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Worried about cholesterol and/or statins

The vast majority of comments I get on my blogs are about cholesterol and/or statins. I find myself saying the same things over and again, so this post is the one that I’ll now refer queries to – it should answer most of the worries that people seem to have. My top tip is: don’t have a cholesterol test and then you’ll have one fewer thing to worry about.

Worried about high cholesterol

Many of the comments start with people saying that they have high cholesterol. First of all – do you? Or are you part of the scam to make you think that your cholesterol is high because normal has been re-defined? This post may help.

If your cholesterol is anywhere on those normal charts (2-10 mmol/l = 77-387 mg/dl) – you may like to stop worrying.

You should also be aware that the blood cholesterol test doesn’t actually measure LDL (the thing they call ‘bad cholesterol’ – which is not even cholesterol – it’s a Low Density Lipoprotein) – they guess it. See point iv here. You should also be aware that even the total cholesterol, which they do try to measure, is known to be out by as much as 19%.

If you actually have high cholesterol (e.g. 10 mmol/l = 387 mg/dl or above) OR your cholesterol is high for you (i.e. relative to what you know yours normally is – your normal – not the made up normal), remember that your body makes cholesterol for good reason and consider the following: are you injured? stressed? pregnant? recovering from an operation? illness? Any of these will encourage your body to make more cholesterol.

Have you had a cholesterol test taken at the end of winter? in the heart of winter? Vitamin D is made by sunlight synthesizing cholesterol on the skin when you expose your skin to sunlight. Your cholesterol may simply be ‘high’ right now because you haven’t turned it into vitamin D (it’s the low vitamin D that will harm you – not the ‘high’ cholesterol – the high cholesterol can be a sign that you’re lacking vitamin D). Have another test at the end of the summer and make sure you give your body the chance to make some vitamin D with healthy sun exposure (not too much, not burning).

If you know (or think) that you have Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) – take a look at this blog post. It may give you a different perspective on FH. High LDL can be the symptom – not the problem – the problem can be the exact opposite of what is assumed – that LDL is not getting to the cells (including heart cells) where it is vitally needed.

Check out these charts too – read them carefully – yes HIGH cholesterol is associated with LOW deaths and LOW cholesterol is associated with HIGH deaths for men and women, CVD deaths and all-cause mortality. (It’s the same for saturated fat, by the way).


I’m the wrong person to ask about statins – that’s your decision. It’s the easiest decision in the world for me – a statin will never pass my lips. This may help explain my position – and the fact that I know the utterly vital role that cholesterol plays in the human body and I trust my body to do what it was designed to do WAY more than I trust pharmaceutical companies to forgo profit in my best interests.

You may also like to read this. If you are in the highest risk group possible (men of a certain age who have already had a heart attack), for every 100 of these men given statins for five years, 1.8 men will live, on average, an extra 6 months and 98.2 will gain no benefit. The intelligent thinking in the world of cholesterol is that any ‘benefit’ of statins for this small, very high risk group, results from anti-inflammatory properties of statins; the cholesterol reduction being a serious and unwelcome side effect.

To look at this another way, some September 2015 research showed that you can take statins for years and you might gain an extra 3 days. Again – likely an anti-inflammatory effect; the cholesterol lowering being a serious price to pay.

Talking of side effects, these are substantially understated and those who mention statin side effects are viciously attacked. In March 2014, The Guardian reported Professor Rory Collins as saying “We have really good data from over 100,000 people that show that the statins are very well tolerated. There are only one or two well-documented [problematic] side effects.” Myopathy, or muscle weakness, occurred in one in 10,000 people, he said, and there was a small increase in diabetes.

As a result of the fall-out from this attack on two doctors who dared to mention statin side effects, it was revealed that Professor Rory Collins’s CTSU team, working on statin (and other) studies, has received c. £268 MILLION from pharmaceutical companies that make statins. If you want to know about statin side effects, just read a patient leaflet – by law they have to be more honest than researchers who withhold side-effect data:

The patient leaflet for Lipitor – the most lucrative statin, indeed the most lucrative drug ever in the history of mankind, states the following:

“Common side effects (may affect up to 1 in 10 people) include:

inflammation of the nasal passages, pain in the throat, nose bleed

allergic reactions

increases in blood sugar levels (if you have diabetes continue careful monitoring of your blood sugar levels), increase in blood creatine kinase


nausea, constipation, wind, indigestion, diarrhoea

joint pain, muscle pain and back pain

blood test results that show your liver function can become abnormal

You may also want to google “Statin diabetes lawsuit” to see how that one is gathering pace in the US. Fancy type 2 diabetes with your statin?! Other statin side effects include loss of libido (hello boys?!), loss of energy, muscle fatigue, muscle aches, weakness, loss of memory, loss of cognitive ability – generally feeling that your get up and go has got up and gone – and taken your mind with it. Former NASA astronaut Dr Duane Graveline has written of his experience here and here.

Do also check the patient leaflet for the over the age of 70 caution. I don’t think many doctors are aware of this. If you’re wondering about whether or not you should be on a statin and you’re over the age of 70/approaching this age – even the leaflet will caution against this. That will be because HIGH cholesterol is known to be particularly associated with LOW deaths in more elderly people (and LOW cholesterol with HIGH deaths).

Watch this (just half an hour) to see a doctor tear apart the nonsense in the cholesterol, statins, dietary fat world.

More reading?

If you’d like more free reading, check out anything on cholesterol/statins on Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s site and/or Dr John Briffa’s site.

For books, check out The Great Cholesterol Con; The Great Cholesterol Myth; Ignore the Awkward; Fat and cholesterol are good for you; just for starters – there are many more.

I hope that this answers most of the queries!

137 thoughts on “Worried about cholesterol and/or statins

  • Hello Dr Zoë Harcombe,

    I just got my blood test reading which has worried me due to being told my
    Serum cholesterol level was 6.3 mmol/L
    serum triglycerides 7.96 mmol/L
    Serum HDL cholesterol level 0.73 mmol/L
    serum LDL cholesterol level 1.99 mmol/L
    Se non HDL Cholesterol level 5.57 mmol/L
    so my doctor seems to be quite worried about scoring 7.96 triglycerides and was told I will need to have another fasting blood test as this was a result of a blood test without having fast from food.

    I do costume loads of full fat milk mostly at night time as I thought it was healthy to do so and I do enjoy it very much and plus it does calm my anxiety levels which I suffered from all my life.

    I am aware when I had the test I was recovering from a muscle hamstring as I red your article, I am wondering whether this played a part in the high level of the readings.

    I am a 46 years old male, I walk a lots and active mostly. I eat loads of vegetables hardly any fat or meet and mostly fish for protein. I also consume loads of organic honey ( however, I smoke about 4 cigarette a day and struggles with insomnia from time to time.

    I have also being told I now fall under the pre-diabetes range due to scoring 6.1 % on my sugar levels.

    I would very much like to hear about what you think of my reading and whether I am really at high risk of cardiovascular lines?

    Many thanks for your help


  • Hello Zoë

    Thank you for helping me to broaden my perspective on the issues you address on your blog.

    I recently had a hefty bout of shingles and I am steadily recovering ‘normal’ sensation in the affected area. I just had blood test results and they show overall cholesterol of 7.2 mmol/l, HDL 1.64 mmol/l and LDL 4.8 mmol/l. I don’t know whether the LDL is measured or calculated.

    Question – do you think that there a link between the post-shingles repair processes (thinking specifically of repair to nerve damage) and raised cholesterol?



    • Hi Nick
      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had shingles – that is really unpleasant in an adult :-(

      In a standard blood test, the LDL will have been estimated, not calculated.

      My one word answer to your question is “yes”! Plus – assuming you’re northern hemisphere, this is the highest your cholesterol will be in the year as you haven’t seen the sun for several months…

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hello, my husband is 51 years old, overall healthy, exercising regularly, not overweight. He just did blood test and it came out with high cholesterol by the med doctors standards. Btw he had high cholesterol last year and few years back as well, but LDL was lower.. Doctor is very alarmed and right away prescribed him Atorvastatin lipitor. I all my life was trying to avoid medicine and so my husband, but I am worry about that he will fall in this scheme of fear that was put upon him. I also think that this meds can damage him more then his cholesterol. I only hope that he will read your blog and also trust his body without taking meds :-)
    Here is his test results:
    Cholesterol 266 mg/dL 0 – 200 mg/dL
    Triglycerides 103 mg/dL 0 – 150 mg/dL
    HDL Cholesterol 50 mg/dL >40 mg/dL
    LDL Calculated 194 mg/dL 0 – 130 mg/dL
    Non-HDL Cholesterol, Calculated. 216 mg/dL mg/dL
    Target for Non-HDL Chol is 30 mg/dL higher than target LDL-Chol.
    Total Chol/HDL Ratio 5.3

    Dr. Zoë, any response from you would be greatly appreciated! I hope I will show him and he will be more convinced to not take this medicine.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Tatiana
      I can’t give any advice – I can give information and opinions. I did the post that you commented on with all the information/links on cholesterol and statins in one place (you can follow each link for more info and then come back to this post). The video at the end is highly recommended too.

      I hope that this post will be of interest to your husband too and then you can make an informed choice. This is one of the most powerful bits of data in my view:
      Your husband, according to independent data, has more chance of being harmed than helped and getting type 2 diabetes would be just about as bad as it gets!

