Cholesterol causes heart disease?

I recently got my cholesterol tested for the first time in my life. I’m 28 so I thought it was about time. I was prepared for an elevated reading as both my parents have very high cholesterol. This was done at a pharmacy, and after the result (7.7 total cholesterol) I was told that I need to see my doctor who will probably prescribe meds I need to take for the rest of my life (statins).

Now, being an independently minded person, I decided to do some research for myself. First of all I am a very healthy person who goes to gym 5-6 days a week and who NEVER eats crappy fast food. I eat lots of vegetables, fruit, chicken etc. This tells me that there is very little I can do to lower my level through the general recommendations (exercise more, eat more healthy) as I already lead a far healthier lifestyle than most.

Through research I have discovered that there are people who question the direct link between cholesterol levels and cardio-vascular disease and I see many people complain about the side-effects of statins.

Given the above and being the type of person who tries to avoid drugs as much as possible I’m wondering if anyone else has any input on this subject. Is there a legitimate reason to question the direct link between heart attacks and cholesterol, or is it just another crackpot conspiracy? Check this site out as well as this

I will, of course, in any case speak to my doctor about it.

My cholestrol tested 8 in October last year and I was horrified, I, too am a relatively (got a couple age-related things going on) healthy person, I’m 5ft and weigh in at 51kg, so not overweight at all, I, too dont touch fast-foods, and veg is a key ingredient in all our food (my youngest is a vegetarian) neither do I drink excessive alcohol (the very occassional glass of wine - every 3-4 months or so). I’m not a fitness fundie and I’m a smoker though (not sure if there is relation to that). Either way, I went on the prescribed tablets and was tested last week and its down to 2, which is a bit of a relief overall. I didnt experience any obvious side effects to the meds.

From chatting to colleagues that has had heart attacks, they all have a high cholesterol AS WELL AS high blood pressure, and a myriad of other ailments such as diabetes and bad blood circulation.

Best is to chat to the experts.

From chatting to colleagues that has had heart attacks, they all have a high cholesterol AS WELL AS high blood pressure, and a myriad of other ailments such as diabetes and bad blood circulation.

The question is were they inactive, overweight or unhealthy eaters? That is known to cause high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes and could be the real underlying cause.

i had two medical-related chat to two different individuals today.
in my mind, pharmacies and doctors, will never give you a drug/cure that will fix you once and for all. why? coz, if they keep you on the verge of health, then you are going to have to spend the rest of your life buying the drugs, just to stay alive.
my dad had high blood pressure. he drank the pills, cut back on all the stuff that was bad, and still died at 50 of heart-related issued. and he was slim, didnt drink much, never smoked, and relatively fit. much it helped him.
i too, am wondering whether i need to go check my cholestorol. i’m turning 30 this year, and i guess i should be making a plan.

but, i mean, is there a set rule, that if your cholestorol is X, then your screwed? how can doctors paint everybody with one brush? doesnt one person’s body tolerate, or even need, a higher cholestorol amount? maybe relating to ancestry or whatever. i am not convinced these tests are the be-all and end-all.
you get insanely healthy people, who drop at 24, then you get some old pickled fogie, smoking and drinking like a champion, who lives till 92.
doctors are too eager to pump you full fo drugs. and they dont seem to mind to instill hypochondria, since its profitable.
you go there because you have sinus, and walk out there with eardrops, an excercise plan, and paranoid as hell, because you dont drink enough water…

They’re all well-padded… :-\

One can only assume to their diets.

