A recent article on the popular online news site AlterNet delves into the bogus science underlying the lipid hypothesis. It’s nice to see the word starting to spread.
The entire piece is a great read, and I encourage you to read it through. I’ll give a few excerpts just to give you the flavor.
Quoting a famous Canadian report concerning the Framingham Study:
“Dietary saturated fats were not associated with heart disease even after adjusting for other risk factors. Buried deep in the massive number of reports produced from the study is a quote from the investigators saying ” … there is, in short, no suggestion of any relationship between diet and the subsequent development of coronary heart disease in the study group.”
You can find more info on the Framingham Study in earlier posts here and here.
Our friend Gary Taubes is quoted frequently. Here is his take on the firmly entrenched idea that LDL-cholesterol is harmful:
“So how did we come to believe strongly that LDL cholesterol is so bad for us?” he asks. “It was partly due to the observation that eating saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, and we’ve assumed that saturated fat is bad for us. This logic is circular, though: saturated fat is bad because it raises LDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol is bad because it is the thing that saturated fat raises.” Yet, he points out, “in clinical trials, researchers have been unable to generate compelling evidence that saturated fat in the diet causes heart disease.
Don’t think that the American Heart Association (AHA) truly has your interests at heart in waging its misguided war on cholesterol. Just as with all wars, there are profits to be made by some. In the war on cholesterol it is the AHA that is both escalatating the war AND profiting from it.
You’ve probably seen the AHA’s “heart check” logo on numerous food products. No surprise, they don’t give them out for free. Food manufacturers pay a first-year fee of $7,500 per product, with subsequent renewals priced at $4,500 according to Steve Milloy, a biostatician, lawyer and adjunct scholar at the conservative Cato Institute, who posted about this on “junk science” in 2001.
“There’s gold in the AHA’s credibility,” Milloy observed. “Several hundred products now carry the heart-check logo. You do the math. Adding insult to injury, consumers pay up for the more expensive brands that can afford to dance with the AHA. Pricey Tropicana grapefruit juice is ‘heart healthy’ but supermarket bargain brand grapefruit juice isn’t?”
Anyone with good sense realizes, of course, that these “heart check” logos don’t do squat to help anyone reduce the risk of heart disease. There are other things the AHA could do that would doubtless have a bigger impact, but wouldn’t bring money into the AHA coffers.
“According to US research,” the report adds, “high cholesterol in women is not a statistically significant risk factor for sudden cardiac death. On the other hand, smoking is one of the most important predictors of sudden cardiac death in women.” Which makes one wonder: Why doesn’t the American Heart Association start a television campaign to try to persuade more women and girls to stop smoking?
Let’s hope we see a lot more reporting like this AlterNet piece in the future. Constant chipping can wear away the biggest stone, but it will take a lot to wear this one down because of the money involved.
Despite widespread skepticism about statins and cholesterol, don’t expect the controversy to end anytime soon. There is just too much money and too much political muscle supporting the theory that 18 million Americans should be on statins.
World-wide sales of $33 billion is a very big rock indeed. But if we just keep chipping…
Hat tip to Elizabeth Miller for sending me the article.