Autoimmunity is a process in which our bodies own immune system attacks “us.” Normally the immune system protects us from bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. The immune system identifies a foreign invader, attacks it, and ideally clears the infection. A good analogy for autoimmunity is the case of tissue rejection after organ donation. If someone requires a new heart, lung kidney or liver due to disease or injury, a donor organ may be an option. The first step in this process is trying to find a tissue “match”. All of us have molecules in our tissues that our immune system uses to recognize self from non-self. If a donated organ is not close enough to the recipient in tissue type the immune system will attack and destroy the organ. In autoimmunity, a similar process occurs in that an individuals own tissue is confused as something foreign and the immune system attacks this “mislabeled” tissue. Common forms of autoimmunity include Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Vitiligo to name only a tiny fraction of autoimmune diseases. Elements of autoimmunity are likely at play in conditions as seemingly unrelated as Schizophrenia, infertility, and various forms of cancer.
The WHO trial (so named because the international team of principal investigators contained World Health Organization members) tested the potential of clofibrate, a “pre-statin” cholesterol-lowering agent, to reduce heart attack morbidity and mortality. The investigators ultimately concluded that clofibrate "cannot be recommended as a lipid-lowering drug for community-wide primary prevention of ischaemic heart disease.” Nevertheless, clofibrate remained in use until 2002, when it was pulled for increasing cancer rates. In their review of studies such as the WHO trial, Uffe Ravnskov and David Diamond observe, “Despite the largely disappointing findings from 50 years of cholesterol lower[ing] trials, the indictment and conviction of cholesterol as the causal agent in CVD [cardiovascular disease] has stood the test of time. … [Yet] the grand effort to reduce cholesterol as a strategy to improve health has failed.”