Tag: cardiovascular disease

IRISH ‘FAT EMPEROR’ FORGES NEW PATH TO BEATING HEART DISEASE

By Marika Sboros

Irish engineer Ivor Cummins, aka the Fat Emperor, is a man on a mission. In our Vital Signs Q&A series of personality profiles, Cummins reveals the roots of his popular alter ego. Through the lens of the muscular Fat Emperor, he looks at best predictors of and treatment for heart disease.

Spoiler alert: cholesterol means nothing compared to more important measures of risk. Cummins is currently working on a scanner that can rapidly detect heart disease risk. It can also weed out those who don’t need any treatment at all. He covers much else besides, including diabetes, fatty liver disease, dementia and more.

As well, Cummins shows that Fat Emperor is a metaphor for the corporate power that funds science and has grown fat on keeping dangerous dogma going. Therefore, he gets down and dirty on deceit as ‘central in the nutrition science world’. 



HEALTHY EATING – NOT ALWAYS GOOD FOR YOU?

Healthy eating sounds like it’s a given that it’s good for you. Not always. Healthy eating can stimulate orthorexia nervosa. It’s the psychological term for an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with healthy eating. It literally means ‘ fixation on righteous eating’.

Those who write the ‘Bible’ of psychiatric disorders, DSM-5, don’t recognise orthorexia nervosa as a clinical diagnosis. However, doctors and dietitians say it’s not unusual. It also appears to be more prevalent among vegetarians and vegans.  At heart, it’s about a fixation on food quality and purity. 

Australian cardiologist Dr Ross Walker has a medical practice in Lindfield, on the upper north shore of Sydney.  One of his areas of expertise is preventative cardiology. Walker has published seven best-selling books on preventative cardiology. He also lectures nationally and internationally on the topic.  Here’s what he says about whether healthy eating is really always good for you – Marika Sboros



Loneliness – as lethal for body as for mind

Loneliness – the word reeks of sadness and longing. Language created it to express the pain of being alone. So said German-American existentialist philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich.

Tillich distinguished loneliness from “solitude”, which he said expresses “the glory of being alone”.

Research shows that loneliness is not only a psychological issue but a medical one.

Here, Icelandic cardiologist Dr Axel Sigurdsson explains why loneliness can affect the main organs associated with feelings: hearts and minds. He shows why it really is possible to die from a broken heart. 

In other words, the reality of psychosomatic medicine. He also contextualises the Roseto effectIt’s the term for the phenomenon by which a close-knit community experiences a reduced rate of heart disease. Sigurdsson delves into how and why loneliness really can be lethal. – MARIKA SBOROS



Why are so many doctors so stupid about nutrition?

By Marika Sboros

Why are doctors so stupid – particularly about nutrition? It’s a question one of my favourite scientist doctors, US physician Michael Eades, has asked.

It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. More so recently after a ‘conversation’ with two paediatrician trolls on Twitter. (It was more like a testy, trivial exchange.)

These doctors live far apart – one in South Africa, the other in Canada. They could be twins when it comes to god complexes and willful ignorance about nutrition.

Of course, not all doctors are stupid when it comes to nutrition. And Eades says that stupid is not quite the right word to describe the dear medical souls who don’t know about nutrition. Ignorance is the word.



HAVE A HEART! WILL AHA OR COCONUT OIL KILL YOU?

By Marika Sboros

Heart associations worldwide tend instantly to raise researchers’ blood pressure into the stratosphere. The latest “Presidential Advisory” from the American Heart Association (AHA) is no exception.

The BBC reported it as branding coconut oil “as bad for you as beef lard and butter”. USA Today reported it as that coconut oil was “even worse than beef lard and butter”.

The advisory doesn’t actually say that. It does say that replacing saturated fat with “healthier fat” lowers cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. By healthier fat, the authors mostly mean polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in refined, processed vegetable oils. They also say that coconut oil’s high saturated-fat content makes it a potential killer.

Should you believe the AHA just because it says so? You’re better off not believing the AHA precisely because it says so, say critics. They say that coconut oil won’t kill you but listening to the AHA might.



