21 Frequently asked questions about heart disease

| November 8, 2012
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Using "relative risk statistics" and changing the study's design, the CPPT researchers declared success and the War on Cholesterol began in earnest

Using “relative risk statistics” and changing the study’s design, the CPPT researchers declared success and the War on Cholesterol began in earnest


We have more heart disease today because we’re living longer?


No – Adult life expectancy was the same in 1910 as it is today.

Average life expectancy was 45 years in 1910. But factor out (1) infant mortality and (2) young women who died giving birth  and the remaining surviving adults were just as likely to reach age 75 as they do today. [and on fewer or no drugs]


Q: Are diabetes and heart disease mostly hereditary? 

A: In 1910, the incidence of diabetes and heart disease were far less common than today.  As an example, the lifetime risk of diabetes was 1 in 30; today it is 1 in 3. In 1910, heart disease mortality was less than 10 percent; today it is over 40 percent. Our genes don’t change in 100 years, but what has changed is the quality of our food. (Another subject.)

Q: Were “Cave man” and traditional diets low in fat? 

A: No – lamb was served at the “Last Supper” and skinless chicken breasts were not served at Mount Vernon. More seriously, primitive peoples throughout the world sought out and consumed fat from fish and shellfish, water fowl, sea mammals, land birds, insects, reptiles, rodents, bears, dogs, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, game, eggs, nuts and milk products. (westonaprice.org/Abrams, Food & Evolution 1987)

Q: Is heart disease caused by cholesterol and saturated fat from animal products? 

A: No, heart disease has interrelated, multiple causes. As an example, during the steady increase in reported coronary heart disease mortality (1920-1967), consumption of animal fats declined but consumption of hydrogenated and industrially processed vegetable oils increased dramatically. (USDA statistics)

Q: Does saturated fat lodge and clog up in our arteries? 

A: No. So-called blockage is a complex “patch,” including – dominantly – fibrous tissue. The fatty acid component found in artery “blockage” is mostly unsaturated fat  (74%) of which 41% is polyunsaturated. (Lancet 1994 344:1195)

Q: Is it true that Vitamin B12 can be obtained from blue-green algae and soy products?

A: Vitamin B12 is not absorbed from plant sources. Modern soy products increase the body’s requirement for B12. Liver and red meat are our best sources of all B-complex vitamins. (westonaprice.org).

Q: Is it true that for good health and long life, serum cholesterol should be less than 180 mg/dl?

A: Not according to the American Heart Association journal Circulation! The all-cause death rate is higher in individuals with cholesterol levels lower than 180 mg/dl. (Circulation, 1992 86:3:1026-1029).

Q: Do children benefit from a low-fat diet?  

A:  Mother’s milk is the highest cholesterol food on earth. Did God make a mistake? Children on low-fat diets suffer from growth problems, failure to thrive, and learning disabilities. No, children need a high fat, high cholesterol diet!

Q: Will a low-fat diet help you “feel better and increase your joy of living?”

A: No, as with growing children, low-fat diets are associated with increased rates of depression, psychological problems, fatigue, violence and suicide. (Lancet 3/21/92 v339).

Q: Is cholesterol made in the liver?

A: Yes and in every cell in the body  (except nerve tissue) – that’s how important cholesterol is! Because dietary cholesterol is poorly absorbed – 50 percent at best – the body relies on its own production for its new daily cholesterol requirement – 1200 to 1800 milligrams per day (Mary Enig, PhD, lipid biochemist).

Q: Are lard (the rendered fat from a pig) and chicken skin saturated fats?

A: Creamy lard and chicken fat are 60 and 70 percent unsaturated, respectively. Like all food fats, lard and chicken fat are a combination of different fatty acids – saturated and unsaturated. The experts who warn us about saturated fat have yet to take their first course in lipid biochemistry.

Q: Are saturated fats animal fats?

A: No, saturated fats are found abundantly in tropical oils (coconut and palm) and are also present in varying amounts in most plants. Olive oil, for example, is 15-16 percent saturated palmitic acid. Even flaxseed contains saturated fat. (Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, lipid biochemist).

Q: Are polyunsaturated fats “plant fats”?

A: Polyunsaturated fats are also found in marine life, fish and animals. Excess highly processed polyunsaturated fats from seed oils – incorporated into are tissues – can promote injury and inflammation. Inflammation in the artery walls leads to plaque buildup and blood clots.

Q: Is vegetable shortening such as Crisco better than lard for a hearty health?

A: For decades, Crisco has been a significant source of trans fatty acids in the American diet. Trans fats are not safe at any level. Lard from properly raised pigs is trans-free and is a great source of natural vitamin D.

Q: Does butter contain a lot of cholesterol?

A: No – cholesterol is found in food only in tiny milligram (mg) amounts. A pound of butter contains 985 mg of cholesterol – less than 1 gram. A tablespoon of butter contains just 30 milligrams of cholesterol – and only 1/2 is absorbed. You would have to eat two pounds of butter daily in any attempt to turn off the body’s own cholesterol synthesis.

Q: Do so called high cholesterol foods raise blood cholesterol?

A: There’s no evidence that cholesterol in food raises cholesterol in blood – other than the positive result of promoting higher levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Towards the end of his life, Ancel Keys, the University of Minnesota professor who was first to blame cholesterol and fat on heart disease, said, “Cholesterol in food has no influence on cholesterol in blood and we’ve known that all along.”

Q: Does excess animal protein cause calcium to leach from the bones?

A: No – the poorly conducted studies that make this false claim used dry protein powder – not fresh meat. Our bodies are made of protein and fat. We need optimum amounts of fresh protein and fat in order to rebuild and maintain our bodies.

