The Cholesterol Myth [video] Part 1

The Cholesterol Myth: Dietary Villains and Cholesterol Drug War.
Thursday 24 October on ABC 1 (Australia)

Is the role of cholesterol in heart disease really one of the biggest myths in the history of medicine?

For the last four decades we’ve been told that saturated fat clogs our arteries and high cholesterol causes heart disease. It has spawned a multi-billion dollar drug and food industry of “cholesterol free” products promising to lower our cholesterol and decrease our risk of heart disease.

But what if it all isn’t true? What if it’s never been proven that saturated fat causes heart disease?

And what if the majority of patients taking cholesterol lowering drugs won’t benefit from taking these pills?

In a special two part edition of Catalyst, Dr Maryanne Demasi investigates the science behind the claims that saturated fat causes heart disease by raising cholesterol.

63 thoughts on “The Cholesterol Myth [video] Part 1

  1. Karen

    It was a very good program – will cause some ‘waves’ and possibly make people question what they are told about diet. So thrilled to see it!

  2. Lisa

    I watched this last night and encouraged some family members to watch also (high carb/wheat eaters) Father in law on statins – has Alzheimers disease. It is ludicrous that so called experts do not know what causes heart disease. The Australian Heart foundation promotes wholegrains as healthy. I don’t think they actually know that wheat is genetically modified and that bread, pasta and breakfast cereal is just a big plate of sugar.

  3. Mats J C.Wiman

    Villifying saturated fat has been the most profitable con in the history of nutrition.
    I do not have figures but it is self-explantory that if you can buy/produce vegetable oils by buying shiploads of them , your ‘production cost’ will be only a fraction of what it costs to produce butter.
    So: If you can con people into believing that vegetable oils are better for you, the profit potential is enormous (easily into the billions).
    So if you are callous enough and money is the most important facet of your life, you won’t hesitate to go down this criminal road in order to enjoy the billions just waiting round the corner.
    This is axacrtly what they (the foodstuff industry) have done.
    As Eddie Mitchell said: They are not idiots, they ar mercenaries and assasins.

    Mats J c Wiman
    healthy diabetic (soon in English)

  4. Robert Park

    If saturated fat causes heart disease then why I am living a healthy and fit life (and still retain a libido) and remain alert at age 82 and continue to believe that I have a future when almost all my meals contain lashing of saturated fat, mainly of the animal variety, while at the same time I ramped down both PUFAs and MUFAs? Try reading Dr Mary Enig’s 4 part article on ‘The Oiling of America’ which has been around the Internet for a number of years or ‘The truth about saturated fats’ and possibly Dr Bruce Fife’s view on saturation and especially that of animal fats.

  5. Ash Simmonds

    As I mentioned on Dr Eades’ blog – funny how uncomfortable the guy from the Heart Disaster Association seemed when asked about the evidence behind their recommendations – they KNOW there is none, yet they tell you that you must do this and must not do that.

    The bit with McGovern from the ~70′s pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with health and nutrition – “We don’t have the time to wait for the evidence, we need to tell people what to do.”.

  6. Ash Simmonds

    As mentioned on Dr Eades’ blog – funny how uncomfortable the guy from the Heart Disaster Association seemed when asked about the evidence behind their recommendations – they KNOW there is none, yet they tell you that you must do this and must not do that.

    The bit with McGovern from the ~70′s pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with health and nutrition – “We don’t have the time to wait for the evidence, we need to tell people what to do.”.

  7. Wendy

    Thank you so much for posting this ‘little gem’ Dr Kendrick. It takes a while for stuff like this to sink in with me and this report has finally done it.

  8. Michelle Hough

    Absolutely fascinating and informative. The truth is out there and I cannot see how the powers that be can continue to ignore this.

  9. Tom Welsh

    I loved the bit, near the end, where the gung-ho young doctor from the Heart Foundation says that a diet “that substitutes saturated fats for polyunsaturated fats” is healthier.

    Ironically, that is entirely true. Being illiterate as well as medically ignorant, he has used “substitute for” the wrong way round. This is a perfect example of why it’s important to know how language is used; if you say “substitute for” the wrong way round, you say exactly the opposite of what you mean.

  10. celia

    Thank you for sharing this promising programme. I hope you will also post the continuing programmes in the series. It’s certainly a promising start, although I suppose it was inevitable there would be a couple of entrenched participants! Onwards and upwards…

  11. Tom Welsh

    Gary Taubes is not a man to go in for “poisoning the well” or ad hominem attacks. Nevertheless, it is glaringly obvious that money and power have played a huge role in this huge con. I noticed how, in one clip, Taubes, mentions in passing that Senator McGovern represented one of the main grain-growing states (South Dakota). I wonder what he ate?

