Is High Cholesterol the Problem?
My incredibly fit Man Bicep Mom has high cholesterol. Her doctor put her on a statin.
I have super high cholesterol. My doctor tried to put me on a statin at the age of 23. I refused. And I will keep refusing.
I don’t think cholesterol is the cause of the problem – inflammation is. I think red meat is great to eat. AND saturated fat? NO PROBLEM!
Of course, my doctor and even the Man Bicep Mom think that I’m crazy for thinking this, but I’m not. I think I’m avoiding the real problem – inflammation from carbs and vegetable oil.
Let’s look over a few facts and then I want you to decide…Am I crazy?
Where/when did this connection between cholesterol and heart disease begin?
- This connection was proposed in the 1850s by German pathologist Rudolf Virchow and it was called the lipid hypothesis. It proposed a connection between plasma cholesterol levels and the development of coronary heart disease. So saturated fat and cholesterol in the blood became known as major factors in causing cardiovascular disease.
- This lipid hypothesis began to receive greater attention in the middle of the 20th century when cardiovascular disease became a major cause of death in the Western world.
- In 1951, Duff and McMillian created the modern form of the lipid hypothesis.
- In 1953, Ancel Keys, one of the most well-known early modern proponents of the fact that saturated fats and cholesterol in the blood cause heart disease, wrote the book “Eat Well and Stay Well,” which helped the issue gain popular awareness.
- One of the major players in bringing cholesterol to the public’s awareness was Time magazine. Its piece on cholesterol in the March 26, 1984 issue was a devastating piece on both dietary cholesterol and dietary fat. Both – the article explained – were a main driving force behind the development of heart disease.
BUT is this lipid hypothesis correct?
- The lipid hypothesis was created based on OBSERVATIONAL data. BUT observational studies can’t necessarily show that correlation equals causation.
- There’s never been a single study that proves saturated fat causes heart disease.
- Dietary cholesterol has actually been proven to be pretty benign.
- The Framingham heart study showed NO CORRELATION between high cholesterol and heart disease. Below is an excerpt from the study.
In undertaking the diet study at Framingham the primary interest was, of course, in the relation of diet to the development of coronary heart disease (CHD). It was felt, however, that any such relationship would be an indirect one, diet influencing serum cholesterol level and serum cholesterol level influencing the risk of CHD. However, no relationship could be discerned within the study cohort between food intake and serum cholesterol level.
In the period between the taking of the diet interviews and the end of the 16-year follow-up, 47 cases of de novo CHD developed in the Diet Study group. The means for all the diet variables measured were practically the same for these cases as for the original cohort at risk. There is, in short, no suggestion of any relation between diet and the subsequent development of CHD in the study group…
With one exception there was no discernible association between reported diet intake and serum cholesterol level in the Framingham Diet Study Group. The one exception was a weak negative association between caloric intake and serum cholesterol level in men. [As to] coronary heart disease–was it related prospectively to diet.
No relationship was found! AND they tried VERY HARD to find one! The data showed NO correlation between diet and serum cholesterol and between diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease!
- Virtually every cell in the body has the ability to make cholesterol because cholesterol is so important to survival.
- As heart-disease rates were skyrocketing in the mid-1900s, consumption of animal fat was going down, not up. Consumption of vegetable oils, however, was going up dramatically.
- Half of all heart-attack victims have normal or low cholesterol. Autopsies performed on heart-attack victims routinely reveal plaque-filled arteries in people whose cholesterol was low.
- Asian Indians – half of whom are vegetarians – have one of the highest rates of heart disease in the entire world.
- From Good Calories, Bad Calories about the study that Time magazine used to PROVE how bad cholesterol is for you (actually what Gary Taubes shows us is that researchers MISUSED inconclusive data to PROVE what they WANTED):
In January 1984, the results of the trial (N.H.L.B.I. study) were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Cholesterol levels dropped by an average of 4 percent in the control group – those men taking a placebo. The levels dropped by 13 percent in the men taking cholestryramine. In the control group, 158 men suffered non-fatal heart attacks during the study and 38 men died from heart attacks. In the treatment group, 130 men suffered non-fatal heart attacks and only 30 died from them. All in all, 71 men had died in the control group and 68 in the treatment group. In other words, cholestryramine had improved by less than .2 percent the chance that any one of the men who took it would live through the next decade. To call these results “conclusive,” as the University of Chicago biostatistician Paul Meier remarked, would constitute “a substantial misuse of the term.” Nonetheless, these results were taken as sufficient by Rifkind, Steinberg and their colleagues [those who had been searching for ‘proof’ for decades that cholesterol causes heart disease] so they could state unconditionally that [Ancel] Keys had been right and that lowering cholesterol would save lives.
- Time Magazine also used Fred Shragai as an example of a man who now had to live without fear of a heart attack because he had switched to a low-fat diet and his cholesterol was down to 195. Of course, what the article doesn’t tell you is that Fred died of a heart attack two months later. Sounds like the low-fat diet and lower cholesterol really helped him…
- Same for Eisenhower…his cholesterol was only 164 when he suffered his first heart attack. AND what about Tim Russert? His cholesterol was only 105 (AND HE WAS TAKING A STATIN) when he died of a heart attack at 58.
- If you look at the anthropological evidence, the health of early humans took a turn for the worse when agriculture came along. Read the linked article by Michael R. Eades for more proof.
- Making fat and cholesterol the problem helps make companies money! Marking low-fat products as heart healthy makes the American Heart Association money! SO why wouldn’t they keep supporting a theory that makes them a profit? If it came out that animal fats were good for you, “heart healthy” veggie oils wouldn’t be making companies as much money!
- And Ancel Keys…he sounds like a vegetarian to me…which means of course he supports this theory! If fat is bad, people will abstain from fatty meats eat, in his opinion, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables! I thought this was also an interesting comparison between him and Jack Lalanne.
- Did I mention that making cholesterol and fat the problem makes people money? I mean statins make pharmaceutical companies MONEY! So of course they hope everyone believes the lipid hypothesis!
AH! Ok…that is all I have energy to rant about for now.
Here is one last article to look at if there isn’t enough proof here to convince you (and if this article doesn’t do it, take a look at the one in my post the other day that talks about how eating like a Caveman is good for you! OR just buy this book if you aren’t convinced – The Great Cholesterol Con.
And here is a good quote that I found during my research to leave you with…The Lipid Hypothesis (fat and cholesterol are the problem) is all one big lie that’s been repeated so often that we believe it!
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. – Goebbel