The Cold Case Files: Cholesterol And Heart Disease

A production crew from Korea came to the Fat Head farm on Sunday to interview me and to film us collecting eggs and cooking them up with some sausage. The segments will go into a TV special about the controversy over whether saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. I will, of course, be one of those who says nope, they don’t. They’ll interview several other people who share my opinion (Uffe Ravnskov and Chris Masterjohn among them, if I remember correctly) and, of course, the usual suspects who still promote the artergycloggingsaturatedfat! theory.

I wasn’t sure how specific they’d want me to be as far as citing research, so I took some time over the weekend to poke through my database of articles and studies. Turns out their questions were more general (“Do you worry at all about how much saturated fat you eat?”), but what the heck, since I came across a couple of interesting items in what I now think of as the Cold Case Files, I thought I’d share them.

The first is a study published in – wait for it – the Journal of the American Heart Association. The AHA is, of course, one of the organizations most responsible for scaring people away from saturated fat. Saturated fat raises cholesterol, and high cholesterol causes heart attacks, doncha know. At least that’s been their position ever since Ancel Keys joined the AHA board of directors.

But this study is from 1961 – before Keys joined the AHA board. So I find the study’s conclusions rather fascinating. The researchers gathered data on serum cholesterol levels and coronary artery blockage taken from 200 autopsies. Here’s what they found:

The mean atherosclerotic indices, i.e., the amount and severity of atherosclerosis in the aorta and the coronary and cerebral arteries, showed progressive increase with age.

The mean serum total cholesterol concentration rose progressively from the first decade to a maximum level in the fifth decade and subsequently declined.

In other words, cholesterol tends to rise until sometime around age 50, then drop a bit. The buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, meanwhile, progresses throughout life. The researchers noted those facts because they wanted to avoid a false association:

The mean serum total cholesterol showed a progressive rise from the first to sixth groups of aortic atherosclerosis, but, at the same time, the mean age for each group also increased. Since the amount of atherosclerosis in the aorta increased with age and the serum cholesterol concentration also rose up to the fifth decade, it is important to determine if the significant correlation between the concentration of serum total cholesterol and aortic atherosclerosis is a correlation with severity of atherosclerosis per se or is merely due to the effect of age, or both.

So they compared serum cholesterol and coronary blockage within age groups. The results:

No correlation could be found between the two, indicating that, when the age factor was removed, the positive correlation between aortic atherosclerosis and serum total cholesterol is statistically insignificant.

And later in the same paper:

In the present study, we did not find any significant correlation between the blood serum total cholesterol and atherosclerotic index as a representation of the extent and severity of atherosclerosis for any of the vessels studied. The mean serum total cholesterol concentration in the six groups of aortic atherosclerosis showed a successive rise but, when the age factor was taken into consideration, the correlation between atherosclerosis and serum cholesterol in these same groups was found statistically insignificant.

No significant association once you take age into account.  Doesn’t that just make you want to run out and get a prescription for statins?

In my research database, I also found an abstract from a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study of diets in the U.K. vs. France. It’s a bit of a silly study, based on dietary recall and all that, but I saved it because of this gem:

There were positive and negative trends in food consumption in each country. UK respondents reported eating more beans and pulses, less cheese, red meat, and processed meats than French respondents. However, on the negative side, they ate less fruit and vegetables, fish and poultry, cereals, and more sweets and chocolates and cakes, pastries, biscuits and puddings.

Hey, way to go, UK! Sure, the Brits reported eating more sweets and biscuits. But by gosh, they also reported eating less meat, processed meat and cheese than the French. I’m pretty sure they also eat less butter than the French. And aren’t foods like meat, cheese and butter the causes of heart disease?  They raise cholesterol levels, ya know.

The study was published in 2000. I happen to have spreadsheets of World Health Organization data on average cholesterol levels and heart-attack deaths from that period. (Some of it’s from 2000, some from 2002.) I plucked the data for the UK and France. I also added data for the Czech Republic, Germany and Russia. Why? Well, the Russians have low average cholesterol, the Czechs have the same average cholesterol as the French, and the Germans have one of the highest average cholesterol levels in the world.

