Thursday, January 17, 2008

Could the cholesterol house of cards be falling?

Today's New York Times reports that in light of recent trials of Zetia and Vytorin, maybe lowering cholesterol isn't the way to prevent heart disease. This is huge. And it's about #$!%ing time!

As I mentioned in a previous post, these trials shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone who has reviewed the research and trial data on heart disease. For my master's thesis on genomics at Columbia, I found out very quickly that cholesterol isn't the cause of heart disease. If anything, it's what's known as a "risk factor." That is, for some people, high cholesterol could mean that they're more likely to develop heart disease. But even on that count, it's a highly unreliable measure. Or, to put it more bluntly, the whole cholesterol theory which has dominated cardiology for the past four decades, is a house of cards. And who am I? A scientist? A cardiologist? Hardly! I'm a journalist, for God's sake. How hard can this be to figure out?

Could the world finally be waking up to this? If so, the implications are massive. No more low-fat diets. No more enforced statin therapy for anyone with cholesterol over 160. And maybe, just maybe, the way will be cleared for a new set of theories, so that the western world's number one killer can finally be stopped. And to that, I say hallelujah.

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