Free Minds & Free Markets

New Research Confirms We Got Cholesterol All Wrong

The U.S. government has pushed a lot of bad nutrition advice over the years. Maybe it should stop advising us on what to eat.

James Burger/agefotostock/NewscomJames Burger/agefotostock/NewscomA comprehensive new study on cholesterol, based on results from more than a million patients, could help upend decades of government advice about diet, nutrition, health, prevention, and medication. Just don't hold your breath.

The study, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, centers on statins, a class of drugs used to lower levels of LDL-C, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, in the human body. According to the study, statins are pointless for most people.

"No evidence exists to prove that having high levels of bad cholesterol causes heart disease, leading physicians have claimed" in the study, reports the Daily Mail. The Express likewise says the new study finds "no evidence that high levels of 'bad' cholesterol cause heart disease."

The study also reports that "heart attack patients were shown to have lower than normal cholesterol levels of LDL-C" and that older people with higher levels of bad cholesterol tend to live longer than those with lower levels.

This is probably news to many in government. But it's not news to everyone.

"In fact researchers have known for decades from nutrition studies that LDL-C is not strongly correlated with cardiac risk," says Nina Teicholz, an investigative journalist and author of The New York Times bestseller The Big Fat Surprise (along with a great recent Wall St. Journal op-ed highlighting ongoing flaws in federal dietary advice). In an email to me this week, she pointed out that "physicians continue focusing on LDL-C in part because they have drugs to lower it. Doctors are driven by incentives to prescribe pills for nutrition-related diseases rather than better nutrition—a far healthier and more natural approach."

Cholesterol in our diets comes from animals and animal products—including eggs, meat, fish, and dairy. The government told us for decades that these foods were, to varying degrees, dangerous.

Federal dietary policy is shaped by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which meets every five years to update its findings. The government touts the DGAC and the dietary guidelines it develops as "an important resource to help our Nation reach its highest standard of health."

The federal government's war on cholesterol, as early DGAC recommendations suggest, dates back decades. For example, the 1995 DGAC report stressed the dangers of dietary cholesterol.

"Most people are aware that high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet are linked to increased blood cholesterol levels and a greater risk for heart disease," it declares. "Choosing foods with less cholesterol and saturated fat will help lower your blood cholesterol levels."

Only in 2015 did federal dietary guidelines (mostly) halt the assault on cholesterol. Many hailed the news, while still stressing that high cholesterol levels in our bloodstreams is still a danger.

"There's a growing consensus among nutrition scientists that cholesterol in food has little effect on the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream," a Harvard Medical School blog post noted that same year. "And that's the cholesterol that matters."

"The government's new stance on dietary cholesterol is in line with that of other nations, which do not single out cholesterol as an issue," the Washington Post reported following the release of the most recent dietary guidelines in 2016. "Yet it should not be confused with officials' continued warning about high levels of 'bad' cholesterol in the blood—something that has been clearly linked to heart disease."

But this most recent study is throwing cold water on many of those continued government warnings about blood cholesterol.

What's more, if bad cholesterol isn't so bad, then the benefits of so-called good cholesterol are also under assault. Recently, *HDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol, was itself deemed suspect in some cases.

Dietary fat also appears not to be the danger the government says it is. Another new study, reported on by Ron Bailey this week, suggests, as he writes, that the federal government's warnings to avoid dairy products that are high in fat "is bunk."

I'm not a nutritionist. I don't know if the science on cholesterol is settled. But the federal government has warned us for decades about cholesterol in our bodies and in our food. The fact those warnings are now changing means the government has, despite what I'm sure are the good intentions of everyone involved, been handing out poor dietary advice and developing regulations that reflect that poor advice.

I'm one of many who has called out the DGAC and the federal government for foisting "decades of confusing and often-contradictory dietary advice" upon the American public. I also suggested, in a column last year, that one way the government might back up its claims to possess invaluable and unparalleled expertise in the areas of food policy and nutrition would be stop regularly reversing or altering its recommendations.

"The reason that we don't know about these huge reversals in dietary advice is that the nutrition establishment is apparently loathe to make public their major reversals in policy," Teicholz says. "The low-fat diet is another example: neither the AHA or the dietary guidelines recommend a low-fat diet anymore. But they have yet to announce this to the American public. And some in the establishment are still fighting to retain the low-fat status quo."

I am not your doctor, nor your nutritionist. I have no idea what you should eat. Maybe the government should adopt that mantra, too.

*Correction: This sentence initially referred to LDL as the "good" cholesterol. LDL is widely considered to be an unhealthy cholesterol, while HDL is conventionally considered good.

Photo Credit: James Burger/agefotostock/Newscom

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  • Rockabilly||

    "I have no idea what you should eat. Maybe the government should adopt that mantra, too."

    But what would all those graduates from the Kennedy School of Huge Government do if not tell you what's good for you for your own good?

    Think about them and stop being so negative.

  • Walk_on_Walter||

    Hahaha! Do it for the childlike minds who need your tax dollars!

  • Rockabilly||

    The bureaucrat works hard, in their mind, so you don't have to.

    The bureaucratic mind (BM) is a special type of mind.

    According to scholars, the BM, was brought into the modern world by the German egghead Max Weber and introduced to the USA by the socialist Woodrow Wilson.

    Writing as an academic while a professor at Bryn Mawr College, Woodrow Wilson's essay "The Study of Administration" argued for bureaucracy as a professional cadre. When he was elected the 1st democrat progressive socialist president - he was said to remark- "now I can really now tax, regulate, and control"

    Wilson, got the USA involved in WWI, a war that had nothing to do with America.

    Few American men wanted to fight in Wilson's war of choice, so he started a military draft to force men to fight.

    But what got him really turned on was how to fund his war of choice - yes, he started a federal income tax.

    Wilson personally wrote the first IRS forms along with the instructions and regulations .

    Do government forms, instructions and regulations turn you on?

    Thank Woodrow Wilson, the socialist god.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Woodrow Wilson, HEIL!!! Woodrow Wilson, HEIL!!! We will ALL die gladly in Your Sacred Name!!!!

    (In The War to End All Wars)!!!!

    How's that workin' fer ya?, as "Dr. Phil" would ask...

  • Drave Robber||

    Well, in a sense there have been no new wars since then. It's still the same war going on for 104 years.

  • SIV||

    And the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was just gravy!

    (Although Reason-doctrine holds 1 year old baby Nixon took control of Wilson's mind and forced him to sign that)

  • JoeB||

    Ah, 1913. Entry into WWI. The income tax. The 17th amendment. The Federal Reserve. The Draft. All the gifts that keep on giving.
    I believe if you looked closely at Wilson's birthmark, it looked like a 3-digit number.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Government hard at work to promote the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Stay tuned for the story about how later researchers pursued tax dollars. One MD interviewed a bit later is quite prescient: "Give this another decade [from 2007] and the lipid hypothesis will be on the junkpile of history because it's not true."

    The root cause of bad dietary advice.

    But, don't forget about the childlike minds who forever need somebody to tell them what to do.

    If the government does not mandate or otherwise promote a diet policy, an education policy, a labor policy, a housing policy, a community/military service policy, a health care insurance policy, various cultural norms, a monetary system, and a tax system, such people won't know what to do with their lives.

    Many people want big government to tell them what to do with their lives. Government is, after all, what we decide to do together, and these people want everybody else to do everything thing together.

  • Nardz||

    ^good observation, cato

    Progressivism: institutionalizing the religion of codependency

  • Walk_on_Walter||

    My longest living grandparent, my paternal grandmother, lived a life of no exercise and country breakfasts that included eggs, ham, biscuits, gravy, and all the things the so-called smart folks say are bad for you. And based on that, we all thought she'd be one of the first to go. But she outlived all the rest of my grandparents by anywhere from 13 to 21 years. So the next time a scientist explains to you about a consensus or a study, punch him in the dick -- twice! Nobody knows anything.

  • Live Free Or Diet||

    My great uncle lived to be 111. The had a farm in what is now Ladysmith, Virginia with cows, chickens and pigs. He had eggs and either ham or bacon every morning. Butter and cream went into and on virtually everything. He even buttered his tea and coffee "to sweeten it."

  • Johnimo||

    My grandfather did the same as your uncle. He died in the bed he was born in at 91, not exactly a short life. He smoked cigars, inhaled and blew the smoke out through his old nostrils. He went for long walks, and he drank moderately. I think the walking was the key factor, and none of the other stuff mattered one twit. We called him "Gangy." Long live Gangy!

  • Live Free Or Diet||

    Great Uncle Dace gave up smoking in his 80s, and said it ruined his health. (!)
    He died when his hip broke and he tumbled down the stone steps after church. We all thought he was 113, but he had lied about his age adding two years to get into WWI.
    He drank three fingers of his own homemade applejack Sunday afternoons, which was why he turned down being made an Elder in his church.

  • mswen||

    Sounds like my grandma. Her mother never spent a day in the hospital until she was 96. She lived on the family farm and was healthy and active well into her 80s. Used milk and butter in everything. Unfortunately, her nursing home has her on a "healthy" diet and she's fading fast.

  • Juice||

    My co-worker's mother died recently. She never drank, never smoked, and tried to eat healthy all her life. Dead at 72 of cancer. Live your life, people.

  • vek||

    Although I personally subscribe to the "all things in moderation" mantra for most things, because we really don't friggin' know a LOT of shit... It is clear that many things aren't too bad, if at all, even in excess. I would imagine eating a pretty varied diet, including lots of fats etc along with veggies and the like, is probably good for you, as is exercise... But nothing is a guarantee.

    They've actually found that longevity is probably mostly genetic in origin, as they seem to be finding for most things now that we're sequencing massive amounts of DNA. So they probably had good genes, and no matter what they did would have made them die super young, even if they were somewhat bad behaviors. I have good genes on all sides for the most part, so I expect to live to be average or a bit above age wise when I kick the bucket. I don't live super healthy though, so maybe I'll knock a couple years off... But it's worth it for all the bacon I eat!

  • DrZ||

    I knew a fellow who died while exercising at 36 years of age.

    He was jogging and was struck by a car proving that exercise doesn't guarantee a long healthy life.

  • Milo||

    Error in the article: in the following sentence, it should read "HDL, the so-called 'good' cholesterol," no?

    "Recently, LDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol, was itself deemed suspect in some cases."

  • Don't look at me.||

    See? Nobody knows what is good or bad.

  • gah87||

    Milo, you're correct. Was just about to post the same. Baylen, you should edit the article.

