This week's HND piece takes a look at the big lie that it is the continually-debunked (but never officially abandoned) saturated fat/cholesterol theory of heart disease.
It would be bad enough that the entire theory is derived from studies nearly a century old that either fed ridiculous amounts of cholesterol or actual meat products to rabbits. The rabbits were harmed by this, of course, but that should hardly be much of a surprise, since rabbits do not eat meat nor have much (if any) cholesterol in their normal diets.
But the real killer is the fraudulent nature of the big study that supposedly proved the theory. The (in)famous Seven Countries Study of Prof. Ancel Keys, has that name since even though he had access to diet, cholesterol, and heart disease data in 22 countries, he ignored all but those seven countries that proved his fat/cholesterol/heart disease theory. Moreover, within the seven countries that he did analyze, his methodology would not pass muster in a junior high school science fair.
For this incredible junk science, he was featured on the cover of Time magazine (13 January 1961), and his work is still honored by many who should—and probably do—know better. Please note that there are literally dozens of large studies that absolutely destroy the cholesterol theory.
Malcolm Kendrick, MD, among others, has tried to put the stake through the heart of this meme, but has also noted that:
The cholesterol hypothesis is, perhaps, the greatest ever example of a medical hypothesis that has become too powerful to die. Too many vested interests are intertwined with it. World famous experts would look incredibly stupid if the hypothesis were to be accepted to be wrong. An entire industry of cholesterol lowering would fall apart. Hundreds of billions of dollars of statin sales are at stake. Worse, much worse, the medical profession would end up with a few million eggs on its face. Perish the thought. Much better that millions die, surely.
In fact, I have come to realize that there is, literally, no evidence that can dent the cholesterol hypothesis. Believe me, I have had a good go.
Kendrick may be right, as far as "official" recognition goes. But then, readers of this blog don't care much for conventional wisdom. After all, Robert J. Samuelson is hardly the first person to notice that the conventional wisdom is nearly always wrong.
Read the complete article.