Researchers from the Japanese Institute of Pharmacovigilance and the University of S. Florida have found that a high level of cholesterol does not lead to heart disease. Currently, heart disease is the primary cause of human demise globally except in Africa. It was responsible for about 17.3 million deaths in 2013.
Consequently, the causes of heart disease are important so that scientists can find ways of preventing the disease and deaths from it. The most commonly accepted causes of this medical condition are aging, hereditary factors, tobacco intake, and a high level of cholesterol in the blood stream.
However, this new research claims that cholesterol is not among the risk factors for heart disease. The Vascular Institute (Western Chapter) funded this study and published it in BMJ Open. The study appeared in reputable media outlets such as the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. It also appeared on the UK’s National Health Service website.
These facts show that many people including professionals in the field of medicine are taking it seriously, and so should you. However, examining the evidence is critical before accepting it as a conclusive and reliable study.
The details of the study
The researchers decided to analyze 30 previous studies on this issue. They took 28 of them and looked for what caused the death in individuals mentioned in those cases. No link existed between high cholesterol levels and deaths in 12 studies of the 28 that they examined. Interestingly, they established a link between low cholesterol levels and deaths in 16 cases out of the 28. These findings are supposed to indicate that a lower rate of cholesterol leads to heart disease as opposed to a higher rate of the same. That would seem to suggest that a high level of cholesterol is good for you, which is the polar opposite of what most physicians would tell you today.
Whom should you believe?
This research, although undertaken by professionals and disseminated through reputable media outlets, may not be conclusive. For example, the researchers conducted a systematic review of various handpicked studies. That means they may have picked studies favorable to a preconceived outcome.
It is important to note that nine researchers who were part of the research team were members of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics. That shows that the bias already existed among the researches before the study started. The study also focused on old people who are likely to die from many other things other than heart disease because of a high level of cholesterol.
In conclusion, the study may have ignited a debate on the possible causes of heart disease, but the findings in it don’t seem reliable enough.