    Ironically, the Heart Association still promotes misconceptions as fact:

    LDL cholesterol is considered the "bad" cholesterol, because it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • dahowa||

    The meme to remember the difference is LDL = Lethal and HDL = Healthy. For what it's worth.

  • Peacedog||

    While a lot can be accomplished regarding quality of life, little, if anything, has been found to benefit ultimate lifespan outside of avoidance behaviors (don't drink excessively, don't smoke, avoid inherently dangerous activities, and keep body fat levels in check).

    Even the term health has no medical meaning beyond an "absence of pathology."

    Aside from keeping body fat levels in check, which is largely a function of carbohydrate metabolism, little can be done outside avoidance behaviors to maintain health and avoid illness.

    Exercise, while good for many things, is really more about maintaining functionality than anything else.

  • OldGuy||


  • Vernon Depner||

    "keeping body fat levels in check"

    Someone needs to come up with an effective way of doing that. Obese people who attempt to reduce their body fat to what is considered a healthy level by voluntarily changing their eating habits, and keep the fat off, have a failure rate of approximately 100%.

  • Cyronic||

    Untrue. I was technically "obese" at the beginning of this year (though not morbidly) and I've managed to lose nearly 40 lbs in the last few months, bringing me just barely into the healthy body mass index. And that was through voluntary changes in my diet (whole foods, no sugars/refined grains/etc.) because I was tired of feeling ill all the time.

    See? I'll see your anecdote and raise the stakes with an anecdote of my own.

  • Vernon Depner||

    I said, "and keep the fat off". Your weight loss was very recent. It's possible you'll be in the tiny minority who actually keep the weight off long term. Not likely, though. Sorry.

  • Johnimo||

    Way to go, Cyronic. I'm proud of you. Change your diet to brightly colored foods and get some exercise and enjoy life. I love what you're doing!

  • JoeB||

    Like Fruit Loops!?

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    I was at the high end of my optimal weight so I started doing intermittent fasting and now I have no interest in consuming calories before dinner. A typical dinner is a double bacon cheeseburger with fries or a whole 12 inch loaded pizza followed by a few beers and I am at the point where I need to gain weight.

  • Ben of Houston||

    Whatever works for you, my friend. As long as you are enjoying yourself and don't try to drive after those beers, not much else matters

  • BCarter||

    This. Whatever works for you. Every individual is different and needs to find their own groove.

  • Juice||

    I was about 40-50 lbs overweight for at least 10 years, actually more like 15. I was chubby, but not what I would call obese, although I think according to the BMI thing I was. I lost it a couple of times and it came back, but the last time I lost it, I actually changed my lifestyle altogether and learned how to eat much less day to day every day. I think in the process I changed my gut bacteria and such. Anyway, that was 5 years ago and I haven't gained it back in the slightest. I just can't see ever returning to that size. I know that it just won't happen again.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Good luck, but the odds are heavily against you.

  • Nuwanda||

    Jesus, Vern, you really do know how to piss on someone's parade.

  • BigT||

    Vern just knows that most people are weak, spineless, irresponsible pigs, and THAT is why there are so few libertarians.

  • JoeB||

    Vern just couldn't resist the "heavily" pun. Can't blame him.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Glad you got that weight off your shoulders.

  • Johnimo||

    Great job, Juice! You're doing the right things. Get rid of all the white stuff (sugar, flour, rice, pasta, potatoes) and keep eating the brightly colored foods. I know you're going to be much happier. I love your dedication.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    I was briefly overweight as a young adult and made some serious lifestyle changes to avoid being fat. I haven't had a weight problem for 40 years. Everybody around me is overweight and they all tell me I'm "lucky". Maybe. But maybe I just learned not to eat more than my body needs. You can't turn an ounce of food into a pound of fat. Eat what you need and go do something else.

  • THCorCBDthatistheQuestion||

    I used to be about 70lbs overweight. Tried many fad diets out there (Keto, IIFYM, Paleo, slow carb, etc.) I always stayed slightly fatter than I wanted unless I weighed myself and did body fat every day.

    I was a pain in the ass until I landed on my last diet. I won't change again because it's so easy to eat healthy now and keep the fat off. Keeping fat off is extra hard after you have been fat, because even after losing weight the fat cells are still there...just without any triglycerides in them.

    I switched to a whole food plant based diet with almost no added fat or oil. After a bit of logging , I tend to end up around 15% fat, 15% protein and 70% carbs.

    I can already hear people wondering how all those carbs aren't fat.

    If you eat at maintenance (or close to it) your body will not change complex carbs to triglycerides. The carbs will be used as energy (as they should be), the protein will be used for maintenance and muscle building, and the fat is almost all Omega 6 and 3 from plant sources (flax and hemp mostly).

    Super easy to be healthy, because I don't even need to think about fast food, or cake, or any of that garbage...because it isn't whole food and usually not a plant.

  • THCorCBDthatistheQuestion||

    And my weight has been off consistently for about five years now. In the last year it hasn't yo-yo'd since changing to whole food plant based.

  • Johnimo||

    What type of exercise are you getting? I'm so happy about your success. Tell us more!

  • JFree||

    Nutritionally, fiber should not be considered carbs. They are processed completely differently by the body and by gut biota. Chances are if you are eating plant foods a lot of those carbs are actually fiber.

    Lumping fiber in with carbs is one of the major ways imo people are misled about what they eat and how often how much they should eat when they do eat.

