Heart disease is the number one killer across the United States, and one of the risk factors that often makes the disease so deadly is high cholesterol.
However, one doctor says that’s all a myth. Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of The Great Cholesterol Myth, spoke with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, about how lowering your cholesterol may not necessarily prevent heart disease.
“It’s not even really a good predictor of heart disease,” Bowden said. “Half the people who are admitted to hospitals in America with cardiovascular disease have normal cholesterol – and half the people with elevated cholesterol have normal hearts.”
Bowden doesn’t necessarily think cholesterol plays no role whatsoever in the development of heart disease, but it actually has taken our attention away from other important factors that contribute to cardiovascular problems – such as inflammation, oxidative damage, stress and sugar in the diet.
“Those are the things we really believe cause heart disease, and cholesterol is a pretty minor player – but we put all our efforts into lowering it,” Bowden said.
Cholesterol used to be measured with just one number. Now, doctors know there are two main types of cholesterol – HDL and LDL – and there are five different kinds of each.
“They behave quite differently in the body,” Bowden said of LDL and HDL. “LDL comes in two big flavors: LDL-A and LDL-B. LDL-A looks like a big cotton ball; it can’t do any damage. It can’t get caught in the arteries. LDL-B is a bad guy – but most people don’t know which one they have.”