Here are the average cholesterol levels among men, from lowest to highest:

Russia 189
UK: 197
France: 209
Czech Republic: 209
Germany: 220

According to the Cholesterol Kills! theory, the Russians are in great shape as far as heart disease, while the Germans are probably grabbing their chests and dropping like flies.

Here’s a chart I created in Excel to plot cholesterol levels against rates of heart-attack deaths. The blue line is average cholesterol levels among men; the orange line is annual heart-attack deaths per 100,000 men.

Hmmm, things aren’t looking so good for the Russians after all. And German men have fewer fatal heart-attack deaths as a group than men in the UK, despite an average cholesterol level that’s 23 points higher.

The Russian heart-attack rate is so high, including Russia scrunches the chart. So here it is again with Russia removed.

If high cholesterol causes heart disease, those lines should more or less rise together. But they clearly don’t. If anything, they tend to move in opposite directions.

It was fun digging through the Cold Case Files. But I’ll be happy when the entire Cholesterol Kills! theory is a cold case file.

Share

115 thoughts on “The Cold Case Files: Cholesterol And Heart Disease

  1. Charles Grashow

    Russia 189
    UK: 197
    France: 209
    Czech Republic: 209
    Germany: 220

    SO – if your TC is >300 on a VLCHF diet should you worry??

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Total cholesterol is a meaningless number. It’s like saying you have too many cells in your body. Brain cells? Muscle cells? Cancer cells?

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          If it’s extremely high, you could have familial hyperlipidemia, in which case you’d want to get checked. If I remember correctly, the problem with FH isn’t the body making too much cholesterol; it’s a flaw in the ability clear the stuff from the blood.

          There are people with very high cholesterol whose coronary arteries are fine, and there are people with low cholesterol whose coronary arteries become clogged. So if I had FH, I wouldn’t try beating down my cholesterol as a first line of defense. I’d go get my arteries scanned to see if they’re actually becoming clogged. No point in treating a problem you don’t actually have.

          Reply
    1. Stephen T.

      J, Russians smoke like chimneys and drink like fish. There may be lots more to it, but chain smoking and massive alcohol consumption are common.

      Some facts for the Koreans:

      France has the highest rate of saturated fat consumption in the world and a heart disease rate one third of the UK’s. A number of other countries show similar results, including Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Holland and Germany. (WHO figures.)

      Lithuania’s population consumes half France’s level of saturated fat, yet has a rate of CHD nine times higher. This is one example of many. The WHO figures in Europe show a clear relationship between higher saturated fat and lower heart disease.

      In America of 137,000 people, in 541 hospitals, who’d had a heart attack, 78% had below average cholesterol. (American Heart Journal, 2009)

      Reply
  2. Wenchypoo

    About Russia: it’s kind of hard to accumulate cholesterol when nearly everyone drinks themselves blind with vodka–no food in, no cholesterol on. This would also support the heart disease numbers. After all, what IS vodka? Fermented… (fill in the blank)–paper, potatoes, etc. I wonder if they bothered to check out Finland, which is on par or worse than Russia for their national drinking problem.

    Reply
  3. Nate

    “Doesn’t that just make you want to run out and get a prescription for statins?” Well, actually it makes me want to book a trip on a time machine.

    Reply
      1. Firebird

        Maybe you’ll leap back into your 16 year old self and have an argument with your father, who is a farmer, about how meat, dairy and eggs clog your arteries and cause heart disease, and try to get him to eat Raisin Bran with skim milk. 😉

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          I wish I could leap back about 20 years and tell my dad to get off the Lipitor before it ruins his brain.

          Reply
  4. Charles Grashow

    Russia 189
    UK: 197
    France: 209
    Czech Republic: 209
    Germany: 220

    SO – if your TC is >300 on a VLCHF diet should you worry??

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Total cholesterol is a meaningless number. It’s like saying you have too many cells in your body. Brain cells? Muscle cells? Cancer cells?

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          If it’s extremely high, you could have familial hyperlipidemia, in which case you’d want to get checked. If I remember correctly, the problem with FH isn’t the body making too much cholesterol; it’s a flaw in the ability clear the stuff from the blood.

          There are people with very high cholesterol whose coronary arteries are fine, and there are people with low cholesterol whose coronary arteries become clogged. So if I had FH, I wouldn’t try beating down my cholesterol as a first line of defense. I’d go get my arteries scanned to see if they’re actually becoming clogged. No point in treating a problem you don’t actually have.

          Reply
      1. Tom Welsh

        The only reason TC was ever used by doctors was that machinery was created that measured TC. The fact that TC tells you nothing useful was not allowed to stand in the way of profit.

        Reply
        1. Elenor

          I always loved Jimmie Moore’s bit about your total cholesterol ‘number’: it’s like asking what the final score was in a ball game, and being told: “29.”

          Yeah, THAT’S helpful!

          Reply
        2. Walter Bushell

          And with each new class of drugs a new “disease” is created. Before that they call you crazy and send you to a psynk.

          Or in our criminal injustice system, there needs to be someone convicted for a notorious crime and the response may be “Jai Random is someone — convict him.”

          Reply
  5. Wenchypoo

    About Russia: it’s kind of hard to accumulate cholesterol when nearly everyone drinks themselves blind with vodka–no food in, no cholesterol on. This would also support the heart disease numbers. After all, what IS vodka? Fermented… (fill in the blank)–paper, potatoes, etc. I wonder if they bothered to check out Finland, which is on par or worse than Russia for their national drinking problem.

    Reply
  6. Nate

    “Doesn’t that just make you want to run out and get a prescription for statins?” Well, actually it makes me want to book a trip on a time machine.

    Reply
      1. Firebird

        Maybe you’ll leap back into your 16 year old self and have an argument with your father, who is a farmer, about how meat, dairy and eggs clog your arteries and cause heart disease, and try to get him to eat Raisin Bran with skim milk. 😉

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I wish I could leap back about 20 years and tell my dad to get off the Lipitor before it ruins his brain.

          Reply
      2. Paul B.

        Did you see that news blurb the other day to the effect that researchers are saying MORE people need to be on statins? The Today Show (yes, I know, I know) said that some “study” showed that statins “could” reduce deaths and heart disease if more people took them. Of course there was no information about what the study actually did (observational? experimental?) or what the data actually showed. I was wondering if you were planning to write about this.

        Reply
            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              What have you got against computer simulations? Thanks to computer simulations, Al Gore knows exactly what the temperature of the oceans will be in 2050, which way the wind will blow, and which streets in Manhattan will be under water.

            2. tony

              Gore predicted ten years ago that unless we took immediate action, Manhattan would be underwater in 2013 and Florida in 2014.

        1. Tom Welsh

          “…researchers are saying MORE people need to be on statins?”

          As long as corporations can make billions of dollars from selling them, there will continue to be no shortage of researchers saying such things. Money, like water, finds its level. And when there is a great deal of money earnestly pursuing yet more money, the results is a tidal wave of corruption.

          Reply
          1. Paul B.

            Agree 100%. The “studies” come with revised guidelines on who should be prescribed statins. According to them, around HALF of adults age 40 to 75 should be. Imagine how much more money the drug companies could make! (NTTAWWT–I have no problem with anyone earning an honest profit–but manipulating research and duping the public with the help of the federal government does not count.)

            Reply
          2. Walter Bushell

            According to the Quote Garden

            water.html
            Jun 22, 2015 – Water flows uphill towards money. ~Anonymous, saying in the American West, quoted by Ivan Doig in Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 1986

            And apparently frequently stated with and without attribution.