  • 10mm||


  • Ben of Houston||

    Not necessarily. An absolutist diet is actually easier to keep than a moderate one if you have the willpower to keep in an absolute. If you cannot have cake ever, you cannot lie to yourself that it balances out with the workout you did earlier.

    To compare, which is easier to keep: "thou shalt not murder" or "thou shalt not covet"? Desire is a necessary part of our lives, and so it's hard to keep your desires in check. Murder is not a daily part of life, so it's quite easy to be absolutist on that regard.

  • vek||

    My dad got a bit too tubby 10+ years ago, and lost a shit ton of weight, and has never got anywhere close to the place where he peaked at back then. I also got into the higher end of "normal" weight range for somebody my size, but I'd usually been skinny, so I changed my eating habits and got down to being heroin chic. I have never got back up to that size again either, although I probably will at some point because I really wasn't big at all.

    Lots of people just lack will power. Some people have shitty genes. Between the 2 that explains most of it... Not a lot to be done about shitty genes, but if people just manned up and stuck to a regime they could keep the weight off.

  • Vernon Depner||

    if people just manned up and stuck to a regime they could keep the weight off.

    But at this point it's very clear that most people are unable to do that. If obesity is such a big problem, then medical scientists need to admit that and look for better ways to address it. We know now that chastising fat people for "lack(ing) will power" and not "mann(ing) up" is not an effective treatment for obesity.

    Not a lot to be done about shitty genes...

    That is less true every day. Maybe genetic therapies will be the ultimate answer.

  • vek||

    I imagine we may well be able to come up with magic pills to make people not fat... Because we already did in the past. The question is will the side effects be worse than being fat? I think people just need to sack up and start eating better diets. Either that or deal with the fact that people are going to be fat in a world of such abundance. If we come up with good magic pills that's cool I guess, but just a general change in attitudes/habits can help too.

    Either way, not my problem. I have will power and will keep my weight wherever I am comfortable with.

  • ipsquire||

    That's stupid, and so is most diet advice. Weight itself isn't the problem. Lack of real "exercise" is. You can be fat and healthy, you can be skinny and likely to die. Marathoners don't live longer than big strong people, so cardio is NOT the only important metric. Put ON lean body mass, the rest takes care of itself.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    They really don't want to say what they really know, which is that, after you've avoided smoking yourself into an early grave, and eat a decently nutritious diet and get some exercise, it's mostly genetics.

    And for the people who reach past 100, it's ALL genetics. They frequently have the most horrible habits, and their genes just overcome it all.

    If you've got "die in your 60's" genes, you're just screwed.

  • vek||

    Yup. This is becoming more and more solid for longevity, although it's long since been a sure enough thing statistically where it's been my default assumption for a long time. They're proving the same for most other traits now that we're sequencing genomes like crazy.

  • 10mm||

    Eat well exercise often and pick your grandparents very carefully

  • BCarter||

    Balanced diet & moderate exercise. Not much can be done about the genes. There is no magic bullet.

  • flyfishnevada||

    "While a lot can be accomplished regarding quality of life, little, if anything, has been found to benefit ultimate lifespan."

    Fixed it for you. Nothing really determines lifespan. Healthy overweight folks live longer on average than healthy folks of "normal" weight. For every smoker with lung cancer is one that lives to be 100. Same with drinking. Doctors and medical researchers don't know what makes us tick so I'll bet you don't either. Those are just your personal biases.

  • Peacedog||

    Actually, after three years of medical school and countless clinical hours I can say your comments are irrelevant.

    Outliers exist. But don't ever bet on being one.

    Fact, if you smoke you will have more health related issues than the general public and statistically live a shorter lifespan.

    If you are anything other than a light drinker, your odds of living a long healthy life are lessened.

    If your body fat levels are above 25% as a man, your odds of severe health problems go way up as well.

    As for ultimate mortality, it is in fact limited by the fact we have no credible examples of people living much longer than about 120 years.

    Finally, as I frequently tell patients who pull this denial based crap, "you may be unique, but you are not special." Never count on being one of the lucky ones. A little preventive behavior heads off the worst possible outcomes early on. Libertines suffer every time with age. Watching a man spend the rest of his abbreviated lifespan on a couch sucking on an oxygen tank at 50 years of age from smoking three packs a day for 35 years is a pretty good motivation not to smoke yourself.

    Don't be a negative example for someone else. Prevention works way better than our ability to repair.

  • JFree||

    Nothing really determines lifespan.

    Well that's just fatalistic lets-wallow-in-ignorance BS.

    For every smoker with lung cancer is one that lives to be 100.

    Centenarians are a 3-standard deviation outlier from normal. That means there is almost nothing behavioral about their longevity. They lived a long time because they were genetically programmed to live a long time without decay - so no matter what they actually did (or said they did a la 4 Yorkshiremen when offered a drink to tell tales), it's all irrelevant to everyone else. 98% of people DON'T have those genes or combo.

    For everyone else - behaviors matter. And the best evidence for that is that the biggest correlation with longevity in the US is income. Turns out that in the US in our medical system, income is actually a hell of a proxy for 'this is what you should do and this is what will be done for you if you want to live longer' and reverse. Adjusting for childhood vaccines and antibiotics, the lower 50% have had very little change in longevity for a century. The upper 50% have reaped the near-entirety of longevity changes (both self-behavioral and medical-treatment induced).

