Tag Archives: cholesterol

Ketogenic Diet, Keto-Medicine

I have spent a few days watching lectures from various low-carb-healthy-fat meetings. There is an impressive amount of solid clinical data to support Very Low Carb (with healthy fat)  diets to treat obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and seizure disorders. Eric Westman MD, author, Associate Professor of Medicine, Past Chairman of the Obesity Medicine Association,  and director of Duke University Lifestyle Medical Clinic gave an impassioned and authoritative talk on the success of LCHF in treating all of these disorders here.

 

Dr. Steven Phinney,  Professor Emeritus UC Davis and presently Chief Medical Officer for VIRTA has given numerous talks on the beneficial effects of a ketogenic diet. He and Jeff Volek Ph.D. have done research for decades on the physiology of low carbohydrate diets. They elucidated the changes that occur in high level athletes as they adapt to burning fat as their major fuel source during and after a period of “fat adaptation”. It turns out that endurance athletes, after a period of 1 to 3 months of adaptation to a low carb-high fat diet (variable from person to person) perform at equal or higher levels as compared to their performance when previously on a high carbohydrate diet. In fact, because lean athletes have much greater energy stored in fat as compared to glycogen (carbohydrate) they can go for many hours longer than an athlete who is dependent on carbohydrate metabolism (not fat adapted). Glycogen is the starch source of energy that humans store in the liver (100 grams) and in muscle (400 grams). Compared to glycogen, fat stores in lean individuals, including buff athletes,  can provide more than 10 times the amount of energy. Endurance athletes who are keto-adapted (fat burners) can ride a bike all day or run an ultra-marathon (100 miles) without taking in any energy source. (They must of course replace fluid and electrolytes). Whereas athletes who have followed a traditional high carb diet must start consuming calories after about 3 hours of moderate-high intensity exercise. Doctors Phinney and Volek have done clinical research on humans with obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes and they have demonstrated superior results when compared to any other dietary approach.

You can learn about their work here:

And here:

So what is this all about? If carbohydrates are restricted to very low levels and instead we consume (healthy) fat as our major source of energy with moderate amounts of protein, then the human body starts to burn fat. This process results in the production of ketones (in the liver) which serve not only as a source of energy but also act as “signaling” molecules that turn on beneficial genes that fight inflammation and turn off genes that produce inflammation. When a well formulated ketogenic diet is followed under medical supervision, diabetics can often get off most or all of their diabetes medications within weeks to months as they lose weight. Improvements are seen quickly in blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, liver function tests, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory markers, subjective energy levels, mental clarity and mood. Triglycerides are reduced, HDL increases, and improvements are seen in the “atherogenic profile” with reductions in small dense LDL particles with a shift to large buoyant LDL particles. On a ketogenic diet humans spontaneously consume lower caloric intake because fat and protein are more satiating compared to carbohydrate. Circulating saturated fat in the blood DECREASES on a keto-genic diet. Refined carbohydrates and sugar (so prevalent in processed foods) produce increased circulating fat in the blood and increased fat storage throughout the body, often leading to fatty liver disease and the long list of chronic diseases caused by and associated with insulin resistance.

A ketogenic diet is also part of Dr. Dale Bredesen’s effective treatment program for early dementia (ReCoDe-Reversal of Cognitive Decline). I have discussed Dr. Bredesen’s approach before. Here is one of his discussions.

You can read Dr. Bredesen’s report of 100 patients who have reversed cognitive decline using a ketogenic diet as PART of the ReCoDe program here.

So what are the healthy fats in a low carb high fat diet?

They include fats found in whole foods such as nuts and avocados, pasture raised animals free of hormones and antibiotics, free range poultry and eggs, wild fish and seafood (avoiding large fish that have high mercury levels), extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, butter from pastured grass-fed animals, and coconut oil. (yes butter is included despite that fact that strict paleo excludes dairy)

You should avoid all of the processed/refined oils that come from seeds, grains and legumes including soy oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil. You can learn why these (misnamed) “vegetable oils” are dangerous and how they were marketed to an unwitting public with the help and support of faulty science by listening to Nina Teicholz here:

There are many great lectures about the low-carb-high-fat ketogenic diet in addressing obesity, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, seizures and more. Go to youtube and search “keto diet”, “low carb high fat”.

Before I sign off I will provide one more link:

Remember, this website offers educational information only. Consult your health care provider for medical advice.

Sleep well, exercise outdoors, laugh, love, engage in meaningful work, drink filtered water, eat clean, eat whole foods, get plenty of sunshine, spend time with those you love.

Doctor Bob

 

 

Sugar Industry paid Harvard researchers to trash fat and exonerate sugar!

By now most of you have already heard about the study published in JAMA that reveals an unsavory historical scenario wherein the sugar industry  funded an academic review paper that diverted the medical community’s attention from sugar as a vector for disease and erroneously placed it on saturated fat and cholesterol consumption. You can read about it by clicking on the following link.

How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat – The New York Times

Here is a quote from the above cited article in the NY times:

The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.

Here is the abstract of the article published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).

Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research:  A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network

Early warning signals of the coronary heart disease (CHD) risk of sugar (sucrose) emerged in the 1950s. We examined Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) internal documents, historical reports, and statements relevant to early debates about the dietary causes of CHD and assembled findings chronologically into a narrative case study. The SRF sponsored its first CHD research project in 1965, a literature review published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which singled out fat and cholesterol as the dietary causes of CHD and downplayed evidence that sucrose consumption was also a risk factor. The SRF set the review’s objective, contributed articles for inclusion, and received drafts. The SRF’s funding and role was not disclosed. Together with other recent analyses of sugar industry documents, our findings suggest the industry sponsored a research program in the 1960s and 1970s that successfully cast doubt about the hazards of sucrose while promoting fat as the dietary culprit in CHD. Policymaking committees should consider giving less weight to food industry–funded studies and include mechanistic and animal studies as well as studies appraising the effect of added sugars on multiple CHD biomarkers and disease development.

This disturbing conspiracy reveals yet another industry sponsored distortion of science which had great impact on the health of our nation. The impact is accelerating today as the epidemics of obesity and diabetes rage out of control. But sugar consumption has not just been tied to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Sugar added foods and beverages have likely contributed to dementia,  many forms of cancer and other chronic debilitating diseases. Sugar and refined carbohydrates mediate these effects by increasing systemic inflammation and contributing to insulin resistance. Inflammation and insulin resistance are pathways to many disease processes. Metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) is the hallmark combination of multiple abnormalities with insulin resistance as the underlying root cause. Prolonged insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes and contributes to heart attacks, strokes,  cancer and dementia. In fact dementia is often referred to as type 3 diabetes, mediated in large part by insulin resistance in the brain.

Here are links to discussions and videos relevant to these topics.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease Is Easier Than You Think | Psychology Today

How to Diagnose, Prevent and Treat Insulin Resistance [Infographic] – Diagnosis:Diet

Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines | Sarah Hallberg | TEDxPurdueU – YouTube

I have previously provided links to the YouTube lectures given by the brilliant Dr. Jason Fung, These are worth mentioning again.

The Aetiology of Obesity Part 1 of 6: A New Hope

Insulin Toxicity and How to Cure Type 2 Diabetes

How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally

Nina Teicholz is also worth a watch.

