[Need to change the direction of cholesterol-related medication--a problem of great urgency]

Yakugaku Zasshi. 2005 Nov;125(11):833-52. doi: 10.1248/yakushi.125.833.
[Article in Japanese]


The cholesterol hypothesis implies that reducing the intake of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol and increasing that of polyunsaturated fatty acid are effective in lowering serum total cholesterol (TC), and thereby reducing the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, these dietary recommendations are essentially ineffective in reducing TC in the long run, but rather increase mortality rates from CHD and all causes. The reported "apparent relative risk of high TC in CHD mortality" (the ratio of mortality at the highest/lowest TC levels) varied several-fold among populations studied. The incidence of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) in a population was proposed to be a critical factor in the observed variability, which could be accounted for by assuming that 1) the high CHD mortality rate in high-TC groups is mainly a reflection of the incidence and severity of FH, and 2) high TC is not a causative factor of CHD in non-FH cases. This interpretation is supported by recent observations that high TC is not positively associated with high CHD mortality rates among general populations more than 40-50 years of age. More importantly, higher TC values are associated with lower cancer and all-cause mortality rates among these populations, in which relative proportions of FH are likely to be low (circa 0.2%). Although the effectiveness of statins in preventing CHD has been accepted in Western countries, little benefit seems to result from efforts to limit dietary cholesterol intake or to TC values to less than approximately 260 mg/dl among the general population and the elderly. Instead, an unbalanced intake of omega6 over omega3 polyunsaturated fats favors the production of eicosanoids, the actions of which lead to the production of inflammatory and thrombotic lipid mediators and altered cellular signaling and gene expression, which are major risk factors for CHD, cancers, and shorter longevity. Based on the data reviewed here, it is urgent to change the direction of current cholesterol-related medication for the prevention of CHD, cancer, and all-cause mortality.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticholesteremic Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Anticholesteremic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II / mortality
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Linoleic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Linoleic Acid / adverse effects
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / prevention & control
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / administration & dosage*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid