We have got cholesterol completely wrong

Here are six things that we need to know about cholesterol:

i)    It is virtually impossible to explain how vital cholesterol is to the human body. If you had no cholesterol in your body you would be dead. No cells, no bone structure, no muscles, no hormones, no sex, no reproductive system, no digestion, no brain function, no memory, no nerve endings, no movement, no human life – nothing without cholesterol. It is utterly vital and we die instantly without it.

ii)    Cholesterol is so vital to the body that our bodies make it. The body cannot risk leaving it to chance that we would get it externally from food or some other external factor – that’s how critical it is.

iii) There is no such thing as good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Cholesterol is cholesterol. The chemical formula for cholesterol is C27H46O. There is no good version or bad version of this formula.HDL is not even cholesterol, let alone good. LDL is not even cholesterol, let alone bad. HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein. (There are three other lipoproteins, by the way, chylomicrons, VLDL and IDL).

Fat and cholesterol are not water soluble so they need to be carried around the body in something to do their vital work. The carriers of such substances are called lipoproteins. We can think of lipoproteins as tiny ‘taxi cabs’ travelling round the blood stream acting as transporters. So, lipoproteins are carriers of cholesterol – oh – and triglyceride and phospholipids and protein. All lipoproteins carry all of these substances – just in different proportions. LDL would more accurately be called the carrier of fresh cholesterol and HDL would more accurately be called the carrier of recycled cholesterol.

iv)    The standard blood cholesterol test does not measure LDL  – it estimates it. The fasting blood cholesterol test can only measure total cholesterol and HDL. There are two other unknowns in a four variable equation – LDL and VLDL. The estimation is refined further using the Friedewald equation (named after William Friedewald, who developed it).

Total cholesterol = LDL + HDL + Triglycerides/5 (Ref 1) (More detail here.)

As any mathematician will tell you, one equation, with four variables, only two of which can be measured, is a fat lot of good. We need at least one more equation or known variable, to avoid circular references. This also means that:
–    All other things being equal, LDL will rise if a) total cholesterol rises and/or b) if HDL falls and/or if c) triglycerides fall.
–    All other things being equal, LDL will fall if a) total cholesterol falls and/or b) if HDL rises and/or if c) triglycerides rise.

No wonder an inverse association is observed between LDL and HDL – it is by definition. More surprising is that a fall in triglycerides, which would be welcomed by doctors, would be accompanied by an automatic increase in LDL, all other things being equal, which would not be welcomed by doctors. And you thought that this was scientific.

v)    Statins stop the body from producing the cholesterol that it is designed to produce. They literally stop one of our fundamental body processes from being able to function. The intelligent view on statins is that in the very limited arena where they appear to have some ‘benefit’ (men over 50 who have already had a heart attack), they ‘work’ by having anti-inflammatory properties and that the fact that they lower cholesterol (by stopping the body from being able to produce this vital substance) is a very unfortunate side effect. (Drug companies should work on developing something that has the anti-inflammatory benefit without this huge and damaging side effect – it’s called aspirin).

One in 500 people have familial hypercholesterolemia and may have a problem clearing cholesterol in their body (rather like type 1 diabetics who can’t return their blood glucose levels to normal). For anyone else to be actively trying to lower their vital and life affirming cholesterol levels is deeply troubling.

vi)    “Cholesterol in food has no impact on cholesterol in the blood and we’ve known that all along.” Ancel Keys.

Ancel Keys, the same man who did the brilliant Minnesota starvation experiment, spent the 1950’s trying to show that cholesterol in food was associated with cholesterol in the blood. He concluded unequivocally that there was not even an association, let alone a causation. He never deviated from this view.

Cholesterol is only found in animal foods (it is a vital substance for every living creature). Hence the only foods that Keys could add to human diets, to test the impact of cholesterol, were animal foods. Given that he concluded that eating animal foods had no impact on blood cholesterol levels, it follows that animal foods per se have no impact on blood cholesterol levels (not that high cholesterol is a problem but that’s another story).

There is no need, whatsoever, to avoid liver, red meat, other meat, fish, eggs, dairy products etc for any cholesterol that they may contain.

The body makes cholesterol. I worry about a number of things, but I don’t worry that my body is trying to kill me.

UPDATE: Following numerous blog comments from people “worried about cholesterol”, I’ve written this post.


Ref 1: EH Mangiapane, AM Salter, Diet, Lipoproteins and Coronary Heart Disease: A Biochemical Perspective, Nottingham University Press, (1999). (See reference 159 The Obesity Epidemic)

309 thoughts on “We have got cholesterol completely wrong

  • I have been told that I probably have FH, though no genetic testing has been done, nor will be, due to my financials. Assuming I do, and there is a defect in my LDL receptors, is there anyway to increase their capability to absorb cholesterol?

    • Hi Kim
      That’s the right way round to ask the question – much more sensible than “Can I lower my cholesterol?”
      I don’t know of a way to impact LDL receptor activity with FH – that’s not saying there isn’t a way – it’s just not something I’ve looked into.
      You may find this interesting
      Best wishes – Zoe

    • Hi, my toatk cholesterol is 6.4
      HDL IS 1.4 LDL IS 4. 6
      Tri is 1.60

      Is this bad

    • Thank you for the article. I have never accepted the view of main stream medicine because simply it is not medicine. I was fortunate to spend time with the Eskimo and
      observe their diet of saturated fat which is very by our standards….. nobody seems to die of heart disease.

  • Zoe – this article is very interesting and informative.
    However, do you have any resources to back up the information that you presented?
    I’m not saying that I believe you are wrong or that you are right.
    I’m just wondering what you are basing your opinions and information on.

  • You want to know how blocked your arteries are. Please listen to Nathan Pritikin Lectures.
    You need to know your Age, Total Cholesterol and Triglycerides.. It’s a double blinded study where 59 of 60 predictions matched accurately. If you input the values of Bypass heart patients you usually get >85% probabilty.. you don’t want your numbers that high! Good Luck

  • Thank you so much for your work and your articles. My doctor wants me to control my cholesterol (that’s not a new story for you!), but I already knew my body produces about 80% of its own. So I did a little math. My LDL is at 191. 20% of that is a little over 38. If I cut my intake by that much I would still be over what the ‘target’ is. Insane! My ‘total’ is 300. She wants it below 200. If I cut out my 20% intake, which I won’t, I still wouldn’t meet that target.

    You have totally relieved my mind and thank you so much.