Nina Teicholz: The Big Fat Surprise – (08/07/2014)

And here is an important talk about sugar, refined carbohydrates and cancer.

Plenty to chew on.

We did not evolve to eat lots of sugar! It is dangerous stuff.

Bob Hansen MD

 

 

 

Great lecture videos available on line

In January I attended the annual meeting of Physicians for Ancestral Health. There were great presentations on many topics related to lifestyle and health. Take a look at the website linked below to learn about many topics relating nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle to health.

Open Video Archives | Physicians for Ancestral Health

I presented a lecture titled “The Lipoprotein Retention Model, What’s Missing?” This discusses many factors (root causes) that contribute to the formation of plaque in arteries and what can be done to prevent this insidious process by adopting a “Paleo Lifestyle“.

Other videos include:

Paleopathology and the Origins of the Paleo Diet. Keynote speaker Michael Eades MD, author of several books and a well known website.

Medicine Without Evolution is like Engineering Without Physics– Randolph M Neese, MD Director of the Arizona State University Center for Evolution.

The Roles of Intermittent Fasting and Carbohydrates in Cancer Therapy– Dawn Lemanne, MD, MPH, integrative oncologist.

 23 and Me: Practical First Steps-Deborah Gordon MD, discusses a practical approach to utilizing information from this genetic test.

Histamine Intolerance-Why (food) Freshness Matters– Georgia Ede MD.

 

Mood and Memory: How Sugar Affects Brain Chemistry-Georgia Ede, MD.

Systems Analysis and Multiple Sclerosis– Tommy Wood MD, author, blogger and lecturer, frequently interviewed on topics related to exercise and nutrition.

Cholesterol OMG– Jeffry Gerber, MD “The Diet Doctor” in Denver Colorado

Bob Hansen MD

 

 

 

Why do our tax dollars continue to subsidize death, disability and disease?

Yesterday I posted a comment on Medscape after reading an article Longtime Dietary Fat Advice Unsupported by Data: Analysis . Medscape is a website with articles and news written for physicians and other health professionals. Anyone can access this information by creating a user name and password, there is no fee.

Here is my comment. It is long and technical. I will provide an explanation in lay terms after quoting myself.

Sugar, especially HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), used in so many foods is more inflammatory than saturated fat. Grass fed meat from ruminants has a fatty acid mix that is exactly the same as wild game, which we evolved to eat, along with tubers, green leafy vegetables, and fruit in season. Excess refined fructose intake AND use of modern refined “vegetable oils” along with non-healthy grains combine to cause excess caloric intake, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), obesity, metabolic syndrome and CAD (coronary artery disease). N6 PUFA (omega six polyunsaturated fatty acids) are easily oxidized. N3 PUFA (omega 3 fatty acids) despite greater number of double bonds are protected from oxidation in cell and Lipoprotein membranes by plasmalogens as opposed to linoleic acid which is not easily  incorporated into plasmalogens. The PUFA in vegetable oils (linoleic acid) is the FA (fatty acid) that is oxidized on LDL particles and remnant particles, stimulating monocytes to transform to macrophages and then foam cells. The USDA, ADA and AHA have had it upside down for decades and they still fail to admit folly. We evolved for > 1 million years without grains and they have contributed to disease. Per calorie fresh vegetables have five times the amount of fiber compared to whole grains. We do not need grains and would be better without them. They contain anti-nutrients and wheat, hybridized in the 1980s to a storm resistant dwarf plant, now has 50 times more gluten/gliadin than the old wheat. This has generated more gluten intolerance and celiac. Our greatest nutritional threats to public health include refined sugar, carbohydrates predominantly from grains and refined vegetable oils. Vegetable oils are not healthy, we did not evolve to eat them. N3 FAs are anti-inflammatory but have been competing in our diets with a sea of inflammatory N6 PUFA from unnatural refined and easily oxidized “vegetable oils”. Even though PUFA can reduce LDL-C they wreak havoc by creating ox-LDL particles which initiate the cascade of atherosclerosis. Substituting SFA (saturated fatty acids) with PUFA results in increased levels of Lp(a) and oxLDL in humans, not a good thing. Close the feed lots, stop government subsidy of corn, wheat, dairy and soy, eat meat from grass fed ruminants, wild seafood, fresh organic vegetables and fruits in season. Nibble on tree nuts. Stop creating carcinogens with high dry heat cooking methods and we will watch obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis melt away.

That was my comment. Here is some explanation.

I have previously discussed the pro-inflammatory nature of refined “vegetable oils”. “Vegetable oils” are actually not from vegetables, they are from grains, seeds and legumes. The two major sources of excess omega six polyunsaturated fats in the American diet are corn oil and soy oil marketed by various brand names such as Wesson. They are major components of margarine and other butter substitutes and are present in most salad dressings. Most salad dressings sold in our supermarkets contain high levels of easily oxidized unhealthy refined “vegetable oils” and HFCS. The use of these salad dressings converts a healthy salad into a vector for disease.

The major source of caloric sweeteners in our food and beverages is high fructose corn syrup. Both corn (oil and sugar) and soy predominate our processed food supply because they are cheap. They are cheap because our tax dollars subsidize their production. This subsidy started during the Nixon administration. Once a food subsidy is put in place it is very difficult to eliminate, Big Agriculture provides a deep pocket for lobby money and our elected officials from the mid-west bread-basket respond to $$.

Another major source of disease causing elements in the standard American diet is highly refined flour from wheat. Doctors Davis and Perlmutter discuss the problems associated with wheat-flour foods in their books Wheat Belly and Grain Brain respectively. The production of wheat has also been subsidized since the Nixon administration.

Wheat is not what it used to be. A new dwarf hybrid wheat has predominated the US market since the 1980s. Bread and pasta are not what they used to be when great grand-mother made her own bread and pasta in the kitchen from coarsely ground whole flour. But even if we all went back to making our own whole-grain bread and pasta from locally ground pre-1980s wheat, bread, pasta and pastry would still present a health risk because of issues related to intestinal permeability, auto-immune disease (now epidemic in the USA), and the presence of nasty lectins and phytates (discussed in my manifesto and previous posts).

The Medscape comment quoted above describes  adverse consequences caused by replacing saturated fat in the diet with “vegetable oils”. This is a complex subject and I will try to be brief for now but promise to expand on this in a future post.

Many factors contribute to atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. Sedentary lifestyle, stress, inadequate restorative sleep, smoking and poor dietary choices top the list. These factors also contribute to obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and many cancers.

DIETARY FACTORS:

The combination of sugared foods and beverages (predominantly sweetened with HFCS), refined flour foods, and excess consumption of the PUFA in “vegetable oils” TOGETHER  contribute to the formation of plaque in the walls of our arteries (atherosclerosis).

How does this happen?

LDL (low density lipoprotein) is a particle that transports cholesterol and triglycerides through our blood to our organs. This particle is comprised of a core and a surrounding membrane.  Here is a picture.

LDL 2

The core contains cholesterol in a storage form (esters) and triglycerides. The outer membrane includes a large protein called apoprotein B-100, “free” cholesterol molecules and phospholipids. The phospholipids contain fatty acids, including PUFA.

LDL has been demonized as “the bad cholesterol” and that demonization has mislead the public.

hdl_ldl good guy bad guy

LDL is the major lipoprotein in our blood but there are others that have different names.

