By Marika Sboros
For decades, you’ve been fed big fat lies about saturated fat: that it will kill you, and you should lower your cholesterol to prevent premature death from heart attack or stroke. That’s if you believe Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick in the video interview below, on his new research in the BMJ (British Medical Journal); and the growing numbers of doctors and heart specialists worldwide who are on the same page as Kendrick.
If you believe Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, and the many others who think just like him, you’ll swallow the research they regularly trot out about low-fat diets to support their position: You’ll also, on their recommendation, happily swallow statins like smarties. Statins are drugs to lower cholesterol. They are the most widely prescribed drugs on the planet, that currently cost Britain’s NHS (National Health Service) £500 million annually to prescribe. Pearson, Prof Rory Collins and others are firm supporters of statin drugs to lower cholesterol.
Kendrick is co-author of a powerful, new systematic review of the evidence, published in the BMJ, titled Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review. The study is led by Swedish specialist in internal medicine and nephrology Dr Uffe Ravnskov, an award-winning independent researcher, and includes a team of researchers from around the globe.
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Among the study’s conclusions: high levels of so-called “bad cholesterol” ( LDL-C) are inversely associated with mortality in most people over 60 years. The authors say this finding is ” inconsistent with the cholesterol hypothesis” – which holds that cholesterol, particularly LDL-C, is “inherently atherogenic”, that is, it will cause cardiovascular disease (heart attack or stroke).
The authors go on to say that since elderly people with high LDL-C live as long or longer than those with low LDL-C, their analysis provides “reason to question the validity of the cholesterol hypothesis”. Moreover, the study provides the rationale for “a re-evaluation of guidelines recommending pharmacological reduction of LDL-C in the elderly as a component of cardiovascular disease prevention strategies”.
They also say that “the benefits from statin treatment have been exaggerated”.
Pearson, not surprisingly, doesn’t agree. In the BBC interview, he says there is “incontrovertible evidence from large clinical trials and from patients with genetic mutations” that if you lower LDL you increase lifespan if you lower LDL cholesterol you reduce death from cardiovascular disease.
In an article in the Daily Telegraph, Oxford University epidemiologist Prof Colin Baigent, is quoted as saying the new study had “serious weaknesses and, as a consequence, has reached completely the wrong conclusion”.
Kendrick says that’s the “mainstream view” based on research funded by the pharmaceutical industry. When it comes to cholesterol and hearts, my money’s on Kendrick and his independent cohorts.