JoNova

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Cholesterol — how the web and books are years ahead of “Consensus”

Consensus — slowing real science for decades

There is a surprising amount of interest in the cholesterol story of Matt Ridley’s in The Times and The Australian last week. Surprising to me anyway, because 15 years ago the other benevolent side of cholesterol was pretty clear online.  Fifteen years is not a long time in human civilization, but it’s a long time in a human life. And in the case of the war on cholesterol, it’s been running for 40 years. How many people died sooner than they would have, because they followed expert advice?

Finally the official consensus on cholesterol is admitting defeat:

“Any day now, the US government will officially accept the advice to drop cholesterol from its list of “nutrients of concern” altogether. It wants also to “de-emphasise” saturated fat, given “the lack of evidence connecting it with cardiovascular disease”. “

In the late 1990′s it was widely known online (among health zealots) that our livers are mostly in charge of our cholesterol levels, not what’s on our dinner plates. Something like 80% of the cholesterol in our blood came from our own livers, not the food we eat.  Way back then, it was also known that our bodies use cholesterol to make things like Vitamin D, and er… sex hormones. (How did the mass media miss that.)

“Cholesterol is not some vile poison but an essential ingredient of life, which makes animal cell membranes flexible and is the raw material for making hormones, like testosterone and oestrogen.”

You might think the Internet would kill off an erroneous consensus faster…

But on the Net silly, sloppy and false information can be repeated faster too. As long as people using the web are trained to follow authority, they aren’t even looking for the counter claims. The Net could speed things up if people learned to hunt for the best arguments on both sides, but who are we kidding  –  even science journalists are not trained to do that.

People are probably still under the illusion that newspapers as a source of risky, cutting news, but the mainstream press is so timid against the mainstream dogma that science-journalists are a part of the science problem.

The consensus on cholesterol has run for a long time on nothing more than argument from authority, and a few not-well-done analyses:

In the 1950s, an upsurge in heart disease in American men (probably caused mostly by smoking) led the physiologist Ancel Keys to guess that dietary cholesterol was to blame. When that seemed not to fit, he switched to saturated fat as a cause of high blood cholesterol. To make his case he did things like leave out contradictory data, shift points on graphs and skate over inconvenient facts. He then got big charities and state agencies on side and bullied his critics into silence.

His most famous study, the seven-country study, started out much larger; he dropped 16 countries from the sample to get a significant correlation. Add them back in and it vanishes. Hidden in his data is the fact that people in Corfu and Crete (in the same country) ate the same amounts of saturated fats, but the Cretans died 17 times more frequently of heart attacks.

In the 1970s, the famous Framingham Heart Study stumbled on the fact that people with high cholesterol over the age of 47 (long before most people have heart attacks) lived longer than those with low cholesterol, and that those whose cholesterol dropped faced higher risk of death. But the consensus ignored this and sailed on.

If challenged to show evidence for low-cholesterol advice, the medical and scientific profession has tended to argue from authority — by pointing to WHO guidelines or other such official compendia, and say “check the references in there”. But those references lead back to Keys and Framingham and other such dodgy dossiers.

I did a ten second search in web archives and found a few 1990s papers (fairly randomly picked). Get a load of the man who ate 2 dozen eggs a day and had normal cholesterol!

“Lack of Association Between Cholesterol and Coronary Heart Disease Mortality and Morbidity and All-Cause Mortality in Persons Older Than 70 Years”, JAMA, 1994

Normal Plasma Cholesterol in an 88-Year-Old Man Who Eats 25 Eggs a DayMechanisms of Adaptation, 1991

“ The consistency of the clinical and the epidemiological data demonstrating that dietary cholesterol has little effect on plasma cholesterol in most individuals raises a number of questions regarding the justification of population wide restrictions on dietary cholesterol intake and egg consumption.” J Am Coll Nutr. 1997

Any readers with insights into why the cholesterol consensus lasted so long, and why and how it was finally undone? Are there any lessons here?

In a different article, Matt Ridley wants an inquiry into this “epic blunder”:

Matt Ridley, a Tory peer and science author, yesterday said there should be an inquiry ‘into how the medical and scientific profession made such an epic blunder’.

He described the change of advice in the US as a ‘mighty U-turn’ and said studies linking high cholesterol and saturated fat in food to heart disease were ‘tinged with scandal’.

The U-turn, based on a report by the committee, will undo almost 40 years of public health warnings about eating food laden with cholesterol. US cardiologist Dr Steven Nissen, of the Cleveland Clinic, said: ‘It’s the right decision. We got the dietary guidelines wrong. They’ve been wrong for decades.’    dailymail.co.uk

h/t Waxing Gibberish, and Marvin

 

 

 

 

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201 comments to Cholesterol — how the web and books are years ahead of “Consensus”

  • #
    Sean McHugh

    This is of special interest to me. I am going through a cardiac rehabilitation programme right now.

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    • #

      Best of luck for a speedy recovery!

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    • #
      Hasbeen

      And don’t they get it wrong at all levels.

      I’ve had 3 heart attacks, 2 of them at least partly induced by bad practice, & lack of knowledge by my doctor.

      After the first, he took me off my cholesterol medication, prescribed by the cardiologist because I don’t have high cholesterol.

      After the second he took me off the same medication, for the same reason.

      After the third an Indian lady cardiologist realised I was reasonably intelligent, & actually discussed my problem with me.

      That was when I found why this medication was being proscribed. It was not to reduce my cholesterol, but because consolidates the plaque in the arteries, reducing the chance of some flaking off, & blocking even mildly restricted veins.

      Moral, even good doctors, who have not fallen for the hype, can still kill you, [well almost], if they don’t keep up with knowledge, & the specialists don’t bother to give necessary feedback to them.

      Good luck Sean

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      • #
        Sean McHugh

        Thanks mate and ditto.

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      • #
        cedarhill

        Statins reduce both cholesterol and are anti-inflammatory (see below). Most persons that experience heart attacks caused by blood vessel blockages have very advanced vessel damage. Statins are almost always proscribed by heart docs for and the reason the Indian MD provided and not to combat an underlying disease. Numerous studies (and valid) studies have shown proscribing statins after a heart attack does extend life. You rarely see the “why” so your Indian doc would be a keeper, imho. Likewise, those that write about statins usually exclude the heart attack patients and focus on those “at risk” of heart attacks. The cardio docs are just balancing which bad outcome might occur first – and there are very severe outcomes with statin. As in “yes, you may die of liver damage from statin use, but in maybe 30 years but you’ll likely have a stroke or another heart attack a lot sooner without statins.”

        As to Jo’s question as to why and for so long:

        1. It’s been known for some time that cholesterol aids in “repair” of damaged blood vessel walls. Simplistically, what happens is the inside of a vessel is damaged, the body layers in a “patch” to smooth the surface and then underlying repairs can occur by the immune system(s). For example, imagine trying to repair an iron pipe that is rusting out from the inside. The primary cause of the damage is (drum beat) inflammation. Statins are anti-inflammatory and will have an effect on possibly reducing further inflammation caused damage. Regardless, statins, like so many medical interventions, treat a result and not the cause. Inflammation, however, is simply another symptom with a long list of causes including diverticular disease to gum disease (periodontal). Regarding eating, it’s been clearly shown sugars are a major inflammatory cause.
        Thus, statins are beneficial but the context is important.
        2. Most clinical trials are paid by, unsurprisingly, the drug manufacturers. “The science” of drug trials are based on probability and statistics. Just remember, the Governments create the rules which the manufactures use to create the “sample space” or, more commonly “the study group”. Frequently, a group identified must be an “at risk” group since, for example, a drug to treat sickle cell anemia should not include those without the disease.
        Thus, clinical trials have biases in terms of the “groups” defined.
        3. You may have heard that “you can’t prove a negative”, the clinical trial studies use what’s called “the null hypothesis”. Something like “if we can’t find any other reason for an effect, it must be our drug. Go read about it (you can start with one of the on-line encyclopedia) but a caution: it’s only good reading for those with insomnia.
        Thus, the general public has no concept of how clinical trials are analyzed.
        4. The part where “magic” occurs is through the use of relative percentages. Consider I tell you you have a 0.05 percent chance of some dreadful disease and then I tell you if you take my recommendation(s) your chance will fall to only 0.02 percent. BUT, if take the “relative” difference of 0.03 divided by 0.05 and then tell you that you can reduce your risk by 60 percent. Then consider the size of the group selected (see 3). Suppose the group is only 1,000 – how many would need to “show a result” to support the claim?
        Thus, manufactures use relative numbers as a promotion tool on an ignorant population.
        5. Modern medicine makes it nearly impossible for a doctor to analyze all the studies and claims. They rely on the journals and government agencies and, seemingly, blindly follow the recommendations. Having a defense when sued (in the US) makes it imperative to follow the agencies in that the doctor will not have to explain to an ignorant jury what relative percentages mean. I call this the Nuremberg Defense of “just following orders”.
        Thus, medicine is tribal and nearly always follow the current consensus of chiefs.
        6. If you ask 1,000 doctors to quantify your risk as a percent of the population and how the “risk factors” accumulate into your overall probability percentage they simply can’t do it. Imho, doctors are even more ignorant of probability and statistics than even non-college trained adults. The general medical profession would flunk even Probability 101/
        Thus, the lack of knowledge compounds the tribal effect of medicine.
        7. Further afield, there is the pathology of humans where some are driven to dictate to others. Some call it “authoritarian”, others “bossy”. They suffer from a psychosis I call the DTP (Drooling Totalitarian Psychosis). A subset, usually found in Western Government bureaucrats, will act on their DTP just because.
        Thus, it’s human nature to follow the tribal imposed dictates.

        There’s other factors of course, but, imho, these are the primary ones.

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    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Well well…… ( does spike of football in end zone…)

      http://www.amazon.com/Great-Cholesterol-Con-Really-Disease/dp/1844546101/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1433055397&sr=8-6&keywords=the+cholesterol+myth

      So glad this will be put to bed.

      The above book is written by a Doctor.

      Interestingly – forcibly lowering cholesterol can cause heart attack…. who’d have thought, huh?

      40

  • #

    I’ve always had familial high cholesterol and eventually succumbed to statin treatment some 15 years ago. Now aged 65.

    Never had a problem with statins and now average 5-6 as compared to over 9 on the UK scales. Recommended is 4 to 5.

    However, there are no cardiac problems in the family and I’ve taken scans for arterial calcification 9 years ago and 4 years ago. On both occsions I scored zero which is pretty odd given a lifetime of high cholesterol.

    Statins seem to have other beneficial effects including general suppression of inflammatory responses and it has been suggested that it is inflammation that leads to cardiac and many other problems so I’ll continue for the time being and see how the science develops.

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    • #
      Richard

      I’ve heard Statin drugs can have some pretty nasty side-effects too, but I suppose it all comes down to biochemical individuality. I’m 29 and the last thing I would do is take any MD-prescribed drug. I’m a firm believer that our bodies can fix themselves of almost anything if we eat healthy food, which is probably why the Gerson Therapy has been so successful at treating so many different diseases. Here’s a good video on cholesteral and Statin drugs from a guy I truly respect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upas5Zk4Ity

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      • #

        I’ve had a few frights over those 15 years when I had symptoms similar to alleged side effects but so far in each case it has turned out not to be the statins and matters were resolved easily enough.

        I do wonder how often side effects complained of are actually nothing to do with the medication.

        It is generally best to avoid prescribed medication but a UK figure over 9 is pretty high so the risk benefit analysis favoured taking them but even so I put it off for 10 years before agreeing to do so.

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      • #
        Richard

        Damn, link is broken. YouTube serach ‘Cholestrol Myth Busting with Dr Glidden’. It’s really good information, he breaks it down brilliantly.

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        • #
          Leigh

          Richard, I think this “breaks” it down pretty well.
          Where I’ve heard it before escapes at the minute.
          But it really does sound oh so familiar.

          “To make his case he did things like leave out contradictory data, shift points on graphs and skate over inconvenient facts. He then got big charities and state agencies on side and bullied his critics into silence.”

