The hydra

I was thinking about the astonishing resilience of the cholesterol hypothesis the other day – something I often do. As you may know the ‘authorities’ in the US have now decreed that cholesterol in the diet is no longer a dietary factor of concern, as it has no effect on cholesterol levels in the blood.

Well my, my, this was discovered sixty years ago by Ancel Keys. However, several decades later various US Departments seem to have noticed this astonishing fact. They have sprung into immediate action and proposed that cholesterol is removed from the guidelines – as a dietary substance to be avoided (well it hasn’t quite happened yet, but it will).

No doubt they will take about two hundred pages of verbose guff to state this, along with all the reasons why no-one was actually wrong, and no-one ever really said that cholesterol in the diet should be avoided in the first place blah blah de blah. I certainly would not expect that the words ‘we were wrong’ will be found anywhere in the document, at least not in that order.

Blimey though, sixty years to get rid of a recommendation with never a scrap of evidence to support it. Not a single scrap. Of course, cholesterol in the blood is still bad. At least bad cholesterol is still bad, whereas good cholesterol is still good. Even though neither thing is actually cholesterol at all. But why let science get in the way of a good scientific hypothesis.

Hydra, or blob.

I was thinking should I call this blog, the ‘hydra’ or the ‘blob’. Because, when it comes do the cholesterol/diet-heart, or the ‘whatever you now want to call it, because you can call it almost anything you like hypothesis’ we see both mechanisms, multiplication and growth/mutation.

From the hydra perspective, if you cut off the head, this hypothesis simply grows a couple more. We now know it is not cholesterol in the diet that is bad. But anyway that doesn’t matter, for another head grew years ago. It is the ‘saturated fat is bad head’. If you attack that, it is the ratio of saturated to polyunsaturated head that suddenly appears. And if you attack that, the monounsaturated head appears, or the odd-chain saturated fat head, or even chain, or short chain. Chop chop, more heads.

In the blood, it is not LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol that is the problem, it is the new head of the ratio of good to bad cholesterol. Or is it dyslipidaemia, or it is oxidised cholesterol, or particle numbers, or small dense ‘bad’ cholesterol, or light fluffy ‘good (and simultaneously) bad’ cholesterol. Chop, chop. OMG not more bloody heads.

However, there are also good reasons for calling the many headed cholesterol hypothesis the blob, as it just grows and grows bigger. Attack it with contradictory evidence and is also capable of engulfing it, using your evidence to grow bigger and stronger. ‘Run for your lives.’

The French have a high cholesterol diet, a high cholesterol level in the blood, and low rates of heart disease. ‘Ah yes, that it because they eat lightly cooked vegetables, eat lots of garlic and drink red wine.’ The blob, gentle readers shrugged, grew a few pseudopods and engulfed these contradictions, digesting them with a contented sigh.

Eventually the hypothesis became ‘multifactorial’ a state in which any attack on any part of it is doomed to fail amongst a forest of heads attached to a monstrous blancmange like organism. The cholesterol hypothesis has become so massive and shapeless that any attempt to attack it is doomed to failure. You will be simply turned to stone, or engulfed. It will be lot longer than another sixty years before this hypothesis will finally keel over and die – I fear.

After all, the fact that cholesterol in the diet has no effect on cholesterol levels in the blood has had not the slightest discernible effect on a hypothesis that began life as… the cholesterol hypothesis. Although I defy anyone to tell me what it has now become.

75 thoughts on “The hydra

  1. raphaels7

    In a time where scientific reputation is too often built by obfuscation rather than clarification, no wonder the cholesterol hypothesis target is moving, mutating and ultimately a diversion. How can you test its strength if you can’t take a good aim at it?

    Maybe we’re better off taken Richard Feynman’s approach which was to ask top physicists to explain their theories in a manner intelligible to 10yr olds. The best ones were able to.

  2. mikecawdery

    ‘we were wrong’
    The medical establishment is never, ever wrong. Suggest that they were and they will defend their wrongmess (a typo but appropriate) to the end to protect their status. This proves that they are neither scientists, researchers or, May I suggest, REAL doctors.

    Dr Kendrick, you have undoubtedly done everything you could to return the medical profession to sanity but MONEY and STATUS is a hard nut to crack. Personally, I have no faith in the medical establishment, Big Pharma or their sycophantic adherents. It is a relief that you and colleagues on THINCS and other like minded professionals do expose the stupidities endorsed by the medical establishment.

    1. G. Mongeau

      I wonder if anyone here is familiar with the book “The Origin of Atherosclerosis” by Kensey and Cho. If so, is it recommended? It looks like it may be out of print, so I’d like to know if it is worth the effort of finding a copy…

  3. Professor Göran Sjöberg

    They say that the last thing you abandon is your hope.

    Reading Socrates dialogues I am now in the one named “Laches” and this one is specifically about what courage may be and if it is foolishness and/or courage to stand your post and being ‘steamrolled’.

    Discouragingly it seems as if opportunists are the sure winners or as a colleague of mine put it talking about the company management: “Bad moral always wins!”

  4. Nanno en Coosje

    Dear dr. Kendrick,

    For some time we receive your very interesting mails about cholesterol. We ppriciate that very much.

    We as Dutch fin dit sometimes a bit difficult to understand, but we get enough information.

    We hope we can ask you one question; we read that people with heartproblems should take statines etc.

    Once after reading about this topic my husband stopped with the simvastatine and later after they controled the blood etc. our doctor rang us and was so shokked that it ws now 8.4 instead of 3.8. So he took again the medicin.

    My husband had in 2010 a heartstop and was reanimated with very good result. He had a heart-operation and lives now with medicines and is in good health. He takes 120mg. Q10 each day and other vitamins as Magnesium, vit.C.

    He is since this month 75 years.

    I am 69 and my cholesterol rate was ratio 3.5 7.0 hdl 2.00 mmol/l 1,1 1,7

    Ldl 4.40 ….. 0.0 3.6

    Because of stress i think it is a bit high perhaps, i told the doctor I would not take medicins. We eat the good things ,

    We think, muesli with olive oil and lijnzaadoil, i don.t no the english word for it.

    Biol.vegetables and fruit. Hope we are doing well.

    O, we are very thankful for your writings and your ambition to help people with a honest advice!

    Greetings from Holland,

    Nanno en Coosje Bakker

    1. james

      Nanno en Coosje today is the first ever Ancestral Health Symposium in Groningen. With regards to your cholesterol I think I’ll leave that to Malcolm, but it is hard to give any kind of advice not knowing the diet you are following. High blood cholesterol levels doesn’t really say anything. It is a matter of the kind. And even that isn’t what is bad. It is the reason why, and pretty much always it is way of your body dealing with a problem. The problem usually being inflammation most often because of an inflammatory diet. Diets high in seed oils, high in Omega 6 are invariably inflammatory. I had two heart attacks more then ten years ago, recommended for bypass and statins for high cholesterol. Did none but changed the diet. No wheat products of any kind. Low carbohydrate, high fat moderate protein. In the meantime give your heart to time to reconstruct collateral capillaries feeding your heart. Strophantus might help

      1. Dr. Malcolm Kendrick Post author

        Part of the problem is that the entire argument about heart disease has been successfully framed as a ‘diet/heart hypothesis’, and all discussions continue within this model. Most people are completely trapped in the paradigm that heart disease must be due to ‘something’ in the diet causing ‘something’ damaging in the bloodstream. We must stop thinking inside this box. Otherwise we will never, ever, work out the answers, because we will be, I am afraid, looking at only one small part of a much larger jigsaw puzzle.

      2. Professor Göran Sjöberg


        I have fallen in the same – LCHF – trap as you. Reading in Malcolms book about health an weight I am though a little bit worried about my health, having lost 20 kg and attained the ‘perfectly normal’ weight without effort, though I have not seen any flu in five years now while that happened once a year before I got into that trap.

        Since i seems to work fine for me at least I have turned into a strong LCHF-‘believer’ and grass-fed beef is a real treat – it doesn’t hurt anyway.

        I am also a strong believer in the parasympathetic card I think Malcolm has got up his sleeve 🙂

        Life is complex!

      3. anglosvizzera

        Dr Kendrick, in The Great Cholesterol Con, there was something that struck a chord with me. It was how heart disease seemed to be linked with people who had been ‘displaced’ or weren’t happy in some way as a group, or as an individual. This led me to consider the link with non-physical, more esoteric things such as chakras ‘(energy’ centres in the body).

        Now I expect as a medical physician you will roll your eyes and consider my comment as ‘woo woo’, but as a homeopath, we are trained to look holistically at our patients which would include their spiritual, mental and emotional spheres as well as physical, and see how things may be interlinked. This thought also occurred to me regarding my late mother-in-law who developed heart disease out of the blue, some years ago. During her consultation with me, I discovered that this developed not long after her seriously falling out with her only (elder) sister, with whom she’d been very close. They didn’t really ever patch things up (to the extent of not communicating for many years) until my mother-in-law had developed serious dementia (probably exacerbated by statins!) but I know the whole thing had affected her very deeply. Strangely enough, her sister also developed heart disease at about the same time. Fortunately for her, for whatever reason, we discovered that she had refused to take statins.

        I don’t know much about chakras myself but it seems to me that if they ‘exist’ and a person’s ‘energy field’ in the heart area is disrupted through an emotional disturbance, then this could potentially disrupt the physical body in that area. We use the heart in language such as, ‘I was broken-hearted’, ‘my heart sank’ and so on, because we do tend to feel emotions in certain parts of our body as a result of certain experiences. It may be of no consequence, but I thought I’d mention it!

      4. mikecawdery

        What a useful reference. Heretical indeed – I suspect that most “lipid experts” have never herd of it.

        As a quick check I found the following:
        A final criticism concerns the current bad habit of authors, who only review the literature of the past few years. Such writings reflect dogma a la mode,and omit essential earlier contributions, particularly any that are at variance with current beliefs

        The initiation of atherosclerosis may result from blood flow oscillatory shear stress in certain vascular sites (bending points, bifurcations, etc) producing chronic minimal injury resulting in functional alteration of the arterial endothelium type I injury: experimentally, this is potentiated by atherogenic risk factors such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, immunocomplexes, viral infections, and tobacco smoke.
        Fuster V, Badimon JJ, Badimon L. Clinical-pathological correlations of coronary disease progression and regression. Circulation 1992; 86 (Suppl 3):31
        Ericson K, Saldeen TGP, Lindquist O et al. Relationship of Chlamydia pneumoniae infection to
        severity of human coronary atherosclerosis. Circulation 2000; 101:2568.

        Reminiscent of Dr K’s ideas and those of Dr Ravnskov.