    I was kicked in the gut by a horse when I was 21. I lost my spleen and half my pancreas. I went hypoglycemic at first (yuck) and when I was in my fifties it flipped into type 2 diabetes, which was not expected (type 1 was expected). My blood sugar is under great control with metformin. But of course there is a watch for all the other problems! So knowing I don’t need to worry about the cholesterol is great. The information about fruit and weight gain was also a giant help, as we grow most of our own veggies and fruits. From now on fruit will only be a light dessert.

    You’ve been such a help, and thank you again.

  • Hello!
    My wife has a total cholesterol of 509.
    All tests seem to indicate that there is no heart disease present.
    We eat a ketogenic diet.

    She has blisters under her eyes indicating high cholesterol.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you

  • Hello,
    So, my cholesterol has always been elevated. Since my teens!! I am 38 years old now. I was always for a long time 5′ 7″ and 111 lbs soaking wet until I had children in my 30s. My father passed from a heart attack (heart disease) at 44 years old, paternal grandfather from a stroke, my mother is now dealing with high cholesterol (although I suspect hers to be more related to diet). So as that magic number of 44 years old approaches, the more concerned I become. My HDL is perfect at 70-72 (always has been). However my LDL is also always elevated at 143 (total cholesterol is 248). I’m quite frustrated as I have tried diet, exercise… and over-the-counter fish oil pills… ugh (fish burps)… but nothing has budged. I’m talking to my doctor right now and have a physical at the end of March. Blood work just came back as this so we are going to start tackling it soon. I’m a mother and scared to death of dying of a heart attack! I went through losing my dad at a young age and don’t want my girls to go through the same thing. Right now, I could do to lose a few pounds, I’m 140 and quite sedentary because of my job. But at this point, even when I was a teen, I was on track team, ran and ran and ran. Even some years ago I would run 1-5 mils a day with a side-by-side stroller with tons of weight on it. So, I could probably whip back into it in no time. I wonder if there is nothing I can do about this other than medication at this point? I would like to add a layer of defense. I pretty much at the point that I know I need to start taking meds as a preventative because of the nonsense diseases that runs in my family.

  • We learnt all this stuff at the Welsh School of Pharmacy some 25 years ago but no one outside the school wanted to hear it. If red meat and animal fats were so bad then how come cows dont go round having heart attacks all the time… afterall, they are covered with animal fat which they digest from time to time when they need energy

  • I have been high cholesterol for 15+ years and have resisted all doctor requests that I do on the pill. On my first visit to my cardiologist, he learned this and said, “I’m going to have to get you on a cholesterol pill”. I told him never have never will. Our relationship hasn’t been great since. On the latest visit when he gave me the results of extensive heart tests, including nuclear, he had a funny look on his face. He thought surely I was going to be the poster child for idiots who don’t take their doc’s advice and take their cholesterol pills like a good patient would. I have zero blockages, zero slowdowns. Everything about my heart is perfect. I’ve asked numerous friends if they or a family member is on the pill and the majority have said yes. Most of those report bad experiences, especially muscle problems. One said she sat beside a chemist on a plane who worked at a large pharmaceutical company. He told her, “this is off the record but never put a cholesterol pill in your mouth. Stay far away from them”. I’ll keep asking around but my unscientific polling confirms that Lipitor and other such junk should be avoided. Do not take unless you want future trouble with no benefits to the body. Don’t do it.

  • Hi Zoe, so are you saying high cholesterol levels is unrelated to arterial plaque and strokes? What do you think about carotid ultrasound to check this?

    • Hi Peter
      I’m saying cholesterol may be a marker, but I don’t think it’s a maker (of damage). Other things damage the endothelial wall (smoking, chemicals, stress, sugar, mutated vegetable oils etc…) and cholesterol is then carried to the scene of the damage (by LDL ‘taxis’) to repair that damage. Ultrasounds will reveal plaque build up. That plaque contains a number of substances, of which cholesterol is one. We then assume cholesterol did the damage. The best analogy I’ve heard is – fire fighters are found at the scene of a fire – they didn’t start the fire!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Zoe,

    I had my lipid panel done and I’m not worried about the total cholesterol but my triglycerides were 599! I’m currently loosing weight, 56 pounds in four and a half months and doing Keto. It’s that really high for triglycerides? I’m taking Krill oil and hoping that brings them down. My Dr kind of freaked out about it and gave me a prescription for meds… any insights?

    • Hi Vikki
      I’m so sorry for the tardy approval – all admin access people have been away for the past few days (conferences!)

      The trig number is surprising, as triglycerides are known to reflect carb intake and you are doing keto?! I’m as baffled as you are!

      You could look into the experiments that engineer Dave Feldman has been doing? He’s commented more on total and LDL cholesterol, but he does also cover trigs – e.g. here http://cholesterolcode.com/dropping-my-cholesterol-at-record-speeds-part-i/

      High trigs can reflect other conditions e.g. hypothyroid – doc should try to understand what your body might be trying to tell you before shutting it up with meds?!

      Hopefully this was just a blip (the chol test is highly inaccurate and variable anyway) and things will settle down. Huge congrats on your weight loss.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Dear Dr. Zoe,

    I am a 56 years old male, who had a heart attack 2 years ago, from which I got an stent in one of my coronary arteries and diagnosed with an 85% blockage in other coronary arteries, and ever since I’ve been taking Clopidogrel to thin my blood and Atorvastatin to lower my cholesterol.

    After reading many research studies and reports complementing your article, I am convinced that statin medication may in fact be causing more damage than good, and consequently I decided to stop taking Atorvastatin completely, specially because of the negative side effects (constant cramping, and chronic muscular neck pain that has persisted for about 8 months), which CoQ10 has not been able to alleviate.

    Even though, I provided my physician with so much material supporting your findings, he still insists that I should continue taking Atorvastatin despite:

    1. I have completely changed my diet to include in my daily meals an abundance of superfoods designed to reduce blood sugar, blood pressure and inflammation:
    – Daily morning smoothie of berries (Akai berries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries), chia seeds , cinnamon and matcha green tea with one egg and ham.
    – Daily morning snack of dark chocolate (90% cacao) and almonds (handful)
    – Daily afternoon snack of walnuts (handful) and sunflower seeds (half handful)
    – Daily grapefruit drink with lunch
    – Cold water fatty fish (Salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna)
    – Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce
    – Broccoli and cauliflower (mashed potato and rice)
    – Sweet potatoes
    – High quality fat (Olive Oil, Coconut oil, grass fed butter, grass fed lard)
    – Daily drink of cacao milkshake (100% cacao powder and 1 cup of whole fat grass fed milk) with hemp seeds, vanilla and cinnamon
    – Grass fed chicken, pork, meat, shrimps, etc.
    – Daily late night smoothie of greek yogurt, kiwifruit, akai berry juice, avocado and flax seeds
    – Tomatoes, green and red peppers
    – Onions, garlic and cloves
    – Natural sweeteners (organic honey and monk fruit sweetener)
    – no grains whatsoever in my diet
    2. All the side effects have completely vanished since I stop taking it a week ago.