Cholesterol is cholesterol, whether it is carried in LDL or HDL. When carried in the core of a lipoprotein it is carried as a cholesterol ester. 80% of the cholesterol in an LDL particle is carried as an ester in the core. 20% is carried as “free” cholesterol on the outer surface or membrane.

LDLand cholesterol molecule

HDL (high density lipoprotein) is smaller and denser. HDL has been called “the good cholesterol”, another misnomer.

HDL particles, when they are functioning correctly can protect us from atherosclerosis but in patients with diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance, HDL particles do not function well and in fact probably contribute to disease. (More about that in a future post)

But back to LDL.

Although the risk of cardiovascular disease is correlated with the amount of cholesterol carried by LDL in our blood (referred to as LDL-C), the total amount of cholesterol shuttled by LDL particles is much less relevant than one would be led to believe given the great use of statin drugs to lower LDL-C.

The short version is as follows.

Compared to LDL-C, a much better predictor of cardiovascular disease is the amount of “modified” LDL particles circulating in the blood. Oxidized LDL particles are one form of “modified LDL”. LDL can also  be modified by excess blood sugar levels (especially from HFCS). This modification is referred to as glycosylated or glycated LDL. In this latter form of modification, the major protein on the outer membrane of the LDL particle (apo B 100 in the picture above) becomes attached to a sugar and the result is an LDL particle that is not easily cleared by normal processes. The modified LDL is not “recognized” by the LDL receptors that act as entry points into our cells for proper processing. The result is that the glycated LDL particles circulate longer and are more likely to use up their anti-oxidants (Vitamin E and  Co-enzyme Q 10).

As a result glycated LDL are more likely to become oxidized. That is not good because oxidized LDL sets up a cascade of unhealthy events.

The portion of the LDL particle that becomes oxidized is the fat (fatty acid) from “vegetable oil”, specifically the fatty acid called linoleic acid. This fatty acid has two double bonds making it more likely to be oxidized than for example oleic acid, the major fatty acid in extra virgin olive oil which has only one double bond.

The double bonds between the carbons in the fatty acids are unstable and easily oxidized. The single bonds in saturated fat do not get oxidized.

All other things being equal (and you will see that they are not), the more double bonds in a fatty acid the greater chance for oxidation.

Here is a picture showing the linoleic acid, also called linoleate, on the outer membrane of the LDL particle.

LDL with linoleate

And here is a picture that shows the phospholipids that contain the linoleic acid.

LDL 3

Let’s say it again. The fatty acid found in “vegetable” oil, linoleic acid, is easily oxidized because it has two double bonds.

Saturated fats are not oxidized because they contain no double bonds.

The part of the LDL particle that becomes oxidized is the fatty acid that comes from “vegetable oils”.

A particular kind of immune cell (white blood cells called monocytes) have  special receptors for oxidized LDL particles. When ox-LDL are “seen” by these monocytes, the monocytes become transformed into macrophages. Macrophages are designed to destroy bacteria that invade our bodies. The oxidized LDL particles resemble the structures of invading bacteria. The macrophages, with very specialized receptors for oxidized LDL, “swallow” the LDL particles and release toxic chemicals to destroy “the invader”.  The macrophages then become “foam cells” in the walls of our arteries, initiating the creation of plaque. Here is a picture.

ldl_mechanisms oxidation in vessel wall

This picture depicts the oxidation occurring in the wall of the artery after LDL particles have penetrated the wall. However LDL particles can and do become oxidized while still circulating in the blood and these oxidized particles can stimulate monocytes to transform into macrophages and gobble up the oxidized or modified LDL while these particles are still circulating in the blood.

How and whether unmodified LDL particles cross the wall of arteries into the “sub-endothelial” area remains an unsolved complex issue. The picture above implies that LDL particles simply move across the endothelial cells that line the wall of the artery but that is a presumption.

Clearly, macrophages that have “swallowed” modified LDL particles have mechanisms to work their way between the junctions formed by adjacent endothelial cells.

This is an important distinction because many cardiologists believe that what drives atherosclerosis is a mass effect. The greater the number of LDL particles, the more likely they are to cross the endothelial barrier, get oxidized and retained and start the process of plaque formation. However the process is much more complex and not clearly understood.

We do not yet know or understand completely the factors that influence the permeability of the endothelium to Lipoprotein particles. We do know that modified (oxidized and glycated LDL) disrupt the protective surface of endothelial cells which is called the glyocalyx. Other factors that disrupt the glyocalyx include high blood sugars, dramatic fluctuations in blood pressure (too high or too low), oxidative stress, infections, and circulating endotoxin (which is governed by intestinal permeability).

It is clear from several studies that modified (oxidized) LDL as a single variable predicts cardiovascular disease and heart attacks with much greater accuracy than LDL-C (total cholesterol content of LDL particles). It is also clear that monocyte receptors are specific for modified LDL and that the  process that initiates the cascade of events that leads to plaque formation involves the interaction between modified lipoprotein particles and the immune system (monocytes).

Now here is another twist.

Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are considered “heart healthy”. They help prevent heart attacks and strokes. They also decrease inflammation throughout the body thereby producing many health benefits.

BUT OMEGA 3 FAT HAS MORE DOUBLE BONDS THAN OMEGA 6 FAT (LINOLEIC ACID) YET THEY HELP PROTECT THE HEART. HOW CAN THAT BE?

How do they avoid contributing to atherosclerosis? Are they not even more readily oxidized than linoleic acid?

The simple answer is no.

The major reason is that the omega three fatty acids are protected by “plasmalogens” which are important components of our LDL particle outer membranes. Plasmalogens are found in the membranes of lipoprotein particles and in the membranes of human cells. Because of their chemical structures, omega three fats are easily incorporated into plasmalogens which protect the double bonds of omega three fats from oxidation. Linoleic acid, the predominant component of “vegetable oils” is not easily incorporated into the protective arms of plasmalogens.

This selective protection is well described on pages 141-142 of  “The Fats of Life”, written by Dr. Glen Lawrence and published in paperback in 2013. (link below)

I asked Dr. Lawrence about this issue in an email and here was his response.

“The omega-3 fatty acids are preferentially incorporated into plasmalogens, which act as antioxidants due to the double bond adjacent to the ether linkage of these phospholipids. This structure would tend to scavenge free radicals or reactive oxygen species near the surface of the membrane, rather than allowing them to penetrate deeper in the membrane where the double bonds of PUFA are located. This makes any polyunsaturated fatty acids attached to the plasmalogens more resistant to oxidation than they would be in a regular phospholipid. See pp 141-142 of The Fats of Life. The shorter chain and less unsaturated linoleic acid does not tend to be incorporated into plasmalogens.”