            Reply
  7. Linda

    Well, once more, I’m so encouraged by reading your posts! I have forwarded this one on to my recalcitrant friend in the UK. I know not why- I will surely get a STUPID article back from their daily news! I guess I can’t help myself- I keep thinking that some day the truth will hit “across the pond!”

    “I wish I could leap back about 20 years and tell my dad to get off the Lipitor before it ruins his brain.” I truly wish you could leap back 20 years also! I wish I could leap back 4 years and do my research prior to being put on a statin drug for two lousy months! I didn’t and now I walk with a walker as I’ve said before. I have passed out numerous copies of Fat Head and “The Great Cholesterol Con” and am constantly amazed that seemingly really intelligent people just don’t “get it!”

    I have to tell you that sometimes just going back and reading your blog posts keep me sane! What does it take for people to be slapped in the face with hard science and still not see truth??

    BTW, I listened to your reply to my last comment in the last post. I have ordered the probiotics on your site and will try them and RS again. I do listen, also.

    Again, thank you for all you do!

    Reply
  8. Arturo Silva

    I’m actually impressed the production crew didn’t come to interview you all about a certain snake-in-a-bedroom incident.

    Reply
  9. Josh

    I wouldn’t suppose that you have data for India? I have heard from several sources that they have the highest rate of heart disease in the world. This despite the fact that about 40% of the population are vegetarians. I don’t know what their cholesterol levels are like, but I know their alcohol and tobacco consumption is much lower than eastern Europe’s.

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      If I recall, Taubes looked at India’s numbers extensively in GCBC.

      Seems like the ones with the most heart disease were the factory workers – who Ate Less! and Moved More! all day compared to office workers, among other things.

      It’s also, like China, a huge country with widely disparate population groups. The vegetarian segments rely largely on grains for calories.

      Taubes broke it down very well.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  10. Galina L.

    My father (who was a Russian) who neither smoked nor drunk died at 51, he was diagnosed with ischemia at 40.
    I can only speculate what is causing early CVD among not smokers/drinkers in my native country. Russia is not a very comfortable country to live in , something bad keeps happening (I can’t get rid of a homesickness nevertheless). From a diet perspective I can tell that Russian people consume a lot of sunflower oil, but food there is less fattening than in US – a general crowd looks noticeably thinner than in US.

    Reply
    1. Tom Welsh

      Some experts (such as Dr Malcolm Kendrick) seem inclined to suspect stress as a main cause of heart disease.

      Reply
  11. Linda

    Well, once more, I’m so encouraged by reading your posts! I have forwarded this one on to my recalcitrant friend in the UK. I know not why- I will surely get a STUPID article back from their daily news! I guess I can’t help myself- I keep thinking that some day the truth will hit “across the pond!”

    “I wish I could leap back about 20 years and tell my dad to get off the Lipitor before it ruins his brain.” I truly wish you could leap back 20 years also! I wish I could leap back 4 years and do my research prior to being put on a statin drug for two lousy months! I didn’t and now I walk with a walker as I’ve said before. I have passed out numerous copies of Fat Head and “The Great Cholesterol Con” and am constantly amazed that seemingly really intelligent people just don’t “get it!”

    I have to tell you that sometimes just going back and reading your blog posts keep me sane! What does it take for people to be slapped in the face with hard science and still not see truth??

    BTW, I listened to your reply to my last comment in the last post. I have ordered the probiotics on your site and will try them and RS again. I do listen, also.

    Again, thank you for all you do!

    Reply
  12. Arturo Silva

    I’m actually impressed the production crew didn’t come to interview you all about a certain snake-in-a-bedroom incident.

    Reply
  13. George Henderson

    Great post Tom, it goes well with this old cold case I dug up last week, see my blog link above.
    Any correlation between cholesterol and CAD seems to be independent of died.

