Cholesterol: Debunking the Myths

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The diet—heart hypothesis proposed in the 1960's postulates that cholesterol and saturated fat cause heart disease. Ancel Keys, a researcher convinced of this hypothesis, released his famous Seven Countries Study, the results of which associated heart disease with saturated fat and cholesterol. It wasn't until years later that it was revealed that Keys had information from 22 countries, 15 of which did not fit his hypothesis, so he simply excluded this info. The data from the 15 other countries indicated the opposite, that increased intakes of cholesterol and saturated fats were actually cardio protective.

However, this bad science became public policy and was heavily marketed by food corporations. The science was never very strong, and following studies failed to prove that either cholesterol or saturated fat caused heart disease. This myth prevails today, despite research showing otherwise.

In 1994, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a trial that compared older adults with high cholesterol (above 240) to those with a "normal" level (below 200). Over the course of four years researchers at Yale University measured total cholesterol and HDL in almost 1,000 participants. They tracked hospitalizations for heart attack, unstable angina and rates of death from heart disease. No differences were found between the two groups. People with low total cholesterol had as many heart attacks and died just as frequently as those with high total cholesterol. And reviews of multiple large studies have failed to find a correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease. (JAMA 272, no. 17 November 2, 1994)

Mounting research like this prompted Dr. George Mann a researcher with the Framingham Heart Study to go on record stating "The diet heart hypothesis that suggests that high intake of fat or cholesterol causes heart disease has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, and yet, for complicated reasons of pride, profit, and prejudice, the hypothesis continues to be exploited by scientists, fund—raising enterprises, food companies, pharmaceutical companies and even governmental agencies. The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century"

And how about this one — In a report in the medical journal the Lancet, researchers from the Netherlands studied 724 elderly individuals whose average age was eighty nine years old and followed them for ten years. What they found was truly extraordinary. During the study, 642 participants died. Each thirty-nine point increase in total cholesterol corresponded to a 15% decrease in mortality risk. In the study there was no difference in the risk of of dying from coronary artery disease between the high — versus the low cholesterol groups.

Other common causes of death in the elderly were found to be dramatically related to lower cholesterol. The authors reported "Mortality from cancer and infection was significantly lower among the participants with the highest total cholesterol than in other categories. In other words, the people with the highest total cholesterol were less likely to die from cancer and infections — common illnesses in older folks, than those with the lowest cholesterol levels. (Lancet 350 no. 9085 October 18, 1997) The risk of dying during the study was reduced by a breathtaking 48% in those who had the highest cholesterol. High cholesterol can extend longevity.

And here is another reputable study doctors routinely ignore. This study was a retrospective evaluation of twenty one previous medical reports involving more than 340,000 subjects from periods of five to twenty—three years. It concluded that "intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease." In comparing the lowest to the highest consumption of saturated fat, the actual risk for coronary heart disease was 19% lower in the group consuming the highest amount of saturated fat. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91. no. 3 March 2010)

What about cholesterol lowering statin drugs? don't they save lives? The only way that drug companies can make statins look favorable is by using a trick of statistics, using comparative risk instead of absolute risk.

Studies dating back to the mid—1990's reveal a link between statins and an increased risk of certain cancers, not to mention a long list of side effects from digestive challenges to asthma, impotence, inflammation of the pancreas and liver damage.

Think about this — the brain is only 2% of the body's mass but contains 25% of of our total body cholesterol. This is why lowering cholesterol commonly causes cognitive decline. One fifth of the brain by weight is cholesterol.

The Archives of Internal Medicine in January 2012 showed an astounding 48% increase in diabetes among women taking statin medications. A recent study confirmed that is true for men as well. Those with diabetes have double the risk for Alzheimer's dementia. The Journal Atherosclerosis in October 2012 found that statin drugs increased arterial calcification by 51 %. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in February 2015 found that statin drugs increase arterial calcification and rates of heart failure by over 50%.

It is a sad fact that the practice of medicine is twenty years behind the science. There is a tremendous amount of peer pressure in medicine to toe the party line, doctors who do their own research on diet, heart disease, cholesterol and statins are shunned by their colleagues.

The strong points of our medical system are trauma care and infection, when the cause is known. However, many hospital based infections can no longer be controlled by antibiotics. Our medical system is largely ineffective for chronic diseases of aging and for carbohydrate/ insulin diseases.

Unfortunately many intelligent and caring doctors unknowingly continue these dangerous myths.

Best health advice — keep your carbohydrate intake low, not only sugar but grains, even whole grains rapidly turn into sugar, stay off vegetable seed oils, use butter, lard, coconut oil and olive oil. Eat grass fed fatty meats, wild caught fish, pastured butters and cheeses and egg yolks from hens that get outdoors. Focus on above—ground deep green and colored veggies and limit fruits to no more than one whole fruit daily. No fruit juices or dried fruit.

Be your own doctor. You won't find good health info in publications that advertise drugs or food.

Resources Guyton's Medical Physiology
Grain Brain – David Perlmutter MD
The Big Fat Surprise – Nina Teicholz
Good Calories, Bad Calories – Gary Taubes