      1. JP Goodchild

        People from the heart foundation here (Oz) poo pooed it but that was to be expected I guess. It is just fantastic that this bs is finally getting to reach a wider audience. I thought it was really good. Some doctors didn’t want the second show to be aired!! Thank you ABC for sticking by your show and Dr DeMasi who made the report.
        PS Loved your book, have bought numerous copies for friends.
        JP Goodchild, Melbourne

  12. jo

    I’m an avid believer and practitioner of a high fat low carb diet and have been since 2003, when I was 16st with arthritis, eczema, insulin resistance and severe lethargy. I now am 10 years YOUNGER, have none of those symptoms and I’m 9st.

    However, how on earth can this mess be changed?? Forget peoples health (as seems to have happened for the last 50 years), what about the huge financial implications, big businesses, the pharmaceutical industries, food manufacturing industries, even the government……. all stand to lose so much ?????? So I guess it has to change very slowly and without too much fuss – Is that what is happening I wonder???

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      When it does change, it will be fast. No ‘expert’ wants to get caught standing on thewrong rock when the tide changes. They need to scrabble to the safety of supporting the new paradigm as fast as they can. ‘The King is dead. Long live the king.’

      1. Brian Wadsworth

        I would like to think you are right. But the huge investment of money and reputation will likely prevent a rapid shift or new paradigm unless there is a transforming shock wave of some kind. It seems more likely the shift will be gradual so as to allow least damage to the investment. As example, see how gluten-free has entered the fray as a new food feature rather than a reaction to the failure of wheat to be a healthy nutritional ingredient.
        I like Gary Taubes’ view that there will be successive waves of repositioning by authorities and the industry that will slowly but surely take us to a healthier diet, if we are lucky.

        Please keep up the good work Malcolm.

  13. Bill

    In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt

  14. Eddie Mitchell

    I lived in an area on the South coast for around fifteen years, an area where many people retired to. I knew type two diabetics in their seventies and eighties living a good active life. As with many people they had become diabetics in middle age. The remedy when they were diagnosed was a low carb diet and exercise. This was in the days before big pharma was working overtime to come up with drugs for type two diabetics.

    Type two diabetes used to be an old mans disease, now we hear increasingly of teenagers as young as fifteen becoming type two diabetics. What chance do these kids have of getting their three score years and ten ? Very little I would say. This is a complete disgrace and a tragedy, brought about by greed, and ludicrous dietary information. How anyone could think a diet based on sugar and starch was a healthy way to live beggars belief.

    Kind regards Eddie

  15. Lorna

    Brave medics with uncompromising condemnation of the saturated fat and cholesterol ‘con’! Wish some of the participants had come from other Western countries to reassure us that the overturning of this misrepresentation is widening and to give us hope that ‘the truth is out there’ and getting louder all the time!

  16. celia

    Will this program me get to be shown in the USA and Europe? Most doctors in both countries still need an awful lot of convincing, it seems to me.

    1. celia

      I meant to say ‘on both sides of the Atlantic”. By the way, I just heard an “expert” from Oxford University speaking on Radio 4 Today programme. She wants government legislation to remove saturated fats from manufactured foods, and replaced with monounsaturated fats.

  17. Lisa

    Hi Malcolm. Take a look at the Australian Heart Foundations Facebook page
    Lots of us angry Australians out there who are not happy at being lied to about what constitutes a healthy diet. The CEO is in major damage control. Make sure you watch next weeks Catalyst program about statin drugs – bet you can’t wait!

  18. dearieme

    The most sobering issue for reflection is that this whole dishonest business did not start as a conspiracy of vile capitalists trying to get rich, it started with a crooked “medical scientist” who sought fame and power. This makes sense: the capitalists are happy to sell anything legal that their customers want. But for most academics their only accessible route to fame and power is to seize control of professional bodies, or arms of the government. Ancel Keys and his cronies managed to achieve that. More recently the “climate scientists” have done the same. It would seem – sadly for people like me – that our main enemies work in the universities; and they are our enemies not because of some imagined commie conspiracy, but rather because of academic piracy. Ancel Keys: freebooter.

    1. David Bailey

      On the BBC News website today, we have two stories about fat:

      This reports Prof John Ashton, bemoaning the fact that government efforts to cut saturated fat consumption are “A drop in the ocean”:

      Meanwhile, just one more click away, we have a story based on the BMJ editorial by Dr. Malhotra:

      In a sane world, you might expect BBC science reporters to want to explore this issue further – say reproducing Ancel Keys’ graph with all the data added in – as was done in the Australian broadcast. However, I very much doubt if the BBC will ever explore even this most blatant contradiction – just as it fails to explore the contradiction of supposed ‘climate change’ resulting from global warming which has not happened for the last 17 years!