I must add, since starting the tablets, my skin has cleared up, my nails are growing long again without breaking or being brittle, and the lengthwise rifs on them has all but disappeared. It definately had an effect on some aspects of my body (oh, yes, those little white pinheads I used to get under my eyes has also gone)

...cholesterol is an essential component of our cell membranes, it acts as an anti-oxidant...Cholesterol is used by our bodies to repair lesions in the arteries
The key to stopping heart disease is to stop the lesions in the arteries from occurring in the first place, by minimizing glycation by eating less sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and minimizing free radical damage by not consuming refined and therefore rancid vegetable oils AND by reducing systemic stress.
Our bodies consider cholesterol to be so essential to our survival, that every cell in our body can manufacture it as needed. If we eat little or no cholesterol, our bodies manufacture more, and if we eat a lot, our bodies don't manufacture as much
)there are) studies that contradict the idea that cholesterol is the villain in heart disease. So why has this idea held on so long? Perhaps pharmaceutical companies and the processed-food industry have a lot to gain by keeping this belief alive. Statin drugs (Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor etc.) are mega money makers
and so on.....

They’re all well-padded…

Reading a few of the most often quoted studies it seems they tend to choose test subjects from the higher risk segment when doing trials.

I’ve had enormous success after 4 months of statins, for info (Atorvastatin, in particular).

Total cholesterol ratio: down from 5.9 to 4.7
LDL: down from 4.5 to 3.3
HDL: up from 1.04 to 1.12

That’s on a 5mg dose, with no side effects. Someone with very close genetic stock was on 10mg, and had bad side-effects (muscle pains, fatigue). So there is a significant threshold effect. As for the main notion in this thread, there’s little reason to buy into it as far as I can tell. Cholesterol is associated with heart disease in too many clinical trials, including those by impartial bodies like the NIH. But then, I am biased, being well connected in a familial sense to a scientist working in this area.

I understand that many people do not experience side effects; I’m just worried I won’t be so lucky, and am also not keen on having to take a pill the rest of my life… Therefore all the research.

I also have a general skepticism towards many “truths” in the medical field. I see the brochures I took home from the pharmacy littered with anti-oxidant references and talk of vitamin supplements – 2 recommendations I know have no scientific basis.

Oh well; they say the best way to ensure low cholesterol is to choose one’s parents with care.

Science-Based Medicine » Statins – The Cochrane Review

I have to add my 5cents worth…

My husband has familial hypercholestrolemia, as do both my kids (aged 26 and 20). All 3 are very healthy and not overweight. Having FH means that diet alone won’t lower their lipid levels and they have to be on statins to help them keep their levels down.Keeping fit is also very important.

My kids started on statins when they were aged 7 and 15, at around the same time I finally got my hubby to go and have his levels checked (his father died at age 44 of a heart attack).

Both kids are on 40mg each and my hubby is on 80mg. It’s taken years to find the right dosage and to get their lipid levels under control. The only one who has had any side effects is my hubby, who has joint pain occassionaly. They will have to take the statins for the rest of their lives. It wasn’t easy in the beginning for them to take it every day, but they eventually got into the habit. It’s a pain in the ass to take daily meds and to watch your diet, but it’s better than the alternative.

BTW, it took just as long to get our life insurance payments down. If you have life insurance and they know you have high cholesterol, whether its due to diet or genetics, your premiums are horrendously loaded. After showing that hubby’s cholesterol was down and had been under control for a few years, our monthly payments dropped by half - that was a big saving for us.

it's called motherfucking capitalism

GCG, you’re going to have to do better than that. We skeptics like evidence ;D

That is really interesting, thank you.

Too bad it’s so inconclusive. And I still can’t get a clear picture of what my risk-factor is as they point out that the majority of people picked for studies are people considered at risk due to lifestyle and age factors. Is cholesterol the cause of heart disease or a symptom of the underlying causes? What relative risk reduction will someone who lives an ideal lifestyle and takes statins experience? A 1%-2% reduction in risk is not enough for me to take a pill the rest of my life.

Cost-benefit is another issue. is a discussion of a (small) study that postulates that active, young people are much more likely to notice the side-effects, compared to the often quoted 5% figure.

I’m fairly sure I also have FH as my lifestyle can’t explain my elevated levels. Maybe I’ll give statins a shot as I see a lot of people reporting no side-effects. I’m just going to try an extreme low cholesterol and saturated fat diet for 6 months before I consider it. Also no early heart attacks in my family, so I’m not too worried.

