darth vader luke skywalker
Darth: Question the veracity of the lipid hypothesis and suffer my vicious name-calling, Luke! Luke: I'll never join you! I'd rather be ejected into space than attempt medical interventions based on faulty premises counter to overwhelming evidence!
If there's one thing I can be thankful for, it's the fact that the Guardian keeps publishing BS dietary and medical propaganda in massive quantities so that I never run out of things to write about. Another piece just hit the internet this week decrying the rise of the dangerous "cholesterol sceptics". Titled "Butter nonsense: the rise of the cholesterol deniers", by Sarah Boseley, it's yet another appeal to the authority of 'experts' to prop up the woefully outdated mainstream cholesterol hypothesis in the face of mounting evidence challenging its position. It reads like a typical hatchet job, full of projection, lacking in actual evidence and bolstering the 'official position' over dissenting voices.

The use of the term 'deniers' is, no doubt, a calculated one. Much as with the term 'climate-change denier' in regards to those who dare to question the orthodoxy of the AGW position, the term is used to bring an association with holocaust deniers, a term steeped in racism, conspiracy theory and a favoring of hate over logic. It's a hell of a thing to associate someone with, especially if their position is relying on logic, research and bravely stepping away from a position that is popular to one that is potentially career-ending, because it's closer to the truth. It's also ridiculously hyperbolic, reminiscent of the NPC command-line response "everyone who disagrees with me is a Nazi". At this point, if you see the loaded term 'denier' in a headline, you can be sure that anything that follows is a smear intended to shut down legitimate criticism.

The Guardian article is, more or less, Big Pharma propaganda, framing the debate on the use and effectiveness of statin medications, and the entire cholesterol hypothesis, as the established 'settled science' fighting off renegade "dissident scientists" who refuse to look at the evidence. Talk about projection (it's rather interesting that narcissists and psychopaths are rather adept at accusing others of exactly what they themselves are doing, i.e. projection). They quote Dermot Neely, a consultant in clinical biochemistry and metabolic medicine and a founder trustee of the Heart UK charity:
"My belief about the cholesterol sceptics is that they are a bit like religious fundamentalists," said Neely. "They are not open to argument. Whatever argument you present, they will find another argument because this basically defines who they are."
What guile! Scientists and journalists who are digging into the studies with a critical eye and pointing out their shortfalls are accused of not looking at the evidence while the old boys club sticking to the outdated orthodoxy are the ones who are 'open to counter-arguments'. Welcome to bizarro world. The entire article brushes aside legitimate concerns about the cholesterol myth and doles out, not a critique of the concerns raised and conclusions based on the evidence, but ad hominem attacks. One egregious example is when they quote someone as comparing the statements of 'cholesterol deniers' to "flat-earthism". Keep in mind that these are researchers and scientists that they're demonizing here, not hard core conspiracy theorists.

Boseley goes after some of the big names in dissenting opinions. One target in particular is cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra who has been making appearances in the mainstream media in the UK arguing for a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) dietary approach to cardiovascular disease, arguing that the current approach of conventional dietary advice plus statin medications is clearly not working and runs counter to evidence on many levels. While Malhotra's book, The Pioppi Diet, is not without its issues (some of which the article covers), the overall recommendations are solid and backed up with the current science, yet it "has the distinction of being named by the British Dietetic Association as one of the five worst "celeb" diet books in Britain". Not that we would expect anything more from the British Dietetic Association, or any Dietetic association, but this is nothing more than declaration of heresy.

Not surprisingly, a quote from the author, Sarah Boseley, praising the Science Media Centre (SMC) appears in their literature.

science media centre
The SMC have a history of promoting statins, going so far as to hold a press briefing protesting the position that statin therapy should be dialed back in response to a letter written by a group of doctors suggesting such. "The letter detailed six major objections to the plan, including the mass-medicalization of millions of healthy individuals, the unreliability of the evidence regarding the adverse effects of statins, and the facts that almost all the evidence is industry-funded and that multiple conflicts of interest exist on the 'expert committee' that is adjudicating on the statin issue." Predictably, Fiona Fox, director of the SMC, when asked why only pro-statin experts were invited to the briefing defended the tactic by saying that "the 'vast majority' of cardiac and statin experts believed that the evidence was overwhelming, and that it was not the centre's job to provide a platform to a minority who did not and thereby project a false image that the debate was in equipoise (when it was not)." How better to bolster ones position than to deny the counterposition is held by any but a tiny minority? Just to know what we're dealing with here, the SMC has also taken positions favorable to GMOs, Coca Cola and the IPCC. A propaganda outlet if ever there was one.