In summary:

  1. “Vegetable oil” is actually not oil from vegetables but rather a highly processed and refined oil. This oil contains primarily the easily oxidized omega 6 PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) linoleic acid. Oxidation can occur during manufacture,  before consumption while sitting in the bottle, but especially during high heat cooking (fried foods). Oxidation can also in your body as this fat circulates in your blood on the membrane of lipoprotein particles.
  2.  LDL particles are the major lipoprotein particles that shuttle cholesterol and fatty acids (in in the form of triglycerides) through our bodies in our bloodstream.
  3. Modified LDL particles (glycated and/or oxidized LDL) stimulate monocytes (immune cells) to transform into macrophages and gobble up the modified LDL. In addition, glycated LDL particles are more easily oxidized because they circulate longer in our blood.
  4. Macrophages become filled with modified LDL. These are called foam cells. Foam cells  initiate a cascade of events that lead to the formation of plaque in the walls of our arteries.
  5. The part of the LDL particle membrane that becomes oxidized is the phospholipid that contains linoleic acid which comes from “vegetable oils”
  6. High amounts of sugar, especially HFCS, and highly refined flour foods in our diets cause larger blood sugar fluctuations than whole foods and therefore contribute to the glycation of LDL particles. This glycation leads to more oxidation of LDL. In this manner HFCS and refined flour foods contribute to the process of atherosclerosis.
  7. High amounts of sugar, HFCS and refined flour foods also contribute to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes which then increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  8. Several factors contribute to the disruption of the glycocalyx which is the protective surface of the endothelial cells that line our arteries. These include but are not limited to modified LDL, inflammation, high blood sugars, abnormal fluctuations in blood pressure, circulating endotoxin (associated with increased intestinal permeability), infections. Disruption of the glycocalyx contributes to the formation of plaque (atherosclerosis).
  9. Modified LDL particles might also migrate through the junctions that connect adjacent endothelial cells either inside macrophages or on their own. Many factors, known and unknown likely determine the susceptibility or permeability of these junctions to this migration.

These are the major points, but there is allot more to discuss. Substituting “vegetable oils” for saturated fat in our diets not only increases the amount of oxidized LDL but also increases a dangerous lipoprotein called Lp(a). On third of Americans have an amount of Lp(a) that is considered “high risk” for heart attack and stroke. More about that in a future post.

Then there is the process of an actual heart attack or stroke which involves disruption of plaque and the creation of a blood clot that ultimately disrupts the flow of blood and the death of heart or brain tissue. The susceptibility of plaque to disruption is a huge topic that involves high blood pressure, diabetes, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, inadequate sleep, and stress to name a few. So much more to discuss.

But getting back to the title of this post, why don’t you ask your elected representatives why our tax dollars continue to subsidize nutritional root causes of death, disability and disease?

Here are some links to papers and books that support the discussion above.

Circulating Oxidized LDL Is a Useful Marker for Identifying Patients With Coronary Artery Disease

Cholesterol deposition in macrophages: foam cell formation mediated by cholesterol-enriched oxidized low density lipoprotein.

Erythrocyte fatty acid profiles can predict acute non-fatal myocard… – PubMed – NCBI

Changes in Dietary Fat Intake Alter Plasma Levels of Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein and Lipoprotein(a)

Low-density lipoprotein subclass patterns and risk of myocardial in… – PubMed – NCBI

Subendothelial Lipoprotein Retention as the Initiating Process in Atherosclerosis

Oxidative susceptibility of low density lipoprotein subfractions is… – PubMed – NCBI

Effects of linoleate-enriched and oleate-enriched diets in combinat… – PubMed – NCBI

Enhanced oxidative susceptibility and reduced antioxidant content o… – PubMed – NCBI

Susceptibility of small, dense, low-density lipoproteins to oxidati… – PubMed – NCBI

Modulation of Endothelial Glycocalyx Structure under Inflammatory Conditions

Oxidized Lipoproteins Degrade the Endothelial Surface Layer

S1P Control of Endothelial Integrity

Mechanical control of the endothelial barrier. – PubMed – NCBI

Therole of actin-binding proteins in the control of endothelial bar… – PubMed – NCBI

The Fats of Life, Dr. Glen Lawrence

Functions of plasmalogen lipids in health and disease

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers: David Perlmutter, Kristin Loberg: 9780316234801: Amazon.com: Books

Finally a quote from the Dali Lama (thanks to my cousin Diane for bringing this to my attention).

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present, the result being that he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die, and dies having never really lived.”

Eat clean, live clean, sleep well, exercise wisely, rest often, enjoy the company of loved ones, spend time outdoors and live in the present.

BOB

Low Carb Beats Low Fat Again, Annals of Internal Medicine article

Once again, a randomized trial demonstrates that a carbohydrate restricted approach is superior to a low fat diet with regards to weight loss, inflammation, body composition and cardiovascular risk factors. This study was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the official journal for the American College of Physicians.

Men and women aged 22 to 75 years with a body mass index of 30 to 45 kg/m2 (obesity defined as BMI > 30, morbid obesity defined as BMI >35) were recruited from the general public by using mailing lists, fliers, work site and community screenings, and television advertisements.

Neither diet included a specific calorie or energy goal. Participants in each group were asked to refrain from changing their physical activity levels during the intervention

Here is the summary cut and pasted from the abstract.

Objective: To examine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors.

Design: A randomized, parallel-group trial. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00609271)

Setting: A large academic medical center.

Participants: 148 men and women without clinical cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Intervention: A low-carbohydrate (<40 g/d) or low-fat (<30% of daily energy intake from total fat [<7% saturated fat]) diet. Both groups received dietary counseling at regular intervals throughout the trial.

Measurements: Data on weight, cardiovascular risk factors, and dietary composition were collected at 0, 3, 6, and 12 months.

Results: Sixty participants (82%) in the low-fat group and 59 (79%) in the low-carbohydrate group completed the intervention. At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight (mean difference in change, −3.5 kg [95% CI, −5.6 to −1.4 kg]; P = 0.002), fat mass (mean difference in change, −1.5% [CI, −2.6% to −0.4%]; P = 0.011), ratio of total–high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (mean difference in change, −0.44 [CI, −0.71 to −0.16]; P = 0.002), and triglyceride level (mean difference in change, −0.16 mmol/L [−14.1 mg/dL] [CI, −0.31 to −0.01 mmol/L {−27.4 to −0.8 mg/dL}]; P = 0.038) and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level (mean difference in change, 0.18 mmol/L [7.0 mg/dL] [CI, 0.08 to 0.28 mmol/L {3.0 to 11.0 mg/dL}]; P < 0.001) than those on the low-fat diet.

Limitation: Lack of clinical cardiovascular disease end points.

Conclusion: The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet.

Primary Funding Source: National Institutes of Health.

Let’s go through those results again: At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had

  1.  greater decreases in weight. This has been demonstrated in multiple previously published studies.
  2.  greater decreases in  fat mass. This is an important distinction, the low carb group lost more fat, not muscle.
  3.  greater decreases in the ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This ratio is a measure of cardiovascular risk (risk for heart attack and stroke). It improved more on low carb than on low fat diets.
  4.  greater decreases in triglyceride level. Triglyceride level is also an important cardiovascular risk factor. It went down significantly more as compared to the low fat diet.
  5.  greater increases in HDL cholesterol level. This result is considered to be protective against heart attack and stroke.
  6. greater decreases in CRP level than those in the low-fat group. CRP (C-reactive protein) is a blood test for inflammation and is also a cardiovascular risk factor.
  7. significant decreases in estimated 10-year risk for coronary heart disease as measured by the Framingham risk analysis at 6 and 12 months, whereas those in the low-fat group did not. Say again, the low fat group did not decrease their Framingham risk analysis but the low carb group did.

All of these differences were “statistically significant”, meaning they were unlikely caused by accident.
And what about side-effects?

