Low cholesterol increases overall risk of death

Part 2: Confirmation

European-wide research on patients with chronic heart failure also found that those who had a higher total cholesterol lived longer. The chance of survival increased by 25% for each increase of 1.0 mmol/L (40mg/dL) in total cholesterol.[1]

The Japanese confirmed these results with a study conducted at Kyushu University. This concluded that '[Total cholesterol] level reduction from 240-259 mg/dl [6.24-6.73 mmol/L] to 160-199 mg/dl [4.2-5.2 mmol/L] leads to an increase in total mortality rate in the Japanese population'.[2]

The figures from this huge study of 55,000 men and women aged between 35 and 70 are in the two graphs below.

Mortality and total cholesterol levels, Men
Fig 1: Mortality and total cholesterol levels, Men
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Mortality and total cholesterol levels, Women
Fig 2: Mortality and total cholesterol levels, Women
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In both of these graphs you will note that cholesterol has very little effect on deaths from coronary heart disease (CHD): the number of deaths rise as cholesterol both rises and as it falls. But overall, the effects are small. That is not the case with the other causes of death. In strokes, cancer and from all causes of death combined, it is very clear that the lower your cholesterol is, the more likely you are to die. This is the same for all ages between 35 and 70, and for both sexes.

These graphs should provide a reason for those who are trying to get their cholesterol down to reconsider that decision.


1. Rauchhaus M, Clark AL, Doehner W, et al. The relationship between cholesterol and survival in patients with chronic heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol 2003; 42: 1933-40.

2. Kame C, Babazono A, Yamamoto E. [Estimation of effect of lipid lowering treatment on total mortality rate and its cost-effectiveness determined by intervention study of hypercholesterolemia] Nippon Eiseigaku Zasshi 2007; 62: 39-46.

Part 1. Overall Death -1 | Part 2. Overall Death -2 | Part 3. Overall Death -3
Part 4: Young deaths
Part 5: Middle aged deaths
Part 6: Elderly Death — 1 | Part 7: Elderly Death — 2 | Part 8: Elderly Death — 3

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Last updated: December 9, 2011