    Reply
    1. George Henderson

      To expand on that phone-mauled comment,
      The paper is Oliver and Boyd 1953, which showed high levels of cholesterol in CAD patients compared to case-controls. This was cited by Keys et al. as evidence in the diet-heart hypothesis. However, in the paper – everyone was eating the SAME hospital diet, showing that the association between lipids and CAD existed independently of diet.
      http://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/oliver-and-boyd-1953-lessons-from-early.html

      Reply
  14. Josh

    I wouldn’t suppose that you have data for India? I have heard from several sources that they have the highest rate of heart disease in the world. This despite the fact that about 40% of the population are vegetarians. I don’t know what their cholesterol levels are like, but I know their alcohol and tobacco consumption is much lower than eastern Europe’s.

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      If I recall, Taubes looked at India’s numbers extensively in GCBC.

      Seems like the ones with the most heart disease were the factory workers – who Ate Less! and Moved More! all day compared to office workers, among other things.

      It’s also, like China, a huge country with widely disparate population groups. The vegetarian segments rely largely on grains for calories.

      Taubes broke it down very well.

      Cheers.

      Reply
  15. Galina L.

    My father (who was a Russian) who neither smoked nor drunk died at 51, he was diagnosed with ischemia at 40.
    I can only speculate what is causing early CVD among not smokers/drinkers in my native country. Russia is not a very comfortable country to live in , something bad keeps happening (I can’t get rid of a homesickness nevertheless). From a diet perspective I can tell that Russian people consume a lot of sunflower oil, but food there is less fattening than in US – a general crowd looks noticeably thinner than in US.

    Reply
    1. Tom Welsh

      Some experts (such as Dr Malcolm Kendrick) seem inclined to suspect stress as a main cause of heart disease.

      Reply
    1. George Henderson

      To expand on that phone-mauled comment,
      The paper is Oliver and Boyd 1953, which showed high levels of cholesterol in CAD patients compared to case-controls. This was cited by Keys et al. as evidence in the diet-heart hypothesis. However, in the paper – everyone was eating the SAME hospital diet, showing that the association between lipids and CAD existed independently of diet.
      http://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/oliver-and-boyd-1953-lessons-from-early.html

      Reply
  16. Ulfric Douglas

    Older Russki men smoke the shittiest cigarettes imaginable : get no exercise and live in what I’d call polluted cities.
    It’s a miracle my Father-in-law is still alive!
    They do however have a long-lived genetic trait which balances things out a lot.
    Give the smoking fashion a couple of generations to die out and we’ll see the average Russki lifepan rise to great heights.

    Reply
  17. Ulfric Douglas

    There might be a million of us with a similar wish ;
    “I wish I could leap back about 20 years and tell my dad to get off the Lipitor before it ruins his brain.”

    Reply
      1. Walter Bushell

        I sure my parents wouldn’t listen to me. It’s hard for most to respect the opinions of someone whose diapers you’ve changed and against medical advice a very hard sell.

        Reply
  18. Onlooker

    I just finished Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s book, The Great Cholesterol Con. Very convincing take down of the cholesterol hypothesis, and not just the TC version but the role of LDL, HDL, etc in CHD. His hypothesis, which is quite compelling, is that it’s stress that causes CHD. Here’s a good blog post by him on that topic, if anybody’s interested: http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/05/23/what-does-cause-heart-disease-part-one-of-an-occasional-series/

    Reply
  19. Jo

    Hi Tom. Can I just check. Do the numbers stack up the same when you look at heart disease without death? I only ask, because France, Germany and the UK have pretty good healthcare systems compared to Russia so they might have as many heart attacks but better treatment in hospital. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re right on all counts, but some bunny is going to ask me that question!

    I can see all sorts of reasons why Russian heart attack rates are high. Some already mentioned like smoking and alcohol, and perhaps lower vitamin d in the far north.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      The WHO only had numbers for deaths. I’m sure you’re right that someone who does have a heart attack is more likely to survive in the Western European systems.