        Will take some time to read all of it

  5. rdfeinman

    Despite the health importance, nutrition is not at the same moral level as civil rights but I always parapharase Martin Luther King on segregation: low-fat-diet-heart is dead. It is just a question of how long and expensive you want to make the funeral.

  6. paulacat1

    I hope you read this, I have been on line investigating cholesterol and thyroid and came across a Dr J Bergman on u tube, you may have already, but if you have not you will find that he supports your findings on cholesterol and it is amazing what he has come up with let me know what you think ! the site I went on was to find out about my thyroid and T3, hope you find it useful. Paula

  7. anglosvizzera

    I was rather surprised to hear this ‘news’ – something that I thought was common knowledge years ago!

    Re ‘The French Paradox’: How is the ‘The Swiss Paradox’ explained away? They have a diet high in cholesterol, high levels of cholesterol and also low levels of heart disease. (I have a bit of interest here being half-Swiss). They aren’t renowned for eating loads of garlic or drinking red wine, rather they are known for quite a bit of cheese consumption. Any ideas?

    1. mikecawdery

      There was a study – Monica-WHO-EU (European cardiovascular disease statistics 3 reports from circa 2002 to 2012) on the national availability of various basic foods in some 40+ European countries. This was referred to in Dr K’s first book. Interestingly, in the whole report the word “carbohydrate” was used but once; carbs are good – end of.
      Also, the national incidence of CHD (deaths??) was given.

      In succession, I then ran a regression analysis on national cardiac death rate against

      1) fat percentage availability, p= 0.0000002
      2) fruit and veg percentage availability and p=0.00002
      3) estimated carbohydrate percentage availability and p= 0.000000003
      4) the national cholesterol level. p= 0.02

      Each comparison was highly significant. In the case of carbs it was POSITIVE ie increasing percentage of carbs in the diet lead to increased CHD. In the case of “Total fat” and “fruit and veg” the regression was negative, ie the higher percentage of available fat and fruit and veg, the lower the incidence of CHD.

      The higher the national cholesterol the lower the CHD incidence.

      When the three food items were regressed against CHD incidence the same pattern was found.

      This was the first time I have found a statistically significant been fit for fruit and veg.

      In my view the “French Paradox” does not exist; it simply reflects the fact that fat, fruit and veg are good while carbs are bad in terms of CHD, a fact that is deliberately ignored to maintain the myth of fat is bad.

    2. Mary Richard

      I truly believe that a diet high in saturated fat is, in fact, important to good health. I have tried every diet under the sun and the only one that ever gave me a significant amount of good health, both mental and physical was one high in fat and cholesterol and low in carbs. If you have ever read anything by American Psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Rosch, you will see that stress can indeed play a huge role in CHD. And your story of your mother in law and her only sister is a perfect example of how stress (and in this case grief) can trigger these incidents. I believe it to have merit. I do so hope you purchase Statin Nation I and II as I think this documentary in two parts is eye opening documentary.

      I have to wonder too about the French and the Swiss as well. As an American, I feel we Americans super size way too much. The portion sizes here in restaurants and fast food establishments are not only poor in quality, but are huge. I always ask what kind of cooking oil or fat they use when I go to any restaurant. If the answer is vegetable oil, I order salade.

      Perhaps the Swiss and French just don’t gorge themselves and enjoy life and have a live and let live mentality. Saturated, natural, grass fed animal fat is good for your health. It will be a world wide belief in the not so distant future. Your instincts are correct, I think.

  8. Karin Adams

    As ever…… it is complicated – and stuck in the dark ages 🙂 The KOL’s with their rose tinted glasses and ‘benefits’ – thank you very much…… maintain the ‘fog’. Those of us who refuse to be ‘lemmings’ really appreciate the time and energy taken by people like yourself who bring rational thought to those willing to be enlightened. Thank you. ps – Await my dvd of Statin Nation II.

  9. John Patchett

    Well put Malcolm. Too many people and organisations with egg on face to issue a complete denial methinks. In the mean time research into the REAL cause of heart disease goes sadly by and is ignored.

    1. Tom Welsh

      “Too many people and organisations with egg on face…”

      Probably an inevitable result of too many years adhering to the lipid hypothesis, leading to a near-complete loss of egg-eating skills.

  10. Garry Lee

    That wonderful doctor the Americans love, Dr.David L.Katz solemnly announced the other day that he had looked and couldn’t find a single study in which people had thrived on a high fat diet with milk cheese etc. He is so thorough! I think he has 7000 references in his textbook of nutrition. Gary Taubes says it can take 8 hours to read a paper really Carefully so DK must put 20 years into this. I reminded him of Gascony which has the highest sat fat consumption in France and the lowest heart disease in the world, 50% of that of the rest of France. Of course that won’t change his mind, mainly because he doesn’t have one. We really are dealing with a most profound level of ignorance.

  11. Gretchen

    I think we go from one extreme to the other, and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Example: dietary cholesterol “has no effect on cholesterol levels in the blood.” In most people, it doesn’t, but there are “hyperabsorbers” who absorb more dietary cholesterol from the diet than others.

    I think it would be more accurate to say, “dietary cholesterol usually has very little effect on cholesterol levels in the blood.”

    Maybe that’s too complex for the average American to grasp, though. They want absolutes.

    1. David

      Most cholesterol is produced by the liver, so would being a hyperabsorber have much affect on the total.