  19. John C

    It’s very sad to see people here equating the good science describing the influence of carbon dioxide on climate change with some of the bad science relating to the effect of cholesterol on heart disease. Remember one thing, just as big pharms and the junk food industry have been pedalling untruths about statins and saturated fats so have the fossil fuel industry about global warming.

    Just wanted to get this off my chest first of all. Now moving on to a more relevant topic.

    I was listening to ABC radio tonight in Melbourne and just could not believe what I was hearing. The second part of the “Catalyst” program is now under threat. Here in Australia there have been calls from so-called concerned medical experts that the “bias” of the first program about cholesterol, if repeated in the second program about statins, will cause patients to stop their drug and thus cause their own death. My view is if they stop they will live a whole lot longer. But in any event it appears the best defence is to attack the messenger, in this case the presenter directly, rather than present a scientific case against the message. I for one would really like to hear a reasoned debate, but this is not likely to happen.

    This is a link to the transcript of the interview

    At this stage the ABC intends to air the program as scheduled

    1. Ash Simmonds

      Oh this is just beautiful – the person who is up in arms against it is Professor Emily Banks, and according to her profile page her area of expertise is Epidemiology – ie the “science” that tells us red meat causes cancer because people who eat fast food burgers and fries and sundaes and sodas and alcohol and smoke and are sedentary are dying because they eat more meat…

    2. David Bailey

      John C,

      All I would ask of you is to poke into the “good science” of climate change a little before you make comments like that. Here is obviously not the place to discuss this matter, but I would suggest you read “The Hockey Stick Delusion” to get some idea of what has gone on – there is a remarkable parallel with the story unfolding here.


      1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        The thing that worries me mostly about the climate change hypthesis is that it seems non-disprovable, which is never a good thing for a hypothesis. Also, the techniques used to support it seem familiar from the cholesterol debate – which always makes me think stuff is being hidden. ‘All the experts agree….’ for example. Well, I tend to find that if an expert does not agree with another expert, they are no longer an expert – they are a maverick.

      2. Professor Göran Sjöberg

        As I once was a believer that medical “science” was not a religious art as I believe today I also until very recently “believed” (or didn’t see any reason for doubt) in the greenhouse effect due to the carbon dioxide increase.

        However, in a recent program (I have forgotten which) it was convincingly shown that, although the connection between the levels of carbon dioxide and the temperature is beyond dispute, it is a fact that the heating comes first and this heating is then FOLLOWED by an increase in the level of carbon dioxide.

        So if we believe in science as an issue of cause and effect the carbon dioxide can in my mind from now on not be the cause for global warming but an rather an effect. (Release from the sea seems probable.)

      3. David Bailey

        John C,

        I really only introduced “Climate Change” (which used to be called “Global Warming” until the global temperature curve went flat) as an example of a problem which has infected science (Though I am convinced the issue is either bogus or greatly exaggerated).

        Part of the problem – which I think Dr. Kendrick has mentioned in some of his blogs – is that data can be processed in some pretty arbitrary ways. One thing that would help, I think, would be if high profile issues like Climate Change or medical studies of disease/diet relationships, were forced to employ qualified, independent statistical analysts.


        1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

          Sorry guys, can we leave Climate Change alone. I know that there are many interestnig things to be said in this area – I am sure there are a billion blogs and fora where this is happening. this is not really the place.

  20. celia

    I was pleased to read the response by Jon C regarding climate change as well as the issues highlighted in the programme. Just ask who stands to gain from any particular position. For further information on climate change get hold of a copy of the film “An Inconvenient Truth”. I guess the Catalyst programme is also highlighting another inconvenient truth.

  21. Judy

    I don’t pay much attention to cholesterol, but a number of people I know, do. This got me to looking at the equations used. I really don’t understand how these work:
    If TC = HDL + LDL + VLDL
    with VLDL being estimated as 1/5 of TG and LDL being calculated as
    LDL = TC – HDL – TG/5.0(mg/dl.) (Friedewald formula)
    how can this equation actually work with TC being calculated, another number (VLDL) being estimated and a third number (LDL) also being calculated and very possibly outright wrong? Wiki says TC is defined as the above equation, but then says it is measured, along with HDL and TG. So, is it measured or calculated? What am I missing here? I know cholesterol numbers mean nothing, but an equation should still work.

    Just recently found your blog and am enjoying it immensely. I’ve read all your papers at THINCS and LOVED them, and enjoyed your book as well. Thank you so much!

