LDL cholesterol levels have nothing to do with heart disease risk. But don't tell that to your average doctor. Most doctors do not do their own research. Instead, they rely on their drug reps and on the Big Pharma conferences they go to for information. Big Pharma has drugs that lower LDL levels and supposedly prevent heart disease. And they're making billions on these drugs. So why should they tell doctors that LDL levels have nothing to do with whether or not you get heart disease? Yet that's exactly what the studies show. In fact, a brand new study came out just this past month that shows once again that your LDL cholesterol levels have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you are going to die from a heart attack.
The study looked at 1,469 women between the ages of 72-78. The researchers were looking to see if there was a relationship between what their LDL levels were and their chances of dying from cardiovascular disease. So they measured the women's LDL levels and then followed them for 10 years. The results are shocking for everyone out there who still believes that LDL cholesterol has something to do with heart disease.
During the 10-year period, 134 women died from cardiovascular disease. But when the researchers looked to see if having a high LDL had anything to do with the deaths, they discovered that, "Baseline serum total and LDL cholesterol were not associated with atherosclerotic vascular disease mortality." The ones with the highest levels of LDL were no more at risk than those with the lowest levels! But although LDL cholesterol had no effect on dying, they did find something that did have an effect. It was their diet.
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The data showed that having a diet very high in saturated animal fat was "associated with the risk of atherosclerotic vascular disease mortality." When they looked at how much saturated animal fat the women were eating, they discovered that those who were eating the most had three times the risk of dying (16% death rate in 10 years) than those who were eating the least (5% death rate). So when it comes to taking statin medications, let me make one thing clear.
Statin drugs are dangerous. The studies are unambiguous. Statin drugs (all of them) can cause diabetes, dementia, memory loss, muscle wasting, muscle pain, heart failure and who knows what else. And the studies are also very clear that the only people who get any benefit from them at all, albeit a small benefit, are those patients who have already had either a stroke or a heart attack.
As this study and many others show, there is absolutely nothing to gain and much to lose when someone without a history of either heart disease or a stroke is prescribed a statin drug for nothing more than elevated LDL cholesterol. If you are concerned about dying from heart disease, the evidence is very clear. You are not going to prevent it by taking drugs. But here's what does work.
One, keep the animal fats and simple carbohydrates in moderation and concentrate on eating a lot of vegetables. Two, stay in tip top cardiovascular shape. Three, keep your blood thin with concentrated fish oils. Four, replace any hormones that you may become deficient in. Five, get enough sleep and don't be a stress case. These steps will protect your heart without causing any of the problems you'll get by taking statins.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Blekkenhorst LC, Prince RL, et al. Dietary saturated fat intake and atherosclerotic vascular disease mortality in elderly women: a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 May 6.