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      • #
        Joe

        There is a lot of anecdotal evidence pointing to the benefits of fermented soy bean natto which has been a standard food in Japan for hundreds of years. It is often touted as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical statins. There are extract versions sold as ‘nattokinase’ available.

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    • #
      Sweet Old Bob

      Hope you are taking COQ10 .I enjoy your posts and hope you are able to enjoy good health .
      You are VERY fortunate to not suffer ill effects from the statins.

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      • #
        Dennis

        Yes, Co-Enzyme Q10 is recommended by the Heart Foundation following research conducted, as I recall it, during the 1980s and 1990s. They issued a media release around the mid 1990s. I have been taking it ever since then.

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    • #
      Bushkid

      Statins, from personal experience seeing my spouse suffer dreadful damage done by this poison and trying to steer the recovery process over more than 12 months now (and still with a long way to go), should not be legal to produce, market or prescribe. That it was a knee-jerk response by a doctor to what is now known to be a non-problem (seems it has long been known to be a non-problem) begs the question: Who benefits from the perceived need, manufacture and prescription of this drug? It’s certainly not the patients who suffer the very damaging side effects. The effects of this dreadful drug were so severe that for a long time I literally feared for my spouse’s life, never knowing if I was coming home from night shift to a live (although tortured) person or a dead body – this is no exaggeration at all. One report I’ve read states that use of statins can increase longevity (if used to “prevent” heart disease) by a whole 17 days – wow, just wow! And for that my spouse has suffered so much…

      Before you let your doctor even write up the script for statins, educate yourself properly, it’s too late once the damage is done.

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      • #

        Many people benefit from statins. It is sad that your wife was so adversely affected, but that does not mean people who could benefit should lose out because of your wife’s bad reaction. As I noted elsewhere, I have had some severe reactions to medications. Would you have antibiotics, pain relievers, and other useful drugs pulled from the market because I reacted? Virtually every drug on the market has caused a life-threatening reaction in someone. Those same drugs have saved someone else’s life. I have no problem with people who do not want to take drugs—that’s their choice. But denying everyone benefit because of a bad reaction—no.

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        • #
          Debbie

          Good point Sheri.
          I am highly allergic to penicillin.
          I definitely need to steer clear of it.
          However, I have no right to demand it’s removal.
          Just for a start it saved my Father in Law’s life on one occasion.

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        • #
          Bushkid

          Side effects and reactions to penicillin have been known and, more importantly admitted and publicised, for as long as I can recall (and that is a reasonably long lifetime now). Statins, on the other hand, have their dangerous and damaging side effects virtually hidden, doctors don’t warn about them or ask any questions at all that might have a bearing on a patient’s reaction to statins. These harmful “side effects” can include serious liver damage, muscle pain and weakness, short term memory and cognitive difficulties and serious nerve damage. None of these effects is minor or negligible. I also know of a young woman prescribed statins (what on Earth was that doctor thinking!) who took them for a mere 2 weeks and who experienced the muscle pain and weakness symptoms. She sensibly ditched the statins and changed her diet instead – something doctors don’t even seem to remember is better for our health anyhow than stuffing us full of pills. Forgive me for being a little strident about this, but I don’t really think that statins can be compared to (sensibly prescribed and used) penicillin. I myself have a very mild reaction to penicillin (actually, I think most people do, they just don’t realise it), but as I have very rarely used it, that’s hardly a problem for me. My point is that we trust the medical “profession” to be open and honest with us when prescribing medications and to consider our individual needs and risks, we trust that they will “First, do no harm” to us as per the Hippocratic Oath, yet time and again we find they really cannot be trusted in even that “first” obligation of their practice.

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          • #

            The side effects and dangers of statins are clearly listed and addressed on the information dispensed with the drug. The simple fact that most people don’t bother to read the insert is not the fault of the medical profession. Again, just because statins are not something you would take does not give you the right to take them away from everyone. No one is forcing you, or anyone else for that matter, to take medications. You change doctors, stop going to doctors, whatever you like. No one pushes these down anyone’s throat by force. Yet reading comments here, I would certainly be lead to believe that is the case.

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            • #
              OriginalSteve

              Sheri, you have a fair point, however dont dismiss the reality that anecdotal evidence ( i.e. witness statements ) is applicable in a civil or criminal case, yet in science its ignored…..which is strange….

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              • #

                No, it’s not strange that it’s ignored in science. The proof of an hypothesis is based on experimentation and the ability to replicate results. You cannot replicate anecdotal evidence.

                Such anecdotes may serve to get one thinking and researching, but basing decisions on them is not science. There’s nothing that says you have to make your decisions based on science so if you want to follow the anecdotal evidence, you can certainly do that.

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              • #
                OriginalSteve

                In response to 2.3.1.2.1 – I was thinking along the lines whereby humans have something administered to them, have a reaction, but once the process has taken place, that person is “tainted” and as no one has absolute identical make up as the next person ( within limits ) its impossible to reproduce a problem, hence anecdotal evidence is all you can go off.

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              • #

                Okay, that is a valid use, but it’s not really science, except perhaps social science. It’s more like finding a similar experience to possibly draw ideas from or to not feel alone with. In your comment, you stated it was impossible to reproduce and that no one has the identical make-up, so it is just used for drawing ideas or comfort.

                There are many things medicine can’t address and going to others with similar experiences is the only way to figure things out. As long as one realizes the limitations, it’s fine. Many people with cancer and rare illnesses find the only way they can learn about their illness is through others who have had the same experience. That’s the idea behind support groups.

                I’m just careful to not call this science because it’s also one way unscroupulous individuals sell absolute pseudoscience to people. They make huge lists of “people’s experiences” or “endorsements” and readers often think this is actually science. You see it with conspiracy ideation a lot. (The other day I was reading a blog where a weatherman was decrying this. There was a picture of a round, flat cloud given as “never seen in nature” and “proof of chemtrails”. The cloud was a lenticular cloud and it’s quite common near mountains. I have several pictures of them. However, people reading the site may be easily fooled by the photo and claim. It’s not science—it’s one person.)

                00

  • #
    StoptheRot

    I vividly recall listening to a Health Report (ABC Radio) interview with a renowned cardiologist from Edinburgh University in the 1990s. He was dismissive of cholesterol as a significant factor in heart disease. As I recall, the interviewer asked him, somewhat mockingly, what his cholesterol level was and he replied that he had no idea and had no interest in finding out as it was a poor indicator of heart health. I was very surprised so I did some research and found that he was no maverick in his profession. I shared this story over the next few years, as conversations about cholesterol levels arose, with friends. It was often politely passed off, somewhat dismissively. While I now feel vindicated, I feel that we are entering a new phase of anti intellectualism, a new dark ages. Thanks Jo for the light that you continue to shine in these dark times.

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    • #
      Ted O'Brien.

      “new phase of anti intellectualism”.

      How different is it from the old?

      Every assessment must be made with the money trail in mind. Be it drug salesmen, margarine salesmen, refrigerant salesmen, herbicide salesmen, vested interests or whatever.

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    • #
      Jon

      You where an embarrassment to the “educated class”?

      00

  • #
    Spetzer86

    This matches what we were told in college back in the late 1970′s. The liver controls cholesterol.

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    • #
      michael hart

      Similarly, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t skeptical of the cholesterol hypothesis because of endogenous cholesterol synthesis. Yet I always saw the story propagated in the media.

      As a grad student in the 1990′s I recall writing a term paper on the design, synthesis and binding thermodynamics of a cholesterol-sequestering compound. The work was by a famous chemist, but I had never seen a good rationale in medicinal-chemistry literature/textbooks as to why a cholesterol-sequestering agent in the diet was thought likely to have a significant clinical benefit, given what was known about the body’s de novo cholesterol synthesis.

      I think it shows what a good bandwagon can do for someone with an attractive theory which presses the right buttons and may get funding.

      There are other examples in science, such as the Eric Drexler version of “nanotechnology” which was really nothing more than “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” science.

      20

  • #
    Mike Smith

    I have to say this latest blunder shocked me too.

    Jo asks about lessons to be learned. It seems to me that cholesterol has represented another major gravy train for research grants. Google reveals in seconds more studies than you can shake a stick at. And that before we start on the multi billion dollar market for all those wonderful cholesterol lowering drugs.

    It seems “follow the money” is as applicable to science as it is to politics, business and everything else.

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  • #
    Ljh

    I was taught in the early 80s by a sceptical physiologist who pointed to research on familial hypercholesterolaemia: half failed to develop atherosclerosis, other factors had to be involved.

    80

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      I am convinced from all the reading I have done on the matter that stress is a major mechanism in developing heart disease.

      I think mechanism of what stress does in a body is reeasonably well known, I think the infamous Framigham “study” ( I equate it to climate science…yes…ouch…) has an awful lot ot answer for.

      And FWIW, I find that an unexpected Faith/Science intersection occurs here – in Chrsitian scripture, God says with exception of some animals, all are fine to eat. Additionally the fat of animals in OT scarifices is prized in religious sacrifices.If you accept God designed humans to eat animals, no mention is made to stay clea rof sdaturated ( animal ) fat. Caveat – too much of something ( fat ) is not necessarily a good thing either…..

      30

  • #
    tom0mason

    My 2¢ worth is –

    Relaxed Rules for edible Fat

    Fish Oils — Excellent.
    Animal Fat — Very Good.
    Nut Oils — Very Good (note peanuts are not nuts!)
    Seed Oil (including peanuts) — OK (don’t eat too much).

    Industrially treated (hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, preserved, etc.) mostly wrong, bad, modern pollution and slow poisons.

    For more sanity on fat see https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/interesterified-fats-how-evil/

    Note –
    Stay healthy stop over-consuming lots of uncomplicated/simple sugars. However chocolate is really good…humm, chocolate!
    Bottom line — all things in moderation.

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    • #
      Dennis

      Avocado is excellent

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      • #
        Rereke Whakaaro

        Guacamole is even better. Raw onion in guacamole has excellent antiseptic properties.

        You can get rid of a sore throat by chewing half a raw onion. It is also an excellent way of getting rid of unwanted “friends”. :-)

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        • #
          Ted O'Brien.

          Is that why Tony Abbott ate the onion? Must have had a sore throat!

          Now there was a fuss about not much! My guess was that he had sound advice from the grower that those onions were good for eating that way.

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          • #
            michael hart

            Private Eye used to parody Margaret Thatcher as carrying half a raw onion in her handbag, so that she could use it to induce tears when signs of genuine compassion were physically impossible but politically expedient. :)

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        • #
          Dennis

          And let’s not overlook Garlic. I know an elderly person now in his eighties who uses preserved Garlic from the Lebanon purchased from a Middle Eastern food store as a snack. Believe it or not it does not create a household bad smell when preserved. This same man does not believe in large meals, rather a number of snacks throughout the day, or grazing.

          31

      • #
        RB

        Avocado and cured meat sandwiches. Preferably prosciutto. I think that the fat on cured meats is not as bad as cooked meat (although bacon tastes better cooked) and I suspect that I’m a lot more susceptible to soft tissue injuries if I cut out the animal fat altogether.

        21

    • #
      Roger Knights

      The FDA will be banning trans fats on Monday, June 1.

      20

    • #

      The oils and fats on the health-zealot’s good list at the moment are coconut, macadamia, avocado, and olive. (Regarding olive: get only the freshest cold pressed extra virgin within a year of manufacture and don’t cook with it. Buy small bottles with an expiry date more than a year away – 2 years is best). Use lite olive if you have to cook. Heating oxidizes the oil.

      Australian olive oils are highly regarded, especially Cobram estate for phytosterol content. Other US brands test well for phytosterol content also http://www.toxinless.com/olive-oil. Though many olive oils do not.

      Most vegetable oils are horribly high in omega-6′s. Some health gurus like flax (it has omega 3) and other like rice bran oil.

      Organic butter has quite a lot of fans among health-nuts.

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      • #

        I’ve been unable to find inorganic butter anywhere. Hints?

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      • #
        GMax

        Flax goes “off”very quickly as does hemp oil.
        A clinical study(don’t ask me to find it too long ago) using fish flax and hemp oils in healthy people on a regular diet was found to make no difference at all in the health or well being of the subjects.