      Even if it does then someone needs to determine whether this is harmful.

          1. Gretchen

            “Can you provide evidence of hyperabsorbers?”

            Not sure if you mean evidence that hyperabsorbers exist or if they have higher cholesterol. I’m assuming you mean the latter.

            I had very high cholesterol (300-400; LDL in high 200s), and I was in a lipid study at Harvard.

            Statins didn’t reduce my cholesterol one iota, and the lipid expert told me I absorb more cholesterol from my diet than is normal. I was on a LC diet at the time and refused to follow their Food Pyramid, and they said that wouldn’t exclude me because diet didn’t have much of an effect on cholesterol anyway (this was in 2000), so I was also eating more fat than average. Hence it makes sense that I wasn’t making much cholesterol so a drug that reduced synthesis of cholesterol wouldn’t do anything.

            When I tried Zetia, that brought it way down, and then when I wasn’t absorbing much from gut, adding a statin got the numbers into normal ranges.

            Of course one lipid researcher’s opinion isn’t proof of anything. And I know many people on this list probably think high blood cholesterol doesn’t matter. If your total was 220, I’d agree, but 400 is a bit much, IMHO.

            Normally, if you absorb more cholesterol from the diet, you just make less yourself and everything is fine. But not everyone is normal, and it’s my understanding that if your cholesterol clearance is faulty, then absorbing more cholesterol from the diet would be a problem. People with APOE4, have faulty clearance.

            Unfortunately, I don’t have a reference handy. If anyone has references showing that hyperabsorption does *not* affect blood cholesterol in anyone, I’d be interested.

      1. George Henderson

        I have found a few papers on cholesterol hyper-responders (as they are called). The increase is spread across HDL and LDL and the extra lipoprotein classes and transfer proteins are beneficial, at least in healthy volunteers.
        There are also many people who do not respond to a cholesterol-lowering diet, or to statins.
        It seems that some people are genetically able to have a diet-serum cholesterol relationship, and others are not.

      2. anglosvizzera

        In the real world, how would most people know whether or not they are ‘hyper absorbers’? I’m sure their GP wouldn’t bother to test them. For all we know there may be a large percentage of populations who are like this….maybe the Swiss or French, for example, given that they have diets high in saturated fat, have generally high cholesterol levels but it doesn’t seem to make them candidates for heart disease. Perhaps for hyper absorbers it doesn’t actually matter what their cholesterol levels are? Obviously in your case the figures were very high, but maybe some people absorb cholesterol to a lesser degree from diet. It’s all too complicated…..

      3. mikecawdery

        From a later reply you say
        and the lipid expert told me I absorb more cholesterol from my diet than is normal
        Hardly evidence as you admit! Hardcore “lipid experts” say many things that have been shown to be simply wrong!

        1. Gretchen

          “Hardcore “lipid experts” say many things that have been shown to be simply wrong!” I agree totally. But this is true of everyone, including diet gurus and commenters. I agree with Dr Kendrick’s hypothesis that dietary cholesterol usually isn’t important. My only quibble was to qualify blanket statements by noting that this is true *in most people.* Remember the bell curve. There will always be outliers even if 95% of the people in a study showed dramatic improvements with X or Y treatment. It’s very annoying for the outliers to be told “just do A and B will happen,” when that doesn’t happen.

          1. mikecawdery

            Indeed the normal distribution does have outliers; the problem lies in determining whether the apparent outlier is just that or if some other factor, eg genetic is involved. A classic example is familial hypercholesteraemia; may be there are others. However I do accept that some people just do not respond to statin therapy; some people have naturally high cholesterol and so on.

  12. Tom Welsh

    Long ago I remember reading “Heidi” and being astonished that little Heidi and her grandfather lived on a diet that apparently consisted mainly of cheese and full cream milk! Yet, in the novel, they both prospered exceedingly and lived long and healthy lives. Maybe “Heidi” should be banned.

    1. celia

      Tom, what I find sad is that you should have been astonished by the health of Heidi and her grandfather with their diet of cheese and full cream milk. It seems to prove how brainwashed we have all been; and some still are. What a mess government guidelines have caused.

    2. thetinfoilhatsociety

      Yes, but that was milk and cheese from grass fed animals, with a load of vitamin C, minerals, good ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, and nary a GMO in sight. I wouldn’t eat a diet like that today unless it was from locally raised animals. I keep chickens, and they eat organic feed, leftovers, bugs, and all the grass I give them. The yolks are astonishingly yellow, and the texture is nothing like even ‘organic’ store bought eggs. We eat a lot of eggs, needless to say and our cholesterol levels are actually low. Not that either of us cares about the numbers, because we too have researched the ‘science’ and find it lacking.

      I personally think more activity, less sitting around, more sunshine, and better quality food is the answer, not a medication. But that doesn’t make money for anyone (except farmers!).

      1. David Bailey

        While I think we should keep all farm animals in good conditions, I think a big part of Dr Kendrick’s message, is that diet isn’t that important in the development of heart disease (with the exception of sugars and carbs).

        I do think that part of his message is important, because those who discuss vitamins and minerals and grass grown animals, etc, may inadvertently persuade people to obsess about diet and downplay issues like stress and exercise. Indeed, trying to follow lots of healthy eating advice while living a normal life, can itself be quite stressful, and trying to source unusual (and often expensive) ingredients may also use up time that could be spent on a walk or other forms of exercise.