      Reply
  20. Ulfric Douglas

    Older Russki men smoke the shittiest cigarettes imaginable : get no exercise and live in what I’d call polluted cities.
    It’s a miracle my Father-in-law is still alive!
    They do however have a long-lived genetic trait which balances things out a lot.
    Give the smoking fashion a couple of generations to die out and we’ll see the average Russki lifepan rise to great heights.

    Reply
  21. Ulfric Douglas

    There might be a million of us with a similar wish ;
    “I wish I could leap back about 20 years and tell my dad to get off the Lipitor before it ruins his brain.”

    Reply
      1. Walter Bushell

        I sure my parents wouldn’t listen to me. It’s hard for most to respect the opinions of someone whose diapers you’ve changed and against medical advice a very hard sell.

        Reply
  22. Onlooker

    I just finished Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s book, The Great Cholesterol Con. Very convincing take down of the cholesterol hypothesis, and not just the TC version but the role of LDL, HDL, etc in CHD. His hypothesis, which is quite compelling, is that it’s stress that causes CHD. Here’s a good blog post by him on that topic, if anybody’s interested: http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2013/05/23/what-does-cause-heart-disease-part-one-of-an-occasional-series/

    Reply
  23. Jo

    Hi Tom. Can I just check. Do the numbers stack up the same when you look at heart disease without death? I only ask, because France, Germany and the UK have pretty good healthcare systems compared to Russia so they might have as many heart attacks but better treatment in hospital. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re right on all counts, but some bunny is going to ask me that question!

    I can see all sorts of reasons why Russian heart attack rates are high. Some already mentioned like smoking and alcohol, and perhaps lower vitamin d in the far north.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The WHO only had numbers for deaths. I’m sure you’re right that someone who does have a heart attack is more likely to survive in the Western European systems.

      Reply
  24. Tom Welsh

    Since the first paper you cited was published in 1961, Ancel Keys and his supporters showed a definite lack of scholarly due diligence in ignoring its findings. Especially as, over the decades, they utterly failed to produce any hard scientific evidence in support of their views.

    Yesterday I found myself thinking about the contrasting (and yet strangely parallel) cases of Ignaz Semmelweiss and Ancel Keys. When analyzed together, the two cases go a long way to destroying one’s faith in human reason.

    Semmelweiss (admittedly by creative induction and luck) found a highly effective way of slashing the death rate of women in childbirth. The only thing he lacked was a detailed and easily explained mechanism; but he did invoke the new theory that germs caused infectious diseases. Thus he was sticking to the scientific method, and the experimental results powerfully confirmed his ideas. Unconcerned with the many women now surviving their hospital rather than dying miserably, the other doctors closed ranks to execrate Semmelweiss. They mocked his ideas (everyone knew that disease was caused by an imbalance of the bodily humours) and hated his proposals (since doctors were gentlemen, how rude to say that their hands were not clean!) Semmelweiss was removed from his post, struck off, and eventually committed to a lunatic asylum (where, ironically, he died of an infection caused when the guards beat him up).

    Contrast the story of Keys. He suddenly had an idea: eating cholesterol (or maybe saturated fat) gunks up your arteries and kills you. Because arteries are just like sewer pipes. Instead of carefully gathering experimental evidence to back up his ideas, he rushed to publicize them instead. Soon he got government to trumpet the “fat will kill you/eat more healthy whole grains” message, and then it was locked in: no government ever admits it has made a mistake. Exactly the opposite of Semmelweiss, Keys was wrong; he had absolutely no factual evidence; he probably shortened hundreds of millions of lives and caused a lot of pain and suffering; and in return he was enriched, respected, and treated like scientific royalty.

    So, do we think there is intelligent life on earth?

    Reply
    1. Evin

      The sewer pipe thing reminds me of that British PSA that said that “if saturated fat clogs this pipe, imagine what it does to yours.”

      Reply
  25. Tom Welsh

    Since the first paper you cited was published in 1961, Ancel Keys and his supporters showed a definite lack of scholarly due diligence in ignoring its findings. Especially as, over the decades, they utterly failed to produce any hard scientific evidence in support of their views.

