Do you need more incentive to lower your cholesterol levels? New results indicate individuals with low LDL cholesterol have a longer lifespan.
A study published in the Annals of Surgery and conducted at the University of Minnesota Medical School between 1975 and 2000 evaluated 838 heart attack survivors between the ages of 38-60 years-old. Out of the 838 participants 417 were instructed to go on a diet and 421 were instructed to diet combined with a partial ileal bypass surgery which bypasses the small intestine and location for cholesterol absorption. This is not a common surgery and typically reserved for high-risk heart attack patients who cannot tolerate statin medications. After 25 years, the participants in the second group had an increased life expectancy of one year.
Principle investigator Dr. Henry Buchwald, bariatric surgeon, states - "This study contributes to a long path of findings from the trial, that is, high levels of LDL cholesterol are detrimental to your health."
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a "waxy" type of fat produced naturally by your body. It serves many functions, such as nerve protection, tissue production, and the production of certain hormones. When levels of LDL are too high you are at increased risk for LDL oxidation which can lead to the development of arterial plaque and the narrowing of arteries.
Options to lower cholesterol
Statin medications are frequently prescribed for individuals with elevated cholesterol levels, such as high LDL cholesterol. This class of drugs lowers LDL cholesterol by blocking a liver enzyme used by the body to produce cholesterol.
I have mixed feelings about this study. It seems to be making LDL cholesterol out to be the villain and LDL cholesterol is not necessarily bad. High cholesterol is just one aspect of the process that leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. This study doesn't touch on the fact that other factors play an integral role in the heart disease process, such as inflammation.
Also, there are "good" and "bad" forms of LDL cholesterol and "good" and "bad" forms of HDL cholesterol. This is why having a comprehensive lipid panel is so important if you are considering medication to treat high cholesterol.
On another note, this study provides good ammunition for pharmaceutical companies, particularly statin manufacturers whose profit depends on you using statin medications to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share them below.