OBESITY? FORGET FAT – IT’S THE CARBS, STUPID!

 What has obesity to do with hearts? Lots. Icelandic cardiologist Dr Axel Sigurdsson spoke recently at a meeting mostly of cardiologists and endocrinologists.

He discussed, among others, the current status of diet-heart hypothesis that saturated fat causes heart disease. And the possible relationship between fear of dietary fats and the obesity epidemic.

After the meeting, a senior colleague, an old friend and mentor, who Sigurdsson highly respects, lambasted him privately. The colleague said that the mortality from heart disease had dropped dramatically for the last 30 to 40 years. He said that was mostly from dietary changes to lower blood cholesterol. 

He was angry with Sigurdsson for asking: has the emphasis on low-fat food products ultimately steered us into an epidemic of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes? Here, Sigurdsson explains how and why low-fat diets contribute to obesity and a whole lot more. – MARIKA SBOROS



SALT FIX: RIGHT WHITE STUFF FOR HEARTS, MINDS, SEX LIVES

By Marika Sboros

The next time your doctor or dietitian tells you to eat less salt, find another one – fast. Better still, buy a brave new book, The Salt Fix. In it, US cardiovascular research scientist Dr James DiNicolantonio shows how health experts have demonised the wrong white stuff for decades.

They have dished up dangerous lies about salt for your heart’s sake, or any other organ you care to mention. They allowed salt to “take the fall” for another, far more dangerous, addictive white crystal, he says.

That crystal is so sweet, you probably bought into the belief that it is benign. When consumed in excess, it can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. It is sugar, DiNicolantonio says.

His book’s subtitle speaks volumes about the right white stuff: Why The Experts Got It All Wrong, And Why Eating More Could Save Your Life. He shows why salt reduces your risk of premature death from heart attack or stroke. And why it protects your kidneys and fertility levels. It is as good for your brain as for your body. Salt improves your thinking and sexual performance. It boosts your energy levels and mental focus and ensures restful sleep. It also stops you getting fat.



BIG PHARMA: DOSE OF OWN MEDICINE FOR PROFITS OVER PATIENTS

By Marika Sboros

Is Big Pharma really as sinister as research suggests? Certainly, its products have been life-saving but also life-taking. And the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies have long had unhealthy effects on economies in many countries. Consequently, people’s health in those countries has become secondary to Big Pharma’s profits.

It is especially the case in the US, which spends the most per capita on prescription drugs than any other country. Research by The Law Firm shows that Americans filled 4.3 billion prescriptions for $374 billion dollars in 2014.

Rebecca Hill has developed an innovative infographic for the personal injury law firm on how Big Pharma spends its money. (Scroll down  to view it below).  It highlights the effect of the spend on the health and finances of Americans, says Hill. It also reveals who spent the most money – Genentech, which spent $388 million in payments to 1,888 doctors. And it points the way forward to reducing the burden of Big Pharma on people’s health and pockets, she says.



IN PRAISE OF LOW-CARB: CANADIAN DOCTORS RISE UP AGAINST DOGMA!

fistBy Marika Sboros

UPDATE, October 16, 2017: Over 700 doctors and allied practitioners have now signed. 

This is big: nearly 200 doctors and allied health practitioners in Canada have signed an Open Letter to their government calling for urgent, radical reform of nutrition guidelines to include low-carb diets.

They say that authorities told Canadians to follow guidelines for nearly 40 years. During that time, nutrition-related diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, increased sharply. The doctors are also concerned about sharp increases in childhood obesity and diabetes rates.

They say that the evidence does not support conventional low-fat dietary advice. In fact, they say it worsens heart-disease risk factors. They say that those responsible must be free to compile dietary guidelines without food and drug industry influence. They want the guidelines to promote low-carb diets as “at least one safe, effective intervention” for people with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

At heart, the letter’s signatories call for mainstream medical advice to include low-carb, healthy-natural-fat. Here’s more of these doctors’ powerful challenge to orthodoxy.