  • auldzalt||

    Perfect health is the slowest rate at which one dies.

  • brec||

    The lead author of the study is a long time rabid cholesterol "denialist."

    Here is a rebuttal (of the study) blog post -- quite entertaining, IMHO:

  • kevinnbass||

    Well. Am I a right or a wrong rabid asshole? I'd think that'd be the more pertinent point.

  • brec||

    More generally, I think Reason/H&R would do well to avoid conflating two separate areas -- badmouthing gov't intrusions into rights and liberties with respect to food on one hand, and choosing sides in nutrition issues and debates on the other.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Can yee nae read, laddie?

    I am not your doctor, nor your nutritionist. I have no idea what you should eat. Maybe the government should adopt that mantra, too.

    He's not choosing dies in nutrition issues, he's saying the government shouldn't be choosing sides because they have a miserable track record.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Now do Bailey and sodium intake. All it takes is a couple of studies that confirm his skeptical bias and he's on the denialist train. But when it comes to global warming, well, are you gonna believe your lying eyes or those sweet, sweet models?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    ? fuckall to do with this article or comment ?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    So this isn't a case of confirmation bias. Good to know in an article titled, "New Research Confirms We Got Cholesterol All Wrong."

  • brec||

    Good statement by Baylen!

    But the post's subhead is mixed:

    The U.S. government has pushed a lot of bad nutrition advice over the years.

    Takes a stand on the health value of the advice. But

    Maybe it should stop advising us on what to eat.


  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Sometimes, as I think is the case here, "bad" doesn't mean "wrong" so much as "inconsistent" or "sloppy".

  • Echospinner||

    First of all the DGAC is not "the government" it is a panel of experts convened by the USDA periodically to meet and issue recommendations.

    Here is a list of the last committee

    Barbara Millen, DrPH, RD
    Millennium Prevention
    Westwood, MA

    Vice Chair
    Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc
    Tufts University
    Boston, MA

    Steven Abrams, MD
    Baylor College of Medicine
    Houston, TX

    Lucile Adams-Campbell, PhD
    Georgetown University Medical Center
    Washington, DC

    Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH
    University of California, San Diego
    La Jolla, CA

    J. Thomas Brenna, PhD
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY

    Wayne Campbell, PhD
    Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN

    Steven Clinton, MD, PhD
    The Ohio State University
    Columbus, OH

    Frank Hu, MD, PhD, MPH
    Harvard School of Public Health
    Boston, MA

    Miriam Nelson, PhD
    Tufts University
    Boston, MA

    Marian Neuhouser, PhD, RD
    Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
    Seattle, WA

    Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD
    Yale School of Public Health
    New Haven, CT

    Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD, RD
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Chapel Hill, NC

    Look up the bios of some of these people.

    Secondly recommendations are always updated as new information becomes available. That is how science works. It does not make it wrong or a bad record previously.

  • Paloma||

    Got credentialism?

  • Echospinner||

    Well some swelling around my right knee and it itches, think it could be that?

    Look I am not expert in this field. The USDA guidelines could be incorrect or not. Point is we should not just reject something because the government funded it. These people are actual scientific experts. There are others who disagree.

    I think the perception is that these things come from some government flunkies sitting in DC. That is not how it works. I posted that to try and clear that misperception. It is a data point.

    This particular issue, the role of dietary cholesterol and use of statins is up for grabs right now. It is a big issue because the pathophysiology is incompletely understood. The long term epidimology is also insufficient.

    We know that it is a multifactorial disease with complex biochemical and cellular pathways. Cholesterol has a role without question. How that works exactly is another question.

    You do know that cholesterol is essential to all animal life. It is in all of our cell walls and plays a role in metabolism and precursor to essential hormone synthesis. We make much more of it than we ingest.

    I am making a fried egg sandwich right now.

  • JFree||

    Well who do you think is funding those nutrition studies that counter the nutrition advice?

    He's implying that those nutrition studies (which HE is siding with and which he is correct to side with) are funded by - what magic? food processors? That Coca Cola is going to produce better science-based nutrition studies about the impact of say drinking a ton of sugar?

    There is a very legitimate role for government in producing meta/foundational information. Because the market either will not do that - or will not do that in a way that actually helps consumers deal with asymmetric markets. That also means however that they will produce CONFLICTING information - because that is how knowledge progresses.

    The legitimate problem here is that govt is - on the advice side - almost always going to undermine the information produced on the research side. Precisely BECAUSE producers WANT asymmetric markets and stupid consumers and on the advice side they have the financial power to distort things.

    If you understand PR/marketing manipulation, its easy to see what's happening. Govt, on the advice side, is being turned into a fake source of artificial credibility. Or call it cronyism. Unfortunately the author/Reason only occasionally seem to really understand what is happening with focused fire.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    If government got out of the business of giving nutritional advice entirely, do you think that the desire to have nutritional advice would go unfilled?

    I could easily see several corporations using the pseudo-genetic testing like 23andMe provides coupled with questionnaires giving out nutrition advice, and I can see the market slowly evolving them till we have a group of competitive companies giving out pretty damned good advice.

    That is less likely to happen when the government is taking our money to wield the giant hammer of non-targeted, cronyistic nutrition advice they've been spewing for my entire lifetime...

