By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS aka “The Rogue Nutritionist” ™

Since Amazon is featuring a special on the Kindle Edition of “The Great Cholesterol Myth” during August, I thought this would be a perfect time to review some of the important concepts we cover in that book. If you haven’t read it yet, the amazing sale on Amazon is a perfect time to pick it up (or, in this case, to have it auto-delivered!)

Great Cholesterol Book Cover

As some of you probably know, cardiologist Stephen Sinatra and I co-authored a book entitled “The Great Cholesterol Myth” which created quite a stir when it came out at the end of 2012. The Australian BBC did a two-parter on it—which engendered all kinds of protests from the (very conservative) Australian medical establishment, and when we appeared on Dr. Oz, ten doctors wrote a joint letter to him protesting the fact that he gave air time to the “ridiculous” notion that cholesterol doesn’t matter. (Of course, hundreds more doctors wrote to us to thank us for finally telling the truth!)

So, you might well ask, what is the great cholesterol myth? And why should I even care?

First of all, belief in the Great Cholesterol Myth has caused us to take our eye off the ball when it comes to preventing heart disease. Belief in the Great Cholesterol Myth has caused us to neglect the real causes of heart disease while obsessively focusing on an innocuous molecule that’s essential for life and has only a minor role in heart disease.

And you should care about all this for two reasons. One, the Great Cholesterol Myth has been the foundation of the boneheaded dietary advice you and I have been saddled with for the past thirty years, “official” dietary advice that has directly contributed to the greatest epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in history.

The Great Cholesterol Myth is actually a series of related myths. Here are eight of my favorites.

MYTH: High cholesterol is the cause of heart disease.

FACT: Cholesterol is a fairly insignificant player in heart disease.

MYTH: High cholesterol is a good predictor of heart attacks.

FACT: High cholesterol is a lousy predictor of heart attacks. Half the people admitted to hospitals with heart disease or for heart surgery have normal cholesterol, and plenty of people with elevated cholesterol have perfectly healthy hearts.

MYTH: Lowering cholesterol with statin drugs will prolong your life.

FACT: There is no data showing statins have any impact on longevity. In virtually all of the studies, the people taking statins have a couple of less deaths from heart disease and a couple of more deaths from other causes like cancer, making the total number of lives saved… let’s see.. that would be zero.

MYTH: Statin drugs are perfectly safe.

FACT: Statin drugs have significant side effects, including loss of memory and libido, muscle pain and fatigue, and approximately 65% of doctors don’t report those side effects. (1)

MYTH: Statin drugs are appropriate for men, women, children and the elderly.

FACT: The only group in which statins have been shown to have even a modest effect is in middle-aged men who’ve already had a heart attack. If you’re not in that group, you’ve got no business on a statin drug. (2)

MYTH: Saturated fat is dangerous.

FACT: Saturated fat is mostly neutral and may even have some health benefits. Recent peer-reviewed studies have shown no association of saturated fat with heart disease. (3)

MYTH: The higher your cholesterol, the shorter your lifespan.

FACT: In the Framingham Study, the people who actually lived the longest had the highest cholesterol. (4)

MYTH: A high carbohydrate diet protects you from heart disease.

FACT: Diets that substitute carbohydrates for saturated fat actually increase the risk for heart disease. (5)

For much, much more, check out “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan that Will”.

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, aka “The Rogue Nutritionist”™, is a board-certified nutritionist and co-author (with cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD) of “The Great Cholesterol Myth”.



By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS aka “The Rogue Nutritionist” ™