Nature Slashes the Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease, and More

Sure, Netflix is full of great shows and movies to watch, but it can never replace nature in providing a natural and euphoric boost in both physical and mental health. Many studies have showcased the powerful benefits nature can offer, proving that spending time outside slashes the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stress. [1]

Researchers from the University of East Anglia in the U.K. reviewed data on almost 300 million people from 20 countries, including the U.S., and assessed the effect of nature on people in Australia, Europe, and Japan – where Shinrin yoku, also known as forest bathing, is popular – to reach their conclusions.

In the study, “green space” was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation, as well as urban green spaces like parks and street greenery.

The researchers compared the health of people with little access to green spaces to the health of those with the greatest access to such areas.

A multitude of health benefits was linked to spending time in or near green spaces, though it’s not clear which factors of nature are most responsible for sparking such health benefits.

Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, a Ph.D. student and lead author of the study, said:

“Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood. It reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.

People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol – a marker of stress.”

She suggested that Japan has the “right idea.”

Living near green spaces provides people greater opportunities for physical activity and socializing. Moreover, the researchers said that being outdoors exposes people to a diverse variety of bacteria that boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Andy Jones, a professor at UEA and study co-author, said:

“We often reach for medication when we’re unwell, but exposure to health-promoting environments is increasingly recognized as both preventing and helping treat disease. Our study shows that the size of these benefits can be enough to have a meaningful clinical impact.” [2]

Twohig-Bennett said she hopes the findings will encourage people to make the most of green areas, and nudge policymakers and town planters toward creating, cleaning up, and maintaining parks and other green spaces.

Previous studies show that spending time in nature is good for both physical and mental health. A 2016 study published in Nature Scientific Reports shows that walking in a park or other green space for at least 30 minutes not only increases physical activity but lowers the risk of high blood pressure and depression.

A 2015 study found that city dwellers are more likely to be stressed, depressed, and struggle with mental illness. People living in urban areas had a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders, a 40% greater risk of mood disorders, and were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as people who live in rural areas.

Sources:

[1] Daily Mail

[2] LaboratoryEquipment

Nature Slashes the Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease, and More

Sure, Netflix is full of great shows and movies to watch, but it can never replace nature in providing a natural and euphoric boost in both physical and mental health. Many studies have showcased the powerful benefits nature can offer, proving that spending time outside slashes the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stress. [1]

Researchers from the University of East Anglia in the U.K. reviewed data on almost 300 million people from 20 countries, including the U.S., and assessed the effect of nature on people in Australia, Europe, and Japan – where Shinrin yoku, also known as forest bathing, is popular – to reach their conclusions.

In the study, “green space” was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation, as well as urban green spaces like parks and street greenery.

The researchers compared the health of people with little access to green spaces to the health of those with the greatest access to such areas.

A multitude of health benefits was linked to spending time in or near green spaces, though it’s not clear which factors of nature are most responsible for sparking such health benefits.

Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, a Ph.D. student and lead author of the study, said:

“Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood. It reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.

People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol – a marker of stress.”

She suggested that Japan has the “right idea.”

Living near green spaces provides people greater opportunities for physical activity and socializing. Moreover, the researchers said that being outdoors exposes people to a diverse variety of bacteria that boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Andy Jones, a professor at UEA and study co-author, said:

“We often reach for medication when we’re unwell, but exposure to health-promoting environments is increasingly recognized as both preventing and helping treat disease. Our study shows that the size of these benefits can be enough to have a meaningful clinical impact.” [2]

Twohig-Bennett said she hopes the findings will encourage people to make the most of green areas, and nudge policymakers and town planters toward creating, cleaning up, and maintaining parks and other green spaces.

Previous studies show that spending time in nature is good for both physical and mental health. A 2016 study published in Nature Scientific Reports shows that walking in a park or other green space for at least 30 minutes not only increases physical activity but lowers the risk of high blood pressure and depression.

A 2015 study found that city dwellers are more likely to be stressed, depressed, and struggle with mental illness. People living in urban areas had a 20% higher risk of anxiety disorders, a 40% greater risk of mood disorders, and were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as people who live in rural areas.