        The modern world is so wrapped up in themselves that they are afraid of death and because of the wealth of western peoples they will spend any amount of money if they think it will give them a longer healthier life,what they need to do is take notice of their grandparents and parents an see how long they lived for,it’s the genetics,most people unless they abuse their bodies with fags grog and drugs as well as over-eating will live as long as their progenitors.

        A life that finishes after 10 seconds is no less important than one of 115 years.

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    • #
      Ben Palmer

      You might be right, you might be wrong. From Matt Ridley’s essay we have just learned that science is more than believes, even if many studies seemingly support such believes. There is little evidence that one or a particular group of the hundreds of nutrients humans ingest is particularly “healthy”.

      The war against salt has the same dubious “scientific” base as cholesterol and fats. The salt concentration in our body is regulated by the kidneys. Humans are unable to know exactly how much salt they ingest unless they measure it and many nutrients contain hidden salt. People living close to the ocean potentially ingest more salt. Epidemiological studies on the effects of salt consumption measure the salt excreted as a reference; but the more salt people ingest, the more they excrete, thus remove it from the body.

      00

  • #
    Robert O

    My GP is of the opinion that statins have generally increased life expectancy by about a dozen years. The consequence of this is that one may die of something else, such as cancer, diabetes, a neurone disease, etc., instead of a stroke or heart disease a little earlier. One can lower triglycerides by reducing one’s weight and cholesterol by reducing saturated fats, but like everything else there is a lot of variability amongst the population. I remember seeing an ad. about smoking when a vascular surgeon was asked “how many lung removals have you done on non-smokers; answer none in 200 operations”, but there are some people who have smoked all their lives and reached a ripe old age, but these are exceptions, and most don’t.

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    • #
      Bushkid

      Yep, if you live long enough you’re sure to die of something!

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      • #
        Rereke Whakaaro

        Nah, I have run the risk of dying from something, many times in my life. It is vastly overrated.

        So, I have now decided that I am going to hang in there, until I end up dying of nothing.

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        • #
          Dennis

          You have reminded me about a man who was celebrating his 100th birthday and a television journalist asked him what it was that enabled him to grow so old. He replied it was the fact that he hadn’t died yet.

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        • #
          Ceetee

          “Dying of nothing”, a fate worse than death itself. Thanks for the laugh Rereke.

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        • #
          OriginalSteve

          I am convinced enough episodes of “Home and Away” will create permenant stasis of all cellular activity in humans…it works by anethetising the the brain first…..

          30

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          Jon

          Dying of nothing, means not dying? Oxymoron?

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    • #
      AbysmalSpectator

      A dozen years?! Your GP owes me a new keyboard and a cup of coffee! I challenge him to find a single paper that supports that claim…or anything similar. Indeed, if you read the primary literature, the evidence seems to be that there is no net mortality effect on women (large study published in JAMA circ 2004/5), and a small positive mortality effect only on men between the ages of 55 and 70 (iirc) who have already had a heart attack.

      What I found interesting was the Cochrane Report on statins from around 2011 that lumped men and women together. Cochrane reports are meant to be the gold standard. I’ve lost all respect for them after that.

      If I was you, I’d get myself a new GP.

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      Leo Morgan

      I’ve been on statins for over a decade.
      I’d read, before beginning the regimen, that there was only one chance in 100 that it would end up saving my life from a heart attack. I don’t remember sources from a decade ago; the issue doesn’t warrant trying to track it down. Plausibly it was Dr Ben Goldacre, but don’t hold it against either of us if I’m mistaken. A senior officer in the ambulance service agreed with those figures, but commented that the UK had anticipated the need for many more cardiac surgeons due to their ageing population, and therefore trained them up, but the introduction of statins had left them unemployed.. I chose to begin taking them.

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      tom0mason

      Robert O,

      The old faithful “Life is a terminal illness.” :sad:

      or…

      All to often as a human being learns how to truly enjoy life they stop being able, or being. :cry:

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    David, UK

    Thanks, Jo. We need more stories of settled science being debunked. Good to be reminded that scientists can be clever, fallible, good, bad, honourable, corrupt just like everyone else.

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    Sweet Old Bob

    BTW….Ancel Keys was a “climate scientist ” ???
    (8>)) …Who knew !!

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    CraigAustin

    Largely as a result of Keys sloppy work, (it was not science, he was trying to confirm his beliefs, not disprove his hypothesis), the rate of obesity and diabetes has steadily grown in lock step with the amount of plant fat in our diet. Humans are adaptive carnivores, it is impossible to have lasted this long with an inability to process animal fats.

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    Vincent

    About the time I turned 40 or a little before that, a doctor looked into my eyes sent me for a cholesterol test & told me I’d be dead before I turned 50 if I did not take “these pills”.

    When I read the insert I decided that if the cholesterol didn’t kill me then the side effect of the pills along with the amount of beer I drink would, so the pills went into the toilet.

    About the same time my sister, a registered nurse pointed me in the direction of a book called “The Cholesterol Myth” by Dr Robert Buist (1992). It pretty well debunked the whole idea of trying to control cholesterol & points to the bad fats one finds in margarines as a possible culprit.

    All-in-all I eat what natural fats and oils I please, ignore my doctor & try to get reasonable exercise & my cholesterol levels have remained pretty steady. I’m 57 now, but that says nothing. What does matter is that for more than 50 years, study after study has tried to prove a link between early mortality & high cholesterol & they have all failed dismally.

    So why have they kept banging on at it? Follow the money – the drug companies make a steady income off the pills. The junk food companies make a steady profit off selling us “healthy” margarines.

    ‘Nuff said.

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      Graeme No.3

      I know a chap who had a real gripe about a doctor who called him (aged 51) in with his wife and told him his test results meant he would never see 60. This was on December 24 – “What a time and way to tell you that”.

      He’s now 74 and still in good health.

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        Premeditated for maximum shock value. Great bedside manner.

        Stress is at the heart of many modern health issues but it’s poorly understood and some scientists still deny mind-body interaction. With rise in heart disease it’s likely to be major factor.

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          OriginalSteve

          I’m sure stress is the main cause of illness in our society.

          I remarked to a work collegaue the other day that our lives in Oz are so finely tuned ( especially if you have school age children ) that just one small problem can derail a whole day.

          When you think about it, it means things are wound up way too tight….

          I think with “samrt” phones driving all this, the ammount of people with cactus adrenal glands and chronic fatigue by the time they are 40 will be as ignificant problem, and on the whoel will age the population much much faster than normal. Then add in typical working week with zero room for problems and a long work week and both parents working and and and…..

          40 years from now when the now 20 somethings on whatever drug has made them partially psychotic combined with a tech-created form of ADHD and lack of attention span, and chronic heart problems, it will all come slowly crashing down….and I’d think medical diagnostic places will be run off their feet. I know what I’ll be buying shares in….

          My hope is enough people drop out or wind back the working week to stay sane. Ironically, the pendulumn may swing so people opt for alt. low stress lifestyles.

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    There is another issue about official dietary advice that will be interesting to follow at the moment. It’s the relative position of importance assigned to grains and cereals (bread, pasta, bran, breakfast cereals,etc)in the recommended dietary guidelines.

    The ‘Food Pyramid’ as promoted in the USA and its equivalent in Australia, the ‘Food Plate’, have placed grains and cereals at the base of the pyramid of importance. In other words, the recommendation has been that these things should form the basis of our diet.

    As with the issue of cholesterol, there has been a vast amount of dispute about this on-line, in books and by groups advocating healthy eating. These individuals and groups have argued that there has never been any scientific evidence that grains and cereals should be the basis of healthy eating. Indeed, they have argued that a heavy reliance on these types of food is actually detrimental to health. The opinions of these people have been written off publicly as being fringe, contrarian, irresponsible, wrong, shrill, etc for decades.

    But now there seems to be a U Turn taking place on the issue of where grains and cereals should be in the ‘Food Pyramid’ or what proportion they should occupy on the ‘Food Plate’. I have seen reports recently that the official position in Australia is that grains and cereals have been shifted further up the ‘Food Pyramid’. In other words, we should eat less of them in proportion to other types of food. This change of emphasis on grains and cereals is not accompanied by a climb down on a range of other highly disputed aspects of the ‘Food Pyramid’ but it’s a start.

    To me, the really interesting thing will be how the food ‘authorities’ will manage the overall climb down. I’m sure there will never be an actual admission of prior error. They will manage it in such a way as to appear that one of their researchers has discovered some ‘ground breaking new information’.
    The parallels with what may happen with the climb down from the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis will be interesting to watch.

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      Let them eat gruel.

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      Peter OBrien

      David has written a very readable and informative book on this subject.

      I strongly recommend it. Available at dmjbooks.com.au

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        Peter OBrien

        Further to my last last, David’s book is titled “Why Didn’t My Grandfather Get Fat” Also worth a read is his “Should Meat Be On The Menu”, a detailed exposure of the myth that cattle grazing causes global warming.

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        Thanks for the plug, Peter. The web address does not have the ‘au’ at the end. DMJBooks.com

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      Oksanna

      In the context of this topic and the history of fad diets, your post is really interesting to me. Questions. Remember the Pritikin and Gerson diets of the 1980s? Former restricted fat intakes, even healthy fats. And overemphasised grains. Gerson focussed on fruit and veg. And only fruit and veg. Ross Horne was an advocate of both. Nowadays we’ve been through the stone age type diets, where red meat is back in favour. Fish seems to be the one timeless good food. Butter back in the good books. Also no mention of sugar in the topic, but as I recall, Keys was involved in pushing cholesterol as the culprit, even as another, lesser known researcher had found sugar to be a bigger problem. Keys got the funding, the other chap, John Yudkin was criticised by Keys who “won”. Yudkin’s book ” Pure, white and deadly”.

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        Rod Stuart

        My wife and I have been on the so-called “cave man” diet (mostly) and like it.
        My doctor recommends the ELF diet.
        I said I am unaware of an ELF diet.
        “It’s and acronym for Eat Less Food” he said.

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          GMac

          I suppose when you look at it the cave man had to run like buggery to catch his food or he was running like buggery from what ever he wanted to eat that was trying to eat him.
          I am mindful of the facts that at the end of the 19th century the life span for an Aussie was about 42yo,which was better than the Poms and Euros,the Yanks were well below that,the thing is most foods in that period were “organic”that si grown without artificial fertilisers and chemical sprays,not only that most medical treatments were what we would call “alternative medicine”.

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        Re Oksanna at comment 13.3 above.
        My apologies for delay in response. I have been travelling.

        I just want to give a brief background to why I became interested in the subject of diet and some of the ‘Googling’ and reading I did. I am now in my seventh decade of life and, for many years, slowly gained weight despite generally following the Australian Dietary Guidelines and leading an active life with plenty of physical activity. I was in a special forces unit in the Australian army and can definitely claim to know what strenuous exercise is all about.

        As I was gaining weight, I was always aware that my grandmother had not gained weight despite eating many of the things that were not recommended by the Australia Dietary Guidelines. She ate plenty of animal fat, butter, full cream milk, cream and so on. I have found that when I changed my diet to something more like my grandmother’s, my weight has decreased and been in much more control for years.

        I think the book that influenced me most was written by a dentist named Weston A Price. The book is titled, ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ and was first published in 1939. So, his research and writing preceded all the Ancel Keys stuff and all the ‘research’ that came after the Second World War. It is notable that Price was not funded by a third party and financed his trips to all parts of the world himself. Therefore he did not have a vested interest – or a biased interest – in the results of his research. He was, in my view, a pure scientist researching a topic.

        I suggest you get hold of this book or at least do a heap of Googling on his name.

        Another pre war piece of research that is interesting is that of a man called Pottinger. He did an experiment that is referred to as ‘Pottinger’s Cats’.

        I hope this leads you off to a fruitful line of inquiry.

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    James Bradley

    And speaking of unfounded threats.

    It appears that at least one world religion is not as easily roped in by flashy media campaigns or even President Obama’s expert opinions.

