Dunno about anybody else, but while I can remember newspaper and magazine articles in the 1960s that carried warnings about smoking, I can also remember numerous warnings about the dangers of cholesterol. It was dinned into me just as much as all the stuff about smoking. And I’m someone who’s scarcely health-conscious at all.
Anyway, it now seems that the advice that we’ve been given (and which I ignored anyway) for the past 50 years was all wrong. Jo Nova:
Finally the official consensus on cholesterol is admitting defeat:
“Any day now, the US government will officially accept the advice to drop cholesterol from its list of “nutrients of concern” altogether. It wants also to “de-emphasise” saturated fat, given “the lack of evidence connecting it with cardiovascular disease”. “
In the late 1990′s it was widely known online (among health zealots) that our livers are mostly in charge of our cholesterol levels, not what’s on our dinner plates. Something like 80% of the cholesterol in our blood came from our own livers, not the food we eat. Way back then, it was also known that our bodies use cholesterol to make things like Vitamin D, and er… sex hormones. (How did the mass media miss that.)
“Cholesterol is not some vile poison but an essential ingredient of life, which makes animal cell membranes flexible and is the raw material for making hormones, like testosterone and oestrogen.”
In the Daily Mail:
Matt Ridley, a Tory peer and science author, yesterday said there should be an inquiry ‘into how the medical and scientific profession made such an epic blunder’.
He described the change of advice in the US as a ‘mighty U-turn’ and said studies linking high cholesterol and saturated fat in food to heart disease were ‘tinged with scandal’.
It has me wondering whether the same might eventually happen with smoking, and that tobacco smoke might be no longer seen as “some vile poison” either. Particularly given stories like this:
New research has suggested that obesity is rapidly closing up on smoking as the primary cause of most cancers.
It’s not that smoking has become any safer, just that there’s a growing health risk from the rapid rise in the number of us becoming overweight.
Currently one in five cancer deaths is caused by obesity, compared to one in four from smoking, but scientists believe that those two lines will cross within the next decade.
Smoking is thought to be responsible for a quarter of Britain’s 160,000 annual cancer deaths. Dr Jennifer Ligibel of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University said obesity could surpass that figure in 10 to 15 years as the population gets fatter.
Much of that obesity will have been the result of giving up smoking, of course. What better way to combat the “obesity epidemic” than to take up smoking?
Add this from an NHS website:
“90,000 children spared illness by smoking ban,” reports the Daily Mail. This impressive-seeming statistic is based on research looking at how many under-14s ended up in hospital with respiratory infections in the years before and after the July 2007 smoking ban in England and Wales….
The media reported the study accurately, though some did not point out the limitations of this type of study, in that it cannot prove cause and effect.
What? You mean 90,000 children weren’t spared illness by the smoking ban?
Perhaps what happens is that health menaces like smoking, cholesterol, and saturated fats have a natural lifetime, and in due course are eventually quietly retired, and replaced by new health menaces – like obesity and sugar. In 10 years time it won’t be smoking that causes most cancers, but obesity. Or sugar. Or whatever.
And in another 30 years obesity and sugar will in their turn be retired, and replaced by… brown paper bags, golf, and sitar music.
Well, George Harrison did play sitar occasionally.