Sources:

[1] Daily Mail

[2] LaboratoryEquipment

Shocking Twist: Dairy Fat may PROTECT Your Heart, Not Hurt It

Saturated fat is evil! No, it’s not! It’s good for you! Talk about a mixed bag of science. You probably heard growing up that saturated fat was the conduit to heart attacks and stroke, but in recent years, research has found that saturated fat might not be the heart-destroyer it was once believed to be. You can enjoy dairy products without fear of the saturated fats contained within them.

Go ahead and spread some butter on that roll.

The study comes from researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. The authors found “no significant link” between dairy fats and risk of heart disease or stroke. [1]

In a rather shocking twist, they found that a fatty acid in dairy may actually decrease the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Study Details

The study spanned 22 years and included nearly 3,000 adults aged 65 and older. Scientists measured plasma levels of 3 different fatty acids found in dairy products starting in 1992, and then again 6 and 13 years later.

Those with higher fatty acid levels – considered by researchers to be a sign of higher dairy consumption – had a 42% lower risk of dying from stroke.

Heart Expert: Saturated Fat Causing Heart Disease is a Myth

Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study’s first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health, said:

“Our findings not only support, but significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke.” [2]

Otto’s words are a far cry from those contained in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which state that people should consume fat-free or low-fat dairy products, including milk, and/or fortified soy beverages. And, as Otto pointed out, most fat-free and low-fat dairy products contain loads of added sugars, which can lead to the same health issues they’re supposed to prevent.

That was intentional, by the way. In the 1960s, the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to author “studies” framing sugar in a positive light and fat in a health-destroying light. Decades later, it seems that many scientists and physicians still haven’t broken up with those fraudulent findings.

Otto and her team acknowledge the mixed messages surrounding dietary guidelines.

“Consumers have been exposed to so much different and conflicting information about diet, particularly in relation to fats. It’s therefore important to have robust studies, so people can make more balanced and informed choices based on scientific fact rather than hearsay.”

Top Cardiologists: Saturated Fat NOT the Cause of Heart Disease

You can read more for yourself in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sources:

[1] Philly Voice

[2] Science Daily

The University of Texas

Avoid Depression in Old Age by Being Fit in Middle Age

Being physically fit in middle age may prevent 2 things: developing depression as a senior, and dying from heart disease if you do happen to become depressed.

Researchers looked at 18,000 Medicare individuals and found that those who were the most fit were 16% less likely to develop depression. The fittest were also 56% less likely to die from heart disease if they developed depression, and 61% less likely to die from heart disease if they remained depression-free.

Dr. Benjamin Willis, an epidemiologist at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, said:

“There is a well-known connection between depression and cardiovascular disease.”

The link between depression and heart disease is more of a circle than a straight line. People who have depression are more likely to have heart disease, and people who have heart disease are more likely to develop depression.

For the study, Willis and his colleagues collected data on 17,989 healthy men and women with an average age of 50 who visited a clinic for a preventative medical exam when they were middle-aged. Researchers collected the data from 1971 through 2009. The participants were all eligible for Medicare from 1999 to 2010.

Using treadmill exercise tests, depression from Medicare claim files, and data on heart disease deaths from the U.S. National Death Index records, the team estimated the participants’ fitness levels.

Read: People Who Think Positively About Aging Less Likely to Have Alzheimer’s

The Medicare claim files did not disclose the severity of depressed participants’ symptoms, which was a limitation of the study.

Willis said of the findings:

“It is never too late to get off the couch.”

He recommended exercises such as cycling, walking, jogging, and swimming.

“Always consider your own health status and check with your physician before embarking on a new physical fitness program.”

About 16 million people in the United States, and 350 million people around the world have depression. The risk of depression increases as people age. [2]

Lead study author Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, director of the center for depression research and clinical care at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said:

“Depression doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Especially for people who are older, depression has a complicated relationship with other major medical diseases.”

Previous studies have established that exercise can improve depression and lower heart disease risk, and scientists believe that being physically fit may lower depression- and heart disease-causing inflammation, but more research is needed to understand the mechanism.

Source: Government of Western Australia

Read: 4 Ways Exercise Treats Depression Naturally

In some of Trivedi’s earlier research, he was able to show that exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants and psychotherapy at treating depression. He hopes that the latest findings will change the way doctors approach treating depression.

Trivedi said:

“I want primary care physicians to prescribe not only antidepressants but also prescribe a dose of exercise for the treatment of depression.”

