Yes, you read that correctly. Medical research shows that the elderly with cholesterol less that 189 had a double risk of dying.
Physicians were informed to consider very low levels of cholesterol as potential warning signs of a serious disease or as signals of rapidly declining health.
Have you been told your cholesterol is too low? I have been telling my elderly patients this news for years now. I hope to get the word out even wider with this blog post. Please help me spread the word. Re-tweet, "Like" this post, "Google +1" this post. That will help me spread the word.
Clinically, I have found many patients with autoimmune disorders to have low cholesterol and either very low triglycerides or very high HDL. These out of range blood chemistry values are commonly associated with excessive systemic inflammation.
For some background; the study included 4520 men and women between the ages of 65-84.
The study concluded that low total cholesterol was associated with a higher risk of death.
Low cholesterol level is a robust predictor of mortality in the nondemented elderly and may be a surrogate of frailty or subclinical disease according to the research team.
Another study debunks the idea that too much animal fat and high cholesterol are dangerous to your heart and vessels. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine revealed that high cholesterol in those over 75 years of age is protective, rather than harmful and that low cholesterol is a risk factor for heart arrhythmias (leading cause of death if heart attack occurs). People with high cholesterol live the longest.
Furthermore, researchers from the University of Denmark report that about 15% of cholesterol lowering drug users over the age of 50 will suffer from nerve damage as a direct result of using statin (cholesterol-lowering) drugs.
If you're one of the millions of people who believe these "facts" about cholesterol, get ready for an education. Take this True or False quiz to see if you can separate fact from myth about cholesterol.
1. Cholesterol is a vital substance necessary for good health. T / F
2. The lower your cholesterol, the healthier you will be. T / F
3. Having cholesterol levels of less than 150 significantly reduces your risk of dying from heart disease. T / F
4. The lower your cholesterol levels are the greater your risk of dying from cancer. T / F
5. Cholesterol plays a role in helping to protect the body against environmental toxins. T / F
6. Cholesterol is important in maintaining fertility and sex drive. T / F
7. Eating foods high in fat will raise cholesterol levels. T / F
8. The use of statin drugs has lowered the incidence of heart disease. T / F
9. Oxidative stress and inflammation are the root cause of cardiovascular disease. T / F
10. High insulin levels are a greater risk factor for cardiovascular disease than high cholesterol. T / F
(See the answers below the References section)
So the next time you see a commercial on the television or hear one on the radio for a cholesterol lowering drug...well, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, "and now you know the rest of the story".
In case you want to look up the information yourself, I've included the a couple of references below.
Brescianini S, Maggi S, Farchi G, Mariotti S, Di Carlo A, Baldereschi M, Inzitari D; ILSA Group. Low total cholesterol and increased risk of dying: are low levels clinical warning signs in the elderly? Results from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Jul;51(7):991-6.
Schupf N, Costa R, Luchsinger J, Tang MX, Lee JH, Mayeux R. Relationship between plasma lipids and all-cause mortality in nondemented elderly. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Feb;53(2):219-26.
Krumholz HM et al. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1990;272;1335-1340.
Fallon S, Enig M. Dangers of statin drugs: what you haven't been told about popular cholesterol-lowering medicines. June 14 2004. http://www.westonaprice.org/cardiovascular-disease/dangers-of-statin-drugs
Answers: 1. True 2. False 3. False 4. True 5. True 6. True 7. False 8. False 9. True 10. True