does cholesterol help the elderly live longer?...

Does cholesterol protect the elderly from heart attacks? Does cholesterol protect the elderly from strokes? Does cholesterol save the elderly from hospitalisation for infections?

Yes although you will find this difficult to believe – it has been proven that elderly people with high blood cholesterol levels have fewer heart attacks than those with lower cholesterol levels. Elderly people with high blood cholesterol levels also have fewer strokes than those with lower cholesterol levels. And elderly people with high blood cholesterol levels are indeed hospitalised for infections less often than those with lower cholesterol levels.

Surprised? Here is the Scientific Explanation
The scientific explanations of the above relationships between low cholesterol and disease are simple. 

1 • Cholesterol is an antioxidant - it has anti-inflammatory effects.
2 • Cholesterol is essential for cellular ‘cross-talk’ and thus crucial to membrane health.
3 • Cholesterol is the queen mother of all steroid hormones in the body. It is the raw material for vitamin D.
4 • Cholesterol is essential for healthy cell membranes, which are crucial for fighting infections. 

After taking this look at the molecular biology of cholesterol you would expect that people with high blood levels of healthy (non-rancid, non-oxidised) cholesterol would live the longest. This is a true fact.

Does Cholesterol Casuse Plaque in Arteries?
Microscopic studies by Professor M Ali in the 1960’s of arterial plaques removed in autopsy samples showed the presence of cholesterol crystals only in dead tissues deep in the walls of the vessels. There were never crystals in the inner lining tissue of the arteries. 

His conclusion - cholesterol deposits are not the cause but a consequence of tissue injury in blood vessel walls caused by excess acidity, incremental free-radical activity, microclot and microplaque formation in the circulating blood, stickiness of arterial lining, and intimal injury that precedes plaque formation. Cholesterol crystals only appeared in the plaque much later. 

The message is do your ‘homework’ about lowering cholesterol levels and the relationships of low cholesterol with disease before you start taking statin drugs such as Lipitor or Zocor. 

» Recommended supplement to reduce arterial plaque: Chelogarde

Scientific Evidence
A large number of studies validate the above statements:

» Published in 1990 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (272: 1335-1340) by Dr Harlan Krumholz of Yale University. His survey showed that twice as many elderly people with low cholesterol levels as elderly people with high cholesterol levels died from heart attacks.

» In 2003 Uffe Ravnskov, author of The Cholesterol Myths, conducted a more extensive survey of the published reports, analysed 11 studies of elderly people and supported the conclusion of the earlier Yale University report. His findings were published in the Quarterly Journal of Medicine (96: 927-934).

» In the mid-1990s Professor D R Jacobs and Dr Carlos Iribarren conducted a study of 100,000 healthy people in the San Francisco area over 15 years. They reported that those who had low cholesterol were hospitalised for infections more often than those with higher levels. Their data were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (1997; 26: 1191-1202) and Epidemiology and Infection (1998; 121: 335-347).

» In 2007, higher rates of newly diagnosed cancers were observed among people with lowered low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (lowered with the use of statin drugs). The Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported a direct relationship between lowered LDL cholesterol and cancer (2007; 50: 409-418). Consider the following quote from that article: ‘In 23 statin treatment arms with 309,506 person-years of follow-up…we observed a disturbing significant inverse relationship between achieved LDL-C levels and risk of newly diagnosed cancer’

» In a celebrated 1989 study of drug lowering of cholesterol levels, the New England Journal of Medicine reported more deaths among individuals who took the drug than in the control group treated with a placebo (1987; 317: 1237- 1245).

» More Health Bites... click here