An article in The Telegraph, June 2016 stated that “Cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time.” The statement comes from a meta analysis of research involving nearly 70,000 people that found no link between “bad” cholesterol and the premature deaths of over 60-year-olds from cardiovascular disease.
The BMJ Open Journal found that 92 percent of people with a high cholesterol level actually lived longer, which led Professor Sherif Sultan, University of Ireland to say that lowering cholesterol with medications is a total waste of time.
The authors want the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis re-evaluated because “the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated”. A co-author of the study is Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, a hero of mine, who has been trying to get doctors to recognize that the voluminous literature about cholesterol and the use of statins does not support it as a cause of heart disease.
Most doctors are skeptical because they want to blame heart disease on something and cholesterol does seem convenient. The cholesterol field is very much divided. In 2016 the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) dropped low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) goals from their guidelines. However a recent Medscape video outlined a new focus on the treatment of LDL cholesterol using higher doses of at least 2 and sometimes 3 statins to finally hammer LDL into place.
Vascular and endovascular surgery expert Professor Sherif Sultan from the University of Ireland, who also worked on the study, said cholesterol is one of the “most vital” molecules in the body and prevents infection, cancer, muscle pain and other conditions in elderly people. He says “Lowering cholesterol with medications for primary cardiovascular prevention in those aged over 60 is a total waste of time and resources, whereas altering your lifestyle is the single most important way to achieve a good quality of life.” Lead author Dr Uffe Ravnskov, a former associate professor of renal medicine at Lund University in Sweden, said there was “no reason” to lower high-LDL-cholesterol.
One very unfortunate statement that these researchers make is that there is no cure for heart disease but treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of any further problems. I happen to believe that with the right building blocks that people can be healthy and stay healthy and not need medications – that can often make the problem worse by destroying nutrients.
What do I recommend? Magnesium of course. For years I’ve talked about one of the functions of magnesium – its ability to lower cholesterol. Here is an edited abstract from the J.Am.Coll.Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):501S-505S, by Rosanoff and Seelig:
Mg(2+)-ATP is the controlling factor for the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol biosynthesis. Formation of cholesterol in blood, as well as of cholesterol required in hormone synthesis, and membrane maintenance, is achieved in a series of enzymatic reactions that convert HMG-CoA to cholesterol. The enzyme that deactivates HMG-CoA Reductase requires Mg, making Mg a Reductase controller rather than inhibitor. Mg is also necessary for the activity of lecithin cholesterol acyl transferase (LCAT), which lowers LDL-C and triglyceride levels and raises HDL-C levels. Desaturase is another Mg-dependent enzyme involved in lipid metabolism. Desaturase catalyzes the first step in conversion of essential fatty acids (omega-3 linoleic acid and omega-6 linolenic acid) into prostaglandins, important in cardiovascular and overall health.
You can Google my name for recommendations on nutrient intake for health.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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