    Given all of the above, should I continue taking Atorvastatin to lower my cholesterol even though there are tons of new research and material advising otherwise?

    Please let me know what should I do since I have caused a lot of controversy and tensions within my family

    • Hi Vital
      I’m sorry to hear you had a heart attack so young.

      I’m a research doctor, not a medical doctor – not that a medical doctor would be able to advise anyone without meeting them/seeing their full medical history. I can give information and opinions – not advice – hope you understand.

      You may find my main post on cholesterol and statins interesting https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

      I am not surprised that your side effects have vanished – the patient information leaflet describes the likely side effects and there are many and they can be very disabling. Your doctor should work with you – it is not best practice to ignore your side effects and just insist you carry on taking things that are impairing your quality of life.

      Has your doc looked at the NNT (numbers needed to treat) data? Even having had a heart attack – 83 people need to be treated for 5 years for 1 to avoid a fatal heart attack during those 5 years. Are you the 1 in 83?! Meanwhile 1 in 50 are likely to develop type 2 diabetes – very serious – food for thought! http://www.thennt.com/nnt/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-with-known-heart-disease/

      On your diet – if you enjoy doing all of that, you may choose to keep it up. It would seem a big effort to me. If you’re overweight, you won’t be helped by eating regular handfuls of nuts and seeds. There’s no evidence that they will help. https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2017/09/predimed-the-mediterranean-diet/

      Ditto – I’ve seen no evidence for any of the foods listed being of any direct benefit in preventing another heart attack. Eating real food is a great thing to do – but the absence of junk is likely to be more helpful than trying to get all of the individual foods that you list.

      If you are overweight – there’s a few things you may like to cut out as well as the nuts and seeds – honey, any ‘natural sweetener’, sweet potatoes, and all those smoothies. Unless underweight, people don’t need a smoothie before bed!

      I hope this is of interest.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Young child has high cholesterol!, FH has been mentioned.
    Do children need any medication?
    I would appreciate you help with this question, thank you.

    • Hi Sandy
      You may find this interesting: https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2016/11/familial-hypercholesterolemia-fh/

      And this: https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

      I can’t give advice. My personal opinion is that the world would be a much better place if no one were tested for cholesterol – especially children. That “worried about” post explains why…

      I would not accept any ‘diagnosis’ of FH unless a genetic test had been done and confirmed it. Then my FH post shows what I think about cholesterol/statins if this is confirmed. Demand to see the trials that have been undertaken on children with statins (I’ve seen none) to be reassured that your child would be able to continue to grow and develop if taking drugs designed to impair cholesterol production and all the vital functions that go with that.

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hey! I know this is an old post but i’m very desperate at this point
    My cholestrol has been very low for the past couple of years, below 90 sometimes, and i can tell the effects it has on my system
    And this low level isnt due to dietary restrictions since i consume high levels of saturated fats and cholestrol containing foods
    So i was wondering what can be the reason my body isnt making enough cholestrol and how to fix this?

    • Hi AK
      This doesn’t often come up (low cholesterol). When it does, our cholesterol forum group is not aware of any way of increasing cholesterol in a healthy way. You can increase total cholesterol by eating carbs – this increases VLDL/triglycerides – which is not good. You need to hope that your need is low – which is why your cholesterol is low – sorry!

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • I have a question–had to take my 10 yr old to get a physical for school. Dr said her cholesterol is too high (208)–didn’t even know they tested kids for this! And that i need to change her diet –what the heck? What is a kids suppose to be ? She is a very active muscular, slim child–we don’t eat fast food etc –raw milk, pasture feed meats fruits, veggies, etc…how concerned should i be (Dr. wants to see her back in 3 months–but if he suggest statins -forget it!). thx

    • Hi Rebecca – Crikey – I never knew they tested kids either. Surely no test should be performed on your child without your permission!? Given that cholesterol is utterly vital for every single cell in the body, including growth and sex hormones, if you want your girl to develop into a woman, let alone ever have children, you may like to avoid this doc – not just statins!
      I’m seriously shocked and not much shocks me in the statin world!
      Best wishes – Zoe
      p.s. my main post on this stuff is here: https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

  • For those of you who think that you can’t trust the current medical advice given by doctors and all major health agencies because of the influence of money:

    why would you trust this author? isn’t she making money as well from all this and couldn’t she be lying just as much?

    is that worth your health?

  • Hi Zoe,

    I recently went deeper into my cholesterol and the tests found my LP(a) Lipoprotein A was raised as well as a few other issues.

    Nobody in the family has ever had a heart issues or died from a heart attack. I am a personal trainer, eat well etc but we can’t put our finger on what is causing it to rise and as a 25 year old man it is quite scary to see about the negative effects of LP(a)

    What would you advise and what could be causing the issues.

    • Hi Dominic
      I’m sorry – I’m by no means an expert on LP(a). All I recall about this is Dr Malcolm Kendrick (in the fab “The Great Cholesterol Con”) saying that this is probably one that does matter (in among all the LDL/HDL nonsense that doesn’t matter). Maybe check out his site https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/ and put Lp(a) in the search box?
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • After cancer surgery and 6 weeks of radiation, my blood pressure went up along with my cholestrol! At one time a reading of 420 is as close as they could read. I am unable to tolerate any form of statins and have worked it down to 270 range over several years
    I’ve never smoked, don’t drink, fry food, etc. My Mom also had counts over 300 after chemo

    • Hi JoAnn
      I’m sorry to hear that both you and your mum have had cancer :-(
      The cholesterol result after your experiences is really interesting – supports the role of cholesterol in trying to repair the body. Something to repair = more cholesterol!
      Many thanks for sharing and good luck to you both.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • I just wanted to let you know I saw your article in my class today. Our teacher gave us a homework assignment on the logical fallacies of your argument.


    Cholesterol is only found in animal foods
    The only foods that Keys could add to human diets in order to test the impact of cholesterol were animal foods
    Keys concluded eating animal foods had no impact on blood cholesterol levels
    Animal foods had no impact on blood cholesterol levels


    There is no need, whatsoever, to avoid liver, red meat, other meat, fish, eggs, dairy products etc for any cholesterol that they may contain, or for any other reason.


