271 of 276 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2007
If you've somehow managed to sidestep the pressure to go on statins, this book will provide you with justification. Kendrick walks you, step by step, through your own physiology and bio-chemistry, and backs his contentions that cholesterol can not be the cause of heart disease by citing and summarizing published studies that bear this out. The book is technical but highly readable thanks to an easy conversational style (if your high school biology teacher had been Kendrick, you'd have understood everything and gotten an A). If you don't really care about arterial plaques and exactly how they're formed (and exactly how they're not) the take-away message is pretty much this: statins are ineffective for women, especially for women over 50 years old, and for anybody over 70 years old. Further, statistical studies may indicate that lowering cholesterol encourages cancer. Many of the points Kendrick makes here are also borne out in Gary Taubes' excellent "Good Calories, Bad Calories." Both of these books are recommended.
I also feel somewhat compelled to add this: While doctors will tell you they've rarely seen anyone with side effects from statins, among my own circle of middle-aged friends, I know 3 who've had serious problems with their livers, one who had some muscles permanently destroyed, one--a usually energetic tennis player-- who felt, for the few months he took statins, as though he had the flu, and could barely go to work-- and one who was left with ringing in the ears and a facial tic. All of these are listed as side effects of statins, as Kendrick points out.
150 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2008
It is remarkable that the fat-cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease gained such an established place in US medicine, culture, and popular consciousness, despite a lack of any -strong- evidence to support the theories (including that "bad cholesterol" causes heart disease) and despite sometimes stronger evidence against the theories. The emergence into broader understanding of insulin resistance around the year 2000 was a watershed in the demise of these two theories. I believe the last two months will be looked back on and viewed as the death of these hypotheses.
Perhaps most important, last week results were published that showed that a drug that lowered LDL ("bad") cholesterol not only did not prevent heart attacks, but may have increased them. The LDL went down, but not the heart attacks. This fairly well disproves the idea that even "bad" cholesterol is really that "bad" in the first place.
There has also been the appearance of two very well researched books on this topic:
Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
The Great Cholesterol Con by Malcolm Kendrick (not the same title from Colpo)
Both are impeccable in their science, both show that the fat/cholesterol theory has been, well, frankly, fraudulent from a scientific point of view. Kendrick was lead author of the 14 Countries Study. He took WHO data on fat consumption and heart disease in a large group of countries. From these he selected the seven countries with the lowest fat consumption, and the seven with the highest fat consumption, and compared the rates of heart disease in the two groups. Every one of the countries with the lowest level of fat consumption had a higher rate of heart disease than any of the countries with the highest fat consumption. Do a double take? Read that again.
Taubes goes as far back as 1846 reviewing the science on the cause and cure of obesity (=carbohydrate consumption). He doesn't miss a stitch.
Both books describe in detail the scientific errors, and false thinking, that led to the acceptance of both hypotheses as if they were Laws, and "settled science" rather than controversial, from s true scientific point of view, from start to finish. Both make good case studies of the methods of good and bad science.
Now we are all going to have to do psychotherapy to treat our obsessive-compulsive fat/cholesterol delusional phobias. But will anyone REALLY stop buying 2% milk instead of whole, or discarding those luscious fatty skin from their chicken breast? I suggest everyone read these two books as part of their psychotherapeutic process.
