Byrnes Review The Cholesterol Myths


Review of Uffe Ravnskov: “The Cholesterol Myths”

by StephenByrnes, ND, RNCP


Would you buy a book that wasliterally set on fire by its critics on a television show about itin Finland? I would and so should you. The long-awaited Englishversion of debunker extroidinaire Dr. Uffe Ravnskov’s notorious bookis now available from New Trends Publishing.

Ravnskov, a medical doctor with a PhDin Chemistry, has had over 40 papers and letters published inpeer-reviewed journals criticizing what Dr. George Mann, formerly ofVanderbuilt University, once called “the greatest scam in thehistory of medicine”: the Lipid Hypothesis of heart disease,the belief that dietary saturated fats and cholesterol clog arteriesand cause atherosclerosis and heart disease.


If one thing comes through as youread the book, it is this: Ravnskov has done his homework. In painstakingdetail, he critically analyzes and demolishes the nine main myths of theLipid Hypothesis: (1) High-fat foods cause heart disease, (2) Highcholesterol causes heart disease, (3) High fat foods raise bloodcholesterol, (4) Cholesterol blocks arteries, (5) Animal studies prove thediet-heart idea, (6) Lowering your cholesterol will lengthen your life, (7)Polyunsaturated oils are good for you, (8) The cholesterol campaign is basedon good science, and (9) All scientists support the diet-heart idea.

Equipped with a razor-sharp mind, an impressivecommand of the literature, and a deadly, needling sarcasm, Ravnskovmethodically slaughters the most famous Sacred Cow of modern medicine andthe most profitable Cash Cow for assorted pharmaceutical companies. Sparingno one, Ravnskov again and again presents the tenets of the Lipid Hypothesisand the studies which supposedly prove them, and shows how the studies areflawed or based on manipulated statistics that actually prove nothing.Ravnskov then answers the objections or rationalizations offered bydiet-heart supporters, desperate to explain away inconsistencies andcontradictions in their own data.

For example, Ravnskov opens with an analysis of the studythat kicked off the Lipid Hypothesis in the 1950s: Ancel Keys’ Six CountriesStudy (and later, the more famous Seven Countries Study). As most healthprofessionals know, Keys’ study showed that countries with the highestanimal fat intake have the highest rates of heart disease. Keys’ conclusionwas that there was a cause and effect relationship because the country withthe lowest animal fat intake (at that time, Japan) had the lowest rates ofheart disease. Sounds convincing, right? Not so, says Dr. Ravnskov. And in afew pages the reader is informed how Keys hand-picked the countries heincluded in his studies, namely, the ones that supported his hypothesis, andconveniently ignored all of the other countries that didn’t.

And this is just the beginning!

Ravnskov approaches true brilliance in his review of the studies thatsupposedly showed benefit from the current wonder-drugs pushed by thepharmaceutical industry: 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 thedrugs had a much higher incidence of breast cancer) and that the overallstatistical reduction of heart disease in the drug trials is negligible.Nevertheless, despite the dismal results of the very first trial (the EXCELTrial which Ravnskov soberingly describes to the reader), the industry andits well-funded doctors urge their use, even in people who do not have heartdisease.

Ravnskov warns: “Because the latent period between exposure tocarcinogen and the incidence of clinical cancer in humans may be 20 years ormore, the absence of any controlled trials of this duration means that we donot know whether statin treatment will lead to . . . cancer in comingdecades. Thus, millions of people are being treated with medications theultimate effects of which are not yet known.”

If there is one weakness of the book, it is its lack of explanations of whatDOES cause heart disease. Ravnskov comes close to fingering a few factorssuch as high stress, excessive polyunsaturated fat intake, trans-fattyacids, and smoking, but he never offers his own theory as to what causes theWestern world’s number one killer.

This is, however, a minor glitch. Ravnskov has done the world a majorservice in presenting his findings. All health professionals need to listento this scholar and listen very carefully for the advice offered by themedical establishment for the last 50 years to beat heart disease has failedmiserably. It is time to turn away from cholesterol-lowering drugs that havefrightening side effects. It is time to turn away from tasteless low-fatdiets that harm children and deprive people of fat-soluble vitamins. And itis time to turn away from the junk science that characterizes the LipidHypothesis and its supporters. It is time, instead, to listen to reason andview all of the evidence against a failed hypothesis and discover the trueand varied risks and causes of heart disease. It is time to listen to UffeRavnskov.

The book is available from

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