    The second statement has a logical fallacy because good experimental design would require adding controls to the experiment that added non-animal foods as well as a mix of the two to make sure the results were unambiguously attributed to adding animal foods.

    With an argument founded on evidence that as per your presentation appears scientifically unreliable you can not logically establish that you should not avoid cholesterol because it doesn’t effect blood cholesterol levels. This is an example of the logical fallacy referred to as ambiguous premises that are treated as unambiguous.

    The biggest logical fallacy of your argument is the last statement (or for any other reason). Nothing in your argument established that there is never a reason to avoid animal foods. This is referred to as jumping to a conclusion and is a logical fallacy. If I could establish in a logical argument that drinking bleach would not raise blood cholesterol levels I wouldn’t be able to conclude that you shouldn’t avoid drinking bleach for any reason. In that example you can clearly see an example of the same logical fallacy used in the article.

    • Hi Harry
      Many thanks for this. Crikey this is an old page! I’ve never liked these – the web developer wanted some provocative one pagers – I should take them down.

      The full quotation covers cholesterol in food and the blood and atherosclerosis “The evidence – both from experiments and from field surveys – indicates that cholesterol content, per se, of all natural diets has no significant effect on either the cholesterol level or the development of atherosclerosis in man” (p.182 – 1954 Symposium on Atherosclerosis) Keys thus exonerated animal foods for raising blood cholesterol and/or the development of atherosclerosis (not many people know the latter and that’s the important bit). Not sure how the full heart impact got missed out.

      Easiest fix for now is to delete the words “or any other reason” – done!

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi! I’m 41 yrs old and have no heart problems to my knowledge. I weigh 132, don’t smoke and I’m not diabetic. My Dr told me if I want to take Lipitor 10mg I could. Well shouldn’t he know for sure whats best? My total was 265 Hdl 47 ldl 196 total ratio 5.6. Is this bad enough to start a statin. I know my mom has high cholesterol if that helps. Thanks!

  • Hi Zoe,

    I’m a healthy guy, very rarely eat processed food, only time is a meal with friends, I train 5 times a week.

    Doctor has said my cholesterol is slightly high at 5.6mmol/L but my LDL is 3.9mmol/L, the HDL is 1.2mmol/L and triglycerides are 1mmol/L.

    I have had a past of gut issues and the doctors said it isn’t related but can Candida, SIBO etc be a reason for LDL to raise? Is my cholesterol high? Is the LDL too high?

    I have had a past of parasites and unbalanced gut flora. Plus family history of thyroid. I tried a lower carb, higher fat diet but the cholesterol shot up higher.

    Any thoughts would be brilliant.


  • Hi Zoe

    Cholesterol of 5.6mmol/L
    Ldl of 3.9mmol/L
    Hdl around 1.2mmol/L
    Triglycerides of 1mmol/L

    25 years old, eat healthy, high protein and moderate fat and carbs and I train 5 times a week. I have had a past of gut issues and still have some so we are unsure if this is the cause? Docs said cholesterol is high but only suggested stations, which I declined. Worried about my cholesterol as it has been like this for 3 years and can’t reduce it, mainly the LDL. Could it be gut related due to imbalances/leaky gut etc. If so what to do about it? Could really do with some help.

    Kind regards

  • High cholesterol / low cholesterol, HDL, LDL, nonHDL et al may or may not be suggestive of various nefarious influences at work but one thing seems crystal clear: increasing CAC Agatston scores indicate that an active coronary disease process is at work. In five years my Agatston score has gone from 0.86 to 37 to 87. During that time I have followed a HFLC diet. I have no IR issues, body fat is circa 16%, and I am male, non smoker, active exerciser age 69. Only one lipid Red Flag: LDLp has consistently been in the 1600 ball park.

    After much reading it seems possible to me that individuals being individuals one person’s phenotype might be such that they do respond negatively to high dietary saturated fat intake.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated. I have a HFLC dogma bias but my real world experience seems to suggest I have much more to learn. Thanks. :-)

    • Hi G.
      An interesting one and thanks for asking for thoughts, not advice, because those I can share!

      My first thought would be – there will be an element of aging, which is largely unavoidable. It looks like your general lifestyle is excellent – unless you over exercise? That would put unnecessary strain on the body.

      A second thought is – don’t forget that all food that contains fat contains all three fats (saturated, mono and poly). The only food group with more saturated than unsaturated fat (not that sat fat is worse) is dairy products. Hence – you are likely eating more unsaturated than saturated fat. I hope your healthy lifestyle doesn’t feature veg oils? Especially highly unsaturated veg oils? This may help https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdznfiWvGq0

      Then – two other people who may be of interest are Ivor Cummins on calcificaton (although you don’t have IR – this may still be of interest) – great pres here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_Gcq8bEUq8)

      And I don’t know if this may be of interest, but Dave Feldman looks at how dietary fat can affect blood lipid markers – another great pres here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZu52duIqno)

      I hope these are of interest
      Best wishses – Zoe

  • Im in a bad spot. My doctors have no advise whatsoever. My cholesterol i extremely low. I have nafld and it was only discovered because my cholesterol was low and one liver enzyme was periodically elevated. Most doctors refused to believe I was sick at all, but a biopsy a year and a half ago proved them all wrong. Sometimes my LDL is literally undetectable. There is no information anywhere that I can find on how to get my cholesterol levels to a healthy place, because everyone is so obsessed with the meme that cholesterol is bad. Ive been sick and getting worse since I was a child. I have no energy and it’s affecting my ability to work or even just live. I spend most of my off work time asleep. The last doctor I had refused to even discuss the issue, plus was fairly transphobic, so now I have no doctor. The doctor that diagnosed my nafld isnt available to treat me, only to diagnose and monitor the condition. Ive had people with fibromyalgia tell me since I was a teen that my symptoms mirror theirs. Still I get told by experts and articles constantly that I cant be sick. Insulin resistance is the only medical lead I seem to have, but no one knows anything about it aside from a handful of youtube videos. Im desperate for some idea on how to treat my condition and get my cholesterol to a level where I can at least produce healthy skin cells. My ability to heal has been steadily worsening since I was a child, long before doctors admitted nafld was even a thing. I have no support or family to help me through this so any advice would be appreciated