        There are lots of opportunities for exercise nowadays – swimming baths, climbing walls, roller and ice rinks, gyms (as a last resort!), etc, and on weekday mornings and afternoons in term time, nobody over 60 need feel out of place!

  13. Dr John Patchett

    If fatty foods etc are so bad for health, how is it that we have an ever burgeoning elderly population who’s diet consisted of fatty meat cooked in lard or dripping, full fat cheese and milk plus heavily salted hams etc. They also consumed a fair amount of sugar puddings etc. One thing they were though is active and I don’t mean spending a fortune at the gymn going for The Burn. They walked to the shops and parks etc and most had manual jobs. Even an office job was more physically intensive than now. All of these things seem to have been ignored by the so called health gurus. Demonising food seems the easier option.

  14. David Bailey

    The only problem with calling the cholesterol theory the “blob”, is that that might reinforce the old image of a blob of lard working its way through the blood stream until it blocked an artery!

    I can see signs that the saturated fat hypothesis is going to be revived by endless discussion of the good and bad properties of each individual fatty acid. That will completely obscure the saturated fat part of the mistake for decades!

  15. Mary Richard

    It appears to me that when we first began to learn about the diet/heart hypothesis, fat and cholesterol were perceived and sold to health conscious people as one in the same beast. Cholesterol was defined or characterized as a “fatty” type substance in the blood. As they discovered these “fatty” or “lipid” substances appeared in blockages of arteries, people were duped into thinking they were, in fact, one in the same or equally to blame. Oh I recall one of my girlfriends who had a very healthy looking husband, say “He looks great and hasn’t touched an egg yolk in 30 years!” However, he acted like he was nutso. He would go into a restaurant to order an egg white breakfast and was downright insulted should you offer him anything but a low fat meal. Many years later, I sent him a link to Statin Nation. I then told him… “Eat the yolks my friend, they are good for you!” He had been on statins for many years. He finally stated he would maybe have to reduce his statin drugs. I sure hope he has actually “kicked the habit”. I have not talked to him in a while. But, I think he and his personal trainer may have figured it out. I sure hope so as statins ruined his mother and father’s health. We were taught that fat and cholesterol were essentially so much alike as to be indistinguishable from each other. If you ate a lot of fat (of any kind) or cholesterol, you would keel over any minute and die of a heart attack. I only learned to eat eggs and bacon again when I was introduced to the novel idea that carbs came in many different varieties and it was sugar or pre-digested carbs so to speak that were “unnatural”. But, that seemed to emerge after the Atkins diet. I saw many friends take the Atkins challenge and boast of large amounts of weight loss quickly. Even that did not do much to a society that saw fatty and cholesterol rich foods as one in the same beast. When all around you in grocery stores you see advertisements of low fat, low cholesterol…well you kind of start feeling alone and fall in line with the rest of the troop.

  16. Ali.

    There are as many opinions as there are people.

    There are as many scientific opinions as there are scientists.

    How long will it take for people to realise that experience and common sense are far more accurate informants…..?

    1. Ali.

      You know what is the real problem?

      Over analysis.

      Do you think the Okinawans or the Sardinians spent hours and hours pouring over tomes to figure out how to live the longest? Of course not. They just worked out across the centuries which foods made them feel well, and which foods didn’t. They also stayed put and passed that wisdom on to their offspring. It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense.

      When society moves and migrates away from the centuries of wisdom that has built great diets producing strong health in any given area to a mishmash of differing foods, styles, ideas, opinions, etc., and food that caters to financial consideration rather than health, they lose the very foundation that human society is based on.

  17. Maureen

    My mother in law died last week, at age 103. Born the year Titanic went down! She rarely visited a doctor, the only pills she was ever on were anti-hypertensives, at age 95. This high blood pressure was discovered when we changed doctors and she had to go in and ‘be seen’. She had no symptoms, but her b.p was 230/110. She was pretty mad that we had taken her to the doctor, and now I suspect that was the reason for the high bp. She took those pills, I think it was metoprolol…for about a month, then one day she got dizzy and fell, cracking her head on the hard floor and bashing her arm on a corner. We were concerned and took her to the E.R. where she was X Rayed, and amazingly had no breaks. Soon after that her b.p. prescription ran out, she didn’t mention it to us for a week, but we noticed she was looking and acting quite perky. She refused to go back on them, and I stopped taking her blood pressure, except for once when it was 170/90. Not bad for her age. I wonder if she had been born in an age where people are subjected to all this screening, if she would then have been prescribed unnecessary pills. Like fosamax, hrt, statins etc. And how long she would have lived then. As it happened, she caught a cold a few days before she died, and went in her sleep.

    1. anglosvizzera

      Wow! My mother had a similar experience – didn’t believe in taking drugs (but did take carefully selected supplements) and only went to the doctor when absolutely necessary. Had to go for something minor and was then given bp tablets as her bp was ‘too high’ (at the surgery) but passed out twice at home after that. The first time the paramedics came and did an ECG, but noticed an ‘abnormality’ so she was kept in hospital overnight. The drug data sheet for one of the drugs said something about heart irregularities – I’m sure the drug was probably what caused the abnormality on the ECG . She had always tended towards low bp, so after checking with a home meter we realised she probably had ‘white coat syndrome’ when she was checked at the surgery. So she then came off the bp drugs and was fine again. She died a couple of years ago at age 93 from sudden heart attack (smoked like a chimney!) but had been well and living at home, popping into town on the bus every few days to do her shopping, tending to the garden, cooking all her own meals. Once patients get to that kind of age and are doing well, it’s probably best to avoid doctors if possible!! (Dr K excepted, of course…)

    2. Jean

      How sweet Maureen. Yes, those BP meds do cause a LOT of falls, and now the guidelines are being adjusted for that very reason with reference to the elderly. The idea of medicating after ONE visit is very bad practice anyway. Home monitoring is meant to be the next step. BP varies quite a bit over the course of a day as anyone who does home monitoring knows.

