Listen to the first 20 minutes of this podcast by Chris Kresser. He does a great job of summarizing the results of a recent study: Is the use of cholesterol in mortality risk algorithms in clinical guidelines valid?
This huge study (52,000 participants over 10 years) shows that high cholesterol (>195) is strongly associated with lower morality rates in women. The results were linear, meaning that the higher a woman’s cholesterol was, her risk of death from any cause was lowered. Once again this clearly shows that women should NOT be trying to lower their total cholesterol and especially should NOT be taking statins which have never been studied in women anyway!
As for men, the total risk was not linear but does show that extremely low cholesterol (<195) and extremely high cholesterol (>230) are associated with a higher risk of death. This study is not just important for women, since according to these findings, men should not be aggressively lowering their cholesterol either. The current recommendations are that a total cholesterol over 195 should be treated with statins, when in fact this study shows that 195-230 is the “sweet spot”. Lowering a man’s cholesterol below 200 actually increases their risk of death.
As always keep in mind that this study does not prove what does or does not cause heart attacks and instead only shows an association or correlation.
I love seeing real hardcore studies like this, hopefully it will add to the momentum against the current asinine cholesterol/niacin/statins recommendations.