    • Hi Sally
      I wrote a special post – with lots of links elsewhere – as I get so many questions about cholesterol and statins. I hope that this is of interest (https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/)
      I am not aware of anything that can increase cholesterol in a healthy way. Carbs can increase VLDL – which increases total cholesterol – but that would not be a good idea for anyone – least of all someone with NAFLD. Your body should make the cholesterol that it needs for health – if left alone. Things that impair cholesterol production are obviously statins but also anything with plant sterols – e.g. some margarines/yoghurts – they should be clearly marked with “cholesterol lowering” on the packaging somewhere. I always avoid such fake food!
      Please note that I can’t give anyone advice – just information and opinions.
      All the best with finding out more about your health.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • My cholesterol is 168 and I’m a vegan. So I’m a perfect example of a human producing his own cholesterol because I eat no animals. But, when I was eating cholesterol laden animal foods, my cholesterol was around 228. I think the problem with eating animal foods is the saturated fats that accompany the cholesterol. Sure, maybe cholesterol isn’t a factor, but the saturated fats most definitely are, and can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. This is fact. But, if I DID eat cholesterol laden foods in the past and it caused my cholesterol level to go up, then the intake of cholesterol and/or animal foods was a factor in causing my cholesterol levels to rise.

    Google Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, a 102 year old vegan who was a retired heart surgeon at 95. He’s seen it all as far as heart disease and what animal foods can do to the human body if emphasized too much in the diet. As I recall, heart disease is still the number 1 killer in the U.S., so saturated fats and cholesterol still play some kind of role in that.

    • Saturated fats DO NOT cause heart disease. I do intermittent fasting and am on a ketogenic (high fat) diet. Good fats and cholesterol are the principal essentials for life. Why dont you vegan morons get this? How do you think we evolved? From eating grains???? Saturated fats reduce inflammation in the body, caused by consuming sugars, carbs, legumes, grains, etc. I am 33 yrs old and I feel fantastic! I am 5-9 and weigh 157 pounds compared to 195, 3yrs ago. Frankly, I feel sorry that you are vegan.

  • Hello! I enjoyed reading your article and have a question. It’s now being said that dietary cholesterol has little to no effect on cholesterol levels in the body. A year ago my doctor told me that my cholesterol was on the high end of “acceptable”. He suggested statins, or a change of diet. I opted for the diet change, and in just 2 months, my levels had dropped dramatically. How can this be, if diet has little effect on the levels? If cholesterol levels are largely determined by genetics, wouldn’t mine have stayed roughly the same?

  • This is probably the stupidest article I’ve ever read. You guys obviously did not conduct your experiment properly, as consuming excess cholesterol raises serum cholesterol levels, which is not stored in our cells, and is instead left in the blood stream where it does in fact clog our arteries, which is the start of atherosclerosis and eventually heart disease. These bogus bloggers thinking they’re cardiac pathologists are really annoying. Any person who’s dedicated themselves to what causes heart disease (cardiac pathologists), will tell you to eat a whole foods vegan diet to reverse the effects of atherosclerosis. Honestly, how can you sleep at night spreading garbage information like this?

    • Did you know people with low cholesterol are sick? It us a sign of nafld among other things. Calling cholesterol universally bad is dangerous considering people loke me exist. My body doesnt produce enough cholesterol. Not everyone has heart problems at the top of their list of concerns

  • Is raised levels of LDL or cholesterol, cause of Heart problems or actually the ‘result of’ some heart related problems?
    They may be together, which is the cause and which is the result?

  • My doctor has told me my cholesterol numbers are “good and low”. Just recently I’ve come to understand that too low may not be so good. My numbers are Chol 133, Tri 80, HDL 80, LDL Calc 37, LDL direct 38, VLDL 16.
    Mayo clinic web site states that LDL levels below 40 would be considered very low. Symptoms could be anxiety and depression. I’ve had these low levels for 10 years and have suffered from anxiety, stress, brain fog, nerve issues, and on and off mild depression for that entire time.
    I’m not on statins or any other meds, no know liver problems, no hepatitis.
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Hi David
      It’s difficult getting normal distributions of cholesterol levels anymore and normal has been tampered with (due to statins) for years. See this https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5450a8.htm

      Your cholesterol numbers will be on a normal distribution – some people will be higher than average, some lower. You’re lower. You’re all on the normal distribution. The powers that be seem to think there should be no normal distribution – just everyone at the same number. They clearly don’t understand maths (as we call it!)

      Having said this – lower is definitely not necessarily better and you are already aware of some of the symptoms of low cholesterol. This may be of interest too (https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2010/11/cholesterol-heart-disease-there-is-a-relationship-but-its-not-what-you-think/) – lower is definitely not better for all the countries in the world, men and women, heart deaths and all deaths. Lower is not better when older – especially over 70 – hopefully that’s not you yet.

      I’m not aware of anything that anyone can do for low cholesterol. The symptoms you mention are real and known to be associated with low cholesterol. If you eat more dietary cholesterol, your body just makes less, so this would be unlikely to raise overall cholesterol. You can eat badly (junk food/especially carbs) and this can raise triglycerides and so overall cholesterol but you won’t be healthier. I’m sorry that I know of nothing that can be done for low cholesterol. A doctors and academics forum (about cholesterol) I frequent once asked if anything could be done to raise cholesterol and there were no answers!

      I’ve read suggestions that dietary fat – esp coconut oil – can help with some mind symptoms. I don’t know how robust this is personally, but it may help. B vitamins may also help – these are known as the mind and mood vitamins. Either liver/red meat/oily fish etc or consider a supplement for a while to see if you notice a difference? Just thoughts – if only cholesterol raising were taken as seriously as lowering!

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Wow this is been an absolutely fascinating article and I’m due to go back to the doctor this Friday for results from my blood test from the military doc. And went to a keto friendly natural doctor to also have blood work because they measure things a bit differently. It will be interesting to see how both results turn out. I do expect my total cholesterol to go up since I started keto about eight weeks ago, understanding that with time it adjust itself and goes back down?

    I’m one of those sad stories that had cholesterol the 200s to low 200s and my daughter believed anybody over 35 should take statins. Now my total cholesterol was about 320 last time checked and they give me a 4% chance of you know the not so good stuff… four out of 10 that is. Every time I go up the statins and just skyrockets back upand of course I was ignorant and thought my doctor knew what he was talking about.

    I desperately want to get off statins but I’m not sure how to do it. The military doctor that I go to will not be so favorable of this although the natural doctor probably will but I don’t see her for another month. I exercise 4 to 5 times a week doing resistance with my total gym and HIIT on my elliptical. I also do quite a bit of intermittent fasting which I absolutely love because it helps with A1C numbers and they were getting slightly high.