    This may be a bit OT, but there you go:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXodRLLkth4

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      Bob

      Careful… read the comments there. The video itself is real, but the English subtitles have been replaced and are a spoof.

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        James Bradley

        Good for laugh then on a very cold and miserable Mat weekend.

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        GMac

        All the same it was funny,oh dear I am showing my conservative bias.
        How conservative am I.
        I think that Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott are lefties!

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      Rereke Whakaaro

      I think it is interesting, that even after the person who provided the spoof subtitles, admitted to doing it, nobody wanted to know. The comments of outrage against Obama just kept on coming.

      I do hope somebody in the GOP has noticed this clip.

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        James Bradley

        Rereke,

        I think it’s even more interesting that in my day job I have had cause to converse with people that have committed serious acts of love in the name of the religion of peace and from time to time, after an effective rapport is established, they will talk about matters of curiosity or amusement and they have all eventually asked:

        “Hey, do you believe in this global warming.”

        When I say “No, do you?”

        They laugh, shake their heads “Neither do we.”

        Spoof video – many a true word spoken in jest.

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          Rereke Whakaaro

          Indeed.

          At the political level, western politicians have a Party position, and a private opinion. If you take the private opinions, almost nobody believes in the global warming hypothesis. And yet the Party positions are staunchly aligned with the UN IPCC dogma.

          I just can’t explain that.

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    KinkyKeith

    This post is good because it illustrates two important things for us; the first is that in studying the history of how the cholesterol myth was started and propagated we see a template for action that sent us down the wrong path for a long time.

    Second is that, as some have stated here, cholesterol levels in themselves do not determine health.

    Many years ago I read a book called “The Queen of Fats” which detailed the experiences of the Eskimos when moving from purely “in the wild” lifestyles to the urban environments of Scandinavia.

    Health issues were related to cholesterol but the most important factor seemed to relate to the RATIO of the components of “cholesterol”.

    Change in the ratio of HDL to LDL was seen as the issue. HDL at the time was seen as the demon component by the community (CO2?) but the book suggested that too little HDL could be a problem because it was needed to keep the body going.

    Fish oil was recommended to help normalise the ratio and return levels back to what they were in the native style of life.

    In both cases, Cholesterol and Carbon Dioxide , the story has always been there but just needed to be cleared of all the hype and hysteria.

    KK

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    handjive

    Here is some more recent health links:

    Psychiatric drugs kill 500k+ Western adults annually, few positive benefits – leading scientist
    http://rt.com/uk/258133-antidepressants-unnecessary-for-many/

    Cost of healthy living soars in developing world – while junk food gets cheaper
    Fruit and vegetables have almost doubled in price in parts of the developing world over the past 20 years, calling into question the idea that modern farming methods lower basic food prices for the poor.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11596250/Cost-of-healthy-living-soars-in-developing-world-while-junk-food-gets-cheaper.html

    The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease
    Are butter, cheese and steak really bad for you? The dubious science behind the anti-fat crusade
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533760760481486

    The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/10/feds-poised-to-withdraw-longstanding-warnings-about-dietary-cholesterol/

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      handjive

      Fwiw, two of those links seem to contradict each other.

      The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol (wapo)

      The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.
      ~ ~ ~
      Are butter, cheese and steak really bad for you? The dubious science behind the anti-fat crusade (wsj)

      Saturated fat does not cause heart disease“—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
      How could this be?

      The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries.
      . . .
      Seems this is not settled.

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        PeterK

        handjive: I know this is just one person, but my mother lived to be almost 88 years of age. Being from the farm, all her life she had 2-eggs for breakfast and porridge. This was her standard fare.

        She used butter in everything that she made from scratch. She loved her cottage cheese, butter milk and so on. She also enjoyed all types of fruits and especially vegetables.

        As tom0mason pointed out higher up in the thread, everything in moderation and if certain foods are eaten more so than in moderation, so what. My mother loved her dairy and eggs.

        Perhaps if she had eaten only one egg a day she may have lived to 88 years rather than just shy of 88 years.

        A good mix of everything will hopefully give a person the right nutritional requirements for maintaining health and if you are blessed with good genetics, then that doesn’t hurt either.

        All in all, if we eat properly, stay active and have good genes; then the possibility of living a fairly long life are good.

        Each and everyone of us have a best before date and no one can prove one way or another if you did this or ate that or whatever, you were able to live 172 days more than had you not done those things.

        95% of all nutritional medical studies in my opinion are just plain junk. Listen to your body, it will tell you what to eat. And in my opinion, make your food from scratch. Avoid as much processed food as you possibly can and limit the amount of junk food that you eat.

        Common sense should be your guide.

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          Bushkid

          The best advice on the page, apart from grilling your doctor about every decision he would like to make on your behalf, doing your own research and then doing what you consider is in your own best interests as a result. Blind trust in medicine and doctors is as dangerous as blind trust in “global warming” or “catastrophic climate change/disruption/whatever it is this week”.

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    el gordo

    Alternatives come under the spotlight, with the University of Sydney doing the hard yards.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/complementary-medicines-testing-the-claims-of-the-billiondollar-industry-isnt-easy-20150530-ghcrmn

    For years I struggled with debilitating pain and the doctors continued to supply me with one ‘big pharma’ drug after another, in the hope of a miracle cure, but to no avail. Then out of desperation I tried a Blackmore’s product and was cured in three days.

    Just sayin’.

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    Uzurbrain

    Has no one noticed that the same exact methodology was used to impose the phony Cholesterol BS on the world replete with fudged and ignored data as was with (only partial list supplied) Ozone depletion, DDT, AGW, etc. And every time you point out they were/are scams you are bombarded with name calling instead of valid arguments. The media helped and supported the scams and they are still doing it. They must have a cause to fight, If there is none they will make one.

    My dad lived into his 90′s (and that was 40 years ago) and had toast buttered with a slab off of a full pound (not 1/4 pound) chunk of butter, bacon and three eggs fried swimming in the bacon grease every day. I have always thought that Cholesterol was BS.

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      Toned-F

      I have to agree with this. Everything my mother cooked was cooked in lard. Until she had a fall aged 98 she was fit and well, looked after herself (Although in sheltered accommodation), would catch the bus into town to do some shopping and was rarely ill. Talking to her you would never guess she was s old as she was. I’m not aware that she ever had a cholesterol test but if she had it would probably have register sky high. I realise she may have been an ‘exception’ but I’m guessing there are a lot of ‘exceptions’ out there.

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        RoHa

        My father died from a heart attack at 69. My mother got a card from the Queen this year. They both ate a traditional, vitamin-free, English diet which consisted mostly of salt, sugar, and saturated fat. But my father had been a smoker until his first heart attack some years earlier. (I always admired his will power in being able to give it up.)

        For my part, I still believe that red wine is good for you. It is settled science, and I refuse to listen to any nonsense from paid shills of Big Water.

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          Ross

          RoHa

          I don’t mean to be a party spoiler but about twelve months I read that the guy who did the original work on red wine manipulated his data to get his results ( sound familiar !!).
          But that is not a good enough reason for me and you or anyone else to stop enjoying our glass(s) of red wine.

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            RoHa

            Don’t pay any attention to the deniers. A commenter on WUWT has told me that 97% of red wine drinkers agree with me. That’s an overwhelming consensus.

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            Bill

            Remember to let your wine breathe. If it isn’t breathing, perform mouth to mouth.

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          Robert O

          The French paradox, although that heaps of rich fatty food coronary heart disease isn’t a major killer, probably because of the red wine they drink with meals (except breakfast).

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        Phil Cartier

        It’s been know for quite some time now that “cholesterol” per se was not the problem. Most of the cholesterol in the blood is tied up in HDL(high density lipoprotein) and LDL(low density).

        I read about 20 yrs ago or more(can’t find the article again) about research into atypical cholesterol levels- meaning people with very high or very low levels of either or both HDL and LDL. This was They chronicled a man with quite low cholesterol ~60mg/ml. He died a few years later of a heart attack. As it turned out later research that very low cholesterol is also bad. Another subject was a 75 year old woman. Her cholesterol was over 400mg/ml and she had absolutely no signs of heart problems. Further test showed she had almost no LDL in her blood, the cholesterol was all in HDL.

        I think this research was the start of breaking the saturated fat and the cholesterol myths.

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    Drapetomania

    Excellent article Jo..I have been researching this topic for years..best books on the corruption of dietary science are below.
    The Big Fat Lie here
    Death by Food Pyramid here
    The Great Cholesterol Con here
    Ignore The Awkward here

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    Another thing the internet has given us is a plethora of non-science. It is amazing to me that people will be skeptical of climate science but then dive right into “drugs are bad” based on ???. It seems we are willing to believe whatever we choose and ignore whether or not science is involved.

    Yes, drug have side effects. Everyone should know that. Some are deadly. As a patient, one should be asking about these and deciding if the risk is worth for them personally. Not for everyone in society, but for them personally. As noted, reactions vary widely. What was bad for one may be very worthwhile for another. The people benefitting the most from people not understanding drugs and side effects are personal injury lawyers who use no science and all emotion to reap huge settlements.

    In the last 3 months, I have had close contact with the medical community—far more than I ever want to have again. I have always had serious reactions to medications. When I could not get pain relief from OTC meds after one hospitalization and the one prescription NSAID I had used in the past failed, they put me in the hospital and tried various medications. Fortunately, we finally found one. All of the doctors were very respectful and very careful to ask if I could take a medication. I have noted for doctors which are allergies and which are side effects that make the drug impractical. Considering the number of medications I was given in that period, I found it amazing I reacted only to one antibiotic, and that was one I had not taken before. Even my dentist asks before prescribing a drug. I truly believe doctors are becoming more educated about reactions to medications. People often don’t discuss problems with their doctors or ask if other medications might work better. My experience may not translate to others, but I wanted to let people know that there are certainly good doctors and good research out there and I have been fortunate to have them available.

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      Rod Stuart

      It’s good to see you back, Sheri. I hope you are well now.

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      Roy Hogue

      What? Not everything I read on the Internet is reliable? Certainly it is! You aren’t allowed to lie on the Internet, are you? Well, are you?



      No. And everyone knows that. ;-)

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    handjive

    The hoax that exposed the addiction to junk science (spiked.online)
    Dark chocolate causes weight loss? Hacks actually believed it.

    The scam closely mirrored common practices in the field: the spoofers picked a likely candidate for a wonder food, dark chocolate; they conducted an actual clinical trial that was far too small and poorly controlled to give meaningful results; and they tortured the resulting data until a statistically significant result popped up.
    With an (almost) straight face, they were able to claim that people who ate a low-carb diet but also ate a small bar of dark chocolate each day lost more weight than those who ate a low-carb diet alone.

    Then, to burnish the credentials of their ‘study’, they got it published in an open access, pay-to-get-published journal called International Archives of Medicine.

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    Manfred

    Sigh…..

    All too often the ‘simplistic’ monofactorial solution applied to complex, unpredictable and often chaotic systems lends itself to poor outcomes or frank delusion, whether in the human body, in climate ‘science’, in government policy for society. This I thought at the very least would be a well recognised phenomena here…

    From the eco-totalitarian bureaucratic policy makers and their hand holding tax-takers, to the manufacturers of statins, the vested interests and their accompanying biases weave a tangled web inseparable from the ‘science’ and the ‘profit’.

    Nevertheless,statins DO HAVE life saving utility particularly for those with familial hypercholesterolaemia. Nevertheless, their widespread prescription in the ‘healthy’ population of the great unfit and overweight to those with slightly or moderately ‘raised’ levels and poor ratios has revealed consequences and concerns best characterised by small effect size undetected by the comparatively smaller cohorts of formal studies.

    Such unfortunate effects may include but are not limited to cognitive impairment, sarcopenia, musculoskeletal impairment (notably ironic I think, when one considers that this is the musculoskeletal system that offers the possibility of moving, getting fitter, losing weight, enhancing CV and pulmonary capacities etc..) and in the most recently published Journal of General Internal Medicine, April 2015, Mansi et al. report,

    Diabetes, diabetic complications, and overweight/obesity were more commonly diagnosed among statin-users than similar nonusers in a healthy cohort of adults. This study demonstrates that short-term clinical trials might not fully describe the risk/benefit of long-term statin use for primary prevention.