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Any new studies or suggestions on how to increase your body cells intake of cholesterol? I may not be wording this correctly but it make sense to me. I have had high cholesterol since first tested at age 40. I’m 49 and last year went on the keto diet which shot my TC to 423. My TG and HDL ratios have always been excellent (low TG and normal HDL) I have long suspected that my body just doesn’t know what to or where to place the extra protein. I have in the past tried statins and like your research said I went into a mental crisis. Again feeling like my body needs this cholesterol.
    I just cut out dairy and meat and was able to lower my TC to 349 after 30 days. I’m hoping for a little more action but again my TG/HDL ratios are superb. It’s just that sticky protein they call LDL.
    Any more research would be amazing to have.

    • Hi Lisa
      You may like to read Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s new book as he covers a lot of topics that you may be interested in. The new statin lowering block buster drug, PCSK9s, ‘work’ by effectively doing exactly what you asked above – increasing the cell intake of cholesterol so that the blood level of cholesterol is lowered. As Malcolm said – so if cholesterol is so deadly, why is it better in the cell than the blood stream?! I wouldn’t take PCSK9s for all the tea in china!

      Why are you trying to lower cholesterol?! You’re bucking conventional ‘wisdom’ by following the opposite of the advised low fat high carb diet, so why not buck conventional ‘wisdom’ that cholesterol is trying to kill you?!

      The work of Dave Feldman may interest you – he is coming up with ways (diets) to manipulate your cholesterol level- but why play the game? Challenge the game I say!

      This may also interest you – especially if you’re a slim keto person.

      Best wishes – Zoe

    • What about high triglycerides? I stopped taking my Crestor about Christmas time, and my hands FINALLY stopped hurting. But my cac score in 2019 was 450. Lipid panel last week: total 460, triglycerides 190, hdl 68, ldl 364. I eat a ketogenic/Carnivore diet for 2+ years, lost 70#, and reversed pre diabetes. I also have Sjogrens Syndrome, but thanks to this way of eating, take no meds and symptoms GREATLY improved. Any suggestions?

  • Found your post because I’ve become suspicious of cholesterol treatment and statins. 20 years ago, I tested moderate arterial plaque and was prescribed statins and risk mediation including low fat high fiber diet, which also recommended whole grains. My body couldn’t handle Lipitor and I settled on Pravastatin. Last month, tests revealed significant arterial plaque and high risk of cardiac event. Doctor prescribed Lipitor and Ezetimibe. My liver couldn’t handle it. Seeing doctor Friday, but will no longer do statins. Going to take my chances. Cholesterol tested last week 191 mg/dL, Triglyceride 77 mg/dL, HDL 44 mg/dL. Calculated LDL 132 mg/dL.. the highest ever tested. Metabolic panel tests show ALT, AST, Albumin and Billrubin all worse than ever before reflecting possible liver damage.

    • Hi Greg
      You might be aware of the warning on statins about liver damage? The Lipitor leaflet here ( admits that a common side effect (may affect up to 1 in 10 people) is that “blood test results that show your liver function can become abnormal.”
      There’s a statins diabetes law suit in full swing in the US. Maybe there should be a liver damage one too?
      I’m sorry to hear what you’ve been through :-(
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • So happy to have found your site. I have been eating lots of eggs, meat, raw milk and other animal products all my life and never really had a “problem” with cholesterol levels. Recently, I had a blood test done and my test showed supposedly that I have a high LDL level (3.5 mmol/l, while 3 is supposed to be the limit). First this felt troubling of course, but I somehow questioned this test since I have been feeling great and healthy for most of my adult life. My diet really has not changed that much. Why was there suddenly something wrong with me? This just felt so wrong, but was quite confusing (and a little bit scary).

    Having read your site I just concluded that for whatever reason my body is producing more cholesterol at the moment to fix whatever needs a fixing. And this level really does not seem like a high level at all. My total cholesterol was 201 and my HDL level was 1.5 mmol/l. So it seems everything is actually pretty normal and my doctor was talking nonsense.

    Your site has great content regarding this misunderstood issue. Keep it up!

  • hello so glad i found your site my cholesterol is 187 my hdl is 33 my hdl ratio is 5.7 my ldl calculation is 125 my non hdl is 154 my triglycerides are 147 my vldl is 29 my doctor knows i am a very stressful person. so when he gets my results he says my blood tests are ok in general. we will go over the specifics at my next appt, 6 weeks down the road. i have told him i need to get my stress under control, have told him this several times, i am on many bp meds. he just tells me i am like my mom i carry my worry in my stomach, i have been worring for 2 weeks straight not eating anything because i dont know what to eat. my glucose level was 110. dont which one i should be worring about. please reply love your site thanks. still smoking to stressed to stop. i am also on 10 mgs of lipator daily.

    • Hi Victoria
      I can’t give you advice, but I do feel for you. There is little more harmful for your health than smoking (you must know this). If you want to do something positive for your health, smoking (and stress – we’ll come to that) should be your top priority. Your cholesterol is too low in my opinion and I would never personally take a statin – that’s your call.

      Your glucose reading would be just a fraction above normal if taken when fasting and would be good if within a couple of hours of eating. However, worrying about ‘normal’ glucose when you smoke is like worrying about smoke from the fire when the house is burning down!

      If you were my friend I would be suggesting that you should sign up for a course on meditation and/or mindfulness or anything similar that would help you to get into ‘the now’ and to stop worrying. Worry/stress is almost as harmful as smoking and it may be that you need to address this before stopping smoking (as you suggest). A book called “The Power of Now” – Ekhart Tolle – may also help.

      Pin the Mark Twain quote on your fridge “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

      Good luck to you
      Best wishes – Zoe

      • thank you so much Zoe, you have been a great help, i can feel my worrying going down all ready, i feel like i have someone to talk to now that knows what they are talking about, and has time for me, i will keep in touch. Thanks ever soooooooo much (:

      • I forgot to tell you I work with the elderly, and this wonderful elderly lady told me ” VICTORIA WHY WORRY ABOUT SOMETHING THAT MAY NEVER HAPPEN” well thanks again and if i don’t talk to you for a bit you have a wonderful Easter.

        • This elderly lady gave you the best advice. I was on statins not for long for high LDL, side effects were horrible. Flushed pills down the toilet. I was in my mid fifties. I learned to listen to my body and changed diet, exercise. Now at 75 still nursing in Hostel care. So why worrying for something that may never happen. That’s was my motto as well. I don’t take any med’s and take my changes.

  • Hi, just wondering what ALT low levels (8 u/L) may signify, as I cannot find anything on the web. I know an elevated ALT level may be an indicator for liver disease, but what about low levels?
    In case it helps (I’m not asking for diagnosis or advice – I a) :
    I have FH (allegedly), latest lipids analysis: TC 10.4, Trigs 0.6, HDL 2.4, LDL 7.7, CRP 0.2. On KETO diet for the last 3 years. No statins for 17 years.
    I have read discussions about elevated ALT on LCHF diets, but not about lowered ALT. Am I a rare case? :) Thank You!
    P.S. GP will follow up with telephone consultation (results just received), so I’m preparing fo my usual trashing of medical/nutrition dogma in response to the usual drug pushing.

    • Hi Antya
      I’m really sorry but I don’t have any insights on the ALT query. A liver specialist no doubt would – I’m not sure that the GP would have this specialism but hopefully s/he will have done some research for you before the phone call.

      This may be of interest from the FH perspective:
      You will gather that I admire your statin position in light of an alternative way of thinking about FH!

      Good luck with your research
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • This is interesting, but you seem to be on the extreme end of the spectrum, even compared to medical experts who are challenging conventional wisdom regarding cholesterol. For example, even one of the books you recommend reading, “The Great Cholesterol Myth” does not take the stance that you are. Dr. Stephen Sinatra does not claim that knowing what our cholesterol numbers are is completely useless knowledge. He does challenge conventional belief that total cholesterol is a good indicator for heart-disease. However, Dr. Sinatra does claim we should have high HDL, reduce our small particle LDL, lower our triglycerides, have an ideal triglycerides/HDL ratio of 2 or less, etc. But your position that we shouldn’t worry about cholesterol whatsoever, seems to not only challenge conventional wisdom, but it also even goes against at least one of the authors of the books that you recommend reading. In fact, Dr. Sinatra has a statin-free cholesterol reducing plan that he not only mentions in the book, but he’s also got several YouTube videos.

    I know we’re all responsible for our own health. But convincing people that they shouldn’t worry about their cholesterol at all isn’t wise. Sure, I no longer really worry about my total cholesterol number, that doesn’t mean anything. I no longer worry about my LDL number per se, but what I do worry about is whether my LDL is predominantly large particles or small particles. I do worry about my triglycerides and I do worry about my HDL being too low. Just because our body makes something, that does not mean the more the better. After all, our bodies are not perfect.

    • Joseph,

      Are you a doctor? Just curious how you came to your conclusions? Thanks!

      • Philip,

        I’m not a doctor. The way I reached my conclusion (I’m assuming your referring to my claiming that Zoe Harcombe is on the extreme end of the spectrum) is pretty straight forward. First, I don’t think I need to point out the obvious that her stance opposes that of mainstream/conventional doctors. Second, I said she is also in disagreement with medical experts who are challenging the accepted view. Why? Well even one of the book she recommends reading (presumably in support of her position) disagrees with her!

