LOWERING CHOLESTEROL DOUBLES RISK OF DYING FOR RETIREES
Researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York report a low cholesterol count doubles the risk of death among the senior Americans. The report, published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, evaluated 2277 senior Americans, aged 65 to 98 years, 21% who were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. It is widely believed that elevated blood cholesterol numbers are associated with health and blood vessel disease and mortality in middle-aged populations. Researchers examined whether this was true among senior adults. [Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 53, 219-226, 2005] Over a period of 3 years, lower total cholesterol and low-density cholesterol (LDL) was associated with a greater risk of dying. Use of statin cholesterol-lowering drugs seemed to lower this associated but did not abolish the elevated risk of death. Previous studies also confirm this newly published report. In 2001 researchers at the University of Hawaii (Manoa), reported that males 71-93 years of age enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program with low levels of cholesterol persisting over 20 years had a higher risk of dying from all causes. Researchers then said: "We have been unable to explain our results. These data cast doubt on the scientific justification for lowering cholesterol to very low concentrations in elderly people." [Lancet 358: 351-55, 2001] The largest study conducted to date (ALLHAT) reveals that cholesterol-lowering drugs only lower mortality rates by insignificant 0.4% over and above usual medical care. [Journal American Medical Assn 288: 2998-3007, 2002] The widely reported benefits of cholesterol - lowering drugs appear to be apparent only when high-risk groups are included in studies. [Journal American Medical Assn 291:1864-70, 2004] The idea of lowering cholesterol among retirees, or healthy middle-aged adults, appears to be in question.