    I’m 60 years old and I have lost around 21 pounds recently been working real hard at eating healthy fats and all the good stuff I was raised on as a child on a farm in KY.

    I’ve got about 20 more pounds to go and have no problem thinking I’ll get there with my new way of eating and living but I’m just not sure how most people go about getting off of statins without the doctor? Do you have to have a doctor to help you get off of your statins? What of my biggest concerns is finding out that your brain needs cholesterol in a big way cause you to be foggy headed and plus a lot of other bad side effects.

    I know you can’t give medical device but if you could leave me to some water add sure be glad to drink it ?

  • It’s scary that people might read this article and get the idea that it’s healthy to eat foods that contain cholesterol. Our body produces it’s own cholesterol, consuming another animals cholesterol is never a good thing.
    I spent 2 years consuming 4 eggs a day because I read a similar article promoting the health benifits of eggs. Only to later find out the truth about how damaging dietary cholestrol is. Not to mention how animal protien raises insulin growth factor 1 in our body which fuels cancer growth at a rapid rate.

    For your own sake people do your own research. I’m not suggesting everyone must go on a plant based diet, but at the very least be aware of the fact that meat, dairy and vegetable oils are not health products. Be sure to moderate your intake accordingly and don’t let yourself be deceived by the corruption and greed in these industries.

  • Hi Zoë
    I have been told by a doctor that my cholesterol is very high but everything else is fine, I.e. Low blood pressure low resting heart rate. The doctor has told me that I need to lower my cholesterol. Are you saying that high cholesterol is ok?

  • Could you please unsubscribe your emails, please, please, please, in
    anticipation thank you.

    • Hi Peter
      My hubby sent you an email as soon as we saw this blog comment. You are not on any of our email lists. You may have signed up to something like an RSS feed – in which case there will be an unsubscribe button at the bottom of whatever you signed up to. The fact that you’ve just posted another comment makes me wonder if the email you’ve given is correct?!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Zoë,
    I am 56 years old. I have elevated bad cholesterol, very good “good” cholesterol. Few years ago I had sudden blidness to one eye. Last year I remembered and mentioned that to m dc. So I had all the tests done, including wearing the heart monitor. Everything is fine. But the explanation for the eye blidness (maybe 3 times within 6 months, few years ago) is a stroke to the eye. I was prescribed statin as the only prevention available. I am confused. I have the pills but so far I am not taking them.

  • have been diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia – as have my brother and sister. My endocrinologist had recommended statins but I’m scared of taking them. I’m already on levothyroxine, had treatment for breast cancer and have a benign brain tumour. Any advice will be very gratefully received.

  • I have been diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia – as have my brother and sister. My endocrinologist had recommended statins but I’m scared of taking them. I’m already on levothyroxine, hadcyrestmemt gir breast cancer and have a benign brain tumour. Any advice will be very gratefully received.

  • What do you think about testing for the size of the cholesterol particles? Does that has any merit or it is another scam? Would you ever try to eat cholesterol and saturated fat for one week and then test your cholesterol levels before and after one week? Does cholesterol oxidizes? Is inflammation theory correct for heart disease? Do we need to eat more sulfur? Is cholesterol sulfate real?

    Which one would you pick:
    1. High fat, low carb
    2. High carb, low fat
    3. Reduced total food intake
    4. High fat, high carb
    5. 3 day fast, 4 day eat what you want

    Would you eat pomegranate to reduce cholesterol (it does it very efficient, but probably it blocks some liver enzymes)?
    What were cholesterol guidelines 100 years ago?
    Should heart attack patients go on low fat diet?
    Is it smart to take vitamin D supplements (it might fool body and mess up feedback loop)?
    Why do people with low thyroid function have problems with heart?
    Is cholesterol plants chlorophyll (no need to answer)?
    If you had a patient with total cholesterol of 500, would you try to lower it or maybe check the liver issues and try to cure a cause?

    Is fructose (and resulting insulin) cause of all heart attacks (just opinion)?

    Would worrying about all of this medical junk kill us easier than if we wouldn’t know anything about it (worry creates money)?

    Is it smart to drink whiskey a day (I’ll end with this question because I need one whiskey after all of this thinking ;-) ?

  • Understanding how important cholesterol is … what do you do if yours is naturally too low.

    For example: total 125-129. Every doc says “wow, that’s great!” (43 LDL, 76 HDL)

    What can you do to encourage your body to create more naturally?

    • Hi Sally
      I can understand more the desire to raise, rather than lower, cholesterol – however – they’re both flip sides of a coin. I think we should just leave cholesterol alone and let the body make what is needs. The fact that yours is naturally low suggests that your body is not having to make more to deal with injury/illness/stress etc.

      You could get sick and then it would go up!? ;-)

      Let’s all leave poor cholesterol alone!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Whilst I am very relieved the truth about cholesterol is finally emerging, we still need to make a clear distinction between saturated fat and trans fat – the latter still being unhealthy. Basically, any fat that is either a) artificial (which is in most processed, commercially produced food products), or b) has been heated to a high temperature, such as frying (which causes the fat to solidify, rendering it difficult to absorb and utilize by the body), cannot be classed as “good”. So, dairy, eggs and some meats are only beneficial as long as they are consumed either raw or very lightly cooked.

    Also, one needs to consider the role of sugar in the diet (in terms of the over consumption of it by the western world – refined or otherwise), which I also believe to be at the heart of the explosion in CVD’s and cancers. There is a process called ‘glycation’ that occurs – which basically means the bonding of sugar molecules to a protein or lipid (cholesterol) without the controlling aspect of an enzyme. Too much sugar in the diet causes over Glycation, which causes the blood to thicken and clot, therefore leading to heart problems. So, although saturated fats (in their own right) aren’t dangerous; when combined with additional sugar they most certainly become so.

    In summary, its OK to eat a moderate amount of dairy, eggs and meat as long as they are not overcooked or combined with sugar – so please put down your cakes, crisps and frying pans.

    Additionally, its worth noting that dairy is best consumed raw (unpasteurized and uncooked), but considering it is extremely difficult to get hold of raw milk and cheeses (another subject altogether), particularly in the UK, one needs to consider the whole pasteurization process itself…..

    …heating the milk to a high degree (to kill pathogens). But heating the milk not only damages its fat content (as outlined earlier), but it also damages the enzyme lactase which is needed to digest the lactose (sugar) contained within – and without the presence of this vital enzyme, the glycation process goes uncontrolled thus causing the blood to thicken (and eventually clot)!

