Does High LDL Protect and Prolong Life?

by Colin Carmichael

Cholesterol is a lot like any other health topic.

There are lots of varying opinions out there!

And it's frustrating and confusing when you're trying to figure out who REALLY knows what they're talking about and which opinion/facts/study are the most unbiased and make the most sense.

I got an email today that I had to share with you that's about this very topic.

It's from Vic and this is the email he sent in…

Hello Colin,
I doubt that you will reply to this email privately because you obviously believe that it is good to try to lower one's LDL level.  For the same reason I don't believe you will admit publicly to having received this email and take on the following assertion publicly.  I recently read the book "The Great Cholesterol Con" which no doubt you know and it made a lot of sense to me.  I believe the author agrees with you about statins but what I'd like to hear from you about privately and publicly  is the assertion in that book that high levels of LDL in the over seventies have been shown actually to protect them and to lengthen life for this age group.  I look forward to your reply with great interest.
With kind regards
Vic Porter

Below is my response:

Hi Vic,

I have no problem addressing this topic.

There are all sorts of studies and “findings” that are made to look a certain way. Or are somehow biased in how they’re set-up and run.

Probably the most famous example I can give you is the study that shows that aspirin helps prevent heart attacks.

Yes, aspirin was in the study.

Yes, heart attacks went down.

And YES, magnesium was also a BIG part of that survey and most experts believe it was magnesium, not aspirin, that did all the “work”.

Frankly, I don’t know the ‘insider’ specifics of the study you’re referring to here. But I’d like to make you aware of 3 of my thoughts regarding this…

1. High LDL levels combined with high HDL levels would be preferred over low levels of each.

2. High levels of LDL with a low HDL is a recipe for serious artery damage.

3. Any cholesterol profile is preferred to using statin drugs.

On one hand, I think info like what’s in this book is misleading people into a false sense of security.

On the other hand, if it gets people away from those drugs … hip,hip, hooray.

Here’s the thing I want you to think about…

Think about the foods you eat that cause high LDL. I’m talking about the foods that REALLY cause high LDL, NOT the ones you’re being TOLD cause high LDL (Hint: I eat 2 eggs almost every day!)

Foods like processed and fried foods among others. Those things cause LDL to go up. Period. If anyone wants to dispute that … they’re WRONG.

Do you think you should keep eating those foods …. in your seventies or otherwise … to be as strong, energetic and heart-healthy as you want to be?

Or do you think avoiding unnatural "fake" foods in favor of all-natural foods (foods known to lower LDL) makes more sense?

– Colin

Any other thoughts or opinions out there?

Chime in with a comment below…

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Vic March 3, 2010 at 8:46 am

You can see, ironically, that my name is Vic also. ha! Colin I still have little idea what the other Vic was on about, but your answer was well presented and very accurate and non biased in my opinion. Stay true and keep it up. Vic

Alex March 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

This may be a bit off subject, but I have been “thinking” quite a lot about Colin’s assertion that sugar can be a major contributor to out of control cholesterol. I said to myself, “Self, you don’t consume a whole lot of sugar and processed foods, but you sure do like your beer and even hard liquors at parties.” I have cut way back on my alcohol consumption. No results to report yet, but it seems to me that alcohol should be considered in the same category as simple sugars and carbs. Maybe Colin could do a little research and article covering how alcohol could be nearly or just as antagonistic as sugar to out of control cholesterol situations.

Christopher Holmes March 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm


Since you’ve opened the coop, how about commenting on eggs in the daily diet? What facts (other than the evidence that eggs have been a staple in European and US diets forever) suggest that eggs can be eaten daily? And how do you eat your eggs? No recipes, please. I’m almost 70, what are your thoughts on us older folks?

Colin March 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Alex & Christopher:

You two are veering away from the topic of this post, but I’ll throw a bone your way. ;-)

Alex: As it related to cholesterol and lipid profiles, excess alcohol usually leads to higher triglycerides. So if your triglycerides are in line, I’m inclined to think the alcohol isn’t the culprit for you. (But watch your intake anyway and give your liver a break.)

Christopher: The cholesterol in eggs doesn’t cause high cholesterol in the blood any more than drinking water causes water retention.

I either eat my eggs scrambled or a toss a couple in (raw) in my morning smoothie.

Judith Phang April 13, 2010 at 11:38 pm

mmm….I am usually alway trying to read everything I find on cholesterol and have never heard of this scientific evidence/research however, I will continue to moniter my diet in order to keep my LDL down because I do not want to go on meds., or risk the chance of dying from an heart attack now or in my 70′s. Sometimes we have to go with what makes sense to us because some people may be taking medications for other conditions/disease and which might affect how their body react to other conditions such as high cholesterol, lets put it this way most people in their 70′s are already on some sort of meds., anyway and which may help to prolong life.

Colin, your response makes a whole lot of sense.

Jennifer December 28, 2010 at 4:05 am

Please advise me whether I should take the statins my doctor has prescribed for me. My total cholesterol is 278 and my HDL 74, my LDL 179.2, my triglycerides is 124, cholesterol: HDL is 3.76, and my VLDL 24.8. I am a 56 y/o female. I weigh 45 kgs, height 4ft 11 inches and am being treated for TB of the lymph nodes. My cholesterol shot up after the treatment started and has increased steadily every month. Before the treatment it was normal – below 200 mg. I don’t drink or smoke. Should I take the statins? Would be truly grateful for your advice.

Colin December 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

Jennifer, please understand that I cannot and will not dispense medical advice.

I will share that I personally would never – under any circumstance – take a cholesterol lowering drug. The side effects and consequences are too numerous and serious for any perceived benefit. And it’s just way too easy to lower cholesterol with the right diet changes and the right supplements.

But you have to make a decision that YOU are comfortable with … not a decision for me or anyone else.

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