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      What is your cholesterol level. Well, here is how it really works

      Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo Put ’em together and what have you got bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

      Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo It’ll do magic believe it or not bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

      Salagadoola means mechicka boolaroo But the thingmabob that does the job is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

      Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo Put ’em together and what have you got bibbidi-bobbidi bibbidi-bobbidi bibbidi-bobbidi-bo

      I think you can now understand how the cholesterol level is calculated.

      1. Professor Göran Sjöberg

        Very appropriate and amusing!

        I used this question and your answer on a couple of slides in my lecture on “Cholesterol and the Heart” today.

        Very well received!

        Thank you!

  22. Edward Hutchinson

    The Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modifcation Trial: An inconvenient finding for the diet-heart hypothesis Tim Noakes

    “One goal of the US$700 million Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial was to determine whether post-menopausal women who adopted what was regarded as a ‘heart healthy’ low-fat diet, high in vegetables, fruits and grains, reduced their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
    The trial substantially favoured the outcome in the intervention group, who also received an intensive nutritional and behaviour education programme not offered to the control group.
    These studies neatly disprove the diet-heart hypothesis since adoption of ‘heart healthy’ eating not only failed to influence future cardiac events in the healthy but it increased such events in the unhealthy and worsened diabetic control in those with type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

    I liked this bit
    In fact, there were a number of negative findings from the WHIRCDMT. The leanest women at the start of the trial gained weight on the low-fat diet[3]
    and those with the least insulin resistance at the start of the trial were at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) if assigned to the low-fat diet.[4]
    The low-fat diet also worsened glucose control in women with diagnosed diabetes,[5] a finding that ‘agrees with some, but not all, previous studies evaluating the effects of high- and low-carbohydrate diets in persons with diabetes’ (p. 83).
    The authors concluded: ‘… caution should be exercised in recommending a reduction in overall dietary fat in women with diabetes unless accompanied by additional recommendations to guide carbohydrate intake’ (p. 84). [1]

    1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

      The maths are probably fine. However, I will guarantee that if you use two different laboratories to do your TC – on the same day – you will get a large variation in the result. One of the major difficulties is that the difference between an IDL and LDL a VLDL is not clear cut. VLDLs shrink down into IDLs, then LDLs as they lose triglycerides. At what point does a VLDL become and IDL, and when does IDL become LDL. And can you tell the difference between VLDL B-34 and VLDL B-100. Very different beasts with a different metabolic pathway. Lipoproteins are not like cars, vans, lorries. They are more like soap bubbles in the sink.

      1. Professor Göran Sjöberg

        Wasn’t the nuclear physisist John Gofman very close to this already in the beginning of the 50th and that the connection with high carb loads were shown to clearly connect with the boost of the lipoprotein numbers and heart disease a few years later?

        By the way the second ABC Catalyst program on statins is now on the air.

      2. Chain Reaction

        “Lipoproteins are not like cars, vans, lorries. They are more like soap bubbles in the sink”.

        To clarify,
        you mean that the scope for variation in their size is greater than the rather arbitrary terms that are assigned to them?
        or do yuou extend to say that lipoproteins are not involved in distribution of components and the taxi-ing of constituents from place to place.

        I work in distribution, the distnction matters. If my soap-bubble needs bursting I need to know.

  23. Robert Park

    My late wife who succumbed to BC had a penchant for soft and fruit drinks; our diet otherwise consisted principally of carbs and PUFAs. I was struck down by a heart-attack and underwent an emergency quadruple by-pass that was 23 years ago. If my wife had been drinking alcohol rather than soft drinks she would have been an alcoholic. When her liver was tested it was found to be fatty and the physicians implied that she was a closeted alcoholic. I lost her after 45 years of togetherness and although she knew that I had benefited from my interest in natural health medicine she opted to follow the conventional treatment and I have little doubt that this brought about a quick exit to her existence. Alternatively, after my cardiac operation (I had previously been a vegetarian for 18 years) I returned to the standard diet when I began to read copiously on dietetics and changed my diet to one consisting principally of saturated fats and I am still here to tell the story. I was astounded to read of the potent immunosuppressive effect of PUFAs and even more amazed that they continue to be sold as healthy fats and the public persist in purchasing them. When added to this the immune suppress-effect of sugars it is baffling to understand how the average age of the population is increasing. Today I would describe my diet as being standard as it contains carbohydrates such as breads, cakes, biscuits, and all the other niceties but, it also includes lashing of saturated fats and red meats which could be the balance. I am too advanced in years to wait for the results of research to substantiate or otherwise my beliefs which have been culled from reading, experimenting, but also from observation.


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