The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Sources:

[1] HealthDay

[2] Time

Government of Western Australia

Study: Losing Money While Young can Lead to Heart Disease Later

You’re working hard, paying your bills, and enjoying a social life on the side when, all of a sudden, you lose your job. Life isn’t so easy anymore. You worry about how you’re going to pay your rent and put gas in your car. Income fluctuations are stressful, and can lead to numerous health issues. One study found that when you lose money in young adulthood in particular, the risk for heart disease increases.

A recent study published in the journal Circulation shows that unexpected dips in income for young adults nearly double the risk of death and cause a more-than-50% increase in the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure during the following 10 years when compared to people with a steadier income.

Read: 5 Ways Stress Affects Your Mind and Body

Study leader Tali Elfassy, an assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, said:

“Income volatility presents a growing public health threat, especially when federal programs, which are meant to help absorb unpredictable income changes, are undergoing continuous changes, and mostly cuts.”

Beginning in 1990, Elfassy and colleagues focused on people who had lost 25% or more of their income. The team looked at cardiovascular events among participants that resulted in death or illness between 2005 and 2015.

The study looked at people in 1990, between the ages of 23 and 35, living in Birmingham, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois, and Oakland, California.

Most of the income fluctuations reported in the study were caused by periods of unemployment or pay cuts after changing jobs. Black people and women were more likely to experience income fluctuations, the study found. [2]

Read: 4 Things You May Not Know Are Harming Your Heart

The researchers were surprised by how much of an effect income instability appeared to have on heart health.

Elfassy said:

“We assumed that income drops or frequent changes in income were probably not good for health, considering that these are thought of as stressful events. But we were surprised by the magnitude of the effect we saw since we were looking at a relatively young population. These were strong effect sizes.”

The study didn’t look at what drives the link between drops in income and an increased risk for heart disease. However, stressful events are known to contribute to obesity and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Moreover, having a lower socioeconomic status has been linked to poorer health, as people with lower incomes tend to smoke more, exercise less, and see their doctor less frequently, all of which can contribute to heart problems.

Read: Just 9 Walnuts a Day Can “Bust Stress Levels”

Elfassy said: [1]

“While this study is observational in nature and certainly not an evaluation of such programs, our results do highlight that large negative changes in income may be detrimental to heart health and may contribute to premature death.”

In the U.S., approximately 1 in 4 deaths are attributed to heart disease, which can be worsened by smoking and hypertension.

Sources:

[1] UPI

[2] Time

Cholesterol Guidelines Updated for the First Time Since 2013

On November 12, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) updated the clinical guidelines for managing cholesterol for the first time since 2013. Unlike in the past, the new guidelines do not suggest a one-size-fits-all approach, but a more personalized one that allows patients to take a more active role in managing their health.

In addition to new assessments of patient risk for cardiovascular disease, the guidelines also give approval for new drugs to treat high-risk patients, and a treatment blueprint designed to help doctors and patients determine when it is appropriate to start taking cholesterol-lowering medication.

Dr. Michael Valentine, president of the ACC, said:

“High cholesterol is not one size fits all, and this guideline strongly establishes the importance of personalized care. Over the past 5 years, we’ve learned even more about new treatment options and which patients may benefit from them. By providing a treatment roadmap for clinicians, we are giving them the tools to help their patients understand and manage their risk and live longer, healthier lives.”

The go-to-treatment for high cholesterol that can’t be controlled by diet and exercise has traditionally been statin drugs. These medications can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, but it isn’t always clear when a patient should start taking them. According to the new guidelines, patients should undergo calcium artery scans before being prescribed statins when it isn’t clear how high their risk is for cardiovascular disease.

When statins don’t work for a patient – such as when an individual has suffered a heart attack or stroke, or their LDL-C levels have not been lowered by statins – the guidelines recommend the use of 2 new, cholesterol-lowering drugs. The guidelines also recommend first adding a drug called ezetimibe, in addition to statins. For more severe cases, the guidelines recommend adding a PCSK9 inhibitor drug.

Additionally, the new guidelines call for doctors to consider screening children as young as 2 for cardiovascular risk factors if they have a family history of heart disease and high cholesterol. [2]

That might sound crazy, but consider this: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2015-2016 shows that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people aged 6-19 years old in the U.S. is obese.

What’s more, the national obesity rate among children ages 2 to 19 in the U.S. is 18.5%, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The traditional view among doctors is that obesity and high cholesterol combined increases a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease, so the authors of the guidelines believe it is important to start looking out for kids’ heart health at a young age.

