Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lies, Damned Lies, and Health Science

This is one is the mother lode of the cholesterol myths.  First, the obsession with lipoprotein numbers based on the correlation between cholesterol and CVD, and the resulting misinterpretation of cholesterol as causative in the relationship.  Then there's the guess that eating in a certain way to change cholesterol numbers will be effective in undoing the causative relationship.  Then there's the supposition, still not proved (and in fact, disproved) after nearly forty years to trying, that eating less saturated fat will lower one's risk of CVD, and/or positively influence one's lipoprotein (LDL, HDL) numbers.  

These mistaken suppositions lead to advice that will help precisely no one, and from the perspective of the paleolithic model, they seem downright foolish:
-eat margarine instead of butter (manmade goop instead of a natural food)
-eat vegetable oils (invented about fifty years ago, mostly produced from industrial waste)
-use skim milk instead of full fat milk
-eat lean meat instead of full fat cuts

For a bucket full of reasons why these suppositions and supposed solutions are balderdash, check this list of posts:

Here's an example of what happened when one real world low fat/low cholesterol priest tried out her own prescription:  Mike Eades Summary of Brody's Story.  The scary part of this narrative is that low cholesterol correlates with higher mortality rates in older ladies - she is effortfully putting herself into a higher "risk" condition.

Here is a set of facts that turns the cholesterol myths totally on their heads:  
What Works Best - Statins or a Porterhouse?   The BLUF:  a porterhouse steak, fifty percent animal fat and fifty percent protein, will provide you with a better fasting lipids profile.

Here's a cut from the Harvard article linked above.  How long until the true believers at Harvard give up their faith and return to facts?
Harmful LDL creeps upward and protective HDL drifts downward largely because of diet and other lifestyle choices. Genes play a role, too — some people are genetically programmed to respond more readily to what they eat — but genes aren't something you can change. 

So far, so good, now get ready for the faith based proclamations:
Here are four things you can:
Saturated fats. The saturated fats found in red meat, milk and other dairy foods, and coconut and palm oils directly boost LDL. So one way to lower your LDL is to cut back on saturated fat. Try substituting extra-lean ground beef for regular; low-fat or skim milk for whole milk; olive oil or a vegetable-oil margarine for butter; baked fish or chicken for fried.

At least The H and I can agree on this topic:
Trans fats. Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid. Trans fats boost LDL as much as saturated fats do. They also lower protective HDL, rev up inflammation, and increase the tendency for blood clots to form inside blood vessels. The Institute of Medicine recommends getting no more than two grams of trans fats a day; less is even better. Although trans fats were once ubiquitous in prepared foods, many companies now use trans-free alternatives. Some restaurants and fast-food chains have yet to make the switch.

Many of what would be considered the most authoritative voices will pass along mis-information that will damage your health.  Don't trust any of us.  Learn a little bit more every day.  Use your own intellect, conduct your own experiments, find the solution that works for you.

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