  • JFree||

    I could easily see several corporations using the pseudo-genetic testing like 23andMe provides coupled with questionnaires giving out nutrition advice, and I can see the market slowly evolving them till we have a group of competitive companies giving out pretty damned good advice.

    I used to think the same thing. Worked in early Web1.0 startups and saw the huge disrupting/freeing potential of the Internet.

    Then the whole fucking thing turned into a spy camera funded by breaking your identity into pieces and selling them off to people who want you to remain chained down.

    I'm no longer optimistic. But yeah - govt - at least fed level - should prob just get out of the advice biz cuz they are obviously corrupt.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I'm more optimistic than ever.

    I see the endless turmoil in the media as evidence that all the massive power structures are being torn apart, precisely because of the internet and the inability of anyone to control the message.

    I don't see any of the initiatives to reassert control - net neutrality, horror over the Russians going off message causing congress to want to regulate social media, etc... - having any likelihood of succeeding.

    The internet is like cars or guns. It's going to change the world regardless of what the power hungry desire. Anything that gives individuals power takes power away from authorities.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Your food pyramid called. The interests that told us to avoid salt, red meat and eat a shit ton of bread want their money back.

    And since that shit was published on the public dime not based on science, but on political influence, I don't buy anything people connected with the USDA have to say unless it involves inspecting meat for bacteria.

  • Ben of Houston||

    If you read the book of the referred expert (Big Fat Surprise), the thesis is that the founders of the American Heart Association also controlled the FDA's and USDA's medical outlook, and their opinions on diet have directed funding for essentially all medical nutrition research for decades (combined, the government agencies and the AHA control 50-80% of nutrition research funding in America). In short, if you disagreed on cholesterol, they decided you were a quack and you were denied funding.

    I don't have the means to independently verify this, but I've seen that sort of group-think before, and the book is fairly convincing.

  • Number 2||

    Maybe the federal government got its information about cholesterol from the same source that told the federal government about the deadliness of filled milk.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I didn't see a link to the actual study but it reminds me of many of the studies I am forced to work with.

    People at high risk of cardiac disease who therefore take statins remain at higher risk than those who didn't need statins.

    I see this all the time with my own drug. People who are sick enough to need my drug have worse outcomes than those who aren't prescribed my drug. No shit.

  • ShotgunJimbo||

    Ya, this is what is extremely frustrating about scientific debate (and honestly debate in general) on the internet with rubes. They don't understand enough about the scientific method, reasoning through a problem, and what confounding variables, mitigating factors, etc are.

    And worse, when you give one of these black/white thinkers an answer like - I dont know, I dont have enough info to say, I cant prove that completely but here is what I know - they take it as a conceding the argument to them and walk away from their keyboard with a smug smile...unfortunately not realizing they didn't "win" anything and their thick skull prevented any new information from creeping in.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    When its socialism, you want white....vs black. Its always white supremacy with you socialists.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "Recently, LDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol,"

    Look, if you can't get LDL and HDL straight, you really should just quote people who can, and not try writing anything yourself.

  • Anti-Fasciitis||

    IMHO, 50 years of eating what you want is better than 100 years of eating what you don't want (or maybe less if you get hit by a bus).

    For all we know, the clock may run out on all of us soon enough, the healthy and unhealthy alike.

  • Pat001||

    Other than not smoking, do what you want.

  • SIV||

    What's wrong with smoking? 2/3 of smokers aren't going to die of a smoking related disease and most of the remaining 1/3 will succumb at an advanced age. Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    I've been smoking for 45 years but mostly vaping lately. Recently had a few thousand dollars worth of lung tests done. All good, no issues. The anti smoking hysteria is really out of proportion to the actual risk. But it's been great for tax revenues.

  • vek||

    A lot of it has to do with how much you smoke, according to the very studies the government uses to vilify it. Once you get to less than a pack a day the harm drops off sharply, and by half a pack a day it is basically within the margin of error.

    But yeah, even at a pack a day it's not as horrible as they make it out to be statistically speaking... That said, if you're one of the people whose lungs go tits up in their 40s or 50s it would REALLY suck. My dad recently quit after smoking for about 40 years, he's in his 50s now, mainly because he was starting to get the initial signs of his lungs going to shit. He's fine-ish, but if he'd kept going at it for another few years he almost certainly wouldn't have been. He smoked 2 packs a day plus, so not that surprising. I quit with him for the solidarity thing, but still smoke when I drink, and might let myself slide back into being a half pack a day or less smoker in the future because of the data. We'll see.

  • afk05||

    At least some of heart disease deaths, which is the leading cause, is concomitant with or exacerbated by smoking, lung cancer is the highest percentage of cancer, or malignant neoplasms, which is the #2 cause of death, and COPD, commonly, but not always caused by smoking, is the #4 cause of death.

    I think it's fairly certain to say that smoking is terrible, and not only causes or contributes to a large number of deaths, but also a large and expensive portion of non-fatal diseases, such as stroke.

    All so you can smell like an ash tray, have yellow teeth and wrinkles? Nah, I'm good.

  • SIV||

    Only shoot pharmaceutical dope, use a new clean sharp spike every time,
    sterile, preferably reagent-grade water, know your dosage, and use common sense or know your risk with poly-drug use. Live happy.

