A rebuttal of Uffe Ravnvskov’s article on the Weston A. Price website
I’m calling his B.S.
Claim #1 (High cholesterol is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease)
Dr. Uffe cites a study of 997 people over the age of 70, which concluded that “elevated total serum cholesterol levels…were not associated with a significantly higher rate of all-cause mortality.”
The study contained 2 groups:
- Group 1 (“elevated group”) had cholesterol levels > 240mg/dL.
- Group 2 (“normal group”) had cholesterol levels < 200mg/dL (under 200 is the medical community’s current official recommendation).
The flaw in this study is found in Group 2.
To understand why we must visit a study by UCLA and the American Heart Association. They examined a database of 139,000 patients who were hospitalized for a heart attack and found,
“Almost 75 percent of heart attack patients fell within recommended targets for LDL cholesterol, demonstrating that the current guidelines may not be low enough to cut heart attack risk.”
Ok. Back to Uffe (the pro-cholesterol advocate) and his flawed conclusions. He is in effect saying that cholesterol is not a risk-factor for CHD because we found no significant difference in the death-rates between people with insanely high cholesterol and those with high cholesterol. This is akin to claiming, “there is no significant difference in the lung cancer-rates between people who smoke 7 packs/wk and those who smoke 5 packs/wk. Therefore, smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer. Hoorah”
This study is flawed in that it compared 2 groups of people who had very similar risk-factors to begin with.
A more accurate study would compare those with cholesterol levels of 200–240 to those with levels <150.
Claim #2 (High cholesterol protects against infection)
Uffe next cites a study that concludes “low cholesterol predicted an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.”
First, let me note something really fun. The very first sentence in the Results section of this study states:
“The U-shape for total mortality in men and the flat relation in women resulted largely from a positive relation of TC [total cholesterol ] with coronary heart disease death.”
Our boy Uffe just cited a study that directly contradicted his Claim #1 (that total cholesterol and CHD are not positively related). Remarkable. Let’s note something else from the Results:
“The conference considered possible explanations for the statistical associations found between low TC levels…and certain causes of death. One is that TC is lowered by some disease conditions themselves, such as wasting in chronic pulmonary disease or reduced production and secretion of cholesterol-bearing lipoproteins with liver disease…”
Again, Uffe cherry picks out a single sentence of a study, failing to note that the scientists then go on to explain that the strange association is likely due to the fact that lung disease is THE CAUSE of the lower cholesterol levels.
So, you can eat less meat/eggs/dairy to lower your CL. Or you can contract a respiratory disease that might do it for you.
Claim #3 (Those who die from HIV/AIDS tend to have lower cholesterol)
I’m embarrassed on Uffe’s behalf. This is junk data. There is zero cause/effect relationship here.
Perhaps this finding is due to the fact that those with HIV/AIDS die earlier in life than those who don’t? Or perhaps — as we observed with lung disease in the example above — a side effect of HIV/AIDS is a drop in the body’s CL?
To summarize, Dr. Uffe makes 2 sweeping statements. Mind you, there is not one source cited. No scientific, peer-review studies. Just his deluded opinions…
1.) “If high cholesterol were the most important cause of atherosclerosis, people with high cholesterol should be more atherosclerotic than people with low cholesterol. But as you know by now this is very far from the truth.”
No, Uffe, we do not know this. Instead, science shows there is a positive linear relationship b/w CL and atherosclerosis.
And from a National Institutes of Health report in 2004:
“The power of elevated LDL to cause CHD is shown most clearly in persons with genetic forms of hypercho- lesterolemia. In these persons, advanced coronary atherosclerosis and premature CHD occur commonly even in the complete absence of other risk factors. These disorders provide the strongest evidence that LDL is a powerful atherogenic lipoprotein.”
And to pile it on a little further, Dr. William C. Roberts (American College of Cardiology and Exec. Director at the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute), explicitly concludes that arterial plaque is a cholesterol problem. Excerpt:
a.) Atherosclerosis is easily produced experimentally in herbivores (monkeys, rabbits) by giving them diets containing large quantities of cholesterol (egg yolks) or saturated fat (animal fat). Indeed, atherosclerosis is one of the easiest diseases to produce experimentally, but the recipient must be an herbivore. It is not possible to produce atherosclerosis in carnivores (tigers, lions, dogs, etc.). In contrast, it is not possible to produce atherosclerosis simply by raising a rabbit’s blood pressure or blowing cigarette smoke in its face for an entire lifetime.
b.) Atherosclerotic plaques contain cholesterol.
c.) Societies with high average cholesterol levels have higher event rates (heart attacks, etc.) than societies with much lower average cholesterol levels.
d.) When lowering serum cholesterol levels, atherosclerotic events fall accordingly and the lower the level, the fewer the events.
2.) “If high cholesterol were the most important cause of atherosclerosis, lowering of cholesterol should influence the atherosclerotic process in proportion to the degree of its lowering. But as you know by now, this does not happen.”
Again, no! We don’t know this, because the evidence says otherwise. Here’s what 32 months of a vegan diet can do to your arteries, without medication: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1520-037X.2001.00538.x/full
And here is an example of a 60-year-old reversing his angina (chest pain) on a whole-food plant-based diet: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338379/
To Wrap Up
In this article, Dr. Uffe offers NO solution for the #1 killer in our nation (heart disease). Instead he offers this fatuous garbage:
There is one risk factor that is known to be certain to cause death. It is such a strong risk factor that it has a 100 percent mortality rate. Thus I can guarantee that if we stop this risk factor, which would take no great research and cost nothing in monetary terms, within a century human deaths would be completely eliminated. This risk factor is called “Life.”
Oh, thank you. That’s helpful to us all.