A Thumbs Up Book Review
The Cholesterol Myths
By Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD
Review by Stephen Byrnes, ND, RNCP
Original edition no longer in print but second addition link below:
Would you buy a book that was literally set on fire by its critics on a television show about it in Finland? I would and so should you. The long-awaited English version of debunker extraordinaire Dr. Uffe Ravnskov’s notorious book is now available from NewTrends Publishing.
Ravnskov, a medical doctor with a PhD in chemistry, has had over 40 papers and letters published in peer-reviewed journals criticizing what Dr. George Mann, formerly of Vanderbuilt University, once called “the greatest scam in the history of medicine,” namely the Lipid Hypothesis—the belief that dietary saturated fats and cholesterol clog arteries and cause atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Equipped with a razor-sharp mind and an impressive command of the literature, Ravnskov methodically slaughters the most famous sacred cow of modern medicine and the most profitable cash cow for assorted pharmaceutical companies. Sparing no one, Ravnskov again and again presents the tenets of the Lipid Hypothesis and the studies which supposedly prove them, and shows how the studies are flawed or based on manipulated statistics that actually prove nothing.
Ravnskov opens with an analysis of the study that kicked off the Lipid Hypothesis in the 1950s: Ancel Keys’ Six Countries Study (and later, the more famous Seven Countries Study). As most health professionals know, Keys’ study showed that countries with the highest animal fat intake have the highest rates of heart disease. Keys’ conclusion was that there was a cause-and-effect relationship because the country with the lowest animal fat intake (at that time, Japan) had the lowest rates of heart disease. Sounds convincing, right? Not so, says Dr. Ravnskov who then explains how Keys handpicked the countries he included in his studies, namely, the ones that supported his hypothesis, and conveniently ignored all of the other countries that didn’t.
Ravnskov approaches true brilliance in his review of the studies that supposedly showed benefit from the current wonder-drugs, the statins. Hailed as miracle substances that “significantly reduce cholesterol and incidence of heart attacks,” Ravnskov shows that these substances are probable carcinogens (women on the drugs had a much higher incidence of breast cancer) and that the overall statistical reduction of heart disease in the drug trials is negligible. Ravnskov warns: “Because the latent period between exposure to carcinogen and the incidence of clinical cancer in humans may be 20 years or more, the absence of any controlled trials of this duration means that we do not know whether statin treatment will lead to . . . cancer in coming decades. Thus, millions of people are being treated with medications the ultimate effects of which are not yet known.”
Ravnskov has done the world a major service in presenting his findings. All health professionals need to listen to this scholar and listen very carefully, for the advice offered by the medical establishment for the last 50 years to beat heart disease has failed miserably. It is time to turn away from cholesterol-lowering drugs that have frightening side effects. It is time to turn away from tasteless lowfat diets that harm children and deprive people of fat-soluble vitamins. And it is time to turn away from the junk science that characterizes the Lipid Hypothesis and its supporters. It is time, instead, to listen to reason and view all of the evidence against a failed hypothesis and discover the true and varied risks and causes of heart disease. It is time to listen to Uffe Ravnskov.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2001.