Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Cholesterol Confusion

If you listen to your average physician (and/or the gazillion dollar advertising blitz associated with anti-cholesterol drugs) you would probably believe that reducing LDL cholesterol levels (and raising HDL cholesterol levels) results in healthier arteries and therefore in better cardiac health. Some people have questioned this link, especially that of LDL cholesterol with atherosclerosis, for a while. A couple of recent clinical trials have given further cause for skepticism. Here’s a good column (What’s Cholesterol Got to Do With It?) by Gary Taubes in the NY Times that gives some nice background and summarizes the facts.

Note that statins do help to prevent heart disease --- they also happen to reduce LDL cholesterol. The problem arises when one assumes that reducing LDL cholesterol alone can also prevent heart disease.

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