Sunday, March 30, 2008

Debunking The Cholesterol Myth


If you buy any grapefruit juice this year, make sure it the "FAT-FREE" kind! I'm so happy to finally find a juice company that is trimming the fat off of their fruit. If I
were you, I would go to my refrigerator right now and check the fat content of all my juices. Caution: you have now entered the world of the absurd.

We now live in a world that is obsessed with all things that are low-fat and low-cholesterol. It is just an accepted fact that eating a low-fat diet will aid in lowering your cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol will lead to a lower chance of heart disease and death. If this is true, why do Eskimos who eat a traditional diet of almost pure saturated fat (whale and seal blubber) have almost a zero incidence of heart disease?

eskimo 24 Samburu men 1

Studies of African tribes have shown that intakes of enormous amounts of animal fat do not necessarily raises blood cholesterol; on the contrary it may be very low. Samburu people, for instance, eat about a pound of meat and drink almost two gallons of raw milk each day during most of the year. Milk from the African Zebu cattle is much fatter than cow's milk, which means that the Samburus consume more than twice the amount of animal fat than the average American, and yet their cholesterol is much lower, about 170 mg/dl. Shaper AG. Cardiovascular studies in the Samburu tribe of northern Kenya. American Heart Journal 1962;63:437-442.
Shepherds in Somalia eat almost nothing but milk from their camels. About a gallon and a half a day is normal, which amounts to almost one pound of butter fat, because camel's milk is much fatter than cow's milk. But although more than sixty percent of their energy consumption comes from animal fat, their mean cholesterol is only about 150 mg/dl, far lower than in most Western people.
Lapiccirella V., and others. EnquĂȘte clinique, biologique et cardiogra-phique parmi les tribus nomades de la Somalie qui se nourissent seule-ment de lait. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 1962;27: 681-697

The Japanese are known for their healthy diet and low cholesterol. Harvard Medical School did a study of Americans and Japanese health in the 1950's. They found that U.S. people on average had a blood cholesterol of 220 whereas Japanese had about 170. The theory has always been that people with high cholesterol were more likely to get a condition called atherosclerosis. This is usually referred to as hardening of the arteries due to plaque build up, calcification and deposits of cholesterol.
The aorta, the main artery of the body, from 659 American and 260 Japanese people were studied after death. Meticulously all signs of atherosclerosis were recorded and graded. As expected, atherosclerosis increased from age 40 and upwards, both in Americans and in Japanese. Now to the surprising fact.

When degree of atherosclerosis was compared in each age group there was hardly any difference between American and Japanese people. Between age forty and sixty Americans were a little more arteriosclerotic than Japanese; between sixty and eighty there was practically no difference, and above eighty Japanese were a little more arteriosclerotic than Americans.
Gore I, Hirst AE, Koseki Y. Comparison of aaortic atherosclerosis in the United States, Japan, and Guatemala. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1959;7:50-54.

A similar study was conducted by Dr J.A. Resch from Minneapolis and Dr.s N. Okabe and K. Kimoto from Kyushu, Japan. They studied the arteries of the brain in 1408 Japanese and in more than 5000 American people and found that in all age groups Japanese people were more arteriosclerotic than were Americans.

The conclusion from these studies is of course that the level of cholesterol in the blood has little importance for the development of atherosclerosis, if any at all.

Could it be that we are looking at the wrong things? Could it be that heart disease is not a disease of cholesterol at all? Could it be that eating fat has little to do with it? Look at the people on the Atkins diet as they eat foods that are full of cholesterol and fat. You might think that this would make their cholesterol (LDL) go up. The fact is that it goes down.

You might argue that vegetarians usually have lower cholesterol than other people and they eat little animal fat. But vegetarians differ from the rest of the human population in more than their diet. They usually smoke less, they are usually thinner, and they usually exercise more often than other people. Whether it is their diet, or their other living habits, or perhaps something else that lowers their blood cholesterol is unknown.

In an article by Dr. Cranton, he suggests that heart disease could be strongly linked to vitamin D3 deficiency. Robert Scragg, Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, first proposed that vitamin D deficiency plays a role in cardiovascular disease. He explains that heart disease is higher at higher latitudes with less sunlight, lower altitudes, in the winter, in African Americans, in older, inactive, and in more obese patients. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin in that our body produces it naturally when our skin is exposed to the sun. Altitude is the least known of these associations. The age adjusted mortality for heart disease in the USA showed a striking inverse correlation with altitude in 1979, before the sun scare. American populations at the highest altitude had about half the heart disease of sea level populations. Thirty-five years ago, Leaf observed that most of the long-lived populations in the world reside at high altitude. Dr. Scragg showed that higher vitamin D levels are associated with lower risk for heart attack.

For more on vitamin D, refer to my other blog post by clicking on the following link:

Vitamin D Shortage

Facts about Cholesterol

Click on items below for scientific evidence.

1 Cholesterol is vital to cell health. A high cholesterol is not dangerous by itself.

2 Scientific studies show that people with low blood cholesterol have as much atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease as people with high cholesterol.

3 The human body produces most its cholesterol. Diet has little influence.

4 No evidence exists to show that animal fat and dietary cholesterol cause heart attacks. Plaque formation seen at autopsy is unrelated to dietary cholesterol or fat.

5 Drugs that lower cholesterol do not lower the overall death rate significantly. In fact, cholesterol lowering drugs may shorten life.

6 Statin drugs may reduce heart disease somewhat, but that is the result of other mechanisms unrelated to cholesterol. Unfortunately, they may also stimulate cancer, cause muscle damage and birth defects.

7 The effect of cholesterol on cardiovascular disease is widely discredited in scientific journals and text books.

8 Companies that market statin drugs choose to ignore the scientific evidence. The public is deceived.

9 Higher Cholesterol has many benefits: 1) People with high cholesterol live the longest. 2) Studies show that low cholesterol is in certain respects worse than high cholesterol. 3) Cholesterol protects against infection. 4) People with low cholesterol die younger.

The above facts do not apply to a small group of people (approximate incidence 0.2%) who inherit a familial type of genetic mutation causing very high cholesterol's levels (usually greater than 400 mg/dL), with fatty deposits in the skin and tendons (xanthomas), and family history of premature death.

Click below here for three highly recommended books:

The Cholesterol Myths : Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease, by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD

Malignant Medical Myths: Why Medical Treatment Causes 200,000 Deaths in the USA each Year, and How to Protect Yourself, by Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D.

Lipitor: Thief of Memory, Statin Drugs and the Misguided War on Cholesterol.
by Duane Graveline, M.D, M.P.H

Click here to link to scientists who agree with the above facts


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