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Why the Low Fat Diet Makes You Fat (and Gives You Heart Disease, Cancer and Tooth Decay)

Book review by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall | February 12, 2015

The Truth About Animal Fat: What the Research Shows

The Big Fat SurpriseThe Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet lays out the scientific case why our bodies are healthiest on a diet rich in saturated fat from animal products. Analyzing study after study, Nina Teicholz leaves no doubt that the number one cause of the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease is the low fat high carbohydrate diet doctors have been pushing for fifty years.

Blaming the Victim

My initial reaction on learning how the low fat diet became official government policy was to feel ripped off and angry. For decades, the medical establishment has been blaming fat people for being obese, portraying them as weak willed and lacking in self control. It turns out the blame lay squarely with their doctors, the American Heart Association (AHA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Congress and the food manufacturers who fund the AHA (Proctor and Gamble, Nabisco, General Foods, Heinz, Quaker Oats and Corn Products Refining Corporation) for foisting a diet on them that increases appetite and weight gain.

The low fat diet is based on a “theory” put forward in the 1950s that heart disease was caused by elevated cholesterol levels – and a few deeply flawed epidemiological studies. In other words, the low fat diet is a giant human experiment the medical profession conducted on the American public while attempting to prove that saturated animal fats cause heart disease. Fifty years of research would show the exact opposite: not only do low fat high carbohydrate diets increase the risk of cardiac death, but they’re also responsible for a myriad of other health problems, with obesity and diabetes being the most problematic.

The studies Teicholz cites also debunk the myth that animal fat increases the risk of breast and colon cancer.

Heart Attacks Rare Prior to 1900

Coronary artery disease and heart attacks were virtually unknown prior to 1900. When Ancel Keys, the father of the low fat diet, began his anti-fat crusade in the 1950s he claimed that industrialization and an improved standard of living had caused Americans to switch from a plant based diet to a diet that was higher in animal fats. This was total rubbish. Prior to 1900, Americans had always eaten a meat-based diet, in part because wild game was much more plentiful in North America than in Europe. Early cookbooks and diaries reveal that even poor families had meat or fish with every meal. Even slaves had 150 pounds of red meet a year, which contrasts unfavorably with 40-70 pounds of red meat in the current American diet.

What changed in the twentieth century was the introduction of cheaper vegetable fats into the American diet, starting with margarine and Crisco in the early 1900s.

Keys was also responsible for the theory, again without research evidence, that high cholesterol levels cause heart disease. This was also rubbish. Fifty years of research negates any link between either total cholesterol or LDL* cholesterol and heart disease. In study after study the only clear predictor of heart disease is reduced HDL. The same studies show that diets high in animal fats increase HDL, while those high in sugar, carbohydrates and vegetable oils reduce HDL.

Teicholz also discusses the role of statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) in this context. Statins do reduce coronary deaths, but this is due to their anti-inflammatory effect – not because of their effect on cholesterol.

Researchers Silenced and Sidelined

For decades, researchers whose findings linked low fat diets with higher rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke and tooth decay were systematically silenced and sidelined. As frequently happens with doctors and scientists who challenge the powerful health industry, their grants were cut off and, in some cases, their careers destroyed.

For fifty years, the medical establishment simply ignored the growing body of research linking the high sugar/carbohydrate component of the low fat diet to heart disease, as well as those linking vegetable oils to cancer. Vegetable oils oxidize when cooked, leading to the production of cancer causing compounds such as aldehyde, formaldehyde and 4-hydroxnonene (HCN). Unsurprisingly diets in which vegetable oils (other than olive oil) are the primary fat are linked with an increased incidence of cancer. Several studies overseas have found high levels of respiratory cancer in fast food workers exposed to superheated vegetable oils.

The Atkins Diet

The Big Fat Surprise includes a long section on the Atkins diet, a popular high fat/protein low carbohydrate weight reduction diet in the 70s and 80s. The use of a high fat low carbohydrate diet for weight loss dates back to 1862 and was heavily promoted by Sir William Osler in his 1892 textbook of medicine. According to Teicholz, recent controlled studies totally vindicate Dr Robert C Atkins, who was ridiculed as a dangerous quack during his lifetime. They also debunk claims that high levels of protein in the Atkins diet cause kidney damage. In addition to being perfectly safe, controlled studies show it to be extremely effective for weight loss and treating diabetes.

The USDA and AHA Quietly Reverse Themselves

As Teicholz points out in her conclusion, the nutrition researchers who blindly pursued their anti-fat campaign – and politicians and corporate funders who supported them – have done Americans an immense disservice by creating a virtual epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

A few years ago, the tide began to turn, largely due to the 29,000 subject Women’s Health Initiative launched in 1993. In 2013, the USDA and AHA quietly eliminated fat targets from the dietary recommendations. Because they made no real effort to publicize their change of heart, many doctors are still giving their patients the wrong dietary advice and hounding them about their cholesterol levels.

