Medicines and Vegetable Oils as Hidden Causes of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes

Pharmacology. 2016;98(3-4):134-70. doi: 10.1159/000446704. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


Background: Positive associations have been observed between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), but their causal relationship has not been clarified. Nevertheless, guidelines from relevant medical societies recommend using cholesterol lowering medication (statin) for both types of patients. Medicines with several different action mechanisms have been developed, and the effectiveness of different lifestyle modifications has been studied extensively for the prevention of DM, which was successful in improving clinical marker status in relatively short-term treatments, but none have been shown to be effective in improving long-term outcomes (mortality from CVD and all causes).

Summary: Statin-induced suppression of prenyl intermediates in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway has been linked to stimulated atherosclerosis and heart failure. On the other hand, certain types of vegetable oil and hydrogenated oil shortened the survival of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats by decreasing platelet number, increasing hemorrhagic tendency and damaging kidney functions, which could not be accounted for by their fatty acid and phytosterol compositions. These vegetable oils and medicines such as statin and warfarin share, in part, a common mechanism to inhibit vitamin K2-dependent processes, which was interpreted to lead to increased onset of CVD, DM, chronic kidney disease, bone fracture and even mental disorder. Impaired vitamin K2-dependent processes by some types of vegetable oils and medicines, but not plasma high low density lipoprotein cholesterol, were proposed as the cause of CVD, DM and other lifestyle-related diseases. High n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio of ingested foods, but not animal fats, was emphasized to be another risk factor for many of the diseases described above.

Key messages: To date, no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been performed to prove the above interpretation. However, the opposite types of RCT trials have been performed by increasing the intake of high-linoleic vegetable oils and reducing that of animal fats, which resulted in increased CVD and all-cause mortality. The amounts of these vegetable oils to exhibit adverse effects in animal studies are not huge (<6 energy %), which should not be overlooked nor disregarded.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Humans
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Fats
  • Plant Oils