        The authors of “The Great Cholesterol Myth” do not claim knowing what our cholesterol numbers are is useless knowledge. What they do claim is that a standard lipid profile is outdated and is of little benefit in determining heart disease. They DO, however, recommend getting a newer type of test that can measure LDL particle size. They also do recommend your triglycerides/HDL ratio should be 2 or less.

        The authors of the Great Cholesterol Myth do agree with her stance on statins. However they provide a statin-free plan to reduce triglycerides, reduce small LDL, increase HDL, etc… does that sound like the stance she takes, that we shouldn’t measure cholesterol at all? Absolutely not.

        None of this is to say that Dr Harcombe is wrong. But, if she is going to take a position that not only opposes mainstream understanding, but even those who are challenging it, then she should provide a good reason for it. Especially when there are people relying on her information.

  • I am sitting here very depressed and anxious about the fact that my cholesterol levels have come back as 8.45,tryglyceride 3.96,ldl 5.4. I have tried most of the statins,the lateset one being crestor. I cannot tolerate them and have had the most horrible side effects,not just achy limbs or sleeplessness but really scary debilitating side effects. I have now been prescribed ezetimibe and am terrified of taking it. So am getting anxious about it and been made to feel terrible for not taking them. I am so confused by all the conflicting advice. I am slightly overweight and am being treated for high blood pressure. I eat a very healthy diet including oily fish,plenty of veg and fruit,lentils lean meat etc etc. I perhaps need to excercise more. I am a 53 year old woman. Am seriously fed up.

    • Hi Elizabeth
      I wish the people who have made up this “great cholesterol con” could see posts like yours and the completely needless worry that they have caused you. They have achieved their wicked goals of scaring the life out of people about a substance that their own body is making because you’d die if it didn’t!

      I can’t say any more than I’ve said in this post that you’ve commented on – do follow the links and read the other articles. I personally wish for you that you had never had your cholesterol tested and then you wouldn’t have this unnecessary stress.

      Sunbathing will lower cholesterol naturally (but the benefit is higher vit D, not lower cholesterol). You may like to see what “Keto Dave” has done with his cholesterol test – he can basically engineer whatever number he wants at the moment!
      This is being used by people to get doctors off their back. Not my idea of fun but…

      Being more active is a great thing to do for general health, but don’t beat yourself up over any of this. Walk as much as you enjoy in the sunshine (not burning) – double benefit!

      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Oh Zoe,i really appreciate you replying. I was googling about it as felt very depressed and really wanting some truthful advice and came across your article and decided to put a comment on in the hope that you would reply. It has reassured me and made me feel much better. I get very fed up with patronizing doctors who dont believe you about the side effects. I had been referred to the lipid clinic as struggled with statins,i have tried all of them and it has taken up a lot of my life and it has caused unnecessary anxiety and it has produced white coat syndrome,so blood pressure goes up when in any medical settings. I dont even think i need to be on medication for it as its normal to low at home. Moan over!!! Also making my 83 year old mother feel guilty for not taking statins!!! Aaaaaahhhh. I take vitamin D3 along with b vitamins and krill oil. I am not a great believer in taking supplements as i feel you should get this from a healthy diet but am sure these help. I love reading about food and nutrition and really believe that its something we dont look enough into,that and sleep. Thank you Zoe for your advice,you have no idea what you have done for me today,i really really appreciate it! I do actually have your book ‘Why do you overeat?’ which i purchased a few years ago. I love your non patronizing approach. My husband appreciates its as well as he came home to a tearful agitated wife!!! I will read the link you have sent me.

        • Hi Elizabeth
          Very pleased to have provided some reassurance. I have met many people who feel under extraordinary pressure to take statins despite terribly disabling symptoms – that’s not what ‘healthCARE’ should be about! Even if doctors think statins will make you live forever, they should still provide you with the evidence and the downsides and present both sides to you in a way in which you can decide what’s best for your health. As one of those links in that “Worried about” post shared ( – you might gain 3-4 days in 5 years – is that worth any side effects? This was a non industry funded study of course.

          Do you even have high BP?! You may find this post interesting

          Sounds like you have a lovely hubby and you’re doing pretty well in terms of health – some docs just need to alleviate the stress they are causing you!

          Best wishes – Zoe

          • Zoe so glad i found your site. Really great articles,you are a breath of fresh air!!! Agree totally about ‘thats not what healthCARE should be about’.Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. Thank you. Elizabeth

  • Does alcohol raise BP and cholesterol. I drink about 3 glasses a night. Is that too much. Have high BP and take Medstead for these. Have high cholesterol at 8.9.

    • Alcohol can cause damage, which could manifest itself in the symptoms of higher BP and the body making more cholesterol… Always look for the cause, not the symptoms…

  • Hi! Zoe

    My concern is in regards to “Why hasn’t healthy diet, regular exercise has not cut my cholesterol?

    My husband is 32 Years old, vegetarian, exercises 5 days a week for an hour. Very active and healthy lifestyle. We simply got his routine checkup done and found that his cholesterol is 8.2 in July16. We further got strict on his diet and after 4 months it only came down to 7.8 in Nov 16. His parents have high cholesterol but their eating and lifestyle is quite unhealthy. Doctor has advised small dose of Lipitor. Dont want to take medication. Its very surprising and not sure what needs to be done about it.

    • Hi DV
      I can’t write much more about cholesterol and statins than I have in this post. I wouldn’t even measure it. 8.2/7.8 is on the normal distribution, which means it’s normal. Some people are below average, some are above – that’s what a normal distribution is.

      Being veggie might not help. Carbohydrate increases a component part of total cholesterol – VLDL – and everything (other than eggs) a veggie eats contains carbohydrate (only meat & fish are zero carb – eggs have a trace, but are essentially carb free). However, cholesterol is still something I would never personally worry about.

      I certainly would never let a statin pass my lips and given that the most common side effects affect mind and muscles – hubby might not like what statins can do to someone’s ability to exercise – he may suffer no side effects, but as one of the links in this post shows – he may only have a couple of days in 5 years to gain anyway!

      Would you be worrying about cholesterol if big pharma had not made it so?!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • I have had to have a stent inserted and have cardiovascular disease though I haven’t had a heart attack. I have a cholesterol level of 10.5 and have refused statins but find all the information a bit confusing because even health care professionals who are opposed to the use of statins often recommend them for people like myself. What do you think? I would really appreciate a reply. I am 65 year old female by the way.

    • Hi Doreen
      Many apologies for the delay – I’m in SA at the Prof Noakes hearing.
      All the key posts I’ve written on this topic are in this post above, so you’ve found my main post on this topic.
      The one thing I can add is that even statin patient leaflets caution against anyone over 70 taking statins. I think they should caution against any human being taking a drug that interferes with the body so drastically, but that’s my opinion!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi, Can you please mention some references to major institutions and or governmental bodies from around the world to support that the LDL level doesn’t have much significance in increasing cardiovascular issues?

    • Hi Mike
      It is not for me to show that it doesn’t; it is for those who believe it to show that it does.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Zoe

    I’ve been HFLC for three years now. Testing each year has shown lowered triglycerides, higher HDL but also higher LDL and I can’t understand why? As far as I know diet has been constant, as has amount of exercise and stress level. I would really like to get my head around the reason for this as I thought LDL was related to level of carb consumption?

    • Hi Dawn
      VLDL is related to carb consumption.

      I’ve reviewed the evidence as to how certain substances (plant sterols) can lower cholesterol (and raise heart risk) here:

      I have found no evidence showing LDL is impacted by food!

      The post is about not worrying about all this stuff that we shouldn’t even measure – let alone worry about! Worry about Syria or pollution but not something your body is making :-)
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Dear Zoe,

    I can totally make sense out of your blog here. The only thing that i wish to ask is: As per the symptoms defined by the so called Medical Research, lets say i can relate to seven out of ten. For Eg. Numb Legs, Pain in Jaw, Weakness, etc etc. How do i part these symptoms from the “so-called-problem”, i.e., HIGH CHOLESTROL ?

    • Hi Ravi
      What do you mean by high cholesterol and why is it a problem?
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Perhaps I missed it, but you keep referring to the “true normal” but I’m not sure what exactly makes you convinced that it is the true normal. I’m not trying to argue, and I’m not saying you’re wrong. But just because back in, say, the 1960s normal cholesterol was considered 345 mg/dl, that doesn’t mean that was the “true” value. It’s not hard to fathom that as over half a century has gone by, that medical scientists have learned that the old numbers were wrong. I guess where my main concern is that it seems like you’re thinking the old is good, while the present value is just to push statins. And this could totally be true for all I know. And in fact, I hope you’re right, because my cholesterol needs a lot of improvement if conventional wisdom is correct.

    Also, do you think there is any merit to ideal ratios? I can’t remember exactly what, but aren’t there ratios such as LDL divided by HDL or something?

    • Hi Matt
      By true normal I mean the actual normal (peak of the normal distribution) in the normal population. There was a really true normal – before we started trying to lower cholesterol with statins and margarine/plant sterols. Then there is a true normal for today – which is still higher than what has been decreed to be high. i.e. 5mmol/l has been declared as high – but it’s below what even today’s genuine population normal is.

      I don’t think there’s any merit to ratios. I highly recommend Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s The Great Cholesterol Con. He puts it something like this:
      “It’s cholesterol”
      “No it isn’t”
      “It’s bad cholesterol”
      “No such thing”
      “It’s good cholesterol then”
      “See previous answer”
      “It’s the ratio of one to the other…”
      “Oh when will you just shut up and admit you were wrong!”

      My view opened the post – we should not even measure the damn thing!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Dear Zoe

    I spend so much time reading articles about cholesterol and statins to the point that it reduces me to tears because I don’t know what the right thing is to do. I am female, aged 53. I have never had any symptoms of heart disease or heart attack. About 10 years ago I had a cholesterol test out of curiosity and it was 7.3 mmol/L. I was advised to go to my GP. I was not put on statins at that time but advised to alter my diet and lifestyle which I did. Plenty of exercise, low fat diet etc. But I wasn’t obsessive about it.
    My cholesterol did go down slightly but was still above the recommended 5.0. About 5 years ago I was put on statins and tried three different ones but none had any effect until I tried Rosuvastatin. This brought my cholesterol down to 4.7. However, I wanted to consult a specialist for his advice which I did. Simply because my cholesterol didn’t react much to lifestyle changes and that my mother had a heart attack in her early 70’s (it was a mild heart attack and repaired with a stent. She has not had any other cardiac issues before this heart attack or since), the consultant diagnosed me with Familial Hypercholesterolaemia and told me to stay on Rosuvastatin.
    Having read all the recent research and opinions about statins I took myself off it about a month ago. I don’t know what my current cholesterol level is but plan to get another test soon. I am totally confused about whether or not I have FH. Neither parents have high cholesterol.
    I feel just as scared to be on statins as off them and really don’t know what to do. I don’t seem to have any obvious outward symptoms of FH, like fatty deposits.
    Obviously I don’t want to die of a heart attack in the next 5 years! but the highest my cholesterol has ever been without statins is 7.3.
    As for whether I have FH or not I really don’t know. The consultant mentioned the fact that my mother, being German/European, could account for my FH. My father is Indian.
    As I am going to be 54 this year and statistics for people with FH are not that great at this age I am starting to worry!!!
    What would your advice be to me please.

    • Hi Yasmin
      Posts like this make me think there are not nearly enough law suits in the medical world. If I were your lawyer, I would be suing someone for the unnecessary stress that they have caused you. And stress IS a genuine issue with heart disease – unlike many of the things they want you to worry about…

      This is my view – this is not medical advice – you can see what I think about cholesterol and statins from the post that you have commented on, so none of this will surprise you…

      1) This is a fact – not an opinion – 5.0 mmol/l is not scientific. It is not high. It is below the true norm for cholesterol. Someone with a chol level of 5 would have below average chol. They just made up the definition of normal/high etc – that’s still a fact. This bit is opinion: presumably to be able to statinate more people. This is the post showing what is the true normal vs what they made up

      2) This is virtually certainly a fact – you do not have FH with a cholesterol level of 7 anything. 1 in 500 people have FH. Typical chol levels are in double figures even when on statins. This is the person I would sue. I would put a lot of money on the fact that you do not have FH. You have bad medical advisors.

      I can’t advise but I can tell you that worrying will do more harm than a cholesterol level of 7. Statins will do more harm than a chol level of 7 ( In my opinion the worst thing you ever did was to have a chol test and the only thing you should worry about is getting better medical advice.

      I really could shoot some people when I read how anxious those people have made innocent people like this :-(
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hello Zoe!

    I appreciate your article.

    I’m having a hard time deciding what to do. I’m 24 years old and quite healthy… besides the fact that my total cholesterol is 330 and my LDL-P is over 2000.

    I have normal-low blood pressure, slim enough at 5’7 and 150 lbs. I’m sure I could exercise more than I do and I’m making an effort to increase my Vitamin D levels.

    My father’s cholesterol is high, so are my mother’s and brother’s… but mine remains the highest… as their’s all fall into the range of 240-260.

    My doctor says I should go on Statins and be monitored.

    Someone else has recommended that I try high doses of Niacin.

    This has me extremely stressed out… especially since I’m moving to Australia from the US in about a week, and I’m not too keen on taking statins and I’m worried about my abilities to be properly monitored over there.

    All of this puts me in a high-risk category for stroke/heart disease.

    I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to get away without treatment during the 7 + months that I’ll be over there.

    Now that I’ve finished venting all of that, are you familiar with the Niacin studies? Any advice is welcome.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Samantha
      I’m still puzzled as to why you want to lower cholesterol? Cholesterol might be a marker of health (as opposed to a maker of health) but these graphs suggest not even that hypothesis golds ( If you try to lower cholesterol artificially (niacin? who knows, who cares!), you still have whatever underlying condition may be a problem.

      You’re 24 and female so can’t go on statins if you want children. I assume doc thinks the same?! If you really want to understand heart disease – read the set of blogs here ( start at number I…

      Sunbathing will help – it lowers cholesterol by turning it into vit D. In my view (and that of others), the extra vit D is what will help you – the lower cholesterol is just a pathway.

      Stress (as the Dr Malc posts will show) is really bad for heart disease so I want to vent at the doctors/drug companies who made up and perpetuate this entire cholesterol nonsense because the unnecessary stress they have caused you will do more harm!

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • I have been taking statins for some years now, following an initial fasting result of 8.9 – I am now at 5.6, and was put on Crestor 40mg plus Exetrol 10 mg by the lipid clinic at Edinburgh Hospital – I was sent there to find out if there was a genetic link – my male cousin had a level of 14 and heart attack at 50 – but in my case it isn’t genetic. I have recently started to see a nutritionist who suggested reading your blog and Matthew Kendrick’s The Cholestrol Con’, and I am wondering if it,is ok for me to come off the statins or at 8.9 would I still be at risk. I have recently been told by my new GP practice that my blood sugar levels are raised and that puts me in the pre- diabetic range, I have raised liver function results and low thyroid. Liver function has been slightly raised for sometime and for years I thought I might have low thyroid but tests with my previous GP always indicated not – although a private slimming doctor did at some stage put me on thyroxin because he judged the tests to indicate low level in the blood. I have always felt I was pretty healthy until now! Your thoughts please..

    • Hi Cathy
      I can’t give any advice – I can share thoughts – as you kindly differentiated!

      I like the sound of your nutritionist – it’s Dr Malcolm Kendrick, but you’ve got the book title right – one of my favourite books of all time. Scottish humour too! Dr Malc also blogs here:
      You may particularly enjoy this blog given your mention of thyroid:

      We are all at risk of heart disease – older people way more than younger people (way, way more!); men more than women; family history more than no family history. Statins don’t prevent heart attacks; nothing can prevent a heart attack in anyone. As one of the linked articles in the post you commented on shares, statins might buy someone an extra 3 days ( (and – in my view and that of a number of others – this is not because of any cholesterol lowering mechanism, but because of the anti-inflammatory effects). I have still not seen any evidence of any benefit of statins in women.

      You may also like to google “statins diabetes lawsuit” if you have developed (pre)diabetes since being on statins. Check the statins patient leaflet for liver cautions too. Sounds like you’re getting way more than you bargained for with these drugs.

      It’s your decision on the statins – you’re reading the right stuff to counter the existing position. Ask your doc for evidence of any absolute benefit they will give you (doc may not have seen that BMJ article) and ask doc for the evidence on side effects. Given that most docs still think there’s such a thing as good and bad cholesterol, that should be fun!

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Soooooo pleased to have come across this site. Same position 49 high cholesterol 10.6 live in Scotland no sun, moved from SA lots of sun. Cholesterol always a bit high but here they seem to think it needs threating. BP is 154 / 94 heart rate 94 bpm BMI 31, not happy about it but I do not feel grossly obese. I’m active, but do suffer from muscular skeletal pain due to spinal fusion for scoliosis. Cannot imagine more pain from statins. Checking diet and trying to keep fit. Amazing wealth of info. Thanks.

  • I have read through your posts but cannot see anything regarding the Wholefoodplantbased diet. I was put onto it by a contributor to the HeartUK forum. I had a coronary artery test and came out as high risk, this was a private test. I had a stress test under the NHS and came out as excellent! So my heart is strong even if my arteries are terrible. After four weeks on the WFPB diet my cholesterol came down to 3.6 from 4.9 and my LDL came down from 2.7 to 1.5. I increased the statin from 20mg to 40mg after the cat test and take a junior aspirin. I would like to come off the statins if I can keep my readings down. All the information comes from the USA, can find none from the UK. You opinion please if you have time.