  • NashTiger||

    Tax Cuts, Health Insurance without free mammograms, and the new SCOTUS will probably kill us anyway

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Friday tied the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to a century-old plot by socialists.
    "If you really understand the big picture of what's going on, then what's going on with Kavanaugh will make perfectly good sense to you," Carson said at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. "There have been people in this country for a very long time, going all the way back to the Fabians, people who've wanted to fundamentally change this country."

    God, the perfidy of these socialists knows no bounds. I thought HG Wells travelled to the future to thwart the designs of Jack the Ripper who used his time machine to terrorize Mary Steenburgen, but what he was really doing is using that as a cover to convince Christine Ford to testify against Judge Kavanaugh. Golly... I can't even.

  • Red Tony||

    A little too much Hank Phillips there, LTA.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Historically speaking, though, he's right. The Fabian society were just what he calls them, (Their emblem was a wolf in wrapped in a sheep skin.) and were fairly successful.

    The key to a successful conspiracy is that it doesn't have to be secret, if you train people to uncritically reject all conspiracy theories...

  • JFree||

    And apparently the key to making sure that everything is a conspiracy is to blame Fabians for everything. Since they did exist after all.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Socialists are the scum of the earth.

    Anarchists are willing to do their bidding. Burn everything down that is.

  • MikeP2||

    And Dr Carson is entirely correct.

  • Pat001||

    This just in: A comprehensive study of new studies says new studies aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

  • Mudhen||

    While I realize it anecdotal, my aunt just turned 99. She eats bacon and eggs every day for breakfast. Rarely drinks, never smoked but also never exercises. she also rarely eats fast food. watching her i'm convinced it has more to do with your genes than anything else. Yes, overeating, smoking and excessive drug use can hasten the end of life, but if otherwise just live a moderate lifestyle and you'll live ok.

  • Echospinner||

    With a link to the Daily Mail, I can't find the actual article.

    Food lawyer. What is that? A pudgy barrister who rates restaurants?

    You are not doing people any favors. The author never read the study nor could he understand it.

    Reason should not be publishing crap like this. It could actually result in someone believing that this one article published in an obscure journal actually means something significant. You are doing people a disservice writing about something way over your head.

  • THCorCBDthatistheQuestion||

    Agreed. I hate when mags talk about an article about a study, except usually the original article isn't even about the study, but about the press release about the abstract of the study, which often does t even match the true findings of the study.

    Nutrition studies tend to be the worst, with the sugar, dairy and meat industries being the worst about it. Although even the chia industry (yes there really!) has funded biased sceince to overstate the value of chia.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Those terracotta heads don't sell themselves.

  • MikeP2||

    And that is the problem with most research articles. The vast majority of reporting is solely on the abstract and written by someone who cant even understand that.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The cocktail of drugs that people take is the key, whatever people are taking is keeping them alive longer and that is the most important thing, not actual science.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This Ford person with the kavanaugh controversy reminds me of Egg from Arrested development.


  • Deconstructed Potato||


  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You know who else got research all wrong?

  • ||

    97% of scientists?

  • SIV||

    4 out of 5 dentists?

  • Pat001||

    All 17 intelligence agencies?

  • Vernon Depner||

    Victor Frankenstein?

  • Echospinner||

    Linus Pauling?

  • BigT||

    Rachel Carson?

  • tpaine||

    John Maynard Keynes?

  • BigT||

    Trofim Lysenko?

  • Earth Skeptic||

    The 2016 presidential election pollsters?

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Josef Mengele?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hillary's polling company?

  • Johnimo||

    You should eat healthy food. You should get lots of exercise and fresh air. You should find a loving spouse. You should work hard at something you enjoy, and try to sleep soundly each night. This is not rocket science folks. Or ... is ... it ??

  • MikeP2||

    It is not the government that is the primary problem. At worst, they influence public school lunches, but do little else then funnel bd information the the public.
    The problem is the medical research community and the arrogant behavior of overeducated doctors who believe they know everything. The AMA and the like create policy statements on tenuous science that get foisted on pcps who then are mouthpieces to a largely ignorant public. The food pyramid is a minor problem relative to your doctor telling you to stop eating eggs and guzzle statins.

  • JoeB||

    Actually, the primary problem is public education, with leftist morons stressing tolerance and identity politics over critical thinking. Not only can Johnny not read, he can't figure out his own gender.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    "Government advice made me so afraid of the dangerous foods that I could no longer set foot in my local supermarket", remarked one area woman.

  • JoeB||

    Government advice turned me into a newt!

  • Duelles||

    I love my fatty foods. It's where the flavor resides and it takes longer to break down into the useful glucose that the body uses. Fatty foods are the best.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    We're the government and we're here to decide what's good for you. Is that a plastic straw in your juice cup? Come with me, you're under arrest.

  • TxJack 112||

    The most accurate predictor of heart disease or any illness is family history. If you have a parent with a history of heart disease, then the potential for you to have it much higher. I had a friend who was fit, ran 8 miles daily and had a cholesterol level of 400 because like his father, his body did not process it. He was forced to take meds and keep in great shape to avoid the same fate as his father who died when he was 41 of a massive heart attack. BTW, one study is not proof. If additional studies are able to replicate the methods and get the same results, that is proof. The concepts are called validity and reliability and the basic premise of all scientific research.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Science is done by consensus these days, often involving people whose backgrounds aren't even relevant to the topic being discussed. Replication is for fools. Releasing raw data only opens your models up to criticism. Best just to scream consensus, blacklist the apostates, and brand everyone else a rube.