    Very complex subject matter which needs further considerations, so let’s not be too hasty in our assumptions that saturated fat is healthy as that really depends on how the fat has been treated and what may also have been added or taken away from it.

  • And the madness continues , I wrote to you the other day, thank you for the reply.

    So today my GP insisted I see a cardiologist because my total cholesterol is 7 (Australia) I’m a 38 year old male.

    Reading your blog restores my level of comfort, but these doctors really drive a compelling case to scare the crap out of me. (Are they really misinformed ??)

    I suppose I’m looking to hear one thing from you to get me off this conveyor belt.

    Thanks Zoe.

    • Hi Louie
      I sent you many things to read in that post (https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/). Your cholesterol is bang on the true normal. You are being told that normal is abnormal – why? Who stands to gain from this? Not you for sure. Not me for sure…

      In my experience there are only two reasons for promoting the cholesterol crime: ignorance or conflict. The drug companies are involved in setting the targets (https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/07/nice-has-ended-any-debate-about-its-independence/) This is the US position (I think the conflict bit starts around 36 mins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vr-c8GeT34) If docs know this/benefit from this, they are in conflict. If they don’t know it, they’re ignorant.

      No offence, but it matters not one iota to me what you decide. It may not matter much to you – you may decide to take statins and not suffer too many side effects. Or you may lose your sex drive, energy, mood, mind, muscles and all sorts. For what – a blood test reading (known to be 20% inaccurate for starters) to keep your doc happy?!

      Your call sport!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • A few years ago I went on a medically supervised liquid diet. Everyone else in my class had their cholesterol go down. Mine shot up. I went from 240 to a crazy 320. I was literally only having shakes to eat for 3 months. I think this happened for two reasons. First, my thyroid started cutting back and second my body was under a tremendous stress and my bodies reaction to deal with it was pumping up cholesterol. I suspect I was getting too little to eat. I went off the diet and my cholesterol immediately returned to 220.

    Recently I heard about a theory of heart disease called The Myogenic Theory. Simplified it says heart attacks are caused by a weakened heart and triggered due to stress. There are some things that help your heart stay strong called Cardiotonics – your body makes them naturally. One of the biggest Cardiotonics is digitalis which is prescribed for heart failure… to help it pump more strongly. What is a crucial building material for these? Cholesterol. So this theory states that they way you avoid heart problems is to keep your heart strong with the proper nutrients (including cholesterol and magnesium) and avoiding stress to the body and heart.

    In light of Alan Thick and Carrie Fisher’s deaths (one while vigorously exercising) and one with a history of cocaine abuse.. on a plane.. I am thinking this one is on the right track.

    • Hi Sara
      I like the way you’re thinking! Very interesting…
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Dr.

    I received my blood test results today, my Doc wants to start me on Lipitor (my Cholesterol has increased over the past 12 months. (im so confused right now, because I have been training, lost body fat and CM around my waist but numbers going up ? ) I am 38 years old) below are my Numbers in mmol/L, As you Know * = Out of range. (Im in Australia)

    Cholesterol: Jan 2016 5.6* Now 7.0* (Given Lipitor) Told this is very Dangerous and to look out, Stroke, Heart disease etc.. (Why is it climbing, if anything I have increased my Training)
    Trig: Jan 2016 1.4 Now 1.1
    HDL: Jan 2016 1.0 Now 1.2
    LDL: Jan 2016 4.0* Now 5.3*’
    Non-HDL: Jan 2016 4.6* Now 5.8*
    Chol/HDL: Jan2016 5.6* Now 5.8*
    Serum/Plasma Glucose: Jan 2016 5.4 Now 5.9*

    I am so confused now and not sure what to do, im really worried.

    • Hi Louie – I’m a PhD doctor not a medical doctor, but a medical doctor wouldn’t give you advice in a blog comment anyway.

      I wrote this post for comments just like yours https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

      It’s called “worried about…” because people do worry and I would happily slap with a wet kipper (a Dr Malcolm Kendrick epxression) every drug and marketing person who has made this the case for no valid reason whatsoever.
      I hope you find the post interesting/helpful
      Best wishes – Zoe

      • Hi Zoe,

        Yes thank you I read the post, interesting and Helpful.

        so, 7.0 mmol/L Total Cholesterol and LDL5.3mmol/L, shouldn’t keep me up at night worrying ?

        The fact that its crept up in 12 months has got me worried too.

  • I’m a 64yo female with a 50-year obesity issue and a tendency to send this article to anyone who’ll listen, and some who won’t. Thank you for making a complicated subject much more easy to understand.

    Beloved father-in-law was on a scary array of pills when he entered hospital during his final illness at the age of 87, few of which were extending or improving his life. He would joke that he rattled when he walked. A very sensible consultant was horrified and took him off them all, commenting that they were probably doing more harm than good. Statins and warfarin for a fairly healthy man nearing 90 with no history of cardiac events or chronic disease at all?

    • Hi Sue
      Many thanks for your kind words.
      Even the patient leaflet for statins cautions against anyone over 70 taking them – why do docs not know this? Good to hear you came across and enlightened consultant.
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Just had my 50th this year along with a wellness exam.
    244 Total
    68 Tri
    96 HDL
    184 LDL
    198 Non HDL???
    Told my doctor I was starting a caloric diet, he said I didn’t need to lose much because my BMI is good considering my muscle mass. Still going for it though. 10 – 15 lbs. Pretty active. Slowed down a little since Feb. because of hernia surgery. Fixing to kick it back in gear though. My job is pretty active as well, 3-4 miles a day hoofing it around town. After reading your articles, I don’t feel overly concerned about cholesterol. Feedback please. Thank you for your whistlebloweresque attitude!!!
    I have always been leary and skeptical of Big Pharma. I know some people who have prescriptions that seem to contradict each other. I hate taking meds. Broke my back when I was in my early 20s and after about 20 years had some discomfort and pain. Was prescribed 1000 MGS of Naproxen a day indefinitely and took for about a month and told my MD I refuse to take 1000 MGS of anything a day forever.

  • lowering cholosterole can encrease the risk of cancer

    most ppl that die of infractus or heart attack don’t have high level of cholesterol, my grandfather died of heart attack his cholesterole was 110 he went to the doctor every 6 months to test blood

    fasting encrease cholesterole and fasting is good for heart

  • I have an appointment in a few weeks with a lipidologist because of my cholesterol levels.
    Are these results ok in your opinion?