Dr. Sarah D. de Ferranti, chief of outpatient cardiology and director of preventive cardiology at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital, said in a statement:

“It’s important that, even at a young age, people are following a heart-healthy lifestyle and understanding and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.”

No More One-Size-Fits-All Targets

The new guidelines represent a shift in the way doctors and clinicians treat high cholesterol, but so, too, did the 2013 guidelines.

Amit Khera, MD, the director of the preventative cardiology program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, explained that, in the past, doctors encouraged patients to reach a low LDL target, like a “magic number.” For high-risk patients, that meant an LDL level of under 70 mg/DL in the blood.

The new guidelines have eliminated that target altogether. The goal now is to curb overall risk, rather than achieving a certain cholesterol number.

The 2018 revisions expand on those from 2013, “and give doctors and patients a little more to support their decision-making,” Khera said.

The updated guidelines also created new risk assessment tools that expand on the information collected from patients. The assessments still take into account standard risk factors like smoking and obesity, but also consider family history, ethnicity, and certain health conditions, such as premature menopause in women, when determining a patient’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

The hope is that in addition to helping clinicians compile a more comprehensive understanding of their patients’ risk status, there will be more factors for patients to consider, which will hopefully motivate them to take a more active role in reducing their risk.

Khera said:

“Guidelines are only as good as implemented, and if people aren’t going to use them, they’ll be for naught. But giving patients a little more control over their care is going to improve their adherence to care. They’ll be much more likely to keep taking the medications, which is what’s going to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Reaching a “magic” cholesterol target number can seem daunting, whereas eating more vegetables, for example, might seem more doable for a lot of people.

A New Way of Thinking

A study published in January 2018 recommends statin drugs are given to an additional 9 million U.S. adults for preventing heart attack and stroke, sparking great debate among the medical community. [3]

It’s not difficult to see why many experts disagree with that assessment.

In recent years, studies have suggested that having high cholesterol does not increase a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke. Despite the availability of every type of low-fat and fat-free food imaginable, rates of both obesity and heart disease have continued to climb. If cholesterol was indeed the culprit in cardiovascular disease, you would expect to see those numbers declining.

Several renowned cardiologists have stated that cholesterol is vital for brain matter, nerves, and all other cellular structures in the body. Moreover, they say calcium deposits in the arteries are far more dangerous than cholesterol, as cholesterol is waxy and pliable, whereas calcium deposits are hard. Therefore, cardiologists say that doctors are focusing their attention in the wrong place.

Other noted cardiologists have gone on the record stating that saturated fat, believed to increase cholesterol levels, does not cause heart disease. They note that even in people with established heart disease, reducing saturated fat alone does not reduce heart attacks.

And while statins do work for many people, the drugs are linked to over 300 adverse events. Take a look at these headlines we have covered here at Natural Society.

A Move in the Right Direction, Hopefully

Hopefully, the new guidelines will encourage people to become more engaged in lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease through diet and lifestyle, and reduce the need more even more Americans to start taking risky drugs that may or may not protect their heart health.

If you’ve been told you have dangerously-elevated cholesterol, you shouldn’t automatically assume you need to start taking pills. If your doctor suggests prescribing you a statin, discuss the idea of making lifestyle and dietary changes, such as eating a Mediterranean-style diet or including/avoiding other specific foods or food groups.

The guidelines were announced on November 10 at the AMA’s annual scientific conference and are published in the journal Circulation.

Sources:

[1] Everyday Health

[2] USA Today

[3] CNN

Proteins from Nuts, Seeds Are Heart-Healthy (But Proteins from Meat Are Not)

Researchers in California and France want to remind us that not all protein is created equal (at least when considering the nutrition of the entire protein-filled food). They say that meat protein is associated with a significantly increased risk of heart disease, while proteins from nuts and seeds are heart-healthy. [1]

Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the study found that people who eat large quantities of meat protein had a 60% risk increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD). By comparison, people who consumed large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds experienced a 40% reduction in CVD risk.

Gary Fraser, MB ChB, PhD, from Loma Linda University, and François Mariotti, PhD, from AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, said:

“While dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk.”

Fraser said that he and his colleagues have long suspected that red meat increases the risk of CVD, while adding more nuts and seeds to your diet protects against it. [2]

The researcher hopes that the findings will lead to further research into the way certain amino acids found in animal proteins boost the risk of heart disease, as well as more research into the relevance of blood pressure, blood lipids, and weight.