  • M.L.||

    "This sentence initially referred to LDL as the "good" cholesterol. LDL is widely considered to be an unhealthy cholesterol, while HDL is conventionally considered good."

    Maybe Reason should stop advising us on what to eat.

  • Lester224||

    It's not fat that's really bad, it's sugar.

  • Lester224||

    IMO as a random commenter...

  • BBerry12||

    Hey, it's not all bad. Look at all the money big pharma made selling those statins! You can't keep broadcast TV running with psych meds alone!

  • The Last American Hero||

    What about boner pills?

  • R. K. Phillips||

    I hate boner pills. They are excruciating to insert, and never seem to dissolve.

  • JoeB||

    Wow, you mean science isn't "settled"? Interpretation of data might be subject to bias and preconceptions? Issues of secondary gain might corrupt government policy? Next up: Man-made climate change, baby!!

  • Wildbill2u||

    look at how arguments for and against certain types of food and drink change with new studies and you have to be a little cynical about the treatments and drugs that have been hyped to make the public buy them.

    I am on a statin right now and assume that the doctor hasn't read or accepted the new studies. I just had a couple of stents put in to some arteries that were 100% blocked and I was enjoying LOW blood pressure readings for years. If I had some blockages, wouldn't that have produced higher blood pressure?

    I don't know what to do anymore.

  • Tionico||

    Maybe it should stop advising us on what to eat.

    Since FedGov never was tasked with "advising" on who puts what into their bodies, when, and why, thisis absolutely true. On WHAT BASIS do FedGof meddle in such things? Their penchant to tell others how they should live... and nothing more.

    End it.

  • DrT||

    I presume you are citing this study ("Statins stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure: pharmacological mechanisms", Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Mar;8(2):189-99.). If so, you should really provide a link or journal citation so that people can find the original work. Your citations are to other journalists. My consistent experience has been that, on any of the very few topics on which I am an expert, journalists make non-trivial errors of interpretation and fact. Sometimes the errors are very serious. Its better to put in the original source material so people can judge for themselves.

  • DirkT||

    I haven't eaten the Standard American Diet since 1987 and I also don't know what anybody should eat (and believe me, I am asked often). What I do know is that what you DON'T eat is far more important. First on my list: any vegetable or seed oil. You know, the ones we have been told for decades are "good for us," like canola.

  • DrZ||

    Patient: Doc I want to live to be a hundred years old. What do I have to do?

    Doc: quit drinking, quit smoking, no more sex, eat only vegetables and non-fat broth. No more parties and be in bed every night by 9:30.

    Patient: if I do all this will I live to be one hundred?

    Doc: I don't know, but you sure feel like you are a hundred.

  • Echospinner||


  • Echo3victor||

    They are poisoning our food.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Big Pharma had new pills to sell, so the government made new ills to cure.

  • the_strickler||

    I recently switched from a "healthy" cereal for breakfast to 4 pieces of bacon and 2 slices of cheese. My digestion is so much better, my head is clearer, and I don't get hungry again for 5 hours.

    The difference is amazing.

  • redfish||

    The science actually isn't that difficult. Both HDL and LDL cholesterol are used by your body. The concern has always been a higher amount of one than the other, because one carries cholesterol to your blood stream, and the other removes it. When there's too much in your blood stream, its said to build up on your arteries. But neither is really "bad" and neither is "good." Both are "good." Like most naturally produced substances in the bodies, problems come from imbalance or excess, but there's a lot of evidence that the excess that causes problems is systematic rather than from eating foods that happen to have cholesterol in them. "Good" and "bad" cholesterol were always dishonest labels used by people who were marketing products.

  • rano del||

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  • swampwiz||

    It seems that research is showing that the key statistic is the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio. The standard statin Rx attacks triglycerides in addition to LDL. I have found that eating more mammalian flesh, in addition to taking a statin, helps boost my HDL.

  • surround||

    Fascinating! thank you for sharing

  • BCarter||

    Haha ...

    'The fact those warnings are now changing means the government has, despite what I'm sure are the good intentions of everyone involved, been handing out poor dietary advice and developing regulations that reflect that poor advice.'

    'despite what I'm sure are the good intentions'.

    Of government. The good intentions of government.

    Someone has not been paying attention.

  • Kratoklastes||

    Government-authored dietary guidelines are a terrific idea - they are an essential mechanism to cull people stupid enough to believe anything uttered by a bureaucrat or politician.

    More of it, I say. Let the Deltas follow like sheep, and get roughly the same outcome as sheep (significantly shorter lifespan than anyone who views any .gov pronouncement, guideline, recommendation or promulgation as "almost-certainly horse-shit").

    Social Darwinism is welfare-enhancing: those who outsource their nutritional decisions to the shitbags and charlatans of .gov, deserve the metabolic disarray that results.

  • MST||

    A quibble:

    "I also suggested, in a column last year, that one way the government might back up its claims to possess invaluable and unparalleled expertise in the areas of food policy and nutrition would be stop regularly reversing or altering its recommendations."

    If you ask them to not reverse themselves, they will never admit they are wrong, a tendency they already possess in Spades.


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    Geek Squad Webroot being an antivirus software is very crucial in respect to today's time. The experts working behind the toll-free helpline of this antivirus are great at resolving all your virus and malware issues. Call them now for expert help, anytime.

  • jhondillinger||

    keep oil and do tention free.

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