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Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

Posted Jun 13 2009 11:32pm

I don't intend on going into all of the particulars of the various dietary studies that Gary Taubes uses to prove his point in Chapter 2. That there is "no" real evidence to prove that high blood cholesterol causes heart disease, due to studies being contradictory, bias, or filled with too many variables to give the results any meaning.

But it is interesting to note how human nature tends to use and view such studies. Especially since Ancel Keys himself, the originator of "the low-fat diet is the healthiest diet" dogma, was guilty of ignoring, rationalizing, or tweaking studies that didn't support his beliefs. I guess that's just human nature to view things through our own perspective. We read not to discover truth, but to find something that will support and uphold what we already believe.

Which doesn't make scientific studies un-useful, it just means we gotta be careful when we're reading the results and commentary attached, because sometimes things are accepted as givens that really aren't, or the author of the report states as fact things that weren't even shown to be true in the study.

Now, science tries to avoid that kindda thing by requiring scientists to try and prove their theories wrong, but it doesn't really happen that way in the real world. People are quick to ignore, reject, or rationalize away anything that doesn't fit into their current perspective. Even among low-carb advocates, bloggers, and reporters there's a tendency to color the results, explain away, or even outright reject anything that doesn't fit into what we think we know and believe about low-carb science today.

Which is why it's important that we do our own research, and come to our own conclusions and testimonies regarding this stuff. Cuz if we just sit back, and take someone else's word for it, if we read a bunch of blogs or forum posts, and follow in their footsteps, even if they're all saying the same thing -- we're really no different than the press and gullible public who took Ancel Keys at his word about dietary fat. Are we?

We're still pinning our physical salvation on someone else's sleeve.

The truth is, evidence can be compiled to support any hypothesis. Take Ancel Keys 7 country study, for example. He literally hand-picked the countries that would support his beliefs. And even though he discovered something new, how saturated, unsaturated, and monosaturated fats affected people differently within those 7 countries, if he'd used say, France, his findings would have been very different. Cuz the french use lots of saturated fat, but have very little heart disease.

So Keys was totally off-base using fat, any kind of fat, as a measurement as far as heart disease is concerned. But he was severely blinded by his perspective. He just wasn't able to get beyond that. Even though much of the evidence told a very different story, he stuck with his first instinct. Tweaking it just a bit after that 7 country study to form the root for the current Mediterraneon Diet so in vogue these days within many low-carb circles.

Interestingly enough, the Mediterraneon Diet isn't based on what those who live on the Mediterraneon coast of Yugoslavia eat, or even on what any of those in the cities of Italy eat. It's based on Ancel Key's low-fat 7 country diet study. His new theory of that day. But because the theory fits into our nice little low-carb box we call healthy, we turn our heads and hold up the theory as if it were fact.

Now the ONLY reliable, accurate type of trial is controlled, rather than vague observations of populations called studies. Those that try to create 2 identical situations, using a double-blind and placebo technique, and changing only a single variable at a time. In order to see what happens as a result.

But dietary trials can't be performed in that manner. Because when you lower fat, let's say, you also lower calories and that's 2 variables, not one. If you wish to keep the calories the same, then you have to add something to take the place of the fat you've lowered, and once again, you get more than a single variable.

So how do you know which variable is the cause of the outcome? How can you trust those types of studies and observations as being accurate? You can't. You just have to guess (educated or not). Which means you end up with scientists and researchers and journalists making flat-out judgments about these things. Ignoring what they don't understand, or rejecting what doesn't fit with current popular opinion.

Another thing I picked up on in this chapter was how those with low cholesterol suffer from just as many heart attacks, as those with high cholesterol. But it seems that nobody wants to discuss those folks. Nobody wants to address the idea that we are supposed to live longer, and be waaaay healthier if we lower our cholesterol numbers. Because that situation doesn't fit with what we have always been told to believe. That high cholesterol is bad, and low cholesterol is good. Even though it isn't true, was clearly proven to be false in the studies that Taubes includes in his book. Plus all this doesn't hold up for women anyways.

Which is another thing that I haven't heard anyone talk about. The fact that most, if not all, of these studies were done on middle-aged men. Not older men, or younger men, or even women. Just middle-aged men. Yet physicans throw statins at all of us!

Like what happened to me, a few years ago, right after the vertigo started. Blood work came back showing an extremely high CRP marker, with elevated liver enzymes. So what does the doctor do? He prescribes statins (the strongest one on the market by the way, which caused my feet to swell, off and on, for 3 years after taking them for a mere 30 days) and sends me to a Healthy Heart Program.

Talk about low-fat dogma!

He was extremely afraid that I was going to have a heart attack, but come on! Everything does not circle back around to heart disease. I had Vertigo for heaven's sake. Meniere's Disease, in fact. So it's no wonder that my CRP marker was elevated. Besides, systemic inflammation is more associated with elevated insulin levels than anything else. But what I couldn't believe was he was actually going to IGNORE my elevated liver enzymes, and start me on that poisonous stuff. With the only caution being to come back for testing in 2 months, to see if my liver was getting worse.


But then, he's also the same doc who told me I wasn't disabled until a specialist told him I was disabled, even though my husband had to literally carry me into his office because I couldn't walk on my own.

You know...sometimes the medical profession is downright scary!!!
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