The notion that high cholesterol (more specifically, high “bad” — LDL — cholesterol) causes heart disease may be as widely accepted as the notion that humans have caused dangerous global warming. It is much easier to test, however. An excellent study published in 2006 compared two groups of people at risk for heart disease: those given a high dose of statins and those given a low dose. The high dose reducd LDL cholesterol levels; as it was meant to; the low dose did not. But there was no effect on coronary heart disease progression. After a year of statins, persons in both groups had increased their coronary artery calcification score by the same amount — about 25%. Totally contradicting the cholesterol hypothesis.
Regular readers of this blog may remember that after a year of eating butter (half a stick per day), my coronary artery calcification score decreased 24%. Because increases of about 25% are the norm, my score was about 50% less than expected. Decreases are very rare, I was told.