Additionally, the study found that eating more refined grains, sugary foods and starchy foods like potatoes, may promote poor heart health. These foods tend to dominate many vegetarian diets.

Lead author Dr. Ambika Satija wrote:

“It is apparent that there is a wide variation in the nutritional quality of plant foods, making it crucial to take into consideration the quality of foods in a plant-based diet.”

Reducing meat consumption has long been associated with better cardiovascular health. For example, eating animal products has been shown to increase the risk of blood clots that lead to heart attack and stroke. And back in 2013, Harvard researchers wrote that reducing meat consumption could extend your life by up to 20%.

Though one 2016 study found that eating more plant-based foods offsets the dangers of eating meat. Cool, right?

Sources:

[1] Science Daily

[2] Independent

Demonizing cholesterol is essential for the sale of dangerous statins!

CARDIAC SURGEON/PROFESSOR EMERITUS TELLS THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CHOLESTEROL SCAM AND THE TOXIC EFFECTS OF STATINS.

The following clips are from Dr. Donald H. Miller, Jr’s article published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, summer 2015 edition, which can be read in full here. Fallacies in Modern Medicine: Statins and the Cholesterol-Heart Hypothesis


Modern medicine has developed striking ways to treat coronary heart disease, which feature coronary stents implanted percutaneously and coronary artery bypass grafts performed surgically with the aid of a heart-lung machine. And then there are statins to lower cholesterol.

Some 43 million Americans take statins. In 2010, 11.6 percent of the population took them, 37 million, which includes 19.2 percent of people age 45-64; 39.6 percent of people age 65-74; and 44.3 percent of people age 75 and older.3 Following the 2013 ACC/AHA guidelines, an additional 10.2 million Americans without cardiovascular disease have now become candidates for statin therapy. One study concludes that 97 percent of black and white Americans age 66 to 75, including all men in that age group, should take statins.

It is a multibillion-dollar business. Pfizer’s Lipitor went on sale in 1997 and became the best-selling drug in the history of prescription pharmaceuticals before its patent expired in 2011. Sales surpassed $125 billion. AstraZeneca’s Crestor was the top-selling statin in 2013, generating $5.2 billion in revenue that year.

Government and the pharmaceutical industry fund these multimillion-dollar studies expecting correct results, so statin trial researchers employ this particular kind of statistical deception to create the appearance that statins are effective and safe. As one medical school professor puts it, “Anyone who questions cholesterol usually finds his funding cut off.”

Statins do more harm than good.

Fungi make statins, as a “secondary metabolite,” to kill predatory microbes. They also kill human cells. In a review of How Statin Drugs Really Lower Cholesterol and Kill You One Cell at a Time by James and Hannah Yoseph, Peter Langsjoen writes:

Many practicing physicians have a healthy understanding of the current level of corruption and collusion among big pharmaceutical companies, governmental agencies such as the NIH and FDA, and major medical associations [and non-profits] such as the American Heart Association, but the reader of this book will come away with the disturbing conclusion that it is even worse than imagined. Statins may be the perfect and most insidious human toxin in that adverse effects are often delayed by years and come about gradually. Further, statins frequently impair mental function to such a degree that by the time patients are in real trouble, they may lack the mental facilities to recognize the cause.

This toxin targets brain cells and skeletal muscle. A broad spectrum of adverse cognitive reactions occur from taking statins. They include confusion, forgetfulness, disorientation, memory impairment, transient global amnesia, and dementia.

Myopathy is the most common adverse effect of statin treatment, manifested by muscle aches and pains, weakness, instability, and easy fatigue. The most severe manifestation of statin-induced muscle damage is rhabdomyolysis, which carries a 10 percent mortality rate. Fragments of ruptured muscle block renal tubules and cause kidney failure. In one randomized trial of 1,016 healthy men and women given statins or a placebo, 40 percent of the women taking statins suffered exertional fatigue or decreased energy.

Several randomized controlled trials have reported a statistically significant increase in cancer associated with taking statins. In most of these trials, a small reduction in cardiovascular deaths in the statin group is counterbalanced by an increase in deaths from other causes, notably cancer, with the result that there is in no significant difference in all-cause mortality between people taking a placebo and those prescribed statins.