Dump the Skim Milk

The take home lesson from this book is that it’s virtually impossible to eat too many eggs or too much red meat, cheese, sausage and bacon. Americans (and their overseas English-speaking cousins) need to dump the skim milk and margarine down the sink because whole milk and butter are better for you. People need to go back to cooking with lard, bacon drippings and butter. Cooking with vegetable oils can give you cancer.

Anyone with a weight problem needs to totally eliminate sugar and carbohydrate (the Atkins diet recommends less than half a slice of bread a day).

And if your doctor hassles you about your cholesterol tell him or her to read this book.


*LDL (low density lipoprotein) is referred to as “bad cholesterol” due to its alleged link to heart disease. HDL (high density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol” appears to provide some protective effect against heart disease.

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sugar Conspiracy

The Secrets of Sugar

Film Review by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall | March 20, 2015

The Secrets of Sugar is a Canadian documentary about the conspiracy by the sugar industry and processed food companies to conceal the damaging effects of sugar on human health. For decades, the medical establishment has led us to believe that our intake of animal fat is responsible for soaring rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It turns out the real culprit all along is sugar (see The Big Fat Surprise).

Investigators have uncovered industry documents going back to the 1950s linking excess sugar intake with health problems. In 1972, researcher John Yudkin published the book Pure, White and Deadly about research linking sugar to heart disease. The response by the food industry was a vicious campaign to portray Yudkin as an incompetent quack. This, in turn, led to a thirty-year shutdown of institutional funding for research into sugar’s health effects.

For me, the film’s most shocking revelation was the immense amount of sugar hidden in so- called “healthy” processed foods, such as yoghurt, oatmeal, soup and Healthy Choice frozen dinners. In one segment, a former industry scientist nicknamed “Dr Bliss” explains the importance of the “bliss point,” the quantity of added sugar that makes you crave a particular product.

A close look at product labels suggests they are designed to confuse consumers about the actual sugar content of foods. Meanwhile like the tobacco industry, Food Inc spends billions of dollars lobbying against government (and UN) recommendations for a maximum daily sugar intake and clearer food labeling laws.

For years, doctors and dieticians have been telling us that sugar is bad because of all the “empty” calories. New research indicates sugar acts as a poison, inflicting direct damage on the liver and brain via its impact on insulin production. In addition to studies implicating high sugar intake in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, others point to its role in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease and polycystic ovarian disease.

Industry scientists interviewed in the film manifest the same “blame the victim” mentality as the tobacco industry. They maintain the responsibility lies with the consumer to choose whether to eat sugar – or to smoke. The filmmakers counter that healthy choices are impossible without good information.

The film follows an obese couple over three weeks, who achieve significant weight loss, as well as reductions in cholesterol and triglycerides, simply by eliminating all processed foods from their diet.

March 20, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

STATIN NATION

View another excerpt from the documentary film Statin Nation.

For more information, please visit www.statinnation.net

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Cholesterol Con

November 24, 2007

Dr Malcolm Kendrick speaks to Leeds BMA Meeting about why Cholesterol does not cause heart disease:


Cholesterol

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Familial Hypercholesterolemia

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About Statins

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Heart Disease

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Cardiovascular Disease Populations

http://www.thincs.org

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Really Need That Statin?

This Expert Says No

By Martha Rosenberg | Dissident Voice | August 22nd, 2012

Statins are medications which lower cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme involved in its production by the liver and other organs. First approved by the FDA in 1987, statins are arguably the most widely prescribed medicine in the industrialized world today–and the most profitable, representing $26 billion a year in profits to the drug industry. In fact, Lipitor was the world’s best selling drug until its patent expired recently. Yet, most trials that prove statins’ effectiveness in preventing cardiac events and death have been funded by companies and principle investigators who stand to benefit from their wide use. In February, the FDA warned that statins can increase users’ risk of type 2 diabetes and memory loss, confusion and other cognition problems.

Barbara H. Roberts, M.D., is Director of the Women’s Cardiac Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She spent two years at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she was involved in the first clinical trial that demonstrated a beneficial effect of lowering cholesterol on the incidence of heart disease. In addition to The Truth about Statins: Risks and Alternatives to Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs, she is also author of How to Keep from Breaking Your Heart: What Every Woman Needs to Know about Cardiovascular Disease.

Martha Rosenberg:  Statins have become so popular with adults middle-aged and older in industrialized countries, they are almost a pharmaceutical rite of passage. Yet you write in your new book there is little evidence they are effective in many groups and no evidence they are effective in one group, women without heart disease. Worse, you provide evidence, including stories from your own patients, that they are doing serious harm.