Anyway, this turned into a bit of a conspiracy theory / health advice thread which I didn’t really intend. Anyone with comments after reading the Cochrane review?

As a pharmacist I am going to go out on a limb here and say that none of the pharmaceutical companies are. The reason I say that is that there fairly rigorous regulations and protocols put in place for the registration of a dossier with the MCC. So if your motivation was to try and register something that didn’t work, posing as something did work - you would have to be an Andrew Wakefield type and will eventually be caught out. Admittedly, it is probably not entirely foolproof and there are companies out there that may get away with stuff, but there are rules and regulations regarding the manufacturing and selling of real medicines and I think it is a long shot to think that they conspired to get a product that doesn’t work through the MCC registration processes so they can make money for nothing.

Homeopathy et al. on the other hand, for whatever reason, don’t get regulated through the same channels unless they make specific medical claims. These guys can put anything they like on the market, twist the wording around on the label and Bob’s your uncle… even is they have to register their product with the HPA.

Bluegray has a very valid point, with all medical treatment the costs and benefits need to be weighed up. Can you afford the available treatment? Can you afford not to get the treatment? Not all medical conditions have cures - so lifetime treatment is necessary, e.g. diabetes, FH, etc.

As an aside, I think Statin’s are very cool. They have done for the various lipid disorders what insulin did for diabetes - they work to try and keep people alive for a little longer. :slight_smile:

Andysor, may I suggest contacting Prof. Derek Raal, he’s doing research into FH.I spoke to him as I was concerned about putting my kids onto statins at such a young age. He answered every question I had and explained the risks. He keeps up to date with the latest research. He was at the Jo’burg Gen when I saw him and I’m not sure if he’s still there. I have since heard him on the radio discussing statins and high cholesterol.

Please check if you do indeed have FH before you go on your extreme diet (been there, done that - it got boring and bland very quickly ;)). Prof. Raal explained that with FH you could go on a diet of water and lettuce leaves for weeks and your lipid levels won’t drop enough to rely on diet alone, your risk remains high.

Good luck :slight_smile:

This sounds entirely reasonable and as no evidence to the contrary have been presented, I’ll let the matter rest until such evidence is in fact forthcoming. Checks and balances are always a good thing and I am happy to hear we have these with respects to the pharmaceutical profession. Do keep up the good work.

…some posts split to: Cholesterol causes heart disease? [split]

I stumbled across THINCS (The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics) about two years ago, while on a similar personal research quest. What is interesting is that the most recent discussion entries are dated Feb 2006 (The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics).

My immediate thought (flippant, I know) was that the forum members must’ve all croaked. I showed the website to some medic buddies of mine who reckoned that I could test these ideas at my peril.

Anyway, I found a supplement from our local pharmacy called “Phytocor”, which is advertised to drop one’s total cholesterol by approx two units. has lived up to its promise, and no side-effects have been obvious. I’m not sure whether taking this is better or worse than taking statins, but the side-effects seem less and one doesn’t need a script.

wandapec, what is your pharmacist’s opinion of Phytocor?

Phytocor’s active ingredient is Policosanol and a quick search reveals that the only clinical large scale trials have taken place in Cuba, which owns the patent, while other small scale trials outside of Cuba have found no benefit.

If it’s worked for you could it be attributed to placebo or having made other changes and attributing the improvement to the drug?

Placebo effect? I don’t think so. If anything, my S/O would suffer from a kind of “anti-placebo” effect.

Lifestyle changes … yep, that did change. Our lifestyle actually got a little worse (anti-placebo effect at work?). Perhaps there’s scope for some studies exploring the relationships between diets of sandwiches, tea & coffee, Pringles, Nik Naks, beer, biltong, prego rolls, winegums, few vegetables and cholesterol levels? And throw in some good TV series that we watched addictively. Some may think that we were testing the efficacy of the supplement by behaving far worse, but if I’m honest, it’s because at heart we are both hedonists.