      1. BobM

        I take my blood pressure at about the same time every weekday (due to having a myopathy). My blood pressure is all over the place! For systolic pressure, the standard deviation is 9.3, which means my blood pressure is 115+/- 9.3.

        I am, however, on beta blockers for the myopathy. I can’t get my cardiologist to let me off them.

    3. Marie - Sweden

      Thanks for your story.

      Here is a story from Sweden

      My mother is born in 1920 – she will be 95 this spring.
      When she was around 80, she suffered a small heart attack and was put on Zocor (=simvastatin), Toprol (=metoprolol) and Aspirin.

      As she had decreased a couple of centimetres she was also put on Fosamax, which was said to strengthen her bones.
      In spite of the medication (rather because of) she broke her hip after a slight fall. She had, then, been on the medication for 3-4 years. I began translating various critical articles and patient stories and eventually she stopped Fosamax (=alendronate).

      Then she began suffering from insomnia, cramps, muscle weakness and aches but her doctor refused to see that there could be a connection to her medications. I, particularly, thought of Zocor. There was one critical book in Swedish, at the time, and she read it, but it took some time before she decided to stop.

      One day she felt dizzy and my sister took her to the doctor who said that her blood pressure was too high. It had to come down and then the bloodpressure-experiment started.
      An ACE-inhibitor was added (she felt worse), then a calcium-channel blocker (she felt worse). They were stopped and now she is on a diuretic in a low dosage.

      She went to see an eye doctor because she felt her eye sight was not so good and then the eye pressure was measured. She was put on eye drops (Latanoprost?).
      Now her eyes are red almost every day and I don´t think that her eye sight has improved at all, but she is afraid that, if she don´t take the medication, she will get blind.

      They certainly know how to scare people into “obedience”.

      Life went on, then she felt dizzy and my sister took her to the doctor. He said that her blood pressure was too high and added an ACE-inhibitor. She felt worse and had to make another visit when he prescribed a calcium-channel blocker (?) with the same result.

      1. anglosvizzera

        It’s so sad, isn’t it? You mother, living in Sweden, may just have needed extra vitamin D for her bone strength, and there are other ways of preventing a recurrence of heart problems (diet, exercise etc). And the blood pressure tablets seem to me to cause all kinds of problems with people I know and when all these drugs are combined, nobody can predict what will happen, especially with elderly people who metabolise drugs differently from test subjects.

        My late father-in-law, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 80, was given anti epileptic drugs to control the slight symptoms he was getting. He was quite a frail man and surgery or other cancer therapies were considered too risky. It wasn’t even certain that the tumour was malignant. However, the dose of his drug built up over a few weeks and he ended up rushed into hospital with overdose symptoms. This happened more than once, but nobody ever seemed to realise that maybe the dose was too high for his body weight and age.

        My late mother-in-law was given the maximum dose (80mg) of a statin for years after a heart stent operation. She was quite a big woman at the start but lost a lot of weight. Her drug dose was never changed. After a few years she started to develop dementia symptoms. She was on a lot of other drugs at the same time, but we noticed her symptoms always worsened after her statin. That led me to research statins (and is how I ended up following Dr K’s blog) and how the issue with memory/dementia symptoms and statins has hardly been addressed by GPs.

        A lot of medicine does seem to be based on scaremongering. I watched an interesting video yesterday by a neurosurgeon, Dr Russell Blaylock, where he started off saying how arrogant new physicians are these days. In his opinion they have been taught to be like that, that they know best and the patient doesn’t, even when they experience certain things themselves (like adverse effects)!!

      2. Mary Richard

        Big Pharma is sly indeed. Medical science can be its ugly twin. They recommend that doctors put any person showing any signs of “illness” (described herein as whatever is too high needs to be lowered and whatever is low needs to be raised… Kendrick’s words not mine) on so many medications that when that person finally is but a shadow it his or her former self (you don’t know why or how it happened) and as they slip into death…you don’t know what the hell they died from. It is poly-pharmacy (that includes the food supply) death we are all facing. Yet, no one can figure out what is causing what and how it came to be that WHAT. Even worldwide guidelines that “govern” scientific studies are so ambiguous and downright contradictory that there is a loophole around every statement (big enough to drive Hummers through them) so that the powers that be can always get around their own rules. Even Kendrick states in his latest book that ethical guidelines have the virtual effect of actual law (they should not as laws are laws and ethics are ethics) that can ruin a person’s livelihood and dreams for a better tomorrow overnight. It is impossible to catch anyone doing anything wrong, unless, of course, you are in the minority who believes that nothing is what it seems at all. Then like bullies on the playground, the majority rule catches you, beats the hell out of you and you limp away into obscurity, tail betwixt your legs, with your life in shambles and wonder why they beat you up. You feel like an abused child not knowing why mommy and daddy are always so angry.

