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Cholesterol does not cause heart disease

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

cholesterol myth what really causes heart disease

Story at-a-glance -

  • A 2018 scientific review presents substantial evidence that high LDL and total cholesterol are not an indication of heart disease risk, and that statin treatment is of doubtful benefit as a form of primary prevention for this reason
  • Three recent reviews that supported the cholesterol hypothesis were found to have misrepresented data and findings of previous studies to support their own conclusions
  • Overall, the analysis found the association between total cholesterol and CVD is weak, absent or inverse in many studies
  • Older people with high LDL do not die prematurely — they actually live the longest, outliving both those with untreated low LDL and those on statin treatment
  • A 2015 meta-analysis of 11 statin drug studies found statin use postponed death by a mere 3.2 days in primary prevention trials and 4.1 days in secondary prevention trials

For the past six decades, the U.S. dietary advice has warned against eating cholesterol-rich foods, claiming dietary cholesterol promotes arterial plaque formation that leads to heart disease. We now have overwhelming evidence to the contrary, yet dogmatic thinking can be persistent, to say the least.

After decades’ worth of research failed to demonstrate a correlation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans finally addressed this scientific shortcoming, announcing “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”


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