Statins can also cause diabetes, emotional disorders (depression, aggressiveness, suicidal ideation), hepatitis, cataracts, and strokes. Since August 2014, attorneys have filed more than 1,000 lawsuits against Pfizer, representing 4,000 women who say that taking Lipitor gave them diabetes.

Statin trials typically run for only 2 to 5 years. Investigators terminated the influential JUPITER trial endorsing statins for primary prevention of ASCVD after (a median) 1.9 years, far too short a time to reveal one of the worst “side effects” of long-term statin treatment: accelerated senescence. Statins speed up the transition from midlife vigor to debilitated old age.

Heart surgeon Michael DeBakey and his team, 52 years ago, found no correlation between blood cholesterol levels and severity of atherosclerosis in 1,700 patients undergoing surgical treatment of ASCVD. I have observed the same thing with my heart surgery patients (unpublished observation). Evidence for the cholesterol-heart hypothesis, i.e., the lipid hypothesis, wilts upon close scrutiny, as is also the case with the diet-heart hypothesis, which indicts saturated fat along with cholesterol for causing atherosclerosis. Approached with an open mind and without confirmatory bias (ignoring evidence that disagrees with one’s beliefs), substantial evidence now proves beyond a reasonable doubt that these hypotheses are wrong.

Cholesterol acts as the body’s fire brigade, putting out inflammatory fires and helping repair damage. Blaming cholesterol for atherosclerosis is like blaming firemen for the fire they have come to put out.

Cementing this molecule’s physiologic importance, there are now more than 100 peer-reviewed studies showing that low cholesterol levels are associated with earlier death.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the cholesterol-heart hypothesis is a fallacy of modern medicine. In the future, medical historians may liken the prescribing of statins to lower blood cholesterol with the old medical practice of bloodletting.

 

Donald W. Miller, Jr., M.D., is emeritus professor of surgery and former chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine. Contact: donaldwmiller@gmail.com.

Doctor Miller’s presentation on saturated fats and heart disease is a must see:

Poor Diet Caused Nearly Half of All Deaths in the U.S. in 2012

A study released earlier this year reveals that some 45% of all deaths in the U.S. in 2012 were due to “cardiometabolic disease,” or CMD – all because of the average diet. CMD encompasses heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. [1]

Researchers say that the largest number of diet-related CMD deaths are due to high consumption of sodium, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened drinks, and low intake of nuts and seeds, seafood omega-3 fats, and fruits and vegetables.

Related: Drinking ANY Sugar Increases Your Risk of Diabetes

Says first author Renata Micha, R.D., Ph.D., assistant research professor, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy in Boston, Massachusetts:

“These results should help identify priorities, guide public health planning, and inform strategies to alter dietary habits and improve health.

Increased intakes of specific minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, vegetable oils, and decreased intakes of salt, processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages appear to be key relevant priorities for dietary and policy recommendations. Future studies should evaluate the potential effects of specific interventions to address the diet-related cardiometabolic mortality and reduce disparities.” [2]

Published on 7 March 2017 in JAMAthe study found that more men than women die from diet-related causes. The researchers say that, generally speaking, the findings are consistent with the fact that men tend to have unhealthier eating habits. Additionally, there were a greater number of diet-related deaths among African-Americans and Hispanics compared with non-Hispanic whites. [1], [3]

According to Micha, the estimated number of deaths that were linked to not getting enough of the healthy foods listed was at least as substantial as the number of deaths associated with eating too much of the unhealthy foods listed.

Researchers report that the highest number of deaths was linked to high sodium intake; about 66,500 CMD deaths in 2012 were linked to eating too much salt, followed by (in order):

  • Not eating enough nuts and seeds (59,000 deaths)
  • Eating too much processed meats (58,000 deaths)
  • Eating too little seafood omega-3s (55,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough vegetables (53,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough fruits (52,500 deaths)
  • Drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages (52,000 deaths) [1]

Read: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Be the Key to Preventing Most Disease

The study did have its limitations. For instance, the studies the researchers used were observational, which don’t prove cause-and-effect. In addition, other dietary factors may have been at play, such as saturated fat and added sugar. And some dietary factors are potentially linked, like sodium and processed meats.

On a positive note, the researchers say that from 2002 to 2012, there were fewer diet-related CMD deaths due to insufficient polyunsaturated fats, nuts and seeds, and to excess sugary drinks. [1]

Sources:

[1] Live Science

[2] Medscape

[3] CNN


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