Barbara Roberts: Yes. Every week in my practice I see patients with serious side effects to statins and many did not need to be treated with statins in the first place. These side effects range from debilitating muscle and joint pain to transient global amnesia, neuropathy, cognitive dysfunction, fatigue and muscle weakness. Most of these symptoms subside or improve when they are taken off statins. There is even growing evidence of a statin link to Lou Gehrig’s disease.

MR:  One patient you write about caused a fire in her home by forgetting that the stove was on. Another was a professor who experienced such memory loss on a statin he could no longer teach; others ended up in wheelchairs. The only thing more shocking than the side effects you write about is the apparent blindness of the medical establishment to them. Until half a year ago, there were practically no warnings at all.

BR: There is no question that  many doctors have swallowed the Kool-Aid. Big Pharma has consistently exaggerated the benefits of statins and some physicians used scare tactics so that patients are afraid that if they go off the statins, they will have a heart attack immediately. Yet high cholesterol, which the statins address, is a relatively weak risk factor for developing atherosclerosis. For example, diabetes and smoking are far more potent when it comes to increasing risk.

MR: One group you say should not be given statins at all because there is no benefit and significant risk is women who have no heart disease.

BR: In three major studies of women without diagnosed heart disease, but who were at high risk (in one of these studies, each participant had to have high blood pressure and three other risk factors), 40 women out of 4,904 on statins had either a heart attack or cardiac death, compared to 44 women out of 4,836 on placebo. That is not a statistically significant difference. Since the likelihood of experiencing a statin side effect is about 20 to 25 percent, the risk of putting a healthy woman on a statin far outweighs the benefit. Still, statins are routinely given to this group because the guidelines are shaped by Big Pharma. The guidelines are not supported by the evidence and in the case of healthy women I don’t follow them.

MR: You give a story in your book about your 92-year-old patient who had a total cholesterol of 266,  triglycerides of 169, HDL cholesterol of 66, and LDL cholesterol of 165. Her primary care doctor wanted her to take a statin, but you did not feel she needed to because she had no evidence of heart disease, had never smoked, did not have high blood pressure and was not diabetic.

BR: Yes, and today she is 103 and a half and doing fine, never having taken a statin.

MR: In The Truth About Statins you explain pretty clearly how studies have made statins look more effective and safer than they are. How has this been done?

BR:  First of all, the studies are of short duration and some of them even have a “run in” phase during which people are given the drug to see if they tolerate it. If not, they are not enrolled in the study.  Secondly, study subjects are cherry-picked to exclude the very elderly, people with liver or kidney disease or those with any chronic illness that might “muddy” the results–

MR: In other words, the very people who will be taking them?

BR: Yes, and, of course, patients will also be staying on the drugs for life unlike trial subjects. Then, the data from the studies are usually given in terms of relative rather than absolute risk. The absolute risk of a cardiac event is only reduced by a few percentage points by statins and in some patients, like the women without heart disease we just talked about, the reduction is not even statistically significant. In some studies surrogate endpoints like inflammation or artery thickness are used but a favorable change in surrogate markers does not always translate into clinical benefit. In addition, many studies use composite end points which include not only “hard” end points like heart attack or death (which are pretty hard to misdiagnose) but also “softer” end points like the “need” for revascularization or the occurrence of acute coronary syndromes. For example, studies may be performed in many countries with very different rates of revascularization procedures, making use of this as an end point very problematic.

MR: This brings to mind the JUPITER trial which enrolled people without heart disease, with normal levels (less than 130) of LDL or bad cholesterol, but evidence of increased inflammation as measured by the hsCRP test and treated them with placebo or rosuvastatin. JUPITER stood for “Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention” and both the study and its principle investigator were funded by AstraZeneca, who makes the statin Crestor. The principal investigator also holds the patent for the hsCRP blood test. Why was JUPITER regarded as medical science and not marketing?

BR: Actually the JUPITER study was criticized to some extent. But you have to remember that medical journals depend upon Big Pharma for their ads and reprint orders just as medical centers and medical professionals rely on Big Pharma for funding. It is a Round Robin situation that probably won’t change until the patients, doctors and the public demand change. As for CRP, it can also rise if a patient has a cold, bronchitis or is taking post menopausal hormones.

MR: You are very outspoken about the problem of industry shaping  and influencing medical practice yet you also admit that you accepted Big Pharma money yourself.

