The dangers of having low cholesterol

Part 2: How physicians are fooled

So, with all this information apparently at their fingertips, you might wonder why there is such widespread acceptance of the cholesterol myth in the medical world, and why it is that doctors insist that everyone should have exactly the same cholesterol level. You might also wonder if their oath to 'first do no harm' means anything any more.

The reason is relatively simple to explain. Firstly, there are some 30,000 medical journals published and no doctor can be expected to read all of them. Secondly, wherever heart disease is mentioned in conjunction with cholesterol, out of the many studies that have been published only a mere handful of the supportive studies are quoted.[1] Those that don't support the myth are rarely mentioned. This preferential citation has skewed the facts.

In addition, pharmaceutical companies who sell cholesterol-lowering drugs produce many publications which broadcast the cholesterol lowering myth to millions.

Dr Jerome P Kassirer, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine told readers of The Washington Post that major publications such as Lipid Letter, Lipids Online, and Lipid Management are all financed by the makers of cholesterol-lowering drugs.[2]

These publications, which warn relentlessly of the (false) dangers of cholesterol, reach millions of medical doctors; they are designed, of course, to persuade doctors to prescribe their cholesterol lowering drugs.

So it isn't really surprising that overworked professionals continue to teach us that cholesterol is dangerous and pharmaceutical companies aggressively push their cholesterol lowering drugs.


1. Ravnskov U. Cholesterol lowering trials in coronary heart disease: frequency of citation and outcome. BMJ 1992; 305: 15-19.

2. Kassirer, Jerome P. Why Should We Swallow What These Studies Say? The Washington Post. 1 August 2004; B03.

Part 1: Introduction | Part 2: How physicians are fooled | Part 3: Conclusion

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Last updated: December 9, 2011