From our book
Bypassing Bypass, published in 2002
We got permission from Dr Uffe
Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D to reprint the entire first edition of his book
entitled The Cholesterol Myths. It is well researched, well
documented, and very thorough. However, because of space
considerations and information recently received, we have decided to
print only the highlights of his research.
You can find his first edition
on the web at
The Cholesterol Myths or you can order his new book
As we were writing this
article/chapter, we found these headlines: Expert Panel on
Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in
The brunt of the article came
down to this: they have now redefined their lipid standards
in such a way that one out of five healthy Americans is suddenly a
patient [JAMA Vol. 285 No. 19, May 16, 2001].
This is all happening despite
the growing body of evidence that heart attacks and strokes have
less of a connection to cholesterol levels than previously thought
and more of a connection to inflammations in the blood. So, Dr Uffe
Ravnskov has also given us permission to print his response to these
New Cholesterol Guidelines for Converting Healthy
People into Patients
by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD
In the May 16 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association an expert panel from
the National Cholesterol Education Program has published new
guidelines for “the detection, evaluation, and treatment of high
blood cholesterol.” Their writing seems to be an attempt to put most
of mankind on cholesterol-lowering diets and drugs. To do that, they
have increased the number of risk factors that demands preventive
measures, and expanded the limits for the previous ones.
But not only does the panel
exaggerate the risk of coronary disease and the relevance of high
cholesterol, it also ignores a wealth of contradictory evidence. The
panel statements reveal that its members have little clinical
experience and lack basic knowledge of the medical literature, or
worse, they ignore or misquote all studies that are contrary to
Here come a few examples of the
panel’s false statements.
As an argument for using
cholesterol-lowering drugs the panel claims that twenty percent of
patients with coronary heart disease have a new heart attack after
ten years. But to reach that number any minor symptom without
clinical significance is included.
Most people survive even a major
heart attack, many with few or no symptoms after recovery. What
matters is how many die and this is much less than twenty percent.
The panel also recommends
cholesterol-lowering drugs to all diabetics above 20, and to people
with the metabolic syndrome. If you have at least three of the “risk
factors” mentioned below, you are suffering from the metabolic
according to the NCEP expert panel
above 88 cm in women; above 102 in men.
Some male “patients” can
develop many risk factors with a waist circumference of only
150 mg/dl or more
Men less than 40 mg/dl
Women less than 50 mg/dl
High blood pressure
130/85 or higher
High fasting blood sugar
110 mg/dl or higher
Test yourself and your family! I
guess that most of you “suffer” from the metabolic syndrome. And
this combination, says the panel, conveys a similar risk for future
heart disease as for people who already have coronary heart disease.
Luckily, it is not true.
It is not true either, that
cholesterol has a strong power to predict the risk of a heart attack
in men above 65. In the 30 year follow-up of the Framingham
population for instance, high cholesterol was not predictive at all
after the age of forty-seven, and those whose cholesterol went down
had the highest risk of having a heart attack! To cite the
Framingham authors: “For each 1 mg/dl drop of cholesterol there was
an 11 % increase in coronary and total mortality.”
It is not true either, that high
cholesterol is a strong, independent predictor for other
In most studies of women and of
patients who already have had a heart attack, high cholesterol has
little predictive power, if any at all.
In a large study of Canadian men
high cholesterol did not predict a heart attack, not even after 12
years, and in Russia, low, not high cholesterol level, is associated
with future heart attacks.
Most interesting is the fact,
that in some families with the highest cholesterol levels ever seen
in human beings, so-called familial hypercholesterolemia, the
individuals do not get a heart attack more often than ordinary
people, and they live just as long.
Taken together such observations
strongly suggest that high cholesterol is only a risk marker, a
factor that is secondary to the real cause of coronary heart
disease. It is just as logical to lower cholesterol to prevent
a heart attack, as to lower an elevated body temperature to combat
an underlying infection or cancer. [Our italics.]
It has also escaped the panel’s
attention that the effect of the new cholesterol-lowering drugs, the
statins, goes beyond a lowering of cholesterol. The question is
whether their cholesterol-lowering effect has any importance at all
because the statins exert their effect whether cholesterol goes down
a little or whether it goes down very much.