BR:  In 2004, Pfizer asked me to become a speaker, specifically on Lipitor. I told the drug rep who invited me to be a speaker that I would be interested in giving talks on gender-specific aspects of cardiac disease, but not in just talking about their statin and I gave lectures in restaurants and hospitals. Despite the fact that Pfizer was sponsoring my talks, I never failed to point out that there was no evidence that Lipitor–or any statin–prevented cardiac events in women who did not have established cardiovascular disease. They tolerated this until one day a regional manager came to one of my talks and then I was disinvited. I was on the speaker’s bureau for another company, Abbott, but when they began to insist that I use their slides rather than my own, I gave up being on any Big Pharma speaker’s bureaus. I write in my book that even though my interactions with drug and device companies complied with ethical guidelines it does not mean I was not influenced.

MR: In journalism, when a reporter takes money from someone she is writing about, she is regarded as no longer a reporter but a publicist. Yet doctors who consult to Pharma are not judged as harshly and most contend they are not influenced by industry money….

BR: They are wrong.  An article in the American Journal of Bioethics in 2003 found that gifts bestow a sense of indebtedness and influence behavior whether or not the recipient is directly conscious of it. More recently, research presented at a symposium at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine called the Scientific Basis of Influence and Reciprocity mapped actual changes in the brain when gifts are received.

MR: I was surprised to find recipes in your book and even more surprised by some of your dietary recommendations such as avoiding a low-fat diet and eating a lot of olive oil. A lot of experts have recommended a low-fat diet.

BR: The first thing I prescribe to my patients who have low levels of the “good” or HDL cholesterol is two to three tablespoons of olive oil a day and in every case the HDL increases. Olive oil is rich in polyphenols which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Several studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet reduces total mortality and especially death from cardiovascular disease yet it gets little media attention. The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based  diet that includes colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, cheese, nuts, olive oil, seafood, red wine with meals, and very little meat.

MR: You indict professional medical associations like the American Heart Association (AHA) for profiteering at the public’s expense by calling harmful foods healthful in exchange for corporate money.

BR: For years, the AHA preached the gospel of the low-fat diet, calling it the “corner- stone” of its dietary recommendations though there was, and is, no evidence of its benefit. The AHA rakes in millions from food corporations for the use of its “heart-check mark.” Some of the so called heart healthy foods it has endorsed include Boar’s Head All Natural Ham which contains 340 milligrams of sodium in a 2-ounce serving and Boar’s Head EverRoast Oven Roasted Chicken Breast which contains 440 milligrams of sodium in a 2-ounce serving. High sodium intake raises blood pressure which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, studies have shown that eating processed meat increases the risk of diabetes and atherosclerosis.

MR: You are not afraid to express strong opinions. You say that the AHA has “sold its soul,” that medical centers conducting drug trials for Big Pharma have become “hired hands” and that one university medical center is Big Pharma’s “lapdog.” Are you afraid of retaliation from Big Pharma, medical centers or the colleagues you work with?

BR: I haven’t received any communiqués from Big Pharma. A few colleagues have expressed dismay, but I am thick-skinned and hard-headed and don’t care what they say. My main concern is the health and safety of my patients.

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Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. Her first book, titled Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health, has just been released by Prometheus Books. She can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net.


$tatin Nation trailer1

For more preview clips, please click here

Film Synopsis:

We are told that cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease. At least 40 million people are currently taking cholesterol-lowering medications, known as statins, and millions more people are avoiding foods that contain saturated fat and cholesterol.

The basic idea is that dietary saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, and these two substances somehow clog-up our arteries, causing a heart attack. This idea is often referred to as the diet-heart hypothesis.

However, a numbers of doctors and researchers have been challenging this hypothesis for decades, and the latest heart disease statistics reveal some alarming facts. Such as:

● People with high cholesterol tend to live longer

● People with heart disease tend to have low levels of cholesterol

● Cholesterol-lowering of a population does not reduce the rate of heart disease

In addition, despite their widespread use, and description as “wonder drugs” statin medications do not extend life for the majority of people who take them.

Cholesterol-lowering has become a huge global industry, generating at least $29 billion each year. Have the facts about heart disease, cholesterol and cholesterol medications been distorted by pharmaceutical companies  and food manufacturers keen to increase their profits?

If the focus on cholesterol has been a mistake, then the greatest cost is associated with the lost opportunity to tackle heart disease.

Producer/Director:   Justin Smith

Editor and Motion Graphics:   Justin Keating

Director of Photography:   Stephen Ellis

3D Animation:  Tim Greenfield

Sound Design:  Graham Donnelly

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Oiling of America

Cholesterol My Eye

How massaged statistics built Big Pharma’s Cholesterol and related Heart Disease Industry by Sally Fallon

See also:

The saturated fat scam: What’s the real story?

Written by Atheo | Aletho News | February 7, 2010

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Comments Off on The Oiling of America