For half a century, a high level of total cholesterol (TC) or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) has been considered to be the major cause of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD), and statin treatment has been widely promoted for cardiovascular prevention. However, there is an increasing understanding that the mechanisms are more complicated and that statin treatment, in particular when used as primary prevention, is of doubtful benefit. Areas covered: The authors of three large reviews recently published by statin advocates have attempted to validate the current dogma. This article delineates the serious errors in these three reviews as well as other obvious falsifications of the cholesterol hypothesis. Expert commentary: Our search for falsifications of the cholesterol hypothesis confirms that it is unable to satisfy any of the Bradford Hill criteria for causality and that the conclusions of the authors of the three reviews are based on misleading statistics, exclusion of unsuccessful trials and by ignoring numerous contradictory observations.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; cardiovascular; cholesterol lowering; coronary heart disease; exposure–response; mortality; statin.