    Statins are not a panacea, nor are they a silver bullet, but they have specified utility in specified circumstances. Having picked on statins, now let’s watch the evolving landscape associated with the widespread use of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, once only limited to specialist use and now well entrenched in general practice…or for that matter the obvious elephant in the room, the longstanding widespread indiscriminate use of antibiotics with the ensuing downside, an incipient catastrophe of microbial resistance that will necessitate greater human ingenuity yet.

    Jo also wrote:

    In the 1950s, an upsurge in heart disease in American men (probably caused mostly by smoking)…

    …..possibly one associational factor but causative…I very much doubt it and haven’t we’ve done associational reasoning to death here…?

    On the other hand, a more plausible explanation of causation might encompass the complexity of the analysis required. I suspect the dramatic decline in physical activity (wider use of the car and transportation) associated with increasing urbanization, coupled with the onset of caloric over-consumption and the obvious, the survivors of possibly the most stressful events in their recent history (WW2 and Korea) were getting older. Smoking is not only a dose dependent activity, it is also duration dependent. The manner in which the smoker participates is also very relevant. A confounding relationship to heart disease is not quite as linear or as clear as some might wish.

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      KinkyKeith

      SSRI’s are a worry and the loose association between Serotonin and good mental health is I believe, misrepresented.

      The only way to relieve anxiety is to remove the threat and it makes no sense from a systems point of view to say that keeping S in the

      neural pathways will make people happier.

      KK

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      Manfred, the quotes in that article are Matt Ridley’s words, not mine. Perhaps I need to make that clear.

      I am not a big fan of nutritional epidemiological associations. Correlation is not causation etc. showing that drinking coke makes nations wealthier…

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      Andrew McRae

      the longstanding widespread indiscriminate use of antibiotics

      Yep, happened to me just the other day. I’m healthy enough that if I go to a doctor even once a year it’s an unusual event.
      I had a raised painful spot on my neck on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday, didn’t get around to seeing the doc until Tuesday afternoon, by which time the raised spot seemed to have gone down or broken off and was no longer painful. I described all this to the doc and showed him where the spot had been. He says yes it might have just been a surface infection and when the body fights the infection sometimes it can overcome it and push it out. It may be that its finished now.

      He then writes me a prescription for an anti-biotic creme.

      Even though he just told me my body has probably already been victorious against a microbial invader.

      I was a bit dumbfounded but took his autographed script anyway. I figured if it flared up again soon I could still use the script.
      The prescription is still sitting on the kitchen bench unused two weeks later. I was aware of the overprescription problem and I wasn’t going to be a part of it.

      Roll up, Roll up! Interview with the doctor. Nobody walks away empty handed! Every kid gets a prize. Roll up, roll up!

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    Sean McHugh

    It is amazing to me that people will be skeptical of climate science but then dive right into “drugs are bad” based on ???. It seems we are willing to believe whatever we choose and ignore whether or not science is involved.

    Sheri, the sceptics generally know more about the science than the unquestioning believer. The latter can usually only cite tenets and gospel from the climate prophets, as delivered from the pulpit of television.

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      Yes, studies show skeptics know more about science than the unquestioning believer. However, skeptics are not immune from confirmation bias and willingness to believe something that fits in with their world view.

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        JLC of Perth

        Yes. And a true skeptic should keep this in mind. Biases, including one’s own biases, must not be allowed to obscure the truth.

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        KinkyKeith

        Hi Sheri

        If Manfred’s comment at 23 above is indicative of the level of input from sceptics I’d be a strong supporter of having more sceptics involved in Government decision making.

        KK

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        Ceetee

        No Sheri they are not. But at the same time they are far more likely by virtue of their skeptical starting point to disavow that bias and embrace something that completely contradicts their former beliefs if they believe they are no longer tenable. I don’t give a flying toss about what team anyone is on or whether their scientific assertions dovetail neatly into their political aspirations, even if that seems a bit too convenient to me. Being skeptical is at the very least the basis of anyone who would claim to have even half a brain. Look up the etymology of the word.

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          I would like to think you’re correct, but very often I see people simply backing whatever research agrees with their beliefs. I agree that at least skeptics have a chance at looking at views that are different from their own. I’m just not sure how often they actually change that view.

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            OriginalSteve

            I think there is a fine line between backing stuff that backs a belief set and lack of published evidence in scientific circles. Some areas of science are not funded that well and so people cite lack of evidence as lack of proof, when clearly it isnt. Anything that has a heavy vested ( finaancial and/or power ) interest will block and obscufcate most attempts to obtain evidence about such things.

            Case in point I have a Cholesterol reading of about 7, which is allegedly “bad” ( and meaningless…I might add… ) , and of course my life insurance is jacked up accordingly because of the alleged heart attack “risk”, and yet here we are on this thread…..

            I also find from doing investigations into some contentious issues that its very hard for anyone with an entrenched position to actually admit they dont know it all or that they only know half the picture, or that even perhaps occasioanlly the alt. med community might be onto something.

            Investigation of alt stuff is not an excsue to poo poo existing science, however I think it takes more gumption to ask questions that push into the unknown, than to retreat into the known and say the earth is flat becasue “everyone else” says it is.

            Just sayin’

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            • #

              Lack of evidence means the belief is faith-based, not science. You are allowed to belief whatever you like, just not allowed to call it science when it isn’t. That is what we call dishonest.

              Seriously, you’re trying to convince me that the billion dollar natural cures industries don’t have vested interest in convincing people NOT to take drugs? Really??

              Just because you have not had a heart attack yet is not proof of anything. Cholesterol levels do not come with a time table that tells you when you can expect to drop dead. Nor does any other medical condition. Some people never have a problem with high cholesterol, some do. So far, you don’t see any problems.

              And there it is—if only you read more and knew more about natural remedies you would see just how good they are. The only POSSIBLE reason isI don’t know anything about the remedies and therefore I am “poo-pooing” them. You know, I could make the same assumption about you and pharmaceuticals, but I try not to jump to the conclusion that my beliefs are self-evident if only you just would hear what I say. Somehow, the natural remedies advocates seem to dive to that conclusion early on. You have no idea what I know or don’t know about natural remedies, you don’t know if I use any, nothing. You just assume I can’t possibly have read up on the subject and rejected some of the ideas. Kind of like climate change advocates often do. Just because I don’t believe an apple is better for stomach acid reduction than Nexium does not mean I don’t know anything about natural remedies. It means I see no evidence that your claim is valid and I am rejecting it based on your lack of evidence. Produce evidence and I’ll reconsider—and not anecdotes, actual evidence like medical studies. Otherwise, it’s not science, it’s faith.

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      Bill

      Bad example: “drugs are bad”, experience and evidence demonstrates that illegal narcotics ARE bad for people and society. Some drugs (used for proper medical purposes) can be “good”, but there is always the risk of side effects. Knowlege and informed consent go a long way.

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    handjive

    Worse than cholesterol or saturated fats?

    Air France sponsors the CoP21 2015 Paris Climate Talks. (guardian)

    Staging UN talks costs money, not least when you’re expecting 40,000 people to show up. (rtcc)

    cred? zero.

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      ianl8888


      Air France sponsors the CoP21 2015 Paris Climate Talks …

      With fuel-less planes, no doubt

      Some years ago, a 40-year veteran Detective-Sergeant (Sydney Police Force) retired. He was asked at his farewell bash what his most significant impression from 40 years of such a life was. So: “There is no limit to human hypocrisy”

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      • #
        Ceetee

        Ianl888, Air France in it’s ridiculous empty gesture is only emulating all of Europe itself. Lost, meaningless and with no purpose that makes any sense whatsoever.

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    Carol

    I am in my 70′s. Both my last doctor, who retired 10 years ago, and my current doctor, were concerned about my high cholesterol levels, despite my being extremely active and healthy in every other respect and also taking zero medications, not even headache pills, since I almost never get a headache or any other pain for that matter. Confessing to loving eggs, butter, cream, cheese, steak, pork chops, etc. and disliking most fruit except for figs and avocados, my current doctor put me on a zero fat diet and prescribed statins. The unexpected severe muscle pain that developed resulted in my tossing these into the rubbish after only a week. I did stick to the joyless, boring zero fat diet though. The required follow up blood test 3 months later revealed even higher cholesterol levels! My doctor conceded I may well be someone who had always had high cholesterol levels and so might as well go back to my normal diet. However, he did warn I was a prime candidate for a heart attack. So I decided a heart attack was probably as good a way to go as any. Now I don’t know whether to be disappointed or not.

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      bobl

      Carol, my experience is that you can lose weight on a high fat diet must you must reduce the carbs to the point that your body can’t burn sugars (carbs) for energy. The interesting thing is that in this state the body must burn fat! It doesn’t care where the fat came from so some of the fat burned will come from your stores.

      It’s a difficult diet to sustain because you can’t eat bread, pasta or other flour based products, potatoes, rice or other starchy food in any quantity but it does work. In my opinion (and it’s just my opinion) the problem in the western diet is overload on carbs, not fat.

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      • #
        Mark A

        bobl
        we just returned from Europe after 3 months, the places we stayed ALL had high “natural” ie. animal fat diets, we ate like pigs I shamefully admit and I still lost 0.5 Kg and the wify almost 2.
        Now don’t take it as gospel and apply to everyone visiting Europe but this diet was fundamentally different from our normal diet and I think that was the reason.
        Now we try to emulate the same here at home.

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        • #
          Roy Hogue

          You may also have been more physically active during your vacation. Even small increases in physical activity can have an effect on your weight.

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    I am not surprised in the slightest. On a similar level, blood pressure is also one of those things which is completely mistreated.

    High blood pressure is a symptom, not a disease. So by treating it you’re adding side-effects of medications without actually solving the problem. Sometimes it’s a simple as a mineral or vitamin deficiency; sometimes it’s stress.

    Modern medicine has done more damage than good. The few good things are worth keeping – but over 75% of medicine is crap and most of that is obviously so.

    Just don’t confuse medicine with surgery, which has done immeasurable good to humans and animals alike.

    You think this is big news, folks? Oh, boy. There are more scandals where that came from. I’m not even going to start.

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      High blood sugar is a symptom. The disease that causes it cannot be cured (except by transplant). So we treat the symptoms. We also treat the symptoms of colds. Treating the symptoms is what you do when you can’t find the cause.

      Drugs are used in surgery. But those are okay?

      As for skeptics being more scientific, I would like to know the source of the “75%” statistic that was stated here. Is there more science there than climate change?

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      • #
        Rereke Whakaaro

        Sheri,

        I fear that statistic may have come from the same stable as the one that claimed that 75% of statistics were simply made up, and not based on any facts at all.

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        Bushkid

        Sheri, while I respect your position, I have to say you appear to be taking a position that is an either/or one, in that those of us who are articulating the very negative experience of actual physical harm from prescribed drugs (in particular statins in this case) appear to be treated by you as “deniers” of something, although it’s not quite clear what.
        The benefits of some pharmaceutical products are not in dispute, e.g., those you mention in conjunction with surgery or the judicious use of antibiotics in the correct circumstances.
        What those of us to whom you seem to be opposed actually object to is the marketing and large scale and unnecessary prescription of those drugs that have a dubious benefit based on dubious science at best and are outright harmful and dangerous to health at worst.
        Please understand that we are not anti-medication “nuts cases”; we are thinking, reasoning individuals who have had the misfortune to be seriously affected by the marketing and large scale (even arguably indiscriminate) prescription of these drugs.

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        • #

          My objection is that people blame the pharmaceutical industry for overmedicating people and for outcomes that were not good. Every medication out there comes with warnings and the research data is available on the internet very often. The FDA has listing of adverse reactions.

          I have had very bad reactions to medications, but I’m not blaming the medical industry. Bed things happen. I keep a list of medications that I cannot take and when I am given a new one, I watch for bad reactions. I may refuse to take a drug if I can’t see the benefits exceeding the risks.