  • Not sure where you came from Zoe… But you are my hero! I am a 50 yr old healthy woman with “hereditary” high cholesterol. I’d like to know HOW we know it’s hereditary. So my mom and other family members had the same eating habits as me? As far as I can go back, I can’t find an incidence of heart attack or stroke in my family. How can this be hereditary? For the last 3 years I have been on Crestor (half a 10mg pill a day). Just recently I have been having back muscular issues and weaned myself off and stopped. Latest reading was 5.9 total, 4.0 LDL, 2.1 Trig, and 1.3 HDL (2 days after my last pill).. Those numbers are all borderline high here in Canada. Now I’m not sure if that’s with a little trace of the Crestor still in there, or if it’s with the Omega 3, Oatmeal I have for breakie, no carbs and as little sugar as possible, I’ve been doing… Either way, I’m nervous about my next blood test.. I’ve been reading about this “statin rebound”.
    PS.. my doctor doesn’t know I quit..
    Thanks again Zoe.. Finally someone who is compassionate about this situation.. I was trying to figure out how the US’s recession cleared up so quickly.. it was the billions of dollars in statins that paid the bills!!

    • Hi Lilly
      So good to hear that you can laugh about this! I’d be mad as a bag of frogs!

      You’ve landed on my main post about cholesterol/statins so hopefully you’ve found some interesting stuff – especially the “normal has been redefined” first link.

      I can’t remember if this is referenced anywhere – this is how those oatmeal/plant sterol kind of things ‘work’
      I personally quite like porridge (as we call it!) but I don’t like knowing what it’s doing to my own cholesterol!

      Don’t forget you’re in the heart of winter too – when cholesterol is highest naturally (funny that they do tests at this time of year!) I wouldn’t go until I’d been sunbathing a while. In fact – I wouldn’t go near anyone who wanted to cholesterol test me…

      Good luck!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Zoe, Im so pleased that you’ve exposed this bad science and hopefuly medics & healthy people will take note, I unfortunately took the wrong advice in the eary eighties thinking that I would live long and healthy but now I have Diabetes, Angina, & CVD. I avoided saturated fat & cholesterol and increased carbohydrates as I was advised, I’m 67 years old with a pension from an “anuity” makes you wonder if someone else has a financial interest in this bad science, George.
    P.S. I’ve stopped taking the statins and my GP did’nt comment.

  • Hi Zoe,

    A friend advised me to read some articles on you website regarding cholesterol and statins. I am quite shocked that we have been duped and that statins are in fact detrimental rather than beneficial. My question is that if cholesterol is good why has it been linked with the clogging of the arteries and heart disease?



    • Hi Richard – because cholesterol is found at the scene of the crime. When the endothelial wall is damaged (lining of the artery) – by smoking/stress/pollutants whatever – not fat! – lipoproteins (LDL) travelling around the blood stream stop at the scene of the damage to repair things. LDL carries cholesterol, protein, triglyceride and phospholipids – all needed for repair. The person dies from the damage, the autopsy is held and cholesterol is in the plaques.

      View cholesterol as the fire fighters who arrive at the scene of the fire – they’re always there, those pesky fire fighters – but they didn’t start the fire!

      Hope this helps
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Zoe, I am a cholesterol sceptic but a question on the effects of cholesterol in foods. Chris Masterjohn reckons that for around 80% of people dietary cholesterol has no impact on blood cholesterol. I am wondering whether he might be correct. Spending a week on eggs for breakfast and lambs liver for dinner twice saw my LDL go from 3.0 to 4.0, the highest it has ever been. What is your take on Masterjohns theory. I must retry this rather simple home experiment to see if I fluked it or not.

    • Hi there
      This is the seminal paper on dietary cholesterol having no impact on blood cholesterol – by the man who started the whole hypothesis!

      Don’t even bother with n=1 experiments. Not many people know how inaccurate the test is ( try 19%! There are so many things (food in previous 24 hours, time of day, time of year, standing up, stress, running late….) that would impact a chol test and then the whole darn thing is a 19% guestimate anyway!

      I have heard the argument that – if you eat more dietary cholesterol, the body needs to make less, but it still aims for the same amount. Never bothered with any of this personally. I just trust nature to provide food and don’t think she’s out to get me and I trust my body to make what it needs – I don’t think that is out to get me either. Simple person at the end of the day!

      Best wishes – zoe

  • Apologies for being so direct, but a lot of nonsense here.

    We are born with a cholesterol level of 100 mg/dl. Cholesterol is of course essential to human life, but we make all we need. People talk about normal levels in the US population being 200. That is true in a statistical sense, but the problem with that analysis is the normal (or average) person in the US dies of heart disease. In other words, heart disease is the leading cause of death. The statistical evidence is that up to 150, there is no increased risk of dying from heart disease. As the level rises, the risk rises.

    What is illuminating is to look at populations where heart disease is essentially nonexistent. Guess what, they don’t eat grass-fed beef, or free-range chickens, or extra creamy butter from happy cows. They eat plant-based diets with little or no animal protein. No dairy foods and no oils.

    It is of course very difficult to run controlled experiments on human diet for very long. But during the second world war basically that was done. Diets were forcibly changed by the occupying Germans. They confiscated the meat, dairy, cheese, and other rich foods. What happened during these times of incredible stress? Heart attacks plummeted. What happened after the war ended and diets returned to normal? Deaths from heart disease went right back up to the old levels.

  • My mother has really high cholesterol in the 300 levels. She did have heart disease. So the doctors told me I need to check mine. Well I also have high cholesterol They have been telling me I am going to die of heart attack for years now. When I was 40 they cajoled me into taking statins. My cholesterol was around 280, LDL was like 200. Well the STATINS caused me to develop prediabetes and muscle pain and oh so many terrible side effects. The doctors just said, oh we will give you another pill for that and now they want to do heart scans. I quit the statins and am now terrified of doctors. I don’t want to go over there EVER. I am supposed to have a blood test, but I won’t go. I can’t even stand looking at the office building anymore.

  • Hi. Could someone please comment on how the menopause affects Cholesterol levels. I am a 57 year old Female with my last Period November 2014. My latest Cholesterol Test results: Total Serum 8.3, HDL 3.06, LDL 4.7, Trigs, 1.1 and Total/HDL ratio 2.71. FSH blood test was 93.7 and LSH was 43.6. In my head I know that this is all fine, that it is because of my age I get 8.3, nothing to worry about, etc, but I have had to book the obligatory Telephone Consultation with my GP to discuss. I refuse Statins (been there, done that, lost the ability to walk), refuse Ezetrol (been there, done that, no change in results and read horrific stories about Cancer). I eat Low Carb, simple clean eating, lots of green vegetables, meat, fish and eggs and no processed foods or starches. Please, I need something to throw at my GP, preferably not a hardback book but some facts.

    • Hi Jules
      This may help

      Better still – I don’t understand why healthy people are seeing doctors?! My first tip in this blog post is don’t have a cholesterol test! I know you’ve now had one – but I’m shocked by the number of people seeking help to manage aggressive/persuasive doctors. It’s your body – doc needs to respect that!

      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Thanks Zoe for the link. Sadly I started having cholesterol tests many years ago all because my mum had ‘high cholesterol’ and was on Statins. Lack of knowledge back then but now am in the loop of Travel Insurance asking me what my cholesterol levels are and me having to declare the numbers. I truly do wish I had never had that very first test – if I could turn back the clock, if I knew then what I know now etc, etc.

      • My understanding is that doctors are paid (bribed) to drag in well people for tests, and paid again for eg. getting a sufficient proportion of their patients onto statins etc. Then of course once you’re on regular medication you are dragged in to see the nurse every six months to be talked down to.
        Less than a decade ago we could get to see a doctor within a few days. Recently I needed to see one for a valid reason: the only appointment available with “my” GP was a cancellation the following morning. There were no other appontments available within the month and “the computer” will not permit appointments to be made more than a month ahead. So all other actually ill people were SOL, unless they could be fobbed off on a nurse. A three week wait for a doctor is pretty routine, you have to decide in advance when to be ill.
        Many doctors do not agree with this but their hands are tied. On the other hand patients have been dropped from their lists for not attending “well person” screenings. Little wonder the NHS is hemmorhaging money while letting down their patients.

  • In my long-running tug-of-war with my statin-prescribing cardiologist, I have now cut down my Atorvastatin from 40 to 10 mg (although I tell him I take 20mg to keep him happy). After a short spike to 9.3 it is now down precisely where we started, at 6.2-6.5, which nicely proves that the body produces the cholesterol it needs. He still thinks this is way too high, and has given me Ezetrol 10mg, which shall make the Atorvastatin more effective. Any opinions on this combination?

    • Hi Henrik
      Nothing that’s polite! Watch the video link at the end of the article (I just added it this am) to get half an hour of genius on this whole topic. The body is designed to make cholesterol, so leave it alone is my view!

      Find another doctor?!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • I had a heart attack back in 2009 and, of course I was put on a statin, along with many other drugs. After years of horrible side effects my doctor took me off the statin six months ago stating that the side effects outweighed the benefits. One of the horrible side effects of statins, that I’ve never seen mentioned before, is gout. I wouldn’t wish the awful pain that gout brings on my worst enemy. I was getting regular attacks every few weeks. But within a very short time of quitting the statin the gout disappeared completely. The painful, swollen red toe was gone. I suspect it’s because my kidneys are now being allowed to function properly without the interference from statins. I just thought I’d mention it because I’ve not seen it mentioned on the web by anyone else. And perhaps there are people out there who are on a statin who are suffering too, and haven’t made the connection. PS: I follow you on twitter. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Roy – thanks for this and your kind comments. I have a friend in his 50s who suffers terrible gout – I must ask if he’s on statins!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      • My mother lived to be 95 and is one of the only people I know who was never prescribed a statin (she did have a whole bunch of other meds though).
        Towards the end she was getting attacks of gout. I was pointed to this
        apparently dalmations have a genetic defect in metabolising purines.
        However her attacks seemed to be caused by fruit, especially rhubarb – I’ve seen some research connecting gout with fructose intake – if it’s not the statins to blame then excess fructose may be worth avoiding as a trial, the purine intake is not the only factor in producing high uric acid levels.
        If I remember correctly switching her from lasix to bumetanide helped eliminate the attacks, polypharmacy has many downsides.