Is calcium is the most important mineral for the heart?  

A: No – and in excess – calcium becomes a bully – replacing magnesium is soft tissue throughout the body. “Hardening of the arteries” or calcification = too much calcium and not enough magnesium. It is unsafe to supplement with calcium unless you are taking equal amounts of or more magnesium.

Q: Are running and aerobic exercise good for the heart?

A: Running and extreme exercise can be deadly! The number one cause of death among marathon runners is coronary heart disease. Runners tend to have enlarged hearts. Extreme exercise stresses the body and causes magnesium deficiencies. (Dr. William Campbell Douglas, MD)

Q: Is heart-healthy L-Carnitine a reason to eat your veggies?

A: No. Fruits, vegetables and grains are poor sources of Carnitine. Red meat is best, especially mutton, lamb and beef. The same is true for the important mineral zinc. Zinc is poorly absorbed from plants and easily absorbed from red meat. (Robert Crayhon)

Q: To avoid heart disease, should we use margarine instead of butter?

A: No, never eat margarine despite what manufacturers claim. Margarine eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters. (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12)

Q: Does highly saturated coconut oil cause heart disease?

A: No. Populations that consume coconut oil have low rates of heart disease. Coconut oil may also be one of the most useful oils to prevent heart disease because of its antiviral and antimicrobial characteristics. (JAMA 1967 202:1119-1123; Am J Clin Nutr 1981 34:1552)

Q: Is it true that in 1977, a vegetarian researched and wrote the first U.S. Dietary Guidelines?

A: Yes, a true statement! Mr. Nick Mottern, a vegetarian and former labor reporter for a Providence, RI newspaper, was hired by Senator George McGovern’s committee staff to write our first ever low fat Dietary Guidelines. (Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories)



Category: Diabetes/Heart Disease

Comments (4)

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  1. Simon says:

    Claim #1 that if we “factor out (1) infant mortality and (2) young women who died giving birth and the remaining surviving adults were just as likely to reach age 75 as they do today. [and on fewer or no drugs]” is completely false. Take a look at the life tables published by the census in 1910:


    and those from the CDC in 2006:


    Using data from those life tables, we can calculate that a 40 year old in 2006 was more than twice as likely to reach 75 years old than was a 40 year old in 1910. (I chose 40 years old as the baseline because presumably that eliminates all of the infants and young women giving birth the author wishes to exclude because, as they correctly point out, including them would skew our perceptions of life expectancy due to heart disease).

    In fact, adults in 1910 did not live anywhere near as long as they do now. Taking 40 years olds in 1910, 89.2% were estimated by the life tables to survive to 50 years old, 73.0% to 60, 48.3% to 70, 33.6% to 75, 19.6% to 80, and only 2.7% to 90. In 2006, 97.2% would survive to 50, 91.3% to 60, 79.4% to 70, 69.8% to 75, 56.2% to 80, and 21.7% to 90.

  2. Simon says:

    Q: Is it true that for good health and long life, serum cholesterol should be less than 180 mg/dl?

    A: Not according to the American Heart Association journal Circulation! The all-cause death rate is higher in individuals with cholesterol levels lower than 180 mg/dl. (Circulation, 1992 86:3:1026-1029).

    The article in question


    actually says that:

    “the study finds a
    significantly increased risk of noncardiovascular death
    in both men and women with total cholesterol levels
    below 160 mg/dl for a surprisingly large and diverse set
    of causes. In round numbers, such men had a 20%
    higher age-adjusted rate of cancer deaths than those
    with cholesterol levels between 160 and 199 as well as a
    40% higher rate of noncardiovascular noncancer
    deaths; the latter included increased rates of injury
    deaths (by 35%), respiratory system deaths (by 15%),
    digestive system deaths (by 50%), and “other” causes of
    death (by 70%).”

  3. Alan Watson says:

    According to Howard S. Friedman, Professor, University of California in Riverside (His latest book is The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study):

    “The truth of the matter is that we are not really living much longer. We hear the propaganda repeated endlessly: “The average American can today expect to live an extra dozen or more years in retirement than did the previous generation, and many retirees today will receive benefits for decades longer than those who entered the Social Security system in the 1930’s.” But this assertion is simply wrong, and it is a dangerous mistake to make.

    The reality is that the average 1946-born baby boomer retiring this year can expect to live about 18 years. Compare that to his or her grandparents who retired at age 65 in the 1960’s and could expect to live 15 years, and you see the proper comparison. The correct evaluation involves life expectancy at age 65, not at birth! The truth, surprising to many, is that the average increase in life expectancy for a 65-year-old is only about three or so years. The increase is even smaller for retirements at ages beyond 65.

    The fallacy arises from the fact that life expectancy is measured from birth, but years in retirement is measured from about age 65. Reductions in infant and child mortality have been dramatic during the 20th century, but 65-year-olds today are not strikingly healthier or longer-living than 65-year-olds of the previous generation or two.

    My own scientific research on aging and longevity — with an 8-decade monitoring of pathways to long life — confirms that staying productive is a key element of long-term health and happiness. But the hard truth is that most 65-year-olds today will not be collecting those extra Social Security checks and enjoying an additional dozen or more of the golden years. On average, they’ll live only a bit longer than their parents.”

  4. Dena says:

    Hello ~~~~~~~ I don’t know what to believe , because we hear so many sides to life’s story of health! Question: is do we really know the answers or are we still experimenting with peoples lives in medicine even today! I think we are doing just that, unless you can prove differently! YES!We have made advances , but the question is what is true or how much is just theory! it’s very confusing at this point! DF