Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Finally, Science Starts to Challenge Lower Cholesterol Craziness

A new review paper has raised doubts about the cholesterol-lowering recommendations made two years ago by the U.S. government's National Cholesterol Education Program panel.

The panel advised those at risk for heart disease to attempt to reduce their LDL cholesterol to specific, very low, levels.

The new paper argues that there is insufficient evidence to support the target numbers outlined by the panel, challenging the mainstream medical belief that lower cholesterol levels are always better.

Before 2004, a 130-milligram LDL cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk. These targets often require multiple cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The authors of the new review of studies stated that they were unable to find research that provided evidence that achieving a specific LDL target level was important in and of itself, and that the studies attempting to do so suffered from major flaws.

Several of the scientists who helped develop the guidelines admitted that the scientific evidence supporting the less-than-70 recommendation was not very strong.

Annals of Internal Medicine October 3, 2006; 145(7): 520-530
New York Times October 17, 2006
Times Daily October 17, 2006

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