I have always loved Norway as a country, and am now even keener as it is their researchers who have proved a theory I have been trying to convince my GP of for several years. Lowering cholesterol levels will not reduce your risk of a stroke.
A recent study by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology says that women with high cholesterol live longer and suffer from fewer heart attacks and strokes than those with lower cholesterol. Nor is this one of those ’20 women and a few unfortunate mice’ type of study that is sadly all too common.
They looked at 52,087 individuals between the ages of 20 and 74. After adjusting for factors like age, smoking and blood pressure, they found that women with high cholesterol (more than 270 mg/dl) had a 28 percent lower mortality risk than women with low cholesterol (under 193 mg/dl). Risk for heart disease, cardiac arrest and stroke also declined as cholesterol levels rose.
The researchers involved in the study admit this contradicts commonly accepted beliefs about cholesterol. They say current guideline information is misleading because the role of cholesterol in heart disease is overestimated. I have always understood that the role of cholesterol in heart disease in women is certainly not the deciding factor as it can be for men. That is how the statins market has been developed, but their effectiveness and reason for prescribing will have to be rethought.
Of course having very high cholesterol levels is not ideal: just as with our hormones we need to strike a balance. There are other contributing factors to heart disease such as stress, lifestyle and diet which are certainly the more natural way to begin looking at very high cholesterol levels.
As Dr John Lee pointed out may years ago, progesterone increases the burning of fat for energy and has anti-inflammatory effects: two factors that are protective against heart disease. It also protects the integrity and function of the cell membranes and promotes better sleep patterns, which helps us cope with stress.