ZINN: ‘UNETHICAL FOR DIETITIANS NOT TO OFFER LCHF’

Dr Caryn Zinn and advocate Dr Ravin 'Rocky' Ramdass

Dr Caryn Zinn and advocate Dr Ravin ‘Rocky’ Ramdass

By Marika Sboros

Three things embarrass New Zealand-based dietitian and academic Dr Caryn Zinn most these days. At university, she never questioned what lecturers said about diet. In her private practice, she prescribed low-fat diets to adults and children for 15 years.  As a university lecturer, she told students low-carb diets were dangerous.

Zinn said this in her evidence led by Advocate Dr Ravin “Rocky” Ramdass, for University of Cape Town emeritus professor Tim Noakes, at the fourth session of Health Professions Council Of SA (HPCSA) hearing against him on October 26.

In Part 1 of a two-part series on her evidence in chief, she explains why she believes that it’s unethical for dieitians who know about  LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) not to offer it as an option to patients.



TEICHOLZ: HOW LOW-FAT DIETS CAN KILL YOU

Nina Teicholz

Nina Teicholz

By Marika Sboros

At the heart of the trial of scientist Prof Tim Noakes is the diet-heart hypothesis that saturated fat causes heart disease. US investigative journalist Nina Teicholz focused on the hypothesis in her testimony in Noakes’ favour. That was at the fourth session of the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) hearing in Cape Town on October 25.

Teicholz showed how the creator of that hypothesis ignored evidence showing that sugar and others carbohydrate are far more likely causes of heart disease. Here, in Part 2 of a three-part series on her evidence, she shows why low-fat diets can be lethal. Teicholz also looks at the role of sugar in the rise of chronic diseases. 



NOAKES: ‘DOG DID NOT BARK’ – PROOF OF HIS INNOCENCE?

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-7-49-51-amBy Marika Sboros

There was more drama, intrigue and “silent dogs” on day one of the trial of South African scientist Prof Tim Noakes in Cape Town on October 17. Noakes resumed his evidence-in-chief and began to untangle what he believes the case against him is really about.

He also started to reveal just who he believes may be behind the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) case against him. For “DNA” proof, Noakes pointed to “the dog did not bark”. He fingered some usual suspects and more:  



NOAKES REALLY IS A ‘PUBLIC DANGER’ – CARDIOLOGISTS

By Marika Sboros

University of Cape Town cardiologists say Prof Tim Noakes is a true “cholesterol denialist”. They accused him of being one in a letter to the media in 2012. They say the accusation holds true and he’s a danger to the public.

Cholesterol and hearts are a major focus of the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) case against Noakes, a medical doctor and UCT emeritus professor on a charge of unprofessional conduct. So are minds and all other bodily organs, of course. Also under the spotlight:



Statins insanity: Sir Prof Collins of Statinshire at helm

Photo credit: Phinzup via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Doctors, with UK professor Sir Rory Collins at the helm, say we should all pop statins like smarties. Even if our tickers are ticking along very nicely.

Others say that’s unadulterated, mad-scientist nuttiness. South African scientist Prof Tim Noakes calls statins ‘the single most ineffective drug ever invented’. 

Here, UK blogger Nick Mailer deconstructs the man he calls  ‘Collins of Statinshire’. It’s a fascinating, considered read – and harsh for good reason. Collins is his own worst enemy in the harsh way he deals with criticism from peers.  – Marika Sboros



Don’t just swallow what doctors say on statins: Kosterich

Photo credit: psyberartist via Foter.com / CC BY

Statins are blockbuster drugs that make billions for pharmaceutical companies. Research shows these drugs do little to make patients’ lives longer or better. Read The Truth About Statins by Dr Barbara Roberts, for another view.

Here, Australian physician Dr Joe Kosterich looks at conflicting research in two  British medical journals, He says it is confusing enough for doctors, never mind patients.