    Yesterday I found myself thinking about the contrasting (and yet strangely parallel) cases of Ignaz Semmelweiss and Ancel Keys. When analyzed together, the two cases go a long way to destroying one’s faith in human reason.

    Semmelweiss (admittedly by creative induction and luck) found a highly effective way of slashing the death rate of women in childbirth. The only thing he lacked was a detailed and easily explained mechanism; but he did invoke the new theory that germs caused infectious diseases. Thus he was sticking to the scientific method, and the experimental results powerfully confirmed his ideas. Unconcerned with the many women now surviving their hospital rather than dying miserably, the other doctors closed ranks to execrate Semmelweiss. They mocked his ideas (everyone knew that disease was caused by an imbalance of the bodily humours) and hated his proposals (since doctors were gentlemen, how rude to say that their hands were not clean!) Semmelweiss was removed from his post, struck off, and eventually committed to a lunatic asylum (where, ironically, he died of an infection caused when the guards beat him up).

    Contrast the story of Keys. He suddenly had an idea: eating cholesterol (or maybe saturated fat) gunks up your arteries and kills you. Because arteries are just like sewer pipes. Instead of carefully gathering experimental evidence to back up his ideas, he rushed to publicize them instead. Soon he got government to trumpet the “fat will kill you/eat more healthy whole grains” message, and then it was locked in: no government ever admits it has made a mistake. Exactly the opposite of Semmelweiss, Keys was wrong; he had absolutely no factual evidence; he probably shortened hundreds of millions of lives and caused a lot of pain and suffering; and in return he was enriched, respected, and treated like scientific royalty.

    So, do we think there is intelligent life on earth?

    Reply
    1. Evin

      The sewer pipe thing reminds me of that British PSA that said that “if saturated fat clogs this pipe, imagine what it does to yours.”

      Reply
  26. Joe MoreChole

    I like my cholesterol to be well over 250.

    Last tuesday, a friend was trying to convince me to eat quinoa, because it is a “low” carb grain (or quasi-grain). It has magnesium, and some b vitamins and many cute little things. When I was almost sold, she told me “Ah, and it also lowers cholesterol!”. And I said, “No! I don’t want to mess with cholesterol lowering foods! Idiot, you almost got me there!”

    I guess as the paradigm shifts to view cholesterol as a very healthy thing, suddenly many products which today are marketed as “helps you to reduce cholesterol” will be re-marketed as “helps you to increase cholesterol”. And almost nobody will notice the switcheroo. “We allways said so” will be heard in every tv show.

    Nonetheless, I will start doubting the benefits of saturated fats the moment a government recommends people to have five butter fried eggs every morning. They always screw things up. Even Arithmetic was almost destroyed by politics at one point.

    Reply
  27. Linda

    I have to chime in again on this same post. I actually have seen another ray of hope. I take care of my 95 year old bed-ridden father whose medical care is through the VA system. As such, I have to cooperate with certain conferences recommended by his doc. Today was a conference with a dietician (HMPH!!) I can’t believe it- a government paid dietician actually told me that cholesterol didn’t matter- in fact it was better higher in older people, give my father full fat foods, cut processed junk if he ate it, and plenty of eggs and don’t use fake spreads- use real butter and coconut oil !! There may be a tiny ray of light at the end of this health tunnel!

    Reply
    1. Evin

      Our family doctor is the same way. He has generally recommended a low-carb diet to us, including to my vegetarian aunt. So there’s still some hope.

      Reply
  28. Joe MoreChole

    I like my cholesterol to be well over 250.

    Last tuesday, a friend was trying to convince me to eat quinoa, because it is a “low” carb grain (or quasi-grain). It has magnesium, and some b vitamins and many cute little things. When I was almost sold, she told me “Ah, and it also lowers cholesterol!”. And I said, “No! I don’t want to mess with cholesterol lowering foods! Idiot, you almost got me there!”