    HDL .75
    Ldl 14.2
    Triglycerides 0.7

    I have been on a ketogenic diet for a year and low carb high fat before this for one year.

    I am 57 kg 57 years old and I exercise regularly.

    I would be interested in your thoughts

  • Dear Zoe,

    Your views on cholesterol and statins are, quite frankly, harmfull. I’m sure, you do not intend to do harm. However, by misinforming the people reading your blog, you are harming them. People who should use statins to lower their risk are not taking medicine, because of your advice. You, as a scientist, should know that you cannot base your advice on a study from 1950 and just reference one article, from 1990 (!).

    There are a lotof unkowns regarding cholesterol and statins, that is true. However, the most important aspect is very clear. People who take statin live significantly longer.

    I realise that taking statins sucks. And I know that your doctor telling you to take pills, while you feel fine, is confusing. But this advice is based on solid evidence. It has been proven time and time again that statins are hugely beneficial.

    Please read all the evidence and consider re-evaluating your advice. I’ve detailed some landmark studies below, though there are many more.

    Kind regards,
    Mat, cardiologist in training

    – Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, 2013, Taylor et. al.
    This is a cochrane meta-analysis, the highest possible form of evidence.
    Just a few of the findings: “All-cause mortality was reduced by statins, as was combined fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), combined fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and combined fatal and non-fatal stroke.” “There was no evidence of any serious harm caused by statin prescription.”

    – Rosuvastatin to Prevent Vascular Events in Men and Women with Elevated C-Reactive Protein, 2008, Ridker et. al.
    Cholesterol Lowering in Intermediate-Risk Persons without Cardiovascular Disease, 2016, Yusuf et. al.
    These study’s show the benefit of statins, even without high cholesterol. A 30% reduction of cardiovascular events in just 5 years!

    • Dear cardiologist in training
      Have you ever wondered where your information/funding comes from? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/business/03medschool.html?_r=0

      Plenty more reading here https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/

      Including this non-industry conflicted recent article (http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/9/e007118.full) (3-4 days after 5 years of “statins sucks”)

      The Cochrane meta-analysis can only combine studies in existence. Please send me those that didn’t have pharma funding and then the meta-analysis would be interesting… (Here’s a non-industry funded one for example http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/785851)

      Plus Cochrane 2011 concluded only high risk groups might gain some benefit while “Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk”. Cochrane 2014 changed its conclusion following the 2012 Rory Collins article in the Lancet. This is how conflicted Collins is (https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/08/ctsu-funding-from-drug-companies/) Plus – why won’t the CTSU share benefit and harm data so that researchers can review it independently? (https://www.zoeharcombe.com/2016/12/dear-professor-rory-collins/)

      Here are the conflicts for the Ridker article! “Supported by AstraZeneca.
      Dr. Ridker reports receiving grant support from AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck, Abbott, Roche, and Sanofi-Aventis; consulting fees or lecture fees or both from AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, Sanofi-Aventis, Isis, Dade Behring, and Vascular Biogenics; and is listed as a coinventor on patents held by Brigham and Women’s Hospital that relate to the use of inflammatory biomarkers in cardiovascular disease, including the use of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in the evaluation of patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease. These patents have been licensed to Dade Behring and AstraZeneca. Dr. Fonseca reports receiving research grants, lecture fees, and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Schering-Plough, Sanofi-Aventis, and Merck; and Dr. Genest, lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Schering-Plough, Merck–Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Merck, Merck Frosst, Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Novartis, Resverlogix, and Sanofi-Aventis. Dr. Gotto reports receiving consulting fees from Dupont, Novartis, Aegerion, Arisaph, Kowa, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Genentech, Martek, and Reliant; serving as an expert witness; and receiving publication royalties. Dr. Kastelein reports receiving grant support from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Roche, Novartis, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, Isis, Genzyme, and Sanofi-Aventis; lecture fees from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Novartis, Merck–Schering-Plough, Roche, Isis, and Boehringer Ingelheim; and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Abbott, Pfizer, Isis, Genzyme, Roche, Novartis, Merck, Merck–Schering-Plough, and Sanofi-Aventis. Dr. Koenig reports receiving grant support from AstraZeneca, Roche, Anthera, Dade Behring and GlaxoSmithKline; lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, DiaDexus, Roche, and Boehringer Ingelheim; and consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline, Medlogix, Anthera, and Roche. Dr. Libby reports receiving lecture fees from Pfizer and lecture or consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, VIA Pharmaceuticals, Interleukin Genetics, Kowa Research Institute, Novartis, and Merck–Schering-Plough. Dr. Lorenzatti reports receiving grant support, lecture fees, and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Takeda, and Novartis; Dr. Nordestgaard, lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Merck and consulting fees from AstraZeneca and BG Medicine; Dr. Shepherd, lecture fees from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Merck and consulting fees from AstraZeneca, Merck, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Nicox, and Oxford Biosciences; and Dr. Glynn, grant support from AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.”

      Yusuf was funded by Astra Zeneca.

      You seem smart – for the sake of your patients – please be curious and not overly trusting…

      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi Zoë,

    First of all, thank you for writing this article, I found it very interesting.

    I have a question I am hoping you can shed some light on: since eating animal foods has no impact on blood cholesterol levels, where Does the cholesterol in animal foods go when we eat them? what impact does it have on the body?

    Thank you,


    • Hi Felipe
      The body makes the cholesterol that it needs (assuming it is allowed to do this and statins are not getting in the way). If we eat more cholesterol, the requirement for the body to make cholesterol is reduced.
      Hope this helps
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hi, I’m a 65 year old female. MI aged 40 and started on statins. In the last four years have had 4 coronary artery stents and a bilateral carotid endarterectomy. Saw my Cardiologist a few weeks ago, c/o tiredness and lethargy, had stress ECG with ultrasound, 24hr BP monitoring and blood tests. Guess what……my heart is great but my liver function is c***p. No alcohol damage, I rarely drink . What then? Statin damage! He told me to stop taking them. Repeat bloods just for liver function in a few weeks time. Here’s hoping the liver will repair itself . I’m otherwise fit and active leading a full life, volunteering five days a week! One of the UKs broadsheet newspapers is today slating the use of statins. Hmmm!!!

    • Hi Barbara – thanks so much for sharing this although I’m really sorry to hear it. I saw yesterday’s article in the Telegraph on side effects – I’ve spoken to the journalist a few times. Far too many statin damage case studies around for her to cover :-(

      Good luck with your future tests and hopefully the liver will repair with your otherwise good health
      Best wishes – Zoe

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