          I don’t think you are anti-medication “nut cases”, but I fail to understand how a thinking, reasoning person cannot recognize that medications can have serious side effects and it may not be wise to always follow what your doctor tells you. It seems to me that you are willingly listening to an authority and putting all your trust in him, while criticizing global warming advocates for doing the same thing. Your trust evaporates when you get a bad outcome, whether or not it should.

          Why would you believe marketing when you clearly have rejected it now? Surely you know marketing is about making money whether it’s medications or herbal products. There seems to be a disconnect here that is based on an emotional reaction, not actual evidence. That is what I am trying to understand.

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      bobl

      That may well be the case, but it is important to limit blood pressure to avoid bursting blood vessels in inconvenient places while the root causes are addressed. The problem however is how to wean the body off the drugs when the time comes.

      Unlike high cholesterol, high blood pressure is in itself dangerous, it is wrong to suggest that it should not be treated.

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        Roy Hogue

        High blood pressure is, among other things, a considerable risk to your heart. Yes, by all means treat high blood pressure, even while looking for the root cause.

        From a Google search on, “risk of high blood pressure”:

        Possible health consequences that can happen over time when high blood pressure is left untreated include: Damage to the heart and coronary arteries, including heart attack, heart disease, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection and atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in the arteries that cause them to harden) Stroke.Aug 13, 2014

        Never ignore high blood pressure. It’s a killer over time, does it’s work silently without symptoms and is easily controlled in most cases.

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    Retired now

    It was exploring the cholesterol issue that led me to realise the medical system was totally corrupt. I don’t say this lightly. My dad was a researcher and doctor. I had spent many years becoming a health researcher and believed that my friends and colleagues were basically good people and the doctors wanted the best for their patients. Exploration around the cholesterol issue changed my mind about this and I realised that while they were basically well intentioned the intention was primarily to keep the cash coming in and their status intact. A totally corrupt system does corrupt good people. It took me a couple of years to come to terms with the end of my career as I couldn’t work any longer in this system.

    It came to a head when I challenged my professor to provide me with the evidence to support the health benefits of lowered cholesterol in women. We discussed the papers that he was providing to his students to justify it and I asked him to highlight the results which supported his (and mainstream medicine’s) assertions. Two days later he came into my room and threw the paper on the floor saying it must be in another paper as it wasn’t in this one. I reminded him that this paper was the one used by the health department for the guidelines to medical practitioners and he shrugged his shoulders. Later after a warm and congenial discussion about something else I gently asked him how he could teach the students without actual evidence. He paused, shrugged his shoulders and said that he had been teaching for 40 years and psychologically couldn’t cope with the idea he (and the medical recommendations) were wrong. Therefore I must be wrong. He suggested I hadn’t done my homework properly.

    He was psychologically honest, but medically and scientifically corrupt. I was devastated that my mentor and supporter for establishing a late career should be like this. I then went on to look at the efficacy of other drugs and they were as effective as the cholesterol lowering ones. An absolute risk reduction or efficacy rate of between 0.1% and 5% was the norm. When discussing this with colleagues they alternately ridiculed their patients for having unrealistic views of efficacy and ridiculing them for not taking the drugs. And when I started looking for info about vaccination efficacy and safety they went ballistic with anger. For some reason I could (just) question the efficacy and safety of a particular drug, but asking the same questions about vaccination was beyond the pale – that made me a total crank. I still don’t know where i stand on vaccination as I never found the evidence to support it. All I wanted was the evidence, without the anger and without the marketing claims. Just the evidence for efficacy and safety.

    I was horrified and became depressed about the whole system. I left when my contract ended and didn’t try to find another contract in the field. Life in retirement is much more fun.

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    • #
      Roy Hogue

      In my old age I’m finding out that many doctors very much want to be seen as all knowing and authoritative, rather than showing any doubt or ignorance of how to proceed with a given problem, even when they realize they don’t know all the facts or aren’t sure if what they have to offer is worthwhile. It’s certainly a natural thing.

      I’ve learned to ask lots of questions. If answers aren’t consistent or don’t agree with my experience I ask more questions. You can get very good at telling the difference between a doctor who can really cope with your problem and one who can’t.

      I keep a doctor who can cope, otherwise I go elsewhere. That seems to be all anyone can do. If a drug works I take it. If not I drop it. I’ve yet to have a problem I can attribute to anything I’m taking that bothers me enough to stop using a drug that’s helping me.

      Given how complex the human body is I’m surprised at how much we do know. But what we know seems to be just a drop in the ocean compared with what’s still to learn.

      I read all the stuff my doctors have on their walls and one day I asked my rheumatologist how he managed to remember all the muscles and bones listed on the chart I was looking at. His answer surprised me. He said, “You can’t. You have to depend on reference works and know where to go to get the information when you need it.” My pharmacist blew my mind away when he told me that doctors call him frequently asking what drug is the best for a given condition, especially for which antibiotic to use. Shouldn’t the MD know what drug is what?

      You can study a subject for a lifetime and not learn the right lesson or you can study it and get the right lesson, sometimes quickly. But we never seem to be sure which result we have until a lot of time has validated what we think the lesson is. And even after the lesson is validated we have the bad habit of ignoring it. That’s how we got the present day political left, by the way.

      Life’s like that, including medical science.

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    Yonniestone

    Thumbs up for the Framingham Heart Study reference Jo, the continuing results of this study that started in 1948 kept discrediting the anti-fat/cholesterol misinformation while other areas of science drank the ‘new conventional wisdom’ cool aid pushed by vested interests.

    After tracking the diets of over 6000 people for 40 years the director of the study said,
    “In Framingham, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the lower the persons serum cholesterol….we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighted the least and were the most physically active.”

    I’ll give the obligatory anecdotal story also, in 1982 my Great Grandmother passed away, she was born and raised on the farm growing up eating what was produced at home, eggs, meat, vegies, fruit with sugar and flour used sparingly as it was a rarity, with 3 square meals daily and walking everywhere especially as children, she became quite robust in body and mind with her ability to recall childhood memories of Glenrowan Victoria where her mother rushed her inside the house to hide when men on horses came thundering through the bush on their property, she died aged 107 years old.

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    Another Ian

    Chiefio has done a number of posts around fats and cholesterol over time. Scroll through posts at

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/

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    BernardP

    It’s true that the US government is about to drop cholesterol from the list of nutrients of concern. This simply reflects the fact that dietary cholesterol has little influence on blood cholesterol levels. These will remain “of concern”, and we will still be told to take statins if target levels of blood cholesterol are not achieved.

    This remains very wrong. The body knows what quantity of cholesterol it needs. Yes, statins reduce blood cholesterol levels, but it doesn’t matter, as cholesterol doesn’t matter in cardiovascular mortality. Numerous clinical studies have shown that statins have no benefit on cardiovascular mortality. Statins are toxic, with serious effects on muscles and brain function. These are not side effects, they are main effects.

    Recommended reading: The Great Cholesterol Con – Dr. Malcolm Kendrick

    http://www.amazon.com/Great-Cholesterol-Con-Really-Disease/dp/1844546101/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433039635&sr=1-2&keywords=malcolm+kendrick

    His blog is worth following:

    http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/

    Dr Michel de Lorgeril is also a leading cholesterol debunker:

    http://www.amazon.com/Cholesterol-statins-Sham-science-medicine-ebook/dp/B00IU0SZUO/ref=la_B00IW4RJDM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433039743&sr=1-2

    There is a lot more available from credible medical sources.

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    scaper...

    OT. I see the Australian government has thwarted the influence of the extreme green groups to have the Great Barrier Reef declared ‘Endangered’ by UNESCO.

    Greg Hunt went up there for a snorkel, yesterday. He tells me that the area he snorkelled looks better that three years ago when he was there. I’ve asked him to talk up the reef’s health.

    I’ve been going up to the reef ever since I was a kid. Seen bleaching, Crown of Thorns and cyclone destruction and rapid recovery.

    We could nuke the reef and it will eventually recover.

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    RB

    I have a couple of gripes about the people who work in our health departments.

    I saw one Vic Health employee write a newspaper article pointing out that even light beer has a lot of calories. Our bodies convert alcohol to acetic acid, not CO2 and water, and probably at a loss of energy rather than gain.

    There was another article on how Australia’s women have gained 4kg of weight on average since the 90s. A closer inspection showed that the median had hardly changed. It was just very obese women were not dying in the same numbers that they once were. Overlooked was something startling. There was no large change in the portion of women in each weight range with age except for those women over 110kg. The number of women in this weight range between 45-55 was half of that between 35-45.

    So if you are a woman and worried about the health effects (rather than aesthetics) of your weight, stay below 110kg.

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    LightningCamel

    They say cholesterol is bad for your heart
    And that fats simply must play their part
    But if your heart it does burn
    To statins do not turn
    Perhaps all that you need is a phart.

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    Ursus Augustus

    “To make his case he did things like leave out contradictory data, shift points on graphs and skate over inconvenient facts. He then got big charities and state agencies on side and bullied his critics into silence.”

    Now where have I heard that before?

    Was Ancel Keys the template designer for CAGW?

    Want to clear the decks for a new paradigm that puts you on centre stage? Call the old paradigm “deadly”, “lethal”, “ignorant msinformation”, “a fantasy” etc., ‘here’s the new improved science!!’

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    Ross Handsaker

    The Framingham Study indicated that people with cholesterol levels below 150 (3.75 for Australians) had a much reduced risk of heart attack (only 5 incidents over 50 years). For those of us who have coronary artery disease, research by Drs Ornish, Esselstyn etc has shown a reduction in artery plaques (using an angiogram) occur when patients have followed a low fat plant based diet, and without use of statin drugs.

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      bobl

      On the other hand we don’t know what mediates the plaque removal, possibly DMSO which we get from the cabbage family veges, and which are a solvent that is quite good at sopping up fatty substances.

      Correlation is not causation, the fat reduction may have no effect on the plaque, it may in fact be the veges alone.

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    Speaking from Experience

    I sustained painful muscle damage in my feet from a statin taken over a period of 18 months. The damage happened slowly – morning stiffness in the lower legs, tiredness, weakness. I put it down to getting old.

    If you don’t realise the statin is doing it – and your doctor does not take you off the drug when your CK levels rise – then you can end up with severe muscle damage.

    I also had cardiac problems while taking the statin. It all went away after I stopped the statin. The muscle damage in my feet took almost two years to heal. The first symptom when I started the statin was neurological – an urgent need to pee, and peeing a lot at night. The GP said this symptom was not caused by the statin, so, like an idiot, I kept taking the pills.

    I believe statins will be seen in future as one of medicene’s mistakes. My understanding is that they are best for someone who has already had a heart attack.

    There might be some worthwhile benefit with strokes, but isn’t it easier and cheaper to eat oatmeal and go for walks?

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      Oswald Thake

      I may as well chip in my two-penn’orth at this stage. (And what an excellent thread this is, Jo!)
      I was prescribed statins in my early seventies, not knowing at the time that our glorious U.K. National Health Service pay doctors so much a head for prescribing these drugs to everyone over a certain age. The dose was 40mg a day, later lowered to 20 without any explanation, not that I asked for one, for, after a few months of being unable to walk more than 50 yards without having to pause for the pains in my hips and lower back to subside, I stopped taking the damn’ things. Now I can walk a good deal further without pain – funny, that!
      As for Big Pharma – well, if you ran a dug company would you a) develop a drug which kept the symptoms of a disease under control at the cost of having to take it for a life time? Or b) develop a drug which would cure the disease once and for all? Or am I being cynical?

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      • #
        Roy Hogue

        Perhaps cynical… …but the drug company has an incentive to sell product like any other business and we need to recognize that. It’s a fact of economic life for every business, big or small.

        As for the a or b question — I suspect that it’s much easier in many cases to come up with something that controls the symptoms than to come up with something that treats the cause. And the more so when the cause isn’t known.

        As someone who depends on several drugs to keep going I’m very grateful for things that make the symptoms bearable because the root cause is not known in my case. So I don’t bash big pharma.

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    Christian

    Now that cholesterol has been dealt with, let’s have a good look at blood pressure tablets! Medicalizing everyone with levels higher than 120/80 needs to be reviewed.