        • Many thanks for this Chris – got 2 suggestions for my friend! :-)

          • Yes the classic explanation for gout is excess dietary purines which must be reduced. But if you’re not eating many of them anyway you have to look further down the metabolic pathway. It may be yet another manifestation of “metabolic syndrome” ie. insulin resistance that increases blood uric acid levels. I’m not sure if the oxalic acid in the rhubarb was a factor, or the sugar she heaped on top of it was to blame, but the frusemide certainly was, fortunately the GP had read the small print!
            When I saw her poor foot all blown up with crystals erupting through the skin I realised I’d had attacks of gout in the past (once in my twenties) but only affecting one joint of one thumb, it’s excruciatingly painful and not “a trivial skin infection” as I was diagnosed with. I was either vegetarian or eating a low fat diet when I got mine – dietary purines were not a factor any more than they were for my mother. Since going low carb/paleo this is yet another condition that has never recurred and I can eat high purine foods with impunity.

    • Shame our prefrontal cortex is so tone deaf to our bodies and subconscious minds. We would be so much better off as a species if we were aware, in a conscious sense, what was really going on with us instead of suffering and wondering why or just accepting it as it is, not even paying attention to what our deepest thoughts are trying to warn us of.

  • On June 28, 2015 my blood work came back as follows:

    Cholesterol 235
    Triglycerides = 265
    HDL CHOLEST = 38

    My doctor wants me to take statins and I keep refusing. I just can’t bring myself to take the statin medication. However the above results indicates that I am a good candidate for a stroke or heart attack. Of course I don’t want to have a stroke or heart attack and I still refuse to take the statin. Am I really that bad??

    Thank you for your time.

    • Hi Ann
      So your cholesterol is below the true norm and your doc wants to medicate you!? This statin scandal will one day go down in history as the greatest medical crime against human beings. In my opinion you are sensible and well read, not bad! But as the post says – I’m the wrong person to ask about statins – one will never pass my lips. I’ve read way too much about the value of cholesterol and the horror of statins for that to happen. Hopefully you can find a more informed doc!

      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Hi Zoe,
        Thank you so much for the prompt reply. Thank you for caring about people and thank you for the time and effort you put into this wonderful website and keeping us informed and up to date with mega references. :)

  • Hi,

    I’m 56, female, and just got my cholesterol levels.

    356 total, HDL 69, LDL 258, Triglicerides 142.

    For the past year, I’ve been eating very little sugar and grains, grass-fed meat, butter, veggies, nuts and berries, raw milk etc.

    Instead of going down, my numbers have gone up. Especially the LDL and Triglycerides.

    I’ve been under quite a bit of stress, and have trouble with inflammation on my achilles tendons, which also means I’ve been walking less.

    I’m also very allergic this year.

    My blood pressure is between 110/70 – 135/80.

    Height is 5’6″, weight 145lbs.

    I’m scared!

    There is no history of heart disease in my family, and apart from migraines since early childhood (inherited from my mother), I have no big health issues.

    Thanks in advance!

    • >>For the past year, I’ve been eating very little sugar and grains, grass-fed meat, butter, veggies, nuts and berries, raw milk etc.<<

      Meant to say that I'm eating what is listed after sugar and grains, which I'm avoiding. No smoking, no alcohol,
      drinking water, herb teas and two homemade lattes a day.

    • Hi Susanne
      This is a classic example of why the world would be a better place if no one knew what their cholesterol level was.

      Your weight and BP are normal. Your cholesterol is at the high end of the normal curve (as one of the links from this post explains). My thoughts? 1) how much have you been sunbathing? not enough? your body makes cholesterol for so many reasons – one of which is because cholesterol is turned into vital vit D with sunshine 2) you’ve identified why your body needs to make extra cholesterol at the moment – stress/inflammation in Achilles.

      “I’m scared” is just adding to stress and will only make things worse – that’s one of the many reasons why the global obsession with cholesterol is so harmful.

      If you can trust your body to make what it needs to make hopefully the fear will subside, the sun will play its part, your tendons will hopefully heal in time… The most helpful thing you can do is to try to manage the life stress you mentioned (always easier said than done) but stress can actually do harm – cholesterol helps that harm

      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Thanks, Zoe!

        I usually avoid the sun, because I’ve been told to be careful with my skin (many moles, all benign, so far).
        What would be the safest way to get enough sun for vit D, without the risk?
        From what I’ve read, you should “not” avoid the midday sun, and not use a sunscreen (use coconut oil?), and avoid getting sunburn, but not getting tanned?

        Thanks very much for your advice!

        • Hi Susanne
          I actively try to get time in the sun! I don’t see the sun as risky – it’s been there for 5 billion years, we’ve lived happily with it for c. 3.5 million – I figure (like the food provided by the planet) it’s not ‘out to get me’!

          I seek or avoid the midday sun depending on where I am and the time of year. If the sun shines in Wales in February, I find a sheltered spot and expose arms and legs as the temperature allows. If it’s 18’c in spring I’ll try to sunbathe at midday. If it’s 30-35’c, as we had in Wales recently this July, I’ll get some rays before 11am – just because it’s too hot afterwards. On summer hols (usually the Med in August) I’m also usually inside or in the shade between 11am and 3pm – it’s just too hot. The guide to avoid sunburn but get some colour sounds perfect to me. You skin tells you when you’ve had enough. If in doubt, come in earlier rather than later. You can always get more another time.

          I never wear sun cream. Unless you know what all of these are ( and know that they are all safe, you may like to do the same!

          Best wishes – Zoe

          • Blowing holes in the ozone layer was not too helpful! I’m told that skin cancer is far more common in Australia and elsewhere in the southern hemisphere for that very reason – but I’ve also heard that they often occur on non-sun-exposed skin areas, make of that what you will.
            All the while I ate a low fat diet I would burn rather than tan, yet another thing that has been reversed by low carb/paleo. Whether or not statins were implicated I’m less certain. There’s some evidence that constant exposure is far less harmful than massive acute exposure as on a Mediterranean holiday.

  • Suicide and violent behavior are other less reported side effects from these drugs. Imagine. They get us on cholesterol lowering drugs, then more and people at younger and younger ages report violent behaviors or suicide/self abuse, more drug companies can “diagnose” them as “depressed” or having an “anger” issue and put them on on more antidepressant/antianxiety drugs!! What the f**k?!?

    We already have too many people and children being over and misdiagnosed as having mental “disorders” they don’t even have, that are not even mental disorders (check out “above average creativity syndrome” and “oppositional defiant disorder’…) so if someone reasonably questions or rebels against authority or a hostile ruler they are “disorderly”? Holy crap!

    Is this what they are thinking? I’m betting so someday…seems like just existing is enough to have any disorder. Oh yeah, but the pharmaceutical companies? Yeah, the people making the drugs are ALL just perfectly fine. No disorders whatsoever, even though they may have some touch of megalomania, err but that’s just a scheme developed by “those people”.

    LOL seriously. The people working in and for drug companies are the ones that a screw loose for screwing us over as long as they have, and as long as they will continue to aim for.

  • Hi I am 55 and female. On bp med but would like to get off these. Have you any recommendations eg supplements I could take. Have ordered your diet book. Have high cholesterol of 7.4 but am resisting statins. Thanks

    • Hi Carol – do you really have high BP given that the norm is about 140/90? Check this out

      The best way to drop BP naturally is to reduce weight and carb intake – you can drop 5 lb almost overnight by reducing carbs and glycogen stores because 4 parts of water are held for every 1 part of glycogen. You’ve ordered the right book – thank you!

      7.4 is not high either – especially for this time of year – as the post you commented on explains.
      Best wishes – Zoe

    • Hi Carol, My partner had high BP often 165/90. We seem to have got it down to 125/80 fairly consistently. The approach that worked for her was that first of all she is on the new way of eating we have adopted which is low or lower carb’, no processed food and probably more plant based but not total veggie. She has lost a little weight as a result and is a good healthy weight (she is 61 years). The more likely reason however is that she is increased her exercise simply by ensuring that she does 10 thousand steps per day minimum. The other thing which I think could be helping is that she take two supp’s per day. The first is aged Kyolic garlic. There was a recent study that showed that this can reverse plaque build up, link kere

      The other supp’ is a combined Vit B12 B6 B3 and Folate but make sure its the Mythocobalamin variety

      Good luck, hope this helps

  • Hi Zoe,

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I will read the information this afternoon. Ive also printed out your thesis on If which is something I have been doing. My original email address is incorrect so I have changed it. Please let know you get it okay.

    Thanks a million.