    I guess as the paradigm shifts to view cholesterol as a very healthy thing, suddenly many products which today are marketed as “helps you to reduce cholesterol” will be re-marketed as “helps you to increase cholesterol”. And almost nobody will notice the switcheroo. “We allways said so” will be heard in every tv show.

    Nonetheless, I will start doubting the benefits of saturated fats the moment a government recommends people to have five butter fried eggs every morning. They always screw things up. Even Arithmetic was almost destroyed by politics at one point.

    Reply
  29. Walter Bushell

    RE: The French Paradox

    See the French have good CV health despite eating a *lot* of bread.

    They don’t fortify the wheat[1]; traditionally they use slow fermentation for bread;
    they eat a lot of fat.

    Paul Jaminet recommends *strongly* washing of the “enrichment” off white rice.

    Too much iron, and folic acid is toxic until transformed into folate, maybe
    whippersnappers like you can convert it quickly, but like most things as
    people age everything slows down.

    And too much iron, for most people.

    And it being the government what are the chances the B vitamins are in
    the right ratio?

    Reply
  30. Linda

    I have to chime in again on this same post. I actually have seen another ray of hope. I take care of my 95 year old bed-ridden father whose medical care is through the VA system. As such, I have to cooperate with certain conferences recommended by his doc. Today was a conference with a dietician (HMPH!!) I can’t believe it- a government paid dietician actually told me that cholesterol didn’t matter- in fact it was better higher in older people, give my father full fat foods, cut processed junk if he ate it, and plenty of eggs and don’t use fake spreads- use real butter and coconut oil !! There may be a tiny ray of light at the end of this health tunnel!

    Reply
      1. Evin

        Given the VA’s track record and the USDA’s belief that animal fat will kill us, you just may be onto something.

        Reply
    1. Evin

      Our family doctor is the same way. He has generally recommended a low-carb diet to us, including to my vegetarian aunt. So there’s still some hope.

      Reply
  31. JimG

    I am seeing studies linking hypoxia to heart attacks and stroke. Arterial walls suffering from inadequate oxygen vascularize and thicken, blocking circulation at critical points. Hence the strong link between smoking and heart disease, and newer studies find a link to exposure to air pollution as well. Obesity causes sleep apnea which causes hypoxia which leads to heart disease.

    Reply
  32. Walter Bushell

    RE: The French Paradox

    See the French have good CV health despite eating a *lot* of bread.

    They don’t fortify the wheat[1]; traditionally they use slow fermentation for bread;
    they eat a lot of fat.

    Paul Jaminet recommends *strongly* washing of the “enrichment” off white rice.

    Too much iron, and folic acid is toxic until transformed into folate, maybe
    whippersnappers like you can convert it quickly, but like most things as
    people age everything slows down.

    And too much iron, for most people.

    And it being the government what are the chances the B vitamins are in
    the right ratio?

    Reply
  33. JimG

    I am seeing studies linking hypoxia to heart attacks and stroke. Arterial walls suffering from inadequate oxygen vascularize and thicken, blocking circulation at critical points. Hence the strong link between smoking and heart disease, and newer studies find a link to exposure to air pollution as well. Obesity causes sleep apnea which causes hypoxia which leads to heart disease.

    Reply
    1. Stephen T.

      J, Russians smoke like chimneys and drink like fish. There may be lots more to it, but chain smoking and massive alcohol consumption are common.

      Some facts for the Koreans:

      France has the highest rate of saturated fat consumption in the world and a heart disease rate one third of the UK’s. A number of other countries show similar results, including Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Holland and Germany. (WHO figures.)

      Lithuania’s population consumes half France’s level of saturated fat, yet has a rate of CHD nine times higher. This is one example of many. The WHO figures in Europe show a clear relationship between higher saturated fat and lower heart disease.

      In America of 137,000 people, in 541 hospitals, who’d had a heart attack, 78% had below average cholesterol. (American Heart Journal, 2009)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.