by Helen Lobato
In regard to the decision enabling an extra 250,000 Australians at risk of heart problems to buy cheap cholesterol-lowering drugs, the Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott would do well to read The Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD.
In his scholarly book, Ravnskov exposes the fallacy that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Uffe Ravnskov informs his readers that there is much amiss concerning the diet-heart idea. This is the decades- old proposition that saturated fats cause blood cholesterol to increase, resulting in coronary arteriosclerosis which then leads to myocardial infarction.
The Cholesterol Myths documents the genesis of the diet-heart idea. Also called the lipid hypothesis, the idea had its beginnings back in the 1950’s when it was decided that high fat food was responsible for the increase in the death rate from coronary heart disease. Ravnskov shows his readers that in relation to the cholesterol campaign “ the emperor has no clothes.”
The diet –heart idea lacks evidence and Ravnskov describes the shoddy research that has taken place and continues to this day. Throughout his well-researched book, Ravnskov explodes the common cholesterol myths such as “high fats cause heart disease.” He introduces us to the Masai people of Kenya. The Masai have obviously never heard of the cholesterol theory. They eat only milk, blood and meat. According to the diet- heart idea they should have dangerously high blood levels of cholesterol. But this is not the case! Ravnskov informs us that the Masai blood cholesterol levels are among the lowest in the world.
For decades now we have been told not to eat saturated fats.Years ago the media ran the all too familiar line about the dangers of eating eggs. This message has been rescinded at least. The mainstream media has played a huge part in the perpetuation of the big lie. Tied to revenue received from pharmaceutical companies and the food industry it has perpetuated the cholesterol myth.
Heart disease is not the result of the high concentration of plasma cholesterol but is due to the degree of inflammation in the linings of the coronary arteries caused by free radical damage. Factors causing this damage are pollution, foods containing trans fatty acids i.e. margarines, smoking, and high blood sugar levels. The inflammatory process in the coronary arteries causes the infiltration of lipids and thus the pathological build-up of plaque.
The last of the myths that Ravnskov explodes is that there is complete agreement among scientists as to the validity of the diet- heart hypothesis. On the contrary there are many scientists and researchers who have produced large studies critical of the current teaching and practice in regard to heart disease.
As Ravnskov suggests many millions of people have suffered boring fat free diets and or have taken cholesterol –lowering drugs which are not without dangerous side effects.
We are all being conned and at great expense to the public purse. Official sources say lipid-lowering drugs cost the Government $984 million in 2004-05 up from $78 million in 1991. With at least 250,000 more Australians being able to buy cheap cholesterol-lowering drugs the cost is sure to continue to rise.
We should be asking why!
Reference: The Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD New Trends Publishing Washington.DCPage Written 6/9/06