  • Came across your page after receiving my blood results this week. Potassium 3.1, low I know but I have had Hypokalaemia for nearly 15 years and despite years of test they cannot find the problem, I take Sando K to compensate. I am a carrier of Haemachromatosis and now have been told my Cholesterol level is at 7. I have been dieting for 6 months with miminimal weight loss despite having no more than 1500 cals a day. I am trying to cover all bases as well as manage stress levels (work and son joining the military this year) keep potassium up, lose weight and cope with the menopause. I am now a non smoker (2 years) hardly have alcohol, female and early 50’s. Please tell me where I am going wrong as I dont want to be on statins.

    • Hi Helen
      I’m sorry to hear you’ve got so many things worrying you. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t comment on your medical conditions. I can share that a cholesterol level of 7 is entirely normal – this may help ( Especially if taken recently, as cholesterol is highest at the end of the winter – it will drop naturally with sun exposure, as it makes vital vit D.

      The weight thing I can also help with – I’ll email you separately to find out where to send a book called “Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight”. It explains why calorie counting doesn’t work and what does instead.

      Best wishes – Zoe

    • Actully according to Julia ROss we need 2,100 calories a day. The more calories you take in, the more you’ll burn. At 1500 you’re behind.

  • Having stopped taking Statins for all the known reasons, with ALS symptoms increasing, I have been told to take Ezetimibe (Ezetrol). Instead of blocking cholesterol and many other vital things from the liver it absorbs cholesterol in the intestine. I now read this:

    Yet again I face the decision shall I die of stroke or heart attack or from the effects of medication.

    • Hi Michael
      I don’t think your decision is as stark as that – and given that stress plays a significant part in heart disease, feeling stressed by this will do more harm than good.

      This may be further helpful reading (
      Unless you’ve already had a heart attack, you’re not in for any ‘benefit’ from cholesterol-lowering drugs. If you have had a heart attack, you’re in the lottery for a surprisingly small and little known chance of benefit and that won’t be because of cholesterol reduction. The intelligent analysis is that any ‘benefit’ of statins would be from known anti-inflammatory effects. So manage inflammation (avoid smoking, vegetable oils, sugar etc) and don’t take the drugs or get the side effects. A pretty easy and non-stressful decision in my view.

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • I was able to significantly lower my cholesterol through wax matrix niacin. Just contact me if you to want to see the article I wrote about it.

  • Hi Zoe
    I’ve come across your site while stressing out due to my cholesterol test results. A couple of years ago in September 2013, I was talked into having my blood tested by a GP, which included a cholesterol test, among other things. My LDL was slightly high at 3.6 (I’m in Australia). Total cholesterol was 5.4, which was “ok”. However,last week, I again had my cholesterol tested, because my husband and I are updating our life insurance and the insurance company wanted my cholesterol levels tested because of the slightly high LDL reading of my previous test (how I wish I had not let that dr talk me into having it the first time!). This time my LDL has gone up to 4.7, total cholesterol 6.5, so now I’ve been called back in to visit a dr and probably be pressured into taking statins. I’ve read a bit on your blog and I understand the dodgy way LDL is “calculated”, and that it is not the demon it’s made out to be, but the problem is, the insurance company will go by the official recommended levels and will most likely hike up my premiums because I’m now officially “very likely to die of heart disease” (I’m 40 years old, by the way). I’m worried they might also pressure me into taking statins to “control” the problem, otherwise they won’t insure me? Or hike up the premiums even more…or refuse to pay if a claim needed to be made? :( the thing that I really don’t understand though, is why my LDL has increased by so much, because in the time between the two tests, I started an “exercise” routine by a bio mechanist named Katy Bowman that has already helped me to become so much fitter, healthier and stronger and got me outside way more than I used to (my Vit D reading from the 2013 test was 58, which was too low – I was told it should be 74, this test it came back at 82). A very important part of what Katy teaches is that walking is not optional for proper functioning of the human body, so I have been doing heaps of that, outside on my farm in the fresh air. I also do the restorative alignment exercises that are designed to restore muscle length to shortened muscles due to years of sitting in chairs and wearing heeled shoes. ( I’m not trying to plug her ideas here, just trying to show that it is not “exercise” in the traditional sense of the word, as I read your section that says that exercise is not necessarily good – Katy would definitely agree with you – I won’t link to her site because again, I’m not trying to promote her, but I bring this up because I’m puzzled as to why my LDL would be raised when I’m doing stuff like this :( I’m also normal weight – have always been slim, non smoker, eat a balanced diet. I hope I’ve covered everything here because I’d really love your help with this situation Zoe. What do you think could have raised my LDL so much, and what could I do to lower it if I can talk the insurance company into letting me test again? I have to note here that I did not fast before either of the tests – could that have been a factor in the high reading? Again, I do understand your view that a high LDL reading is not necessarily bad, but my problem is that the insurance co thinks so :( Could stress have caused the high reading (my hubbie and I are under considerable financial stress at present)? Sorry for writing a novel! I’m just really worried and hope you can help me!!

    • Hi Mandy
      Don’t worry about mentioning the exercise stuff at all. I often get misunderstood on this subject, which baffles me because I’m very consistent with my views – natural activity is great – it will likely help with everything from mood to muscles to heart disease. Move for any reason other than to lose weight! I’m not a huge fan of iron man stuff and running miles on roads – it keeps hip and knee surgeons happy. What you’re doing sounds great.

      Anyway – the real issue – I would be demanding evidence from my GP/insurance company that a 40 year old female with no previous heart disease can gain any benefit whatsoever from statins and demand that they tell you the possible harm. Check a patient leaflet ( for common side effects. The above blog links to this post ( but really make sure you read it to know what these drugs actually do.

      Can stress cause cholesterol to rise? Absolutely. It’s one of the most well known associations. Your cholesterol is far from high, by the way, as this will prove ( The UK works in the same units as Australia. Running late for the appointment can affect the test; exposure to sun in recent days and weeks affects it; when you last ate affects it (you asked about not fasting – this does impact the reading); sitting down/standing up – there are so many things that affect it. No surprise therefore that it is known to be inaccurate by 19% ( Although I’ve yet to meet a doc who prescribes statins who knows this. The ones who don’t prescribe statins do, funny that!

      What can you do? Get as much sun as you can before the next test (cholesterol turns into vit D – which is one of the many reasons we make cholesterol). Minimise carb intake – especially in the days before and fast on the morning. Don’t be stressed (that’s not something you can manage easily), but try meditation? It will be out by up to 19% anyway – you have to hope it’s in your favour this time.

      If not? I can’t advise anyone about what to do. I can only say what I would do. 1) I would not have a cholesterol test but you’ve already done that 2) if prescribed statins I wouldn’t take them. I’ve heard of other people use a term called “devious compliance” when under pressure from the medical profession (which should be a crime in itself). They cash the prescription but don’t take them.

      Whatever you decide to do, the stress that you have been put under is making your health far worse than having an entirely normal cholesterol reading. This is unforgivable in my view.

      Good luck with the stress that is important and the cholesterol that isn’t
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • The reading list you give at the end of this article is terrificl but you left out “How Statin Drugs Really Lower Cholesterol And Kill You One Cell At A Time” by Hannah and James Yoseph, a book that you yourself reviewed on this blog and called remarkable

    . Zoe does a remarkable job in summarizing the content of this book. I suggest that anyone who wants to know how statin drugs work, what makes them deadly, how they effect each and every cell, how they came to market, and how this giant scam came to be check out this post. The Yoseph’s prove that statin drugs, by virtue of the damage they do on a cellular level are poison, pure and simple. Zoe does a masterful job of condensing this material and summing it all up. Check it out on this blog.

    Thank you Zoe for sharing your wisdom

  • Hi Zoe,

    I’m a big fan and have achieved a much better lifestyle following your book. I’m 5’8 47 years and have lost 10lb in total 7 Lb on phase 1. But I have now plateaued and can’t lower from 10’3. I do a reasonable amount of exercise, daily walking, cardio and weights work and definitely see a difference in my body shape but can’t seem to shift this typical female body fat around the stomach and hips. Any further tips to get me a further half stone body fat loss that I want?

    • Hi Julie
      Hubby dropped you an email to set you up in the club for a couple of weeks to be able to view a couple of articles that would really help: 10 things to work through if you’ve not lost for some time and an article about abdominal fat. The more obvious point is that you’re almost certainly at natural weight! 5’8″ and 143lb is a BMI of 21.7. Losing even half a stone puts you in the 20 something BMI. It may be what you want, but it may not be sustainable. The posts would give you things to think about nonetheless.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • I’m a newcomer to your site Zoe, and would like to compliment you on your work. I would say that all of what I’ve read here is relevant to myself and my wife. Whilst I’ve always been a sceptic, I have been nonetehless, amazed by some of your findings.

    apart from the thank you for a great site, I do have a question. I’ve just read your article “Weight gain is about fat stored”. An excellent explanation of what goes on in our bodies. My question relates to the triglycerides that get stored as fat in our cells, and the fact that they can’t get out again until they are broken back down into glycerol and fatty acids. So how does one approach that objective? Certainly understand the role of carbs = glucose = glycerol in a preventative vein, but how does one reverse what has already happened.

