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The Birth of Cholesterol

In the early 1950s the Framingham Heart Study implicated cholesterol as one of more than 80 to 90 risk factors (not cause) of cardiovascular disease. Soon after, cardiovascular disease was blamed on any diet rich in saturated fats. This lead to the erroneous government sponsored "pyramid" diet that promoted the low fat diet with polyunsaturated vegetable oils (margarine, canola and corn oil) and marketed by the American Heart Association as heart protective.

Based on this diet the use of butter dropped to one-fifth of the amount consumed in 1910. The highly marketed hydrogenated fats and trans fatty acids that first appeared on market shelves in 1911 had increased by nine times the amount since 1910.

Meanwhile, the intake of sugar rose from 15 pounds per person per year in the 1800s to 154 pounds per person today. Consumption of beef fat increased by 2.5 times while our intake of salads dropped 12 times the amount. This dietary change caused a steady increase of cancer among the American people.

By the 1980s it was obvious that a reform in the dietary guidelines was needed. The new directive was to substitute polyunsaturates with monounsaturates and increase the intake of carbohydrates. Again, there was a ban on cholesterol rich saturated foods even though study after study exonerated saturated fats as being the cause of cardiovascular disease. This new guideline caused a dramatic increase in diabetes and obesity while cardiovascular disease continued to skyrocket.

In 1987 the statin drugs were introduced as an attempt to slow down the cardiovascular disease epidemic. This family of drugs has since become a multi-billion dollar moneymaker for the drug companies bringing in over $20 billion a year. They are the most prescribed class of drug in the pharmaceutical history. Last year alone they were prescribed more than 100 million times. Even after lowering the cholesterol levels of millions of people, cardiovascular disease continues with little or no change.

In the years since the statin drugs were introduced congestive heart failure has more than tripled. Congestive heart failure is the fastest growing cardiovascular disorder in the US. More than 4.8 million Americans suffer from this disease, a significant increase from the 1.7 million who were being treated in 1980 when cholesterol-lowering drugs were not yet discovered.

Researchers in Hull, UK followed patients with congestive heart failure who were put on the statin cholesterol lowering drugs. They found that for "every point of decrease in cholesterol there was a 35 % increase in the risk of death within three years".

In 2005 new dietary guidelines were released. Saturated fats are still limited and are still considered an increased risk for heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are still encouraged to help lower the risk. Protein intake includes red meat, fish and skinless poultry. Include 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Glycemic foods are limited.
Result is yet unknown.

To learn more about cholesterol and other health issues go to http://www.kathrynpicoulin.com/

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