The number of participants who had symptoms, including constipation, fatigue, thirst, polyuria, diarrhea, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, appetite changes, or headache, did not differ significantly between the low-carbohydrate and low-fat groups, except significantly more participants on the low-fat diet reported headaches at 3 months

The authors concluded:

Our study found that a low-carbohydrate diet induced greater weight loss and reductions in cardiovascular risk factors at 12 months than a low-fat diet among black and white obese adults who did not have diabetes, CVD, or kidney disease at baseline. Compared with a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet resulted in greater improvements in body composition, HDL cholesterol level, ratio of total–HDL cholesterol, triglyceride level, CRP level, and estimated 10-year CHD risk. Because CVD is the most common cause of death in the United States and obesity is a particularly prevalent risk factor, our study has important clinical and public health implications

Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial, A. Bazzano, MD, PhD, MPH et. al., Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(5):309-318. doi:10.7326/M14-0180

Get rid of the sugar-added foods, processed and refined flour foods and vegetable oils. Send a message to corporate America that crap-in-a bag and crap-in-a-box is no longer in demand. Eat only grass-fed meat, wild seafood, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and tree nuts. Enjoy better health and better food.

 

Bob Hansen MD.

Weight Gain, Another Reason to Avoid Statins

Published on line two days ago in advance of print publication, a new study demonstrates an association between statin use and increased caloric intake resulting in weight gain. (1)

A brief editorial (Written by Dr. Rita Redberg, on faculty at UCSF and editor of JAMA: INTERNAL MEDICINE). is worth quoting in entirety as it succinctly reviews many criticisms of statin overuse that I have discussed in previous posts here and here.

“There remains much controversy over the risks and benefits of statins for primary prevention. Besides the risks of muscle aches, diabetes, and cognitive dysfunction, I have observed over the years that for many patients, statins provide a false reassurance, as people seem to believe that statins can compensate for poor dietary choices and a sedentary life. In an elegantly performed analysis of NHANES data from 1999 to 2010, Sugiyama and colleagues have documented exactly such behavior. They found that compared with statin nonusers, statin users significantly increased their fat intake and calorie consumption, along with their BMI, in the last decade. This article raises concerns of a potential moral hazard of statin use, in addition to the already known adverse effects. Focusing on cholesterol levels can be distracting from the more beneficial focus on healthy lifestyle to reduce heart disease risk.” (2)

Of course association does not imply causation, but the editorial above suggests a plausible explanation for the relationship.

I have previously discussed how a carbohydrate restricted whole foods diet (here and here) results in superior weight loss, improved glucose control, reduced blood pressure, reduced triglycerides and improved HDL when compared to a low fat American Heart Association type diet. The former results in spontaneous reduction of caloric intake (improved satiety-no calorie counting required), the latter requires calorie counting in order to reduce caloric intake. The carbohydrate restricted approach does NOT result in increased net fat intake but because carbohydrates are reduced, fat as a % of total calories is increased. On average most studies in adults report a spontaneous reduction of about 400-600 calories per day when carbohydrates are significantly restricted.

A paleolithic diet that eliminates all processed foods, refined vegetable oils, grains, legumes and dairy but includes pastured grass-fed meat, wild seafood, free range poultry and eggs, organic fresh vegetables, fruit and nuts is typically low carbohydrate compared to the standard American diet (SAD). A paleolithic nutritional approach produces similar metabolic improvement within a few weeks. (3)

(1) Sugiyama T, Tsugawa Y, Tseng C-H, Kobayashi Y, Shapiro MF. Different time trends of caloric and fat intake between statin users and nonusers among US adults: gluttony in the time of statins? [published online April 24, 2014]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.1927. PubMed

(2) Statins and Weight Gain: Redberg RF. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Apr 24. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.1994. [Epub ahead of print]  PubMed

(3) Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet L A Frassetto1, M Schloetter, M Mietus-Synder, R C Morris Jr1 and A Sebastian European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009) 63, 947–955; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2009.4; published online 11 February 2009 PubMed

Go in peace

Bob Hansen MD

An Egg a day keeps the doctor away

When I recommend to my patients that they should eat eggs and vegetables for breakfast rather than breakfast cereals (which have high sugar content and nasty gut inflaming gluten proteins) they often ask “well what about my cholesterol ?”. I tell them that eggs are a health food and that they do not need to worry about their cholesterol.

I first read about the man who ate 25 eggs per day for 15 years here.

Health Correlator: The man who ate 25 eggs per day: What does this case really tell us?

He was 88 years old when some cholesterol fearing physicians studied his plasma lipids (HDL, LDL, triglycerides etc.) and other aspects of his health (blood pressure, weight, etc.) and discovered that he was very healthy at the ripe age of 88.

Normal Plasma Cholesterol in an 88-Year-Old Man Who Eats 25 Eggs a Day — NEJM

This article was published in 1991 and the authors concluded that this man was exceptional in lacking adverse health consequences from eating 25 fat and cholesterol laden eggs every day for 15 years. Since that time, many studies on the health effects of eggs have demonstrated that they are in fact a health food and do not increase cardiovascular risk. In fact they provide a nutrient dense assortment of important vitamins, minerals, fat, and protein. Perhaps most importantly they are very high in choline, an important nutrient which is not hard to come by. Eggs and liver provide an abundance of choline.

Choline is widely used in the human body for many important functions. These include:

  • building block for an important neuro-transmitter called acetyl-choline (you cannot live without it)
  • essential component of the phospholipids that form the outer membrane of all living cells
  • chemical precursor to betaine which is essential to health, particularly for eyesight
  • methyl metabolism (methylation is an essential physiologic chemical process in our body)
  • protects against fatty liver disease

You can read more about the importance of choline here:

Choline – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Regular egg consumption has been demonstrated to improve insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular risk profiles in healthy individuals and in individuals with metabolic syndrome as demonstrated here:

Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profil… [Metabolism. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI

Daily egg consumption with modest carbohydrate restriction in that study resulted in:

  • improved insulin sensitivity (good)
  • reduction in oxidized LDL (very good, oxidized LDL is the major instigator for atherosclerosis)
  • reduced triglycerides (high triglycerides are a marker for metabolic syndrome, precursor to diabetes, heart attack and stroke)
  • reduction in other blood lipid markers for cardiovascular risk (apoE, apoC-III, large VLDL, total IDL, small LDL and medium LDL)
  • increase in the size of HDL and LDL particles (reduction in cardiovascular risk)

They concluded that:

“Atherogenic dyslipidemia improved for all individuals”

In adults with metabolic syndrome (hypertension, insulin resistance, obesity, high triglycerides) three whole eggs per day with moderate carbohydrate restriction resulted in:

  • reduced waist size
  • reduced % body fat
  • reduction in inflammation as measured by plasma tumor necrosis factor alpha and serum amyloid

The authors concluded that:

“on a moderate carbohydrate background diet, accompanied by weight loss, the inclusion of whole eggs improves inflammation to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in those with MetS.”

Effects of carbohydrate restriction a… [J Clin Lipidol. 2013 Sep-Oct] – PubMed – NCBI

In yet another study:

Daily intake of 3 whole eggs, as part of a CRD, increased both plasma and lipoprotein lutein and zeaxanthin. Egg yolk may represent an important food source to improve plasma carotenoid status in a population at high risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

See for yourself:

Egg intake improves carotenoid status by increasi… [Food Funct. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI

In another study:

Consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk increases macular pigment concentrations (lutein and zeazanthin) in older adults with low macular pigment taking cholesterol-lowering statins.

“Lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of dry, age-related macular degeneration because of their photo-oxidative role as macular pigment.”

Consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk i… [Am J Clin Nutr. 2009] – PubMed – NCBI

Studies of the benefits of high-cholesterol egg consumption have  been so convincing that even the American Heart Association has removed advice to avoid eggs.

“…there have been a number of epidemiological studies that did not support a relationship between cholesterol intake and cardiovascular disease. Further, a number of recent clinical trials that looked at the effects of long-term egg consumption (as a vehicle for dietary cholesterol) reported no negative impact on various indices of cardiovascular health and disease”

Exploring the factors that affect blood cholesterol… [Adv Nutr. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

From an evolutionary medicine point of view, eggs and ample dietary cholesterol have been around a long time in the human diet.

“Paleoanthropologists suggest that dietary cholesterol has been in the human diet for millions of years (710). Sources included eggs, bone marrow, and organ meats. Stone Age intake of cholesterol is uncertain, but it may well have exceeded current dietary recommendations.

 There are many important biological roles for cholesterol that span the spectrum from cell membrane structure to steroid hormone synthesis, bile acid synthesis, and others. The vital role of cholesterol in human metabolism and the well-established place of dietary cholesterol in the native human diet provide a robust theoretical challenge to the view that dietary cholesterol poses a threat to human health.

 More important still are prospective, population-based studies that, when similarly scrupulous about variation in other dietary components, find no association between cholesterol intake in general, or egg intake in particular, and the risk of CVD (13).”

Exploring the factors that affect blood cholesterol… [Adv Nutr. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

Here are more links to discover that eggs are a health food.

Egg consumption and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial.

Endothelial function testing as a biomarker of vascular disease.

Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults–effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk.

Endothelial function testing as a biomarker of vascular disease.

Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults–effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk.

High intake of cholesterol results in less atherogenic low-density lipoprotein particles in men and women independent of response classification.

Plasma LDL and HDL characteristics and carotenoid content are positively influenced by egg consumption in an elderly population.

Eggs distinctly modulate plasma carotenoid and lipoprotein subclasses in adult men following a carbohydrate-restricted diet.

Significance of small dense low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol concentrations in relation to the severity of coronary heart diseases.

Rethinking dietary cholesterol. [Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

Endothelial function is the term used to describe how well the arteries can expand and contract to meet the needs of blood flow. It is considered an important tool for assessing cardiovascular risk and it is impaired in metabolic syndrome, diabetes and in patients with coronary artery disease. Compromise of endothelial function is part of the process of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

“There is thus a case to be made that endothelial function is potentially a summative measure of overall cardiac risk status and at least a valuable addition to standard risk measures (45). The ever-expanding footprint of research in this area in the cardiology literature attests to its importance.”

Despite (or because of) their high fat and cholesterol content, eggs have not been found to have any negative effects on endothelial function.

Rethinking dietary cholesterol. [Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

So far since launching this blog a few weeks ago we have discovered that saturated fat and cholesterol containing foods are not the villains portrayed by the media, doctors and professional organizations that give us nutritional advice.

We have reviewed evidence that added sugar, sweetened beverages, refined carbohydrates (especially flour foods), trans-fats, and excessive polyunsaturated omega six fats from processed “vegetable oil” are the culprits with regards to obesity, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. These culprit components of the modern Western diet were definitely absent from the diets of our paleolithic ancestors. We have not evolved to tolerate them. These modern manufactured and processed “foods” represent an unhealthy deviation from our evolutionary past.

There is so much more to discuss. In the spirit of more work ahead during this 50th anniversary week of John F Kennedy’s assassination. I will close with a quote from JFK’s favorite poet and friend, Robert Frost.

“I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep.”

Peace,

Bob Hansen MD

Statin Guidelines, one step forward, two steps backwards

The new statin guidelines published jointly by the AHA (American Heart Association) and ACC (American College of Cardiology) present some good news but also allot of bad news.

The good news (one step forward) is that the guidelines acknowledge the following:

1. None of the cholesterol lowering drugs (except for statins) have ever demonstrated the ability to save lives by lowering cholesterol.

2. The ability of statin drugs to save lives (after a heart attack) is independent of whether and by how much the cholesterol is lowered.

This acknowledgement is very important because it sheds light on the fact that statins work primarily by effects independent of how much cholesterol is circulating in the blood. This is a fact that is not well understood by many physicians or patients. This fact will create some confusion because the American public has been misinformed for many years by physicians, the media and professional organizations all using terms like “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol”. These terms are meaningless, confusing, and counter-productive.

The new guidelines are two steps backwards for a few reasons:

1. They expand the number of patients under the guidelines in the US by tens of millions of people who will not benefit from their use and implementation of the guidelines will likely harm many.

2. The guidelines continue to assume and quote unrealistically low and inaccurate complication rates.

3. The risk assessment tool that accompanies the guidelines over-estimates risk for heart attack and stroke by 75-150%. This calculation of the over-estimate is based upon application of the guidelines to a huge database of real patients. This analysis has been published in a Peer Reviewed Journal and this analysis has already been discussed by the lay-press to the embarrassment of the AHA and ACC. This particular concern was communicated to the guideline committee one year ago by a prominent research cardiologist and statistician on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, but ignored by the guideline committee.

4. The guidelines have lowered the recommended 10 year  risk threshold for use of statins from the previous 10-20% level to a 7.5% level (thereby tremendously increasing the number of people who would be placed on statins). And since the risk calculator, as discussed in #3 above, greatly inflates the risk it essentially would apply the statin guidelines in reality to individuals with only a 3.75 to 4% risk of a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years. This shifts the risk/benefit ratio to a much higher level than the already high risk/benefit ratio of the previous guidelines.

Gratefully the excessive use of statins as well as the folly of the previous and new guidelines have  been brought to the public arena and the debate has finally drawn attention. Perhaps some reasonable discussion will ensue and perhaps the medical community at large will finally think about the bias represented in policy statements and guidelines as well as the bias presented in the many review articles that have been published on this topic.

Here are links to some reading of recent articles in the lay press.

Cholesterol Guidelines Under Attack – NYTimes.com

New Cholesterol Advice Startles Even Some Doctors – NYTimes.com

Risk Calculator for Cholesterol Appears Flawed – NYTimes.com

“After the guidelines were published, two Harvard Medical School professors identified flaws in the risk calculator that apparently had been discovered a year ago but were never fixed, as Gina Kolata reported in The Times on Monday.

In a commentary to be published Tuesday in The Lancet, a leading medical journal, the professors estimate that as many as half of the 33 million do not actually have risk thresholds exceeding the 7.5 percent level. Other experts who have tested the calculator found absurd results; even patients with healthy characteristics would be deemed candidates for statins.”

Be careful out there.

Peace,

Bob Hansen MD

Don’t Give More Patients Statins

On November 14, the following editorial was published in the New York Times.

Don’t Give More Patients Statins

By JOHN D. ABRAMSON and RITA F. REDBERG

New guidelines published on Tuesday of last week widely expand the category of who should take statins.