With more and more people questioning the cholesterol hypothesis, and the usefulness of statins, it's not surprising that a hit piece such as this would be released. It's essentially damage control. Nina Teicholz published an article on her blog titled "America's Changing Attitudes on Fat Consumption", where she reviews the latest Gallup survey on how Americans view fat. Take a look at this graph:

changing attitudes about fat
If we ever needed a sign that the same old assertions about the dangers of dietary fat are crumbling, this is it. Writes Teicholz:
Over the past five years, the proportion of people who say they actively avoid eating fat has decreased from 64% to 48%. This is a stark change from previous years. People are clearly learning the message that diets higher in fat and lower in carbs are good for health.

The poll also reveals a dramatic increase in the proportion of people who are actively trying to incorporate fats into their diets. Meanwhile, the people who just don't bother to think about fat in their diets has also increased in recent years. The overall headline is clear: For Americans, fat is no longer taboo.
Not unrelated, the Gallup survey also shows a an increase in people including beef in their diets in a graph titled "Americans Are Not All Going Vegetarian". As Teicholz write, "Clearly, a paradigm shift on dietary fat is underway." And while its not directly an attitude towards statins that's being looked at here, it's all part of the same myth. If Americans are no longer fearing fat, and increasingly eating the arch villain saturated fat with abandon, the whole artifice that statin medication is based on is clearly falling apart.

And with good reason. Take a look at this graph from the MONICA study:

average cholesterol
© MONICA Study
Out of twenty European countries, Russia had lowest average cholesterol and highest rate of heart disease; Switzerland had highest average cholesterol and lowest rate of heart disease. One would almost say the correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease is non-existent. Kinda hard to justify a medication that lowers cholesterol on the premise that high cholesterol causes heart disease when looking at this graph.

Or how about this Japanese analysis, which finds:
All-cause mortality is the most appropriate outcome to use when investigating risk factors for life-threatening disease. Section 1 discusses all-cause mortality according to cholesterol levels, as determined by large epidemiological studies in Japan. Overall, an inverse trend is found between all-cause mortality and total (or low density lipoprotein [LDL]) cholesterol levels: mortality is highest in the lowest cholesterol group without exception. If limited to elderly people, this trend is universal. As discussed in Section 2, elderly people with the highest cholesterol levels have the highest survival rates irrespective of where they live in the world.
You read that right: The lower your cholesterol, the more likely you are to die. WITHOUT EXCEPTION. In the elderly, those with the highest cholesterol have the highest survival rates, no matter where you live.

The understanding of cholesterol and disease is evolving and it advances more every day. But there is, at the very least, enough evidence present to start asking serious questions about statin medications and whether or not it's wise to be doing medical interventions based on a decades old model with a significant amount of evidence against it. Especially considering statins come with a side dish of nasty adverse events associated with them. In fact, a review on statins was published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology in 2015 which states that "...we have reached the conclusion that statins actually stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure"!
In contrast to the current belief that cholesterol reduction with statins decreases atherosclerosis, we present a perspective that statins may be causative in coronary artery calcification and can function as mitochondrial toxins that impair muscle function in the heart and blood vessels through the depletion of coenzyme Q10 and 'heme A', and thereby ATP generation. Statins inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2, the cofactor for matrix Gla-protein activation, which in turn protects arteries from calcification. Statins inhibit the biosynthesis of selenium containing proteins, one of which is glutathione peroxidase serving to suppress peroxidative stress. An impairment of selenoprotein biosynthesis may be a factor in congestive heart failure, reminiscent of the dilated cardiomyopathies seen with selenium deficiency. Thus, the epidemic of heart failure and atherosclerosis that plagues the modern world may paradoxically be aggravated by the pervasive use of statin drugs. We propose that current statin treatment guidelines be critically reevaluated.
So who's refusing to look at evidence here? This is what they're calling "flat-earthism", acting like there is absolutely no doubt about the lipid hypothesis or the safety and effectiveness of statins. Prof. Rory Collins at Oxford University is cited in the Guardian article as saying "he believes there is an argument for refusing to give cholesterol-deniers a platform, just as some will no longer debate with climate change sceptics." The hubris is simply astonishing.

All of this isn't really a surprise coming from the Guardian, a paper that runs vegan recipes every week, consistently published nonsense about the need to reduce meat consumption to save the environment and is, overall, completely steeped in the politically correct orthodoxy with no interest in analysis. It's the very essence of propaganda, designed to modify behavior toward the status quo rather than present readers with a balanced view to allow them to generate informed opinions. Informed opinions might make decisions counter to your ideology, after all.

The lines are being drawn now between those who are able to think critically and those who aren't and the repercussions of one's discernment are literally life or death. It's like a grand Darwinian dynamic - survival of the smartest. If reading a Guardian article that responds to scientists making honest conclusions about mainstream assumptions by calling them names can convince someone that mainstream medical advice is on solid ground, despite not answering any of the criticisms given, then what can one expect? The health of those who listen to the authoritarians will continue to suffer while those able to look deeper and be willing to put in the effort of research might actually get out alive.