No doubt, the statins lower the
risk of dying from a heart attack, at least in patients who already
have had one, but the size of the effect is unimpressive. In one of
the experiments for instance, the CARE trial, the odds of escaping
death from a heart attack in five years for a patient with manifest
heart disease was 94.3 %, which improved to 95.4 % with statin
For healthy people with high
cholesterol the effect is even smaller. The WOSCOPS trial studied
that category of people and here the figures were 98.4 % and 98.8 %,
In the scientific papers and in
the drug advertisements these small effects are translated to
relative effect. In the mentioned WOSCOPS trial for instance, it is
said that the mortality was lowered by 25 %, because the difference
between a mortality of 1.6 % in the control group and 1.2 % in the
treatment group is 25 %.
When presented with accurate
statistics on the value of statins, almost all my patients have
rejected such treatment. To claim that the statins dramatically
reduce a person’s risk for CHD, as was stated in the press by Claude
Lenfant, the director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood
Institute, is a misuse of the English language.
The figures above do not take
into account possible side effects of the treatment. In most animal
experiments the statins, as well as most other cholesterol-lowering
drugs, produce cancer, and they may do it in human beings also.
In one of the statin trials
there were 13 cases of breast cancer in the group treated vid
pravastatin (Pravachol®), but only one case in the untreated
control group, a scaring fact that is never mentioned in the
advertisements or the guidelines.
It is also an alarming fact that
in one of the largest experiments, the EXCEL trial, total mortality
after just one year’s treatment with lovastatin (Mevacor®) was
significantly higher among those receiving statin treatment.
Unfortunately (or happily?) the trial was stopped before further
observations could be made.
In human beings the effects of
cancer-producing chemicals are not seen before the passage of
decades. If the statins produce cancer in human beings, their small
positive effect may eventually be transformed to a much larger
negative one, because side effects usually appear in much higher
percentages than the small positive ones noted in the trials.
Whereas possible serious side
effects of the statins are hypothetical, those from the previous
cholesterol-lowering drugs, still recommended by the panel, are
real. Taking all experiments together, mortality from heart disease
after treatment with these drugs was unchanged and total mortality
increased, a fact that has given researchers outside the National
Cholesterol Education Program and the American Heart Association
much reason for concern.
The panel’s dietary
recommendations represent the seventh major change since 1961. For
instance, the original advice from the American Heart Association to
eat as much polyunsaturated fat as possible has been reduced
successively to the present “up to ten per cent”.
But why this limit? Seven years
ago the main author of the new guidelines, Professor Scott Grundy,
suggested an upper limit of only seven per cent, because, as he
argued, an excess of polyunsaturated fat is toxic to the immune
system and stimulates cancer growth in experimental animals and may
also provoke gallstones in human beings. These warnings have never
reached the public.
Furthermore, the panel ignores
that a recent systematic review of all studies concerning the link
between dietary fat and heart disease found no evidence that a
manipulation of dietary fat has any effect on the development of
atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease—this paper won the
Skrabanek Award 1998.
For instance, in a large number
of studies, including the incredible number of more than 150,000
individuals, none of them found the predicted pattern of dietary
fats in patients with heart disease.
No supportive association has
been found either between the fat consumption pattern and the degree
of atherosclerosis (arteriosclerosis) after death.
Most important, the mortality
from heart disease and from all causes was unchanged in nine trials
with more radical changes of dietary fat than ever suggested by the
National Cholesterol Education Program, a result that was confirmed
recently in another review.
To suggest that diabetic
patients should obtain more than 50 percent of their caloric intake
from carbohydrates seems unusually bad advice. Many carbohydrates
are quickly transformed into sugar inducing rapid changes in blood
sugar and insulin levels and thus stimulating a rapid conversion of
blood sugar to depot fat and chronic feelings of hunger. Diabetic
patients should eat more fat.
Is it a coincidence that the
Americans’ decreasing intake of fat during the last decade has been
followed by a steady increase of their mean body weight and an
epidemic increase of diabetes?
Instead of preventing
cardiovascular disease the new guidelines may increase the mortality
of other diseases, transform healthy individuals into unhappy
hypochondriacs obsessed with the chemical composition of their food
and their blood, reduce the income of producers of animal fat,
undermine the art of cuisine, destroy the joy of eating, and divert
health care money from the sick and the poor to the rich and the
healthy. The only winners are the drug and imitation food industry
and the researchers that they support.
Published June 2, 2001; latest
revision June 11, 2001
If you lack the scientific
evidence for something written above you will find it in my book,
The Cholesterol Myths.
Exposing the fallacy that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart
disease. Visit New Trends Publishing at
Extracts from the book are
presented on my website:
End of Article
Here are Dr Ravnskov’s main
points in his book, The
The idea that too much
animal fat and a high cholesterol [diet] is dangerous to your
heart and vessels is nothing but a myth. Here are some
astonishing and scary facts
Cholesterol is not a deadly
poison, but a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. There
are no such things as good or bad cholesterol, but mental
stress, physical activity and change of body weight may
influence the level of blood cholesterol. A high cholesterol
[level] is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy
condition, or it may be totally innocent.
A high blood cholesterol
[level] is said to promote atherosclerosis (the scientific name
for arteriosclerosis) and thus also coronary heart disease. But
many studies have shown that people whose blood cholesterol is
low become just as arteriosclerotic as people whose cholesterol
Your body produces three to
four times more cholesterol than you eat. The production of
cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and
decreases when you eat much. This explains why the “prudent”
diet cannot lower cholesterol more than, on average, a few
There is no evidence that
too much animal fat and cholesterol in the diet promotes
atherosclerosis or heart attacks. For instance, more than a
dozen studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack
haven’t eaten more fat than other people, and degree of
atherosclerosis at autopsy is unrelated with the diet.
The only effective way to
lower cholesterol is with drugs, but neither heart mortality
[nor] total mortality have been improved with drugs the effect
of which is cholesterol-lowering only. On the contrary, these
drugs are dangerous to your health and may shorten your life.
The new cholesterol-lowering
drugs, the statins, do prevent cardiovascular disease, but this
is due to other mechanisms than cholesterol-lowering.
Unfortunately, they also stimulate cancer in rodents.
Many of these facts have
been presented in scientific journals and books for decades but
are rarely told to the public by the proponents of the
The reason why laymen,
doctors and even scientists have been misled is because opposing
and disagreeing results are systematically ignored or misquoted
in the scientific press.
Drug companies are ready to
lower your cholesterol levels—for a price (and not just monetary).
Reuters reported in 1998 that, “drugs that lower blood cholesterol
levels may indirectly raise the risk of certain types of violent
death by producing personality changes.” People who quit smoking
suddenly notice a great drop in their cholesterol level. This is
because the body’s (arteries’) need for cholesterol has
dropped. Think about this. Smoking uses up our vitamin C making the
arteries nutritionally deficient thus causing pitting. Pitting
requires patching by the so-called bad cholesterol. When a smoker
stops smoking, the body’s need for cholesterol goes down and s/he
realizes a subsequent decrease in cholesterol levels.
Artificially lowering one’s
cholesterol with drugs is not the same as lowering one’s need for
cholesterol. Getting proper nutrition to your cardiovascular system
will lower your need for cholesterol and subsequently lower your
cholesterol levels. As the good doctor points out above, the
recommended dietary changes cause cholesterol levels to drop just a
few percent, at the most, because the recommended dietary changes
are not the dietary changes your body needs. They are artificial
dietary standards created by a system that profits from your high
The connection between heart
disease and high cholesterol levels is not causal (high cholesterol
does not cause heart disease) but rather high cholesterol can be an
indicating factor that your arteries are undernourished and need
We worked long and hard over the
past seven years researching heart disease. When we were ready to
sit down and put it all together, we were the first people, at least
we had thought, who had come to the above conclusion (in bold): that
there is a difference between lowering one’s cholesterol levels with
drugs and lowering one’s need for cholesterol. Then, because of the
high amount of traffic to our web site, a few people who saw we were
preparing this edition sent us email telling us about Dr Rath and
his research. We contacted Dr Rath and his office sent us his
research and copies of his books. We quickly realized that Dr Rath
had discovered exactly what we discovered and was already five years
ahead of us. In one way we felt that our research was verified and
substantiated by his research. In another, we felt that, had we
discovered his work earlier, our task would have been much easier,
and we could have focused on, well, other things. Dr Rath, too, had
reached our conclusions about cholesterol: “Thus, the primary
measure for lowering cholesterol and other secondary risk factors in
the bloodstream is to stabilize the artery walls and thereby lower
the metabolic demand for increased production of these risk factors
inside the body itself.”
We did the secondary research,
Dr Rath did the original research, and both of us have concluded the
same thing. Dr Rath has been reversing cardiovascular disease for
years, and it is our hope that all who have access to this
information will put it to use, because it works, it can save your
life, and we can wipe out cardiovascular disease in our lifetime.