Two physicians authored the article providing an excellent analysis and warning against implementation of the new guidelines which are unfortunately and again, not based on sound evidence or reasonable analysis.

” based on the same data the new guidelines rely on, 140 people in this risk group would need to be treated with statins in order to prevent a single heart attack or stroke, without any overall reduction in death or serious illness.”

“At the same time, 18 percent or more of this group would experience side effects, including muscle pain or weakness, decreased cognitive function, increased risk of diabetes  (especially for women),  cataracts or sexual dysfunction.”

“We believe that the new guidelines are not adequately supported by objective data, and that statins should not be recommended for this vastly expanded class of healthy Americans. Instead of converting millions of people into statin customers, we should be focusing on the real factors that undeniably reduce the risk of heart disease: healthy diets, exercise and avoiding smoking. Patients should be skeptical about the guidelines, and have a meaningful dialogue with their doctors about statins, including what the evidence does and does not show, before deciding what is best for them.”

History repeats itself, soon the AHA and ACA will want statins in the water. The 18% estimate of serious side effects in my opinion is understated. Every week in the pain clinic I diagnose statin myopathy and/or cognitive impairment on at least one patient. Here are some stories about patients that appeared in the comments section of the oped on-line.

Noreen stated:

I am a victim of statin “therapy.” At the age of 72, with just a moderately high LDL, Simvastatin was prescribed. I took it for approximately 2 weeks, and severe pain developed in my whole body, but, primarily in my lower legs. I read the side effects on line and stopped taking it.
The pain went away, but my legs were weak. After much investigation by neurologists at University of California, SFMC, I was diagnosed with statin-induced neuropathy. The calf muscle in both legs has totally gone — nothing left but sinew. My life has been severely damaged by an inability to walk properly. I cannot raise on my toes. It has been three years since I took this medication, and there is no further hope of recovery. Prior to taking Simvastatin I was an athlete all my life. At the time of this pharmaceutical invasion I was still, hiking, exercising regularly and downhill skiing. Shame of this hired committee of “experts.”

Here is how a physician/patient described his experience.

I agree with Abramson and Redburg that treating a numbers instead of the patient is wrong. I am in a high risk group and I would hope to prevent another heart attack (I had one in 2009), yet I cannot take statins as I repeatedly developed muscle pain and then progressive weakness and loss of balance with all the statins I tried. My cardiologists (including Mayo physicians) and internists continued to push trying different statins and other cholesterol lowering medications even though I complained of side effects. Although some of my loss of power is due to aging and not statins, I used to be able to hike 10 to 20 miles with up to 5 to 6,000 feet elevation gain in a day before my statin era and now I can barely manage 4-5 miles at a slow pace. I’ve seen this in others taking statins. Even though the percentage who develop weakness may be low compared to the majority, it is a real debilitating effect for some. Doctors are brain washed (and the lay public too by TV and other ad bombardment), by the pharmaceutical industry to treat numbers rather than individuals. The result is the standard of care is now to treat the lab test instead of the person. Statins are dangerous medications and should not be prescribed lightly. SD Markowitz, MD

George from CA describes his experience as follows.

I had been on statins for over 15 years. Slowly, I began experiencing cognitive dysfunction, balance issues, muscle weakness, etc. even though I exercised both my body and brain. I quit several months ago and have been feeling better all around every day with improvement in every area. I’d rather die feeling good in 10 or 20 years than be miserable for however long this terrible medicine might extend my life.

JR Hoffman MD from Los Angeles provided further insight.

Congratulations to Drs Abramson and Redberg for their outstanding editorial, and to the NYT for having the courage to print it. As the authors note, this new guideline’s major beneficiary will be the pharmaceutical industry, while the American people will likely be its primary victim.

The British Medical Journal has recently printed a series of papers (disclosure — I co-authored one of those papers) addressing the biases and distortions that enter far too many published clinical guidelines, because a large majority of panel members and panel chairs have a financial conflict of interest, and because panels are stacked to support viewpoints reflecting those conflicts, independent of the evidence. This is particularly true of guidelines from prominent medical specialty societies … societies which themselves receive major financial support from industry. 

How many people targeted by the new guidelines would take one of these medicines if they were told that far more than 9 out of 10 (in fact probably more than 99%) would get no possible benefit whatever? And essentially none would get an overall reduction in major morbidity or mortality? And that this would come at a substantial cost in the side effects that a good many would suffer (not even considering the cost in dollars)?

If your physician tells you that you “need” a statin, please ask her for the details of how likely you as an individual are to benefit, and at what chance of harm.

Statin drugs interfere with the human production of many important substances. One of these is Coenzyme Q 10 also called uibiquinone. Co Q 10 functions as an important anti-oxidant and as an essential component of the apparatus inside every cell that produces ATP, the fundamental unit of energy that provides energy for every cellular function. Without ATP the cells in every organ shut down and cannot do any work.

Statin side effects can include not only muscle pain and weakness but also nerve damage, dementia, amnesia.  Shortness of breath can be the only symptoms when the muscles of respiration are affected.  Diabetes can be caused by any of the statin drugs and this can be permanent.  Rarely, statins can cause death . This happens when a massive amount of muscle damage causes a flood of debris that overwhelms the body’s ability to clear the debris. Damage to muscles and nerves can be permanent without any recovery after  the statin is stopped. A former astronaut and flight surgeon suffered transient global amnesia which fortunately cleared after stopping the statin drug. He has since published a few books about the dangers and inappropriate use of statins. Kidney failure requiring dialysis or kidney transplant is also a rare but potential result of statin medication.

Cardiologists and primary care physicians often ignore complaints about muscle pain, fatigue, weakness and forgetfulness in older patients and attribute it to old age. But even when these complaints are recognized as a side effect, rarely does a physician report it  to the FDA. As a result, post marketing surveillance data underestimates tremendously the frequency of side effects.

Be careful out there. Read my first post about statin medications. it provides risk-benefit data. Remember, we do not know with certainty the frequency of side effects and permanent damage, but you can be sure it happens more often than the drug company states. It happens more often than most physicians realize.

Peace

Bob Hansen MD

Saturated fat, does it matter?

Recommendations to reduce saturated fat consumption have pervaded our media since the AHA published its first dietary guidelines for the American public in 1961. The AMA at first opposed the recommendations but the AHA pushed on. The guidelines encouraged substitution of polyunsaturates for saturated fat. The guidelines were presented in a two page report with 1/2 page of references. A subsequent independent review of those references revealed that 1/2 of them did not support the recommendations, details, details.

My last blog looked at a meta-analysis of the major studies subsequently published on this topic and found that implementation of that recommendation does not reduce heart attacks or cardiac deaths and in fact there was a trend (not statistically significant) for worse outcomes associated with substituting PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids, primarily linoleic acid) for SFA (saturated fatty acids).

Please note that we are talking hard endpoints here, death and heart attack. So much of the literature that consumes this issue only looks at the effect on so called risk factors. When you actually look at the clinical outcomes (death, heart attack, stroke)  there is no benefit demonstrated when saturated fats are reduced.

In 1966 the makers of Mazola Corn Oil and Mazola Margarine sponsored publication of Your Heart Has Nine Lives, a book advocating the substitution of vegetable oils for butter and other “artery clogging” saturated fats.

