There is not one piece of research which can show a causal relationship between food cholesterol and raised blood cholesterol
There is not one piece of research which can show a causal relationship between food cholesterol and raised blood cholesterol
Image: 123RF / Luisa Puccini

I did warn you a few weeks back. And so here it comes - my regular tirade against the cholesterol theory (and, yes, it is only a theory, it has never been proved). It’s amazing how this myth – which has caused millions to stress unnecessarily over eating butter and lard, choose far less healthy foods instead, and in many cases take pointless medication – is still stuck in our heads. Really stuck like that guy’s arm in 127 Hours.

Before one Ancel Keys – an American physiologist - came up with a flawed piece of research in the 1950s, which made it from theory to fact for reasons that were all but medical, the average person had never given cholesterol a second thought. Suddenly, it was decided cholesterol was evil.

Foods containing it (basically animal-based fats, though cholesterol is not in fact a fat, but a sterol), raise blood cholesterol. And raised blood cholesterol causes heart disease. This is the common wisdom.

Less commonly known is that there is not one piece of research which can show a causal relationship between food cholesterol and raised blood cholesterol - even Keyes admitted this - or between raised cholesterol and heart disease. None at all, if you discount research funded directly or indirectly by industry. It’s a fairy tale!

As for statins, the irony is the very worst thing this medication does is to lower your cholesterol. Your body needs the molecule and that (surprise!) is why it makes it. It’s everywhere in your body, especially importantly, in your brain. This is the reason people on statins so often report memory loss and general cognitive problems.

Doctors have to know an awful lot, so they can’t know an awful lot about every, single thing

But, I hear you think, how could so many medical people be so wrong? Well, let’s remember previous examples where they were misguided, of doctors promoting smoking, leeches, cocaine for children to curb a sweet tooth or fluoride in the drinking water. Or, more tragically, thalidomide.  

Doctors have to know an awful lot, so they can’t know an awful lot about every, single thing. And how can I be so sure on this matter? Well – and here I realise I’m outing myself as a bit of a loon - I’ve spent well over 1,000 hours of reading time on the issue. Yes, I know, but I started back in 2005, so there’s been some time for eating, bathing and feeding the cats in between.   

READ MORE, WATCH MORE: 

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. But check out The Great Cholesterol Con by the mighty Dr Malcolm Kendrick, one of the only doctors with sense on this matter.

WATCH | Statin Nation I and II (downloadable from various sources or watch excerpts on YouTube):

And go to THINCS, website of a group of doctors, bio-chemists and researchers, founded in 2003, who write properly researched, fascinating papers on the topic.    

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