        Today, I feel terrible. It is just a bad day. I don’t know why or how it happened to a relatively healthy person. I was started on a whole host of medications that by the time I decided they were killing me, I was on 13 of them. I slowly began to wean off them doing the best I could without any help from anyone. I just knew I could. And, I still feel hope…always feel hope.

    1. Jean

      It kind of makes you wonder why food has to be so complicated and if it isn’t just people having to have something to justify their jobs? Um, eat real food. Ok, you can all go home now.

  18. Jo

    Hi Dr K. Finished your new book and loved it. I’ve been very interested in how science is being used to promote the very things that harm us such as medications and certain food items (e.g. hearthealthywholegrains).

    Recently I became interested in the field of electromagnetic radiation and radio frequencies, e.g. mobile phones, phone masts etc, and have discovered the same use of science as marketing tools by the telecom industry. At the moment they are funding lots of (poorly designed) studies which they use to instill confusion and doubt. The ‘weight of evidence’ argument is then used to dismiss health concerns. And of course, there is the added element of the population really wanting it to be safe (and really wanting there to be a wonder drug).

    I read a book by Martin Blank called Overpowered which summarised these fun and games nicely. You’re obviously busy with the medical side of things, but I thought you would be interested to hear that these techniques being used in other sectors.

    1. anglosvizzera

      Jo, I too am interested in the concept of ‘electrosmog’. The Swiss seem to take it quite seriously – they have taken WiFi out of (most?) schools now – here is a link to a page of information; the video is especially of interest:

      Having relatives in Switzerland, I know that they always seem to be ahead of the game when it comes to health information – my nephew and his wife are always telling me about things that only reach the UK public years (even decades) later, so I do tend to trust them. (I know that there a lot of drug companies over there too – but they have their own agenda, as we know!)

      Here’s another Swiss Government document, updated last in 2012, which is also interesting (click on ‘Electrosmog in the Environment’ for the pdf download in English):

      The whole issue of ‘electrosmog’ is another can of worms waiting to be opened!!

    2. mikecawdery

      The ‘weight of evidence’ argument

      Indeed it is, and widely used by publishing the same study in various guises in different journals with different author sequence to give the appearance of different studies. Frankly disgraceful but the different journals sell more reprints, the authors gain several extra publications for their CV and Big Pharma gets more publicity and to hell with scientific integrity!

  19. Jean

    Click to access 02p-0244-cp00001-02-Exhibit_A-vol1.pdf

    the above is a link to a document from 2002 from the FDA showing the link between statins and the depletion of co enzyme Q10. Now I remember the local pharmacy having a naturopath selling customers supplements when they came in to get their scripts filled, poor pensioners as the supplements are expensive and come of course with plastic bottle waste. They could have just been told to eat sardines or something, a very good source. Anyways…. the article mentions the ‘epidemic’ of heart failure…. interesting – I did read in a book, apologies as i read so many it could even have been The Great Cholesterol Con, that the prescriptions did come with a Q10 supplement? but they didn’t want to draw attention to it.

    1. anglosvizzera

      I think that the reference to one of the drug companies proposing to produce a statin that included CoEnzyme Q10 was in Dr K’s book, but they abandoned the idea as none of the other drug companies were planning to do the same. Maybe they should’ve stuck to their guns and then statins wouldn’t have had such bad press……on second thoughts, maybe not – otherwise people wouldn’t have found out about the other problems!

    2. mikecawdery

      Thanks for the link. You may have seen my comment on a previous article by Dr K.
      A bit off topic but I could not resist posting this titbit “Note this advert (Saga Magazine December p. 153. Bioglan “Making life easier for MILLIONS of statin users” Stat-Guard which contains CoQ10, Vitamin E and zinc; available at Boots, Holland & Barrett and Tesco. Apparently this a viable product despite the vehement Collins claim …….

      1. Jean

        From what I’ve been reading about co enzyme Q10 lately, I’m wondering why it wasn’t ‘the thing’ instead of statins… it seems to have a favourable effect on heart (vascular) disease as well… and LDL cholesterol profile if you want to go into that. It seems with no side effects it would have been better to just go with the Q10 supplementation.

        1. mikecawdery

          Indeed, Merck took out two patents for their statins in 1990.
          Merck Patent No. 4,929,437 and Patent No. 4,933,165. 29 May 1990 Simvastatin being the most used.
          CoQ10 as such is not patentable but the combination is. I suspect that there was collusion in not using it. Certainly, the HPS study (Collins et al) deliberately excluded CoQ10 in their 2nd treatment (an anti-oxidant Vitamin cocktail). Big Pharma tricks are numerous.

  20. Fergus

    When I first came across this blog I was skeptical. I thought the vast body of evidence was against you. However, I liked the attitude of questioning the perceived “truths”. I have looked at your claims and actually researched the original papers. Took a while but YOU WERE RIGHT!
    Sorry for shouting. Thanks.

      1. Fergus

        My Father was a GP in Ayr. He was a clever man and you would have agreed with his philosophy on GP ing. Patient centered basically but harsh if needed. He would have loved your blog. My sister is a GP also, but goes by the book. Statins cos the guidelines say so etc. I will gently suggest a look at your blog.

      2. Professor Göran Sjöberg


        A very nice comment to my taste.

        I always find it amazing that when you discover that your earlier belief in authoritarian dogmas, of whatever kind and for what ever reason, is swept away you seem to look for a new one in which you can believe. Science?

