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News1990December › What doctors read › December 1990

What doctors read

It's been said that an Englishman would die rather than be deprived of his bangers and mash, and finally there is scientific proof of it

It's been said that an Englishman would die rather than be deprived of his bangers and mash, and finally there is scientific proof of it.

A new study has demonstrated that lowering your cholesterol may lessen your chances of dying from a heart attack. The catch, however, is that you'll die instead from cancer, or suffer an ignoble end from accident, suicide or murder. This is the bizarre conclusion of a massive University of Pittsburgh study of 24,847 patients of an average age of 47 and a half years over nearly five years.

During the time of the study, over a thousand deaths occurred. The study determined that those in the test group on a cholesterol lowering diet were less likely to die from a heart attack than those on a typical diet.

Nevertheless, the test group deaths showed a significant increase not only in cancer but in deaths not related to illness, such as accidents, suicide or violence.

Consequently, the study concluded, the overall rate of survival was no higher in the cholesterol lowered group.

"The association between reduction of cholesterol concentrations and deaths not related to illness warrants further investigation," the report said. "Additionally, the failure of cholesterol lowering to affect overall survival justifies a more cautious appraisal of the probable benefits of reducing cholesterol concentrations in the general population."

The publication of these conclusions coincides with the announcement by health secretary Kenneth Clarke that blood cholesterol tests may become part of a national prevention campaign to detect people at risk of heart disease.

Judging from the results of this study, besides foregoing sausage and chips, that prevention campaign might now have to include giving up your driver's license, carrying a loaded gun and keeping the telephone number of the Samaritans by your bedside.


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