Kosterich calls for patients to do research, question what their doctors say about statins, and not just to swallow any prescription whole. I second that. – Marika Sboros



Statins insanity: doctors hand over to drug companies

drugsWhat’s with all this wilful blindness in top doctors globally about the risks of statins? After all, evidence shows these blockbusters drugs are not effective for cardiovascular prevention. Claims about statins’ efficacy and safety are simply not evidence-based.

Oxford University’s statins researcher Prof Rory Collins appears oblivious to that. It’s as if he genuinely doesn’t know these drugs have done more for drug makers’ profits than patients’ wellbeing. British journalist Jerome Burne says Collins belongs to the ‘never apologise, never explain’ school of argument. Here, Burne explains the ‘bizarre history’. of statins. And just why it took 30 years for the increased risk of diabetes with statin use to emerge. It’s a brilliant read about the antics of drug companies and doctors in their thrall. – Marika Sboros



Sugar and hearts: how food industry still buys scientists

By Marika Sboros

sugarHere it is, straight from the scientific horse’s mouth: Industry-sponsored nutrition research, like research the tobacco, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries have sponsored, “almost invariably produces results that confirm the benefits or lack of harm of the sponsor’s products”.

It happens “even when independently sponsored research comes to opposite conclusions”, says Dr Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public Health at New York University. It continues to this day.

Her remarks come in an invited commentary in the JAMA Internal Medicine on a study in the same issue. The study shows how the US sugar industry began deliberately initiating, paying for and influencing research to shift the blame from sugar to fat as a major risk factor for heart disease 50 years ago. Here’s more:



Statins study? 21st century medical censorship, says Kendrick

By Dasemarcalvarez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick starts off his post on the latest statins controversy with a great George Orwell quote: ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’ Kendrick is author of The Great Cholesterol Con. He is scathing about the latest research on statins published in The Lancet. Lead author is Sir Rory Collins, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Oxford University’s Clinical Trial Service Unit.

Collins and co-authors claim their research is the definitive answer to controversy surrounding safety and efficacy of the blockbuster drugs. And not just for secondary prevention – to prevent a second heart attack or stroke. They say statins are the effective for primary prevention as well – to prevent one from happening in the first place – even in otherwise healthy people. They say the debate is over because the evidence is overwhelming. Should you swallow that whole? Probably not, and not just because this study is industry-funded as the extensive DOI (declaration of interests) at the end shows. Here’s what Kendrick has to say. It’s another riveting read. – Marika Sboros



Is this proof evidence-based medicine is terminally ill?

Doctors money

Doctors and dietitians love to say the advice they dish out on diet is ‘evidence-based’. The evidence for that leaves a very bad taste in some researchers’ mouths. They say that in its current state, evidence-based medicine props up official dietary guidelines. These guidelines have contributed to the unnecessary suffering and premature deaths of millions worldwide. They say that in nutrition, evidence-based medicine (EBM) has done an excellent job – mostly of improving some scientists, doctors, dietitians and pharmaceutical and food companies’ bottom lines. 

US biochemistry professor Dr Richard Feinman is a vociferous critic of the current state of EBM and the influential US dietary guidelines that draw on it. Feinman is professor at SUNY (State University of New York) Medical School’s department of cell biology. He agrees that EBM is little more than ‘the position of experts on one lucrative side of a scientific conflict’. Here, he dissects EBM with surgical, scientific precision, to expose its inability to save lives from the growing pandemics of obesity and diabetes. – Marika Sboros.



Real cause of heart disease? Not diet, says Kendrick!

heartSome doctors say a high-carb diet causes heart disease. Others say that’s not the case. Scottish GP Malcolm Kendrick has a different take. He says diet is not the key. When he talks, I listen. That’s because Kendrick is a specialist on heart disease. Because he beats to a very different drum from most cardiologists. And because he is author of The Great Cholesterol Con and Doctoring Data.

You absolutely must read those books if you are at all concerned about your health – and not dying prematurely from heart attack or stroke. Kendrick has written a series of blogs on heart disease – 18 so far. You’ll need to read them all to understand what Kendrick REALLY says about the causes of heart disease. – Marika Sboros.