        Happened to me when I turned into a LCHF believer away from being a ‘true’ believer in ‘school medicine’ as being as ‘natural’ a part of the natural sciences as my own metallurgy. I guess your comment could equally well be applied to my present ‘dogmatic’ belief in LCHF. Yesterday evening I was sitting with my last Ph.D. student who is tying everything together for for his dissertation in the beginning of June. The complexity of his subject is for sure overwhelming and he is trying to sort out the main parts of the puzzle. To bring him some comfort (?) I brought out my Guyton and Hall “Medical Physiology” and showed him what ‘real complexity’ is all about.

        I though imagine that when you start, as Fergus, to do your homework in your own profession and then lose your faith in most basic dogmas involved there you are in a really sweaty period of your professional life. I could not imagine that happen in my own discipline but hte mere though of it being possible makes me feel uneasy.

        I still remember a comment from one of the readers of my Swedish chronicles on LCHF. The comment went like this.

        “My father, who is now a retired GP, has, with interest, read you chronicles and tells me that he now feels ashamed of what he had been involved in during his medical career.”

        How do you take such a comment?

    1. mikecawdery

      May I suggest that most of us started from that position. Surely those “brilliant” docs that supported the beliefs must be right. Then one suffers adverse reactions, or whatever, and then starts reading the so-called “evidence” to find that it makes no sense, it is obviously flawed. Further reading shows that the whole thing can only be described as a world beating scam.

      1. Mary Richard

        Professor and Mike Cawdry,
        Tell your GP friends who followed the book re standard medical treatments that they must start by forgiving themselves. The fact that he feels badly is evidence enough for me or anyone that he wanted to do the right thing by his patients. Now, after he forgives himself, he might benefit from helping others to understand how medicine has evolved and encourage others to think critically before they believe everything they read or have been taught. Things are not always what they seem. My father always cautioned me to be careful about what I was taught in college. That. one must look beyond the professors tendency to indoctrinate students with a certain mode of thinking. Their aim should be to help students to think for themselves. Your doctor friends can do a lot with the rest of their lives by this example.

  21. Brian

    Dr Kendrick. My Cardiologist Prof Colquhoun in Brisbane has recommended I eat margarine because they are enriched with plant sterols that can reduce my cholesterol and limiting my saturated fat intake, this is different to what you recommend.Help

    1. mikecawdery

      Personally I would not touch the stuff. Anyway plant stanols are, as I understand it, the vegetable equivalent of cholesterol which allows mammal cells to be flexible thus allowing movement. Additionally it is vital for cogent thought, hormones etc., etc.
      Plants do not walk, talk or think.

      Wikipedia Plant stanol ester: these transporter proteins lead to a rare congenital disease called sitosterolaemia, which is characterised by severely elevated serum plant sterol concentrations.

      And what about high levels of omega-6 and trans fats?

  22. David

    Ok Dr,
    Tell me at which point I’m talking rubbish. For the most part I agree entirely with your complaint about the cholesterol blamers. It’s cholesterol, oh no it’s LDL. a constant retreat from a strident position, the Billy Bunter defence. However, my understanding is that there is a slight correlation between cholesterol and CHD but not overall mortality.

    It strikes me that this could be as a result of subtypes of cholesterol being partly to blame. These might be VLDL, oxidised cholesterol and glycated cholesterol. They correlate with total cholesterol (I think) and might cause total cholesterol to correlate weakly with CHD.

    However glycated implies a carb rich diet.


    1. mikecawdery

      However, my understanding is that there is a slight correlation between cholesterol and CHD but not overall mortality.

      The statement “slight correlation” is true (accounts for ~9% of the variance) but equally true is the statement that those with “high cholesterol” live longer. Many, many refereed reports support it. One problem in a correlation, a mathematical function, and what was included in the calculation and what was “accounted for”. Unless the covariance and correlation matrices are published, I just wonder; mostly this association is glossed over as an axiom (unproven but not to worry)

    2. David Bailey

      I think a big part of what is wrong with medical science in this area, is that weak correlations are presented as strong ones, and people are screamed at to change their life styles and take drugs, as a result.

      Weak correlations are both less useful, and more likely to be spurious.

      Almost everyone used to assume that high cholesterol levels in the blood were a source of intense concern (many still do) – hence the obsession with statins. The point is that if we pretend weak correlations are strong ones, it legitimises medical treatments that may have awful side effects.

      I found this site after having a very unpleasant reaction to Simvastatin, that might have ended up putting me in a wheel chair. Since some people here report irreversible damage from statins, you could argue that the misuse of a weak correlation has robbed them of their mobility and left them in a great deal of pain.

  23. Mary Richard

    Dr. Kendrick,
    I have been on your blog a long time (sometimes on and sometimes off) but I have learned more from both your books and those of Dr. Graveline than I have learned about medicine in my 22 years in private practice working with people with disabilities so numerous and unusual that I could hard pronounce them.

    Tonight February 28th, if memory serves me correctly, is the premier of Statin Nation II in Liverpool at a local theatre. So, thanks and much appreciation to those of you who contributed to Statin Nation I and II and the wonderful and talented director producer/director/writer, Justin Smith. It is Justin’s tenacity and contribution to a different way of thinking that has led to this most informative set of DVDs that will surely turn this world around.

    God Bless Justin and Dr. Kendrick et al.!!!!



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