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    Bwian

    About 2 years go now, ABC’s Catalyst program had an uncharacteristically skeptical look at the statin industry and rightly pointed out the huge sums of money involved for the drug industry in keeping cholesterol in the bad books. It was a revealing look and in my opinion unusually balanced for the normally unquestioning ABC. The correlation with heart disease was called into question, and the role of cholesterol explained. It must have really hurt them to question academia in such a forthright way. If only they would hold the same candle to the warmist agenda! Not surprisingly, the entire episode was disappeared after a few days, undoubtedly due to pressure from the left and vested interests. My bet is that legal action was threatened and they folded, lest they be held responsible for the science they portray, unlike climate scientists who take responsibility for nothing! It was refreshing to see the ABC go down this road, but alas, as expected, quite short lived.

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  • #

    Only about 10 to 15% of one’s cholesterol comes from diet, the rest being created by the liver.

    If there is inflammation of arterial walls then cholesterol will stick to those walls in an attempt to effect a repair.

    If the condition is persistent and long term then the plaques calcify and harden and can accumulate to block the artey causing heart attacks and strokes.

    It is likely that the smoking habits of the early 20th century caused inflammation of the artery walls and led to high rates of heart disease which have declined as smoking has become less prevalent.

    So, it seems likely that avoidance of arterial inflammation is the key but if one has such inflammation then high cholesterol levels could well be an additional risk factor because of excessive build up of plaques.

    Statins make sense if one needs them to bring cholesterol down to so called normal levels but may well be harmful if cholesterol is reduced too low because that will compromise the repair function.

    Each patient must make their own judgment for their own personal risk factors.

    It now seems likely that a high sugar or high carbohydrate diet may raise the level of cholesterol more than consumption of saturated fats so we need a few years to ascertain whether that recent realisation can work through to lower cholesterol levels without the use of statins. Addiction to sugar and carbs may be harder to deal with than the consumption of saturated fats.

    In the meantime, provided no significant adverse side effects are experienced, statins should continue to be used to keep cholesterol levels within normal bounds so that the repair response to any inflammatory condition does not become so excessive as to cause arterial blockages.

    Statins most certainly have a place but the relevant science is still in its infancy.

    It is very difficult to distinguish betweeen ailments that occur anyway from those caused by statins. Mere correlation is not sufficient unless repeated two or three times. All sorts of ailments can come and go especially as one ages and not all can be blamed on statin use.

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    Wayne Job

    My father at around seventy years old was told by his doctor he had extremely high cholesterol, being of the generation he was he believed the Dr and was told to take tablets. This he did, he lived on his own after taking the tablets he collapsed into a coma, after three days a friend found him on the floor and got him help. He had no body fat and the cholesterol was in his blood as a food source, buggers nearly killed him.

    Some years later going to a Dr that I rarely do for an injury the Dr gave me a full medical [being old] I relieved an urgent call to see the Dr and attended my cholesterol was thru the roof and needed urgent attention, I was given a script to take and return in a week for tests. I went back in a week but had not taken the pills and passed the test. The Dr could not believe the results. Simples, I told him I had not taken his pills but had refrained from eating a block of chocolate each night. Then I asked him as I work hard can I have my energy back.

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    Bill

    Disclosure, I have always had inhumanly LOW cholesterol, as did my late father – who passed from cancer. I had my first MI at age 37, he had his at 34. While I have not had another (yet) in the intervening 18 years, he had repeated heart attacks until his death at age 70. In our cases, GENETICS is a greater concern than diet, not to mention lifestyle, smoking (I quit at age 25), and stress (we both spent years in high stress-dangerous occupations).

    As with any branch of “science”, coincidences happen.

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      shortie of greenbank

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120326113713.htm

      Low cholesterol, even the ‘bad’ one has been known to be a link to cancer risk for some time. My father died of cancer last year but fought it for a few years before that. At the time he was diagnosed his cholesterol was about 2.6 combined and the specialists said this usually leads to cancer or an indication of cancer (I only just learned this when mentioning to my mother my higher than normal cholesterol).

      The local GP is threatening statins if I don’t drop from 5.1 combined in the next few months (my mothers side has historically quite high cholesterol with hers about 7 and a cousin pushing between 9 and 11 at times).

      I think I will look for a second opinion on that front given the level isn’t chronic and like in the past when another tried to force me on nexium for stomach acid for the rest of my life. A little research found the tablets were no substitute in the least for improved diet changes (even as small as adding an apple a day is orders of magnitude better than a drug that chemically lowers acid in the stomach but creates more ‘stress’ on the rest of the body).

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        Bill

        re: linking to cancer…..correlation is NOT causation. There is no reputable research making such a link.

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      • #

        Apples are made of chemicals and they affect your whole body. Of course, since nature made apples, they’re the only to way to go, right?

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        • #
          shortie of greenbank

          Apples get good and bad press. Some diets demand you have no apples, grapes or bananas due to their sugar to fibre ratio. Other diets use apples as a cornerstone or apple products like apple cider vinegar.

          All food contain chemicals so being silly about it hardly helps your argument though. the comparison was nexium to apples though…

          http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-20536/nexium-oral/details/list-sideeffects

          A side effect I had was that I couldn’t tell if I was hungry at all, which isn’t listed. But yeah take the tablets rather first trying to even do a small change to diet first if you want, its your body.

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          • #

            I’m pretty sure my argument about apples having chemicals is no sillier than nexium compared to apples. Your comment was “chemically lowers acid in the stomach” which is what happens irregardless of what method is used. It’s just that people think “natural” chemicals are somehow different from “manmade” ones.

            Your last statement indicates you are saying people can either just take the tablet and skip the changes or try the changes. It’s not an either/or. One can try the changes, have them fail, and then go to the medication.

            One day I hope to make a list of “side effects” from eating foods—things like gastrointestinal discomfort, anaphalaxsys, vomiting, diarreaha, weight gain, weight loss……

            Lastly, just so you don’t think I’m totally serious all the time, I read a blog on preserving food the other day where the woman noted that she was pregnanat with the second child. She had bought only organic for the first, but did not think she would do so on the second. Her change of heart came when she realized her first chld licked the bottom of his shoes and kissed the butt-licking dog on the mouth. It’s all about perpective.

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              shortie of greenbank

              (even as small as adding an apple a day is orders of magnitude better than a drug that chemically lowers acid in the stomach but creates more ‘stress’ on the rest of the body).

              That is what I said. Both chemically lowers acid in the stomach but Nexium seems to have no other beneficial results and a long list of negative results, even if the person isn’t allergic to something in it. Apples contain natural pesticides which the body has to deal with like any other toxin, the same in pretty much all foods.

              The issue in the case of acid is that it isn’t limited to the stomach, blood and even saliva have a pH that changes depending on diet and if you take drugs. If you have high stomach acid levels then your blood and saliva and many other fluids in the body is also more acidic. Taking Nexium potentially increases the bodies acidity if I was to follow this logic but only very temporarily lowers the acid in the stomach. Lifestyle changes may not only change the pH of the stomach acid but have a follow on effect to the other fluids in the body.

              The tablet in this case is but a convenient method to hide the real problem and allow people to continue to abuse their body, at least for the short term until more problems appear from continued poor diet/lifestyle choices made and taking something that probably shouldn’t be taken long term.

              20 years of shift work has probably been a huge contributor for me, there have been plenty of studies appearing in the last few years about the negative impact of shift work such as nightshift. I will need to make the hard decision to leave this work soon if I want to improve my own lifestyle. Chances are (going from the studies) my cholesterol might even lower as a result of this rather than taking a medication which isn’t even prescribed for people with LDL below 4.9 from what I have read (my LDL was 4.0).

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                I’ve heard this all before. If only we would eat the way XYZ tells us and we would get back to nature and etc, etc, etc, no one would be sick and utopia would arrive. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. You seem to think that people have acid reflux only because they don’t live as prescribed by whoever it is that does that kind of thing. Googling healthy foods and lifestyles gives me thousands of answer to what is healthy, some contradictory. So how is one to know if they are eating “healthy” or not?

                Getting back to nature would be great if nature worked in the first place. The reason there are medicines is because nature did not work. Are these medications over prescribed? No more so than the “nature is nirvana” crouds insistance that if we only lived the way nature intended, we would all be fine and healthy. Except we never were…..

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                shortie of greenbank

                I am talking about one thing being far better than another. This case lifestyle change (I don’t think yoga, zumba, latin dancing, jazzercise, hill sprints in multi-hundred dollar shoes etc is natural but is it better than popping a problem laden pill?) can be a multitude of natural and unnatural things that improve your overall wellbeing or a specific aspect of your wellbeing.

                If a person is prescribed a pill, they should see if there is a way to reduce the risk(s) it may carry forward as well as ways of seeing if there are ways of reducing the need for it in the first place.

                An example of a simple issue a prescribed medicine causes is something like blood thinners. My grandmother was taken to hospital quite ill with blood in her stool etc. The doctors said it was the blood thinners and changed medication. The issue was found out a short time later when she presented in a far worse condition a short while later and was found to have twisted bowel that needed to be removed. In this case the symptoms matched side effects associated with medicine she was taking and masked the really serious situation underneath.

                But anyway I think there has been enough beating of this specific vein so ’nuff from me. Thanks for the banter.

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    pesadia

    I am surprised that nobody has referred to Sally Fallon
    and her video, “The oiling of America”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvKdYUCUca8

    This video explains in detail, how everything that is good for
    you has been demonised and why.
    Be prepared to be shocked and educated, should you decide to invest to hours of your time viewing this video.

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      Roy Hogue

      Not having two hours to spend on the video I won’t watch it, at least not now. However, I would advise everyone to not take one single source as truth to the exclusion of all others. Believe something only when it’s confirmed by more than one source and all your sources are completely credible.

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    James

    Next time your quack tries to push Statins on you, or lipid blood work, ask them if they know about Dr Lynn Smaha. Lynn was a former President of the American Heart Association. He firmly believed that heart attacks were preventable through the use of statins. He jogged every day, looked very healthy, was in good shape, and most likely had low cholesterol. He died of a heart attack after going jogging at age 63. He disproved his own beliefs.

    One GP I went to see tried to push blood work onto me. I never saw her again, and next time I saw the other GP at the clinic I use. He offered blood work, and I declined, and mentioned Dr Smaha. He was fine with that, so I will keep him as my GP.

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    Roy Hogue

    When I learned that if I didn’t eat cholesterol my body would manufacture the stuff I became an instant skeptic. It all began for me in late 2002 when I became short of breath and had myself taken to the ER because I knew that was a symptom of a heart attack. Sure enough, one artery branching from the anterior descending was about 90% blocked. The rest of my heart was clear of blockage. An angiogram is completely revealing about all the important arteries. The blockage was ballooned and I was fine for about 2 months. Then I had angina pain and the whole thing was repeated, including 2 stents. Whatever the cause, my heart was intent on fixing something at that one point using cholesterol to do it. That also held for about 2 months after which I went through the bypass surgery that actually solved the problem in February, 2003. I’m symptom free ever since.

    After the first episode I was given all the “healthy eating” guidelines. I even tried to follow them — not very palatable meals for a meat and potatoes man like me. After the bypass surgery I was handed the same thing again but this time I pinned my cardiologist down about 2 things, salt and cholesterol, both a mortal danger if you read the guidelines.

    About salt all he could say was that it might raise my blood pressure a little. But hey, mine is still in the 120/70 range right now, if not lower. I should worry about salt?

    About cholesterol the first thing he said was that if you take apart what’s blocking an artery it’s pure cholesterol. I’ve no doubt that he’s correct. But I kept on and he then had to say they believe the real culprit is inflammation and cholesterol is just a handy material hanging around for the inflammation to use to do it’s dirty work — actually probably trying to cover up something thought by your body to be harmful. I don’t know how that theory has advanced or changed over the intervening years and I don’t much care at this point.

    About 2 years before I retired I got tired of eating cold cereal at home every morning and started stopping at the Denny’s near work periodically to pick up scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon and toast to eat at my desk. This finally turned into stopping every morning and eating in, my favorite breakfast, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon and toast. I had that breakfast or some variation of it for more than a year, 5 days a week.

