Friday, July 5, 2013

JAMA - Higher Cholesterol Please

Cholesterol and Mortality:

30 Years of Follow-up From the Framingham Study
Keaven M. Anderson, PhD; William P. Castelli, MD; Daniel Levy, MD
JAMA. 1987;257(16):2176-2180. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390160062027.
From 1951 to 1955 serum cholesterol levels were measured in 1959 men and 2415 women aged between 31 and 65 years who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Under age 50 years, cholesterol levels are directly related with 30-year overall and CVD mortality; overall death increases 5% and CVD death 9% for each 10 mg/dL. After age 50 years there is no increased overall mortality with either high or low serum cholesterol levels. There is a direct association between falling cholesterol levels over the first 14 years and mortality over the following 18 years (11% overall and 14% CVD death rate increase per 1 mg/dL per year drop in cholesterol levels). Under age 50 years these data suggest that having a very low cholesterol level improves longevity. After age 50 years the association of mortality with cholesterol values is confounded by people whose cholesterol levels are falling-perhaps due to diseases predisposing to death.

(JAMA 1987;257:2176-2180)


The most widely respected medical journal, The Journal of the American Medical Association, published a study entitled:

"Cholesterol and Mortality. 30 Years of Follow-up from the Framingham Study." Shocking to most, this in- depth study showed that after the age of 50, there is no increased overall death rate associated with high cholesterol! There was, however, a direct association between low levels (or dropping levels) of cholesterol and increased death.

Specifically, medical researchers reported that CVD death rates increased by 14% for every 1 mg/dL drop in total cholesterol levels per year.141 For example, an individual whose total cholesterol levels dropped 14 mg/dL during 14 years would be expected to have and 11% higher death rate than persons whose cholesterol levels remained constant or rose during the same period.

In other words, cholesterol is a marker, a correlate, of health going wrong, not a cause of health going wrong, which is why efforts to manipulate cholesterol do not make people less sick.

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