has no deleterious effects but that blood cholesterol levels do correlate with an increased risk. Interesting that a non-medical blog would raise such a subtle issue though and credit to you guys for discussing it in such an interesting way.

Chris said...


Thanks for the comment. Of course this is complex, subtle if you like. The conventional wisdom is that dietary cholesterol leads to high blood cholesterol which leads to CHD. From what I can see there is little that dietary cholesterol has to do with blood cholesterol and the role of blood cholesterol in CHD is very complex, seeming to revolve around oxidised LDL. One of the best expositions I've found is from Chris Masterjohn I'd be interested to hear what you think of his research