    No doubt I’m being as thick as my 68 years, but anything I can do to assist with my wife’s various problems, weight, diabetes II et al is where I’m aiming. Actually an article on triglycerides would be great reading. Just what do the numbers mean on a pathology report? Because after looking at the so called formula used to obtain some of these numbers, circular references, I’m at a bit of a loss to understand their significance.

    Enough of my rantings Zoe, let me start and I never stop. Again, thanks for a great read, look forward to perhaps hearing from you.

    • Hi Bill
      Many thanks for your kind words. You’re not being thick at all – 99.9% of diet advisors haven’t worked the reverse pathway out. They think that if you just eat fewer calories, the body will lose body fat. If only!

      The reverse pathway is all about carbohydrate. In the absence of carbohydrate, the body will call upon a hormone called glucagon to break down body fat to release the glycerol backbone. If the body has glucose available in the blood stream and/or stored as glycogen, the body has no need to burn fat. Certain states of exercise (VO2 max kind of stuff) aside, I cannot conceive of the circumstances in which the body would burn body fat if glucose is available. So we then advise humans to have 55% of their diet in the form of carbohydrate – this is what happens:

      The terminology in this area is really unhelpful because we call body fat triglyceride and we also call one of the blood measurements triglyceride and we also call the blood triglyceride measure VLDL! Just don’t measure any of this stuff and then we’ll all be fine :-)

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Zoe,

    It was interesting that you mentioned the cholesterol/vitamin D/winter connection; I was never aware of this before- (and I thought I knew everything there was to know about cholesterol!) It does seem logical, though.

    I have also wondered if it’s natural and normal for cholesterol to go up when a woman goes through menopause; based on what I’ve read, it would appear that this is so. Do you know anything about this?

    • Hi Lisa – yes is the short answer! Google “cholesterol and menopause pubmed” and 228,000 results come up – some interesting articles on the first page. Cholesterol also rises with age (and menopause is strongly related to a particular age – c. 50s) – probably because we have more repair needs. So we then stop the repair kit! Don’t get me started… :-)
      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Thanks for the tip; I just had a look at some of the Pub med stuff. It does seem to be the case that cholesterol rises with menopause- (and it rises suddenly with medical menopause)- but nobody seems to know why. I wonder if it’s because cholesterol is necessary for the making of sex hormones, and menopause is obviously a big hormonal change; in any case, it appears to be a natural and normal change that has a purpose, so obviously shouldn’t be messed with! I also read a few mainstream articles, which of course attributed the rise in heart disease in women during menopause to raised LDL, LOL! Of course, I think blood sugar level also rises at this time when women eat a high carbohydrate “conventional” diet, so as far as I’m concerned, that might be more of a cause for concern.

        Apropos raised blood sugar levels as a possible side effect of statins; apparently, I’ve read that women are even more likely to get diabetes from using statins than men are- (I believe it was close to a 50% chance, if I’m remembering it correctly). And as we know, diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease! What kind of “disconnect” is that? I’m constantly amazed at the blindly narrow minded look at only raised LDL, where nothing else seems to matter.

        • Another plausible theory is blood levels of Iron. The protective aspect of pre menopausal women is that they menstruate and as a consequence this blood loss means their iron levels do not get excessive. Men do not have this protection and it could well be why women become more prone to heart disease after menopause. One possible solution is to be a regular blood donor.

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  • I appreciate your ongoing assessments here.
    It was an article on cholesterol by Barry Groves that came through an American newsletter in around 2006 that helped me immensely. My cholesterol has always been somewhat “high” but in an email exchange with Barry he pointed out a couple of things:

    Did you run to the test or walk?
    Were you standing before the test or seated and relaxed?
    Were you stressed that day?

    Even these small things can impact the outcome of the cholesterol test he told me.

    Of course paradoxically, after reading the article I upped my eggs, fat and butter intake to what they had been years before …..and the cholesterol number subsequently declined. It was the threat of statins at the ripe old age of 19 by my then doctor that had me adjust my diet to lower fat years before.

    Live and Learn.


    • Barry was a legend – I was very sad to speak at his funeral :-( – and they were great questions and there are more – when did you last eat before the test? What did you eat? What time of year was it? What was the weather like?! If it weren’t so harmful it would be funny.
      19 eh?! They get worse!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Yes 19. That was back in the late 80s. After seeing Barry’s article I asked my current doctor why the cholesterol protocols seem to change every time I get tested.

        His answer was informative.

        He said that in the beginning the drug companies had control of the testing which was subsequently determined to be unethical. Surprise surprise. I suspect that was around the time of being threatened with statins by my previous doctor.

        I was sad to hear of Barrys passing. He had an enormously positive impact on my life that has continued to this day.


  • One thing I thought you might have included (if just for fun) is a mention of Sir Rory’s apparent U-turn (or is it a PCSK9 turn) on side effects as reported in e.g. The Express of 15 Feb under the headline Statins expert calls for safety checks over the drug.

    • Ha ha – I think PCSK9 turn is bang on – this is the perfect red carpet intro for the son of statins – even more lucrative than before…

    • Hi Nate
      Without looking at the original study, I have two first thoughts:
      1) I do believe Natasha Campbell McBride’s view that the gut is the second brain of the body. Check out the work of Dr Fasano if you’re interested ( and ( being good starters. Lustig’s obesity work also features the gut and hormone feedback loops very nicely.

      2) I don’t believe that obesity is about hunger and therefore I don’t buy that suppressing ‘hunger pangs’ (by any method) will solve obesity. I think that obesity is about appalling dietary advice, an obscene and unprecedented intake of carbohydrate, addiction – to carbohydrate…

      I do think that what we’re eating is having a detrimental effect on our gut flora – so change what we’re eating before engineering bacteria for goodness sake!?

      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Thanks for the reply. I especially liked number 1. I’m not surprised that so many are studying this whole gut/brain/microbiology/hormone system, but it is great to have sources to read about it.

        I must admit that I’m enjoying this whole transformation of nutritional science. I know that many people have been damaged by the old faulty science (me included), even so it is exciting to watch the battles, the wins, the losses and hopefully the truth succeed.

        Yeah as far as number 2 goes, it reminded me of Pollan’s The Botany of Desire where he looked at the world from the point of view of sugar producing plants. The plants used chemical warfare and co-evolution to gain control of millions of acres. One of their main weapons was sugar addiction. Thus, they secretly gained control of many scientists, politicians, industrialists, etc. I know I still occasionally fall victim. So, be careful out there!

      • Y’know what suppresses hunger pangs? A nice fatty steak covered in garlic butter.

        • Ha ha – very good. And my mum used to say – if you’re hungry, have bread, which made me more hungry – for bread!

      • Suppressing hunger pangs will lead to more obesity. The body will store it because when your blood sugar drops it stores in in case we don’t eat like we should.

    • I stand willing to be corrected on my all-too-brief reading of the article, but I think it basically supports the idea that fat consumption suppresses appetite (i.e. keeps appetite under control). Quick thoughts:

      1) The NAPE hormone seems to have two effects – one is a direct action on the hypothalamus, and the other is conversion to various fatty acids. Both actions suppress hunger, either through hormonal control or through satiety. (I’m not fully savvy here, so it’s a “seems to be” point. Take with salt.)

      2) The article notes that the NAPEs increase in concentration in the colon only, but not the rest of the GI tract. I *suspect* that the small intestine is doing its thing and sending excess into the bloodstream, where it goes to the hypothalamus. (Again, suspicion here.)

      3) The thing I’m more confident of: the bacteria are producing a response similar to that of a high-fat diet. The rats feel fuller as a result, don’t feel compelled to overeat, and (I assume) the usual mechanisms of fat storage don’t get driven as hard.

      4) Finally, Table 1 is a *classic* portrait of how LCHF diets are purported to work: lower insulin, lower leptins, lower glucose, better glucose response, reduced appetite (more accurately in this case: reduced free-will caloric intake), and reduced triglycerides.

      The article is worth a read-through, though. They go into great detail on methods (basically dumping their lab notebooks into the report).

      And sorry for such a long response. I know walls-of-text are unpleasant, but I wanted to put enough for somebody else to correct me.

      • Hi David – long response much appreciated! I can’t read all of them – fab to have a fellow dissector :-)
        Many thanks – Zoe

        • Always happy to learn something new. :-)

          I should have specified that Table 1 referred to fasting levels, so leptin and insulin were one-half to one-third the fasting levels of the control and other regimes, thereby giving them more headroom to operate (i.e. more sensitivity). That’s why lower leptin was better.

          On re-skimming, I realized that I also take issue with their conclusion that the effect lasted for four weeks after stopping treatment. Their own data (Figure 2) show that all mice gained weight at the same pace after treatment stopped. The treated mice simply had a lower starting point. Their food intake was marginally lower, but it seems well accounted-for by the fact that they weighed less and didn’t need as much to eat. But everything points to convergence over time, starting about a week or so after treatment ends.

  • For the past couple of years my cholesterol has been between about 9 – 10. My trigs have been well below one. My cholesterol ratios are allegedly very good as well. I eat LCHF. I also compete (and win) at national level at what is a very intense sport.

    Am I remotely concerned at my cholesterol levels? No. Oddly enough, neither is my GP. I don’t think doctors’ are becoming super enlightened regarding big pharma / cholesterol / food pyramid etc (yet) but our family GP is! Hopefully more will follow.

    I applaud your blog Zoe!

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