    I’m now 12 years out from that bypass surgery and as I said, symptom free. My cardiologist has given my heart a clean bill of health to go ahead with two other surgeries in each of the past two years. I didn’t even see him for 9 of those 12 years. I eat as I please within reason. A good hamburger is an American tradition I enjoy often.

    Please! Don’t anyone take this as advice. Everyone is unique and cholesterol is still what they find clogging arteries. All I’m doing is relating my experience because it lends credibility to the findings Jo is commenting about. It seems clear that eating fats and cholesterol isn’t what causes the problem. And I could have another blockage at any time but if it happens I’m not going to believe it was because I ate too much cholesterol or fat.

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      Roy—thank you for clearly stating that your experience is yours specifically.

      It is quite disturbing how many skeptics immediately jump on the “drugs are evil and doctors are money-hungary people pushing the evil drugs” bandwagon. It’s also disturbing that so many cannot see that their hatred of the medical profession is based on very little evidence and most of that anecdotal. Yet, they tear apart global warming believers for the same behaviours. Perhaps it’s just that skeptics hate authority and don’t really look at evidence? I don’t know. There are good and bad things in every profession, including the medical profession and researchers of climate. There are specific examples of bad behaviours. Generalizing and demonizing a whole industry is not really different from how the warmists treat skeptics. There are accusations of greed, etc.

      Several people were at least careful to note this was their experience and some had seen bad research up close. Are there problems with medical research? Sure—and there are problems when people now jump on the “statins are bad” bandwagon after one study shows food and cholesterol are not related (which would mean more statin prescriptions are needed possibly). We’re talking about medical research here. There should be evidence that this study is better than others and that there are more studies that show this. One study is interesting, but in no way definitive. It’s fine to look at these studies, but using them to condemn all research really isn’t different from what warmists do.

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        Roy Hogue

        What I forgot to mention and I apologize for it, is that I started on a statin after that first episode in 2002. I still take it and I know of no harm it’s done to me. The trouble is, I don’t have the slightest way of knowing if it’s done me any good either.

        Ironically, my cholesterol was never out of the acceptable range even though I had been advised to not let it go any higher — no alarm, just be prudent. Now it’s a little lower. Did the statin make any difference or did changing my eating habits slightly make a difference? How do I tell? But the subject is now on my list for review at my next checkup.

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          Roy Hogue

          The statin didn’t stop the second episode or the eventual bypass surgery. Of that I’m absolutely certain.

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            I didn’t remember to include that when my husband went on the statin, there was a noticeable decrease in his cholesterol level, LDL down, HDL up. There was no question that the medication made the difference.

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          It’s only prudent to discuss things like this with your doctor. As for dietary influence, these vary by individual. My husband could eat eggs, butter, bacon, etc and it had no effect. However, eating peanut butter with hydrogenated oil did raise the number. After a while, even eliminating the peanut butter failed to keep the number down. So he’s on a statin. No problems to date, but we do watch for any changes that might be attributable to the drug.

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      Geoffrey Williams

      Good on you Roy – Enjoy a long and healthy life.
      Geoff Williams
      Sydney

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    Uncle Gus

    Hate to get all factual on yer [snip] and all that… They’re dropping the warnings on *dietary* cholesterol and saturated fats. Statins work on *blood* cholesterol levels.

    It’s been known for some time that the two are barely connected at all. That’s why they’re dropping them.

    And, yes, cholesterol is a a vital blood ingredient. That’s been known, well, practically forever. High levels of it, however, cause plaque in the arteries. Hence statins.

    All this “good guys, bad guys” thinking is basically idiotic. It’s why my sister-in-law doesn’t trust dentists, and why her children’s teeth are dropping out of their heads. Natural organic fruit is *obviously* so much better for them than toothpaste, with all those chemicals…

    Keep taking the garlic; I’ve no doubt you’ll live forever.

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    Dave in the states

    Way back then, it was also known that our bodies use cholesterol to make things like Vitamin D, and er… sex hormones. (How did the mass media miss that.)

    I wonder if there is a connection between the war on cholesterol and the rise of adult obesity and Type 2 diabetes, possibly due to more acute declining levels of testosterone as we age?

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    Diogenes

    Listening to, and understanding one’s own body is vital.

    Sadly something in my body chemistry has changed and I can longer eat offal (gout) especially liver and kidneys – these are rich in nutrients and can replace many plant based sources of vitamins and minerals (the Inuit eat the offal & feed the “good” meat to their dogs!)

    I am very aware of my gout triggers , I can eat as much red meat & drink as much red wine as I like(cheap reds always give me exactly the same headache though) , but as much as teaspoon of lobster meat, or the equivalent 2 tablespoons of tomato puree will have me off work for 2 weeks (raw tomatoes are fine – go figure), much more than the same of pate will do the same.

    I have learnt to visit the GP during the school holidays as my blood pressure is fine then (made the mistake of going after school one day, after a day of double periods and no access to my computer lab at the end of term) – Nurse whacks on the BP cuff takes my blood pressure – lies me on the bed and is yelling – yes yelling for the GP , and is ready to call for the ambulance – after 30 minutes lying down and reading a book while waiting as they would not me go home BP is high but ok.

    A year ago, for various reason my activity levels decreased and calories in increased, I put on @ 7 kilos & was promptly diagnosed as being diabetic. It was instructive testing my blood sugar levels, over a period of months, as to what increased them. When I modified my diet (eliminated potato and most pasta and most rice – even the so called low GI varieties) and lost weight , well I am no longer even pre diabetic

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    It was widely known long before the 1990s that cholesterol was an essential intermediate for the production of hormones and other complex molecules needed in our metabolism. To take just one example, L. Ron Hubbard remarked this in a 1972 article, saying that research was needed into how the body dealt with cholesterol instead of propaganda to make everyone reduce their cholesterol intake. Being a paranoiac, Hubbard went on to say that the anti-cholesterol campaign was a conspiracy by medical doctors who profited from sickness – but his point about the role of cholesterol remains valid.

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    liberator

    So will the ABC make available again on line ( or even re-broadcast) their Catalyst cholesterol 2 part special that said similar things?

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    brent

    Doctors union mounts push for government action to tackle climate change
    The powerful doctors lobby group is set to ramp up pressure on the federal government to take action on climate change.
    Australian Medical Association vice president Stephen Parnis says a working group has been established to revamp the group’s climate policy before the UN climate change conference in Paris this year.
    “We would like Australia’s targets and priorities to be informed by AMA policy and influenced by AMA advocacy,” he told doctors at the AMA’s national conference in Brisbane on Sunday.
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/doctors-union-mounts-push-for-government-action-to-tackle-climate-change-20150531-ghdpxy.html

    Seems that the Doctors would be better advised to work on challenges in their own field!!

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    William

    Has anyone else enjoyed the experience of eating at the greatest restaurant on earth?
    For those who haven’t experienced it yet, here are the links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_Attack_Grill

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqf_SIQ3JAk

    Adult people, responsible for their own behavior doing what they choose to do!
    It all tastes great; after you finish, you know that you have had a meal.
    And you die happy!
    It doesn’t get any better than this.

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    James in Perth

    Amazing. A friend of mine who is being treated for angina told me this yesterday and I just nodded my head (not believing inside). I remember my father trimming all the fat off his meat, switching to margarine, and more. All because of some lying doctor. Harumph!

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    Geoffrey Williams

    This is a late comment I know.
    But I would like to say that I was never a fan of cholesterol treatment.
    And I did smell a rat a few years ago when the benchmark levels for high cholesterol levels were revised down from about 6.5 down to 5.0 (approx.)
    I chose to ignore my doctors advice and carried on in my own merry way – eating as I pleased! Perhaps I just got lucky and I’m OK.
    Anyway I have friends (good friends) who have been taking medication for high cholesterol for years.
    When I mentioned to them a recently ago about the latest evidence suggesting that cholesterol might not be the problem that we had once been led to believe they were unconvinced and have carried on with their treatment. It is their choice.
    However this reminds me of the global warming debate and how convincing people that something that they have accepted and believed for years may be wrong.
    Well you know what they say; ‘You can lead a horse to water but . . . .’
    Regards Geoff Williams
    Sydney

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    Owen Morgan

    I was struck by the disparity between Crete and Corfu and I wonder about the reason. In “Ill Met By Moonlight“, about the wartime abduction of German General Kreipe from Crete, William Stanley Moss describes how the Cretans were in the habit of defining distances in terms of the time it took to smoke cigarettes. It has to be said that Patrick Leigh Fermor, who participated in the same raid and wrote his own book on the subject (“Abducting a General“), made no reference at all to this practice, although he hinted that cigarettes were definitely in demand.

    Oddly enough, although Greece as a whole is a recipient of subsidies for tobacco production and, typically for the Brussels bureaucracy, most Greek tobacco is low-grade and immediately goes up in flames, long before making it into cigarette format, Corfu appears to be capable of growing tobacco as a valid, small-scale crop, but I can’t see that Crete grows any. I don’t know where those wartime Cretans got their cigarettes from.

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    Peter Arnold Lord

    My cholesterol story. I had a heart attack in 2001, aged 58, while taking VIOXX for arthritis. I had no prior history of heart problems. The VIOXX issue aside, on discharge from cardiac care in hospital I found I had been prescribed a Statin medication to control cholesterol levels. In 2004 I voluntarily stopped taking the medication after seeing a news item on TV about the causes of ‘Gulf War Syndrome’. Some soldiers returning from tours of duty had dificulty recognising family and couldn’t remember their children’s names. They had all been subject to tests involving Statin drugs. I was having similar problems. I experienced a number of episodes and incidents and stopped taking the Statin medication after consideration: lucky escapes after momentary blackouts while driving long distances (I live in a rural area), confusion and disorientation that resulted in wrecking a yacht on a solo transit of the southern coast from Melbourne to Adelaide, short term memory loss (couldn’t remember PIN numbers, passwords, telephone numbers, difficulty counting to a hundred, couldn’t remember the names of friends met in the street). I did some research on the Internet and opted to try diet regulation and increased Vitamin C intake. It took nearly a year before I noticed a difference. A decade or so on I now have full control of my faculties and can remember pass words and PIN numbers, and recall a complete list of medications taken for heart condition at age 72. My last blood test in 2014 revealed a cholesterol level below the national average but my doctor and cardiologist still insist I should be taking a Statin medication. I relented late last year and went onto a minimum dosage of different brand of Statin medication but again started to feel stupified after a month or two. I voluntarily stopped taking Statin drugs again and feel I am recovering once more. If I can identify Statin drugs as a problem, why are they still being prescribed instead of proscribed?

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      You need a new doctor. Any doctor who refuses to listen to you when you have ample evidence that it is the statins is not a good doctor.

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    jorgekafkazar

    Science journalists? What are those?

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    Andrew McRae

    I have only one thing to say about this topic. :)
    http://i.imgur.com/bT8inU6.jpg

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    Aussie

    Jo,
    this is a very good subject!! There are two types of cholesterol, one is considered the good type and the other is considered the bad type. The issue from what I have understood is that each need to be in balance. Roughly 10 years ago my levels were out of wack despite being in the normal cholesterol range.

    You raised the point about sex hormones, especially estrogen. The issue here is that as a woman goes through the change of life the estrogen levels drop and apparently so does the good cholesterol.

    Personally, I find the information that we are given is conflicting at best. We do not know what causes heart attacks. Perhaps it is not cholesterol but the levels of certain types of fats that we eat. One of my grandmothers died at the age of 63 or thereabouts and she was the thin one. My other grandmother lived until the age of almost 99 (short by a month) and she was of a heavier build. I have often wondered about why women of a heavier build are considered to be persona non grata and are given a hard time when I have seen familial evidence that such women live a very long life…. and I continue to wonder about that subject.

    Someone mentioned the role of inflammation in heart attacks and I think that this hits a nail on the head. There are many diseases that cause inflammation such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. In severe cases of RA and Lupus as examples there is a high risk of heart disease. Perhaps this is why that none of it makes sense to me.

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    Tel

    No mention anywhere of bile acid?

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