Cholesterol and Longevity
Want to live a healthy life and increase your longevity? Then get your total cholesterol below 150,
One piece of evidence that is true is that the healthiest and longest-lived
societies on planet earth, as documented in John Robbin's
Healthy at 100, all have cholesterol below 150. These cultures have
virtually no heart disease or cancer. Contrasted with the typical modern,
industrialized society where both cholesterol and mortality rates are much
higher, one can't help
but wonder if cholesterol is causative.
Unfortunately, examining whole cultures is not really a good proof, since after
all, there are many lifestyle factors that are significant health-determining
factors. For example, all of the above cultures exercise for many hours of the
day and all of these cultures also tend to be low stress and low calorie as
well. It is difficult to separate out one variable from another. The
famed China Study attempted to do this and offered additional evidence for those
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Complicating matters were several earlier studies that showed that all cause and
cancer mortality tended to go up with lower cholesterol levels below about 150.
In other words, some studies seemed to show the very opposite of what the above
supercultures showed. The Paleo and Low Carb diet crowds took advantage of
the situation and a tidal wave of internet articles and pages presented the idea
that a low chosterol diet was actually dangerous.
Some researchers have even jumped on the bandwagon. One Japanese scientist
recently went so far as to state that "cholesterol is an essential component for
the creation of cell membranes and hormones. It's not recommended to lower LDL
figures by means of dietary intake and medication."  In other words, the
argument was that one could not get enough cholesterol on a low fat diet to
adequately supply the body with needed fatty acids.
At one time this kind of thinking prevailed and the great majority of pop diets
and related books were all low carb. If you went into the health section of a
big bookstore, it was hard to even find a low fat diet book. Some of this
thinking still prevails to this day, although the China Study was a powerful
The burning question, of course, remained though, "Why did the studies show that
low cholesterol led to decreased longevity and increased mortality?" Well,
researchers had long ago answered this question. One study from 1981, for
example, showed that
What they found was both important and interesting: low cholesterol did not
increase overall cancer rates significantly IF you took out those with
"preexisting conditions". They did this by removing those with known
cancer and those who died within the first two years. Let's face it: most
of those who die within two years from cancer likely had it at the time of the
study and this will lower cholesterol levels unnaturally.  (NOTE:
The researchers did find that colon cancer had a higher risk factor with low
cholesterol once these other factors were taken into account, but this is the
A 1995 British Medical Journal study found an additional explanation that
verified this conclusion: they found that if you looked far enough into
the future, all cancer risks were eliminated.  Again, this shows that a
number of individuals had lower cholesterol levels due to prexisting cancer and,
when eliminated, becomes irrelevant. A similar study of Finnish men reached the
exact same conclusion. 
Thus, the studies show the following: lowering cholesterol dramatically and
linearly decreases heart disease and is largely neutral with respect to cancer.
This results in an impressive overall decrease in mortality and increase in
longevity when all factors are combined.
2) Am. J. Epidemiol, 1981, 114(1):11-20, "SERUM CHOLESTEROL AND MORTALITY IN A
JAPANESE-AMERICAN POPULATION THE HONOLULU HEART PROGRAM"
3) BMJ, 1995 Aug 12, 311(7002): 409–413, "Low serum total cholesterol
concentrations and mortality in middle aged British men"
4) Am. J. Epidemiol, 1992, 135(11):1251-1258, "Short- and Long-term Association
of Serum Cholesterol with Mortality The 25-year Follow-up of the Finnish Cohorts
of the Seven Countries Study"