There is a lot of confusion about cholesterol levels and human health.
Is your Dr. recommended level of total serum cholesterol under 200 justified?
What would the ideal total cholesterol level be for your health? Here is an interesting graph I came across. It measures cholesterol levels and mortality rates from 164 countries around the world. There are some surprising results. It seems that the *ideal* total cholesterol level is higher than what doctors recommend. By ideal I mean it has the smallest correlation to heart disease and overall mortality.
- Those with a total cholesterol level of 208 were the least likely to die from heart disease. About 220 deaths per 100,000 people.
- People with a cholesterol level of 150 accounted for 600 deaths from heart disease per 100,000. Meaning those with total cholesterol level of 150 were nearly 3x as likely to die from heart disease than those with cholesterol levels just over 200.
- Only when cholesterol levels go above 244 do we find that high cholesterol is worse than having a cholesterol level of 150.
- The ideal cholesterol level to have for not dying of any reason, not just heart disease is 223. But this is largely to a dramatic decrease in infectious and parasitic diseases.
- My father recently cut down on red meat, and egg yolks and his total cholesterol dropped from 201 to 165. The popular thinking on this is that he just did a great thing for his heart. Yet according to this graph he just doubled his chance of dying from heart disease!
Is this result replicated in other studies? Apparently yes. In a study done by the Japanese they found that patients with total cholesterol levels between 200-219 were the least likely to die. The optimal LDL level was considered between 120-139. A standard lipid profile you get during a routine check up will tell you that having a LDL level of under 130 and a total cholesterol level of under 200 is ideal, but that doesn’t seem to mesh with this data.
According to these results my fathers total cholesterol drop from 201 to 165 increased his risk of mortality by 72%. And his lowering of his LDL from 138 to 101 increased his rate of mortality 20%.
In Conclusion: These are only a few studies, and I am sure there are probably other studies with different results. But at the very least one has to wonder whether or not the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is really as scary as people make it out to be. There in fact have been a plethora of books on the subject lately that argue that relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is a myth. I’ll tell you one thing, my total cholesterol level at my last check up was 212, and I’m definitely not worried about. It may even be ideal.