Several years ago, overly-simplified descriptions of good and bad cholesterol led to several misconceptions about cholesterol. One of the most damaging was the myth that high cholesterol causes heart disease.
As recently as 2010, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) described cholesterol-rich foods as “foods to reduce.” It wasn’t until 2015 that the DGAC acknowledged the mountains of scientific evidence by issuing a revised statement saying, “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
As a wave of inaccurate stories began to proliferate in the media, statins suddenly became fashionable as a cure-all for high cholesterol. Suddenly statin drugs were prescribed as a preventative drug to anyone with the slightest risk of heart disease, even though they were healthy!
Statins were originally prescribed as a secondary prevention treatment for people at high risk of heart disease. High risk patients are those who already had a heart attack and a clear diagnosis of heart disease. But when statin studies inflated the benefits and results of statin use, as the ASTEROID trial for the statin drug Crestor did in 2006, it led clinicians to over-prescribe statins as a quick-fix for anyone with high cholesterol. Statistically, one out of four Americans over the age of 40 is now taking a statin.