The history of this campaign to demonize SFA and glorify PUFA is well described in Gary Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories, as well as in Mary Enig’s essay The Oiling of America. I would encourage you to read both.  The latter is available on line as is Gary Taubes’ famous essay What if its all a big fat lie?

http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/the-oiling-of-america

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/what-if-it-s-all-been-a-big-fat-lie.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

In 2010 a highly respected lipid research group published what should have been a wake-up call study for the medical profession.

Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.

The data included 5 to 23 years follow up on 347,747 subjects. 11,006 developed coronary heart disease or stroke. Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, or  cardiovascular disease (CVD =CHD plus stroke).

“there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”

To be clear, association (statistical correlation) does not prove or disprove causation, but if such a large amount of data from prospective studies shows no statistically significant correlation, than a causative theory should be rejected until and unless randomized controlled clinical trials suggest otherwise.

This study should have created a tsunami in the media and in the medical community but it hardly caused a ripple in the pond. Michael Eades explains why in an excellent post here.

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/lipid-hypothesis/eat-less-move-die-anyway/

The editors of the journal published a scathing rebuke of the authors but could not find anything wrong with the data and conclusions except that the data refuted their belief system. Busy physicians tend to read the editorials and place more credence in an editorial than in a study that questions or refutes a major thesis.

Lets look at some other studies that considered hard clinical endpoints.

Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial.

The objective of this study was:

“To test the hypothesis that a dietary intervention, intended to be low in fat and high in vegetables, fruits, and grains to reduce cancer, would reduce CVD risk.”

This study was a randomized controlled trial of 48,835 postmenopausal women aged 50-79 years of diverse backgrounds and ethnicity.

“RESULTS: By year 6, mean fat intake decreased by 8.2% of energy intake in the intervention vs the comparison group, with small decreases in saturated (2.9%), monounsaturated (3.3%), and polyunsaturated (1.5%) fat; increases occurred in intakes of vegetables/fruits (1.1 servings/d) and grains (0.5 serving/d).”

Did this decrease heart attacks or strokes? NO

“The diet had no significant effects on incidence of CHD (hazard ratio [HR], 0.97; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90-1.06), stroke (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.90-1.15), or CVD (HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.92-1.05).”

Now lets look at a study where women were followed after a heart attack to see if reducing saturated fat helped.

Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1175-84.

In this study quantitative coronary angiography was performed at baseline and after mean follow up of 3.1 years. 2243 coronary artery segments in 235 women were studied.

Here is what they found.

  • a higher saturated fat intake was associated with a smaller decline in mean minimal coronary diameter (P = 0.001) and less progression of coronary stenosis (P = 0.002) during follow-up
  • Carbohydrate intake was positively associated with atherosclerotic progression (P = 0.001), particularly when the glycemic index was high
  • Polyunsaturated fat intake was positively associated with progression (of coronary atherosclerosis) when replacing other fats (P = 0.04) but not when replacing carbohydrate or protein
  • Monounsaturated and total fat intakes were not associated with progression. (extra virgin olive oil and macadamia nuts are rich in monounsaturated fat)

The P values cited demonstrate unequivocal statistical significance for all of these associations.

So intake of carbohydrate and polyunsaturated fat was positively associated with progression of coronary atherosclerosis. Conversely, saturated fat intake was associated with less progression of coronary stenosis.  Again, I must point out that association does not prove or disprove causation. Nevertheless, there have been no prospective studies that demonstrate an association between saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular events (real clinical endpoints). Here we have data that show a negative association with saturated fat but positive association with carbohydrate and polyunsaturated fat consumption.

The logic has always been that substituting PUFA for SFA reduces cholesterol levels (short term studies) and therefore it should reduce heart attacks and strokes. But if you search the medical literature you find that the overwhelming body of data shows no reduction in hard clinical outcomes by reducing saturated fat, in fact just the opposite is true as in the two Ramsden studies cited in my previous post.

Uffe Ravnskov has pointed out that the proponents of the dietary  saturated fat-cholesterol theory often times misrepresent the data from published studies and cite those studies in support of the theory when in fact the data actually refute the theory. (as was the case for the AHA’s first dietary recommendations demonizing saturated fat in 1961) Uffe’s letters to the editor have been a nuisance to the proponents of that theory for decades.

An exhaustive review of the literature by Ravnskov was published in 1996. The summary deserves a complete quotation here.

J Clin Epidemiol. 1998 Jun;51(6):443-60.

The questionable role of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease.

Source

uffe.ravnskov@swipnet.se

Abstract

A fat diet, rich in saturated fatty acids (SFA) and low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), is said to be an important cause of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The evidence for this hypothesis was sought by reviewing studies of the direct link between dietary fats and atherosclerotic vascular disease in human beings. The review included ecological, dynamic population, cross-sectional, cohort, and case-control studies, as well as controlled, randomized trials of the effect of fat reduction alone. The positive ecological correlations between national intakes of total fat (TF) and SFA and cardiovascular mortality found in earlier studies were absent or negative in the larger, more recent studies. Secular trends of national fat consumption and mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) in 18-35 countries (four studies) during different time periods diverged from each other as often as they coincided. In cross-sectional studies of CHD and atherosclerosis, one group of studies (Bantu people vs. Caucasians) were supportive; six groups of studies (West Indians vs. Americans, Japanese, and Japanese migrants vs. Americans, Yemenite Jews vs. Yemenite migrants; Seminole and Pima Indians vs. Americans, Seven Countries) gave partly supportive, partly contradictive results; in seven groups of studies (Navajo Indians vs. Americans; pure vegetarians vs. lacto-ovo-vegetarians and non-vegetarians, Masai people vs. Americans, Asiatic Indians vs. non-Indians, north vs. south Indians, Indian migrants vs. British residents, Geographic Study of Atherosclerosis) the findings were contradictory. Among 21 cohort studies of CHD including 28 cohorts, CHD patients had eaten significantly more SFA in three cohorts and significantly less in one cohort than had CHD-free individuals; in 22 cohorts no significant difference was noted. In three cohorts, CHD patients had eaten significantly more PUFA, in 24 cohorts no significant difference was noted. In three of four cohort studies of atherosclerosis, the vascular changes were unassociated with SFA or PUFA; in one study they were inversely related to TF. No significant differences in fat intake were noted in six case-control studies of CVD patients and CVD-free controls; and neither total or CHD mortality were lowered in a meta-analysis of nine controlled, randomized dietary trials with substantial reductions of dietary fats, in six trials combined with addition of PUFA. The harmful effect of dietary SFA and the protective effect of dietary PUFA on atherosclerosis and CVD are questioned.

That was published in 1998, since then the evidence remains as Uffe described it 15 years ago. More studies show no relationship between saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular death, heart attack, or stroke.

Finally, multiple autopsy studies around the world have been conducted to investigate an association between diet and atherosclerosis. None of these studies have demonstrated a positive association between degree of atherosclerosis and saturated fat intake.

Yet the AHA continues to recommend lower levels of saturated fat consumption while showing little concern for the problem of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

In my next post I will discuss why sugar and refined carbohydrates are major players in the physiology of atherosclerosis. Future posts will address the China Study, Forks Over Knives, the Ornish Diet and related topics. Additionally I will discuss why an egg a day keeps the doctor away.

Go in peace.

Bob Hansen MD.