Here are just a few facts that
led us to our conclusion:
Early studies showed that using
eggs caused a rise in cholesterol levels. Those studies used
dehydrated eggs. Dehydrated eggs contain oxidized fats that attack
your arteries; hence the body’s need for cholesterol rises.
Early studies on coconut oil
showed that cholesterol levels rose after its consumption. Those
studies used partially hydrogenated coconut oil. Regular coconut oil
is actually good for you, and contains many healthful benefits.
Partially hydrogenated oils attack your arteries and raise your need
for cholesterol (to repair the damage).
When we mention a supplement,
herb, or food that lowers cholesterol levels, know that it is first
lowering your need for cholesterol.
End of story. Don’t worry about
your cholesterol levels, but rather look at your diet and lifestyle
that cause a need for high cholesterol levels. So far, you should
have learned to avoid partially hydrogenated oils and oxidized fats
(found in ALL packaged bakery goods). If you want to bake, learn to
do it all from scratch with fresh ingredients. Packaged cake mixes,
brownie mixes, and the like will raise your homocysteine levels,
which attack your arteries causing your cholesterol levels to rise.
Now, considering that oxidized
fats (cholesterol is just one form of fat) lead to heart disease,
avoiding oxidized (rancid) fats (and partially hydrogenated fats,
that aren’t rancid, but just are not meant for human consumption) is
one way of protecting our arteries. However, even the cholesterol
that we need in our bodies, and we do need cholesterol, can oxidize
due to toxins from our air, water, and food. So how do we keep that
from happening? Antioxidants are one way. Linus Pauling (in a report
co-authored with Dr Rath) discovered a connection between lack of
vitamin C and atherosclerosis. He called atherosclerosis a
pre-scurvy condition. The article/chapter on Arteriosclerosis
(Atherosclerosis) will tell you the rest of this story.
Your basic antioxidants are
vitamins C, E, A, Beta-Carotene (all the carotenoids), and selenium.
“Let your food be your medicine,” is our guideline, but at times we
must supplement. Getting megadoses of vitamin C is nearly impossible
through diet alone, and vitamin E, in the amounts most naturopaths
are currently recommending is just as difficult to obtain from food.
Find a good company that makes vitamin E from whole organic foods.
Vitamin E (1,200 IU daily) stops the oxidation of LDL by as much as
175% according to Dr David G Williams [Alternatives 5:9, March
Olive oil contains oleuropein
and DPHE, two compounds that completely stop the oxidation of LDL
cholesterol. Beware of overly processed olive oil. It contains none
of these compounds. Buy only extra virgin or virgin olive oils.
Countries with diets high in
Alpha-Linolenic acid (LNA) have the lowest incidence of heart
disease. LNAs keep your cholesterol from oxidizing (becoming
rancid). Seeds and nuts are your best source of LNA. The Archives of
Internal Medicine [92;152(7):1416-24] found that those who ate nuts
five times or more a week reduced their risk of heart disease by
50%. Those who ate nuts just once a week lowered theirs 25%.
The benefits of flax are widely
known because of Germany’s Dr Johanna Budwig who has helped to heal
everything from cancer, to heart disease, to ADHD and ADD. (Not to
mention diabetes, arthritis, and acne). Flax is an essential fatty
acid (EFA). We need EFAs in our diets. Salmon, mackerel, albacore,
and regular tuna are good sources too.
Omegasentials are the best
form of EFAs we've ever discovered, period.
Hemp oil is very high in LNA.
Many companies are now selling hemp oil and denatured hemp seeds.
Check with the company to find out how they denature their hemp
Pumpkin seeds are great too, and
besides containing LNA, they contain zinc, phosphorus, and
magnesium. They have been known as the poor man’s remedy for
Soy products, besides decreasing
the risk of breast, colon, and oral cancers, are high in LNAs.
Because of information on soy (discussed further on) we’ve
uncovered, we recommend eating only fermented soy products.
Quercetin, a bioflavonoid,
reduces the oxidation of cholesterol. It can be taken as a
supplement (50 to 150 mg/day), but should be taken with vitamin C
(to boost its effect) and copper (with which it binds to cut the
destruction of vitamin C). Quercetin is found in the pulp portion of
citrus fruit, onions, apples (skin), broccoli, shallots and summer