The “cholesterol” hypothesis of heart disease is amazingly complex and convoluted. It is a fact that the German, French, and Italian, medical establishments do not believe cholesterol to be a major factor in heart disease, and do not test for it at all unless the patient has at least 3 other “major” risk factors: genetic predisposition (family history), high stress, and obesity, with the latter being the single most predictive risk factor for coronary artery diseases regardless of cholesterol levels.
I’d like to add that the citizens of Germany, Italy, and France, all enjoy longer life spans, and dramatically lower cases of coronary artery disease than U.S. citizens, and all have far fewer numbers of obese people, as well.
A recently completed 20 year study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that risk of heart disease is 90% determined by being overweight, regardless of any other risk factors, and simply losing weight is a persons best defense.
Again, this is a very complex story and cannot be fully understood without also examining the political and economic factors involved in the way american health medicine is manipulated by “for profit” entities. My favorite quote from the article is the last one by Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, director of preventive cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and a geneticist at the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard:
“When people see numbers in the abnormal range they want to do something about it,” Dr. Kathiresan said. “It is very hard to get across the concept that the safest thing might be to leave people alone.”
And on a more chipper note here’s another health related link that makes me smile: