Monday, April 4, 2011

What Famous Low Fat Advocate Got Cancer and Killed Himself?

Low Cholesterol and Suicide
Low serum cholesterol has been linked in numerous scientific papers to suicide, accidents, and violence (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7). No one knows whether violence and suicidal risk have a metabolic byproduct of low cholesterol, or whether having low cholesterol will predispose you to suicide out of hand (8). However, the brain's dry weight is 60% fat, and cholesterol plays a vital role in neuron signaling and brain structure. In fact, one quarter of your body's free cholesterol is found in the nervous system (9). It would make sense that if your cholesterol drops too low then mood and behavior could be affected.
Statins seem to improve mortality for middle-aged men who have known heart disease, have had a stroke, or have high levels of inflammatory markers. If you don't meet those particular criteria, statins will give you no mortality benefit. A recent Cochrane review (18) urged caution in using statins for population-wide prevention of cardiovascular disease, as the risks may well outweigh the benefits.
My brain needs cholesterol! So does yours.  Dismantling your body's ability to make it might have some far-reaching effects.

Ever notice the statin add small print?  Usually, it says something about a reduction in deaths due to heart disease.  But would you trade dying from a heart attack in order to die from cancer, or some other non-heart related death?  Because if you aren't not 65 or under with a previously diagnosed heart condition, that's what you are doing, according to the stats.  Bottom line for me is that I don't think there's any good reason to trust the entire line of logic that results from assuming that fat and cholesterol drives the chronic diseases of the West.  Why do I use words like 'trust' and 'assumption'?  Because after forty years of trying, the fat/cholesterol conjectures remain unproved, and perhaps disproved. 

The cholesterol/mental health connection provides no proof, either, but since I don't eat to lower cholesterol, I suppose I can let this one go!

By the way, the famous guy was Pritikin.  Tragic irony is all you can say to a guy who advocates ultra low fat and dies like that.

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