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2010
As a person who has stuck to a low-fat diet and exercise to try to lower my cholesterol, only to see it rise dramatically instead, I had a keen interest in reading this book. Although it does tend to be highly technical, parts of it above my head even though Dr. Kendrick made a wholehearted attempt to explain it, I thought it was a terrific book. Most of what he says appealed to my sense of logic. Why did my cholesterol go up on a very low-fat diet? It did; I saw that first-hand. Maybe because I was eating more carbohydrates, which Dr. Kendrick says is more likely to raise cholesterol levels than fat. Not that high cholesterol is bad. People ask why doctors would push statins in they didn't believe in them -- I would say, for the same reason they pushed estrogen replacement therapy. Partly a herd mentality. Besides, you have to do what the AMA says because if you don't, and something goes wrong, you can be sued. If you follow the AMA and write down in the patient's record that you did, then you have a defense. Turning the AMA is like turning a very big, old ship. Even the establishment now concurs that high cholesterol is not a factor for heart disease in women over 65. My doctor has stopped pushing me to take statins, now that I'm getting older. A different doctor got downright mean with me because I refused hormone replacement therapy years ago. But she was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and common sense was right. According to the book, statins can and do act as a blood thinner (anti-clotting agent), just like aspirin, they just cost a lot more. The stress effect on the HPA-axis makes a lot of sense to me. The establishment seems to be leaning that way also because now, even on medical websites, the emphasis is toward Metabolic Syndrome, rather than cholesterol. I intend to continue to follow a sensible diet (not as low-fat as I did) and exercise and relaxing my response to stress. But I think I will completely stop worrying about cholesterol. Once the veil is completely lifted, health care costs will drop a whole lot, I expect. We're wasting tons of money on testing for cholesterol and buying statins. When you've got a few people making billions of dollars and becoming filthy rich, somebody needs to ask some questions.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2007
Rarely has such concise, funny [yes] and deadly serious book been written about the hoax of "bad cholesterol". Fear of -and the war on- cholesterol is the driving force behind poor quality foods and ineffective drugs with side-effects. We now know [and thanks Dr. Kendrick] that lowering cholesterol with drugs will never, repeat never, prevent a heart attack in or extend the lives of women and he smoothly presents the same case for the vast majority of [especially older] men.
Pass this book on to your doctor, or send a copy to those you see promoting the fear of cholesterol on a next TV program, or other 'opinion leader' [my own copy will go to a top cardiologist]. No one can argue with the hard reality and logic of this book.
Feel upset about having ignored the underlying causes of heart disease by the cholesterol distraction. The book is unfortunately silent about homocysteine, that artery toxin easily lowered with a daily multivitamin but Dr. Kendrick endorses omega-3 oil as beneficial, and he explains the evil role in the endgame of 'stress'.
Debate about the causes of heart disease will continue to change with time and may differ for many of us but at least we now know what heart disease is NOT caused by, and that is "bad cholesterol".
A 'must read' for the cost of a few 'cholesterol pills' but probably healthier, no doubt safer and certainly more entertaining!
100 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2007
Superb science/medical writing. I was already familiar with a lot of the story about cholesterol misinformation, but I still found it very useful to see the issues dissected one-by-one, with comprehensive references to the relevant research studies. The author is obviously extremely well-read in this area, far beyond the main dietary studies. His final chapter about stress and heart-disease is a must-read for anyone interested in these topics, and the fact that he had been so thorough in the earlier part of the book makes me take his speculations seriously. It comes with a good dose of quirky British (actually Scottish) humor, which I enjoyed a lot.
169 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2008
At first glance this book seems very well researched and written, and essential reading for anyone taking statins or concerned about cholesterol levels.
Dr Kendrick criticises research into the saturated fat - cholesterol - heart disease link, on the basis that most of the researchers involved in this field had set out to prove this link rather than studying it objectively. The author then seems to apply similarly biased thinking to try to prove his own theory that stress is the primary cause of heart disease.
Dr Kendrick is right to point out that a number of countries with high saturated fat consumption and low incidence of heart disease have been conveniently ignored by those trying to prove the diet-heart hypothesis. The author makes no attempt however to find other explanations for this. A lot of research is being carried out into homocysteine which is a non-essential amino acid that has been found to be very irritating to the outer lining of the arterial wall. Homocysteine is produced when there is insufficient folic acid, B12 and B6 in the body to convert methionine (found abundantly in animal meats) into cysteine, which can be excreted by the kidneys. Interestingly, populations with high saturated fat intake and low incidence of CHD all seem to have high consumption of these B vitamins in their diets, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids which are known to be cardio protective. Has this been conveniently ignored by Dr Kendrick because is doesn't fit his stress-heart hypothesis?
I work in the field of cardiac rehabilitation and it is an area where a multi-disciplinary approach is required. Diet, activity levels, smoking, pharmacology and stress are all major factors and trying to suggest that one factor is more important than the others is, in my opinion, completely wrong.
For a book written predominantly about stress and heart disease, the practical advice on reducing / dealing with stress is a disappointing page and a half postscript.
The book is very good at showing some of the misinformation that does exist about cholesterol and heart disease and explaining some of the problems with statins and some of the research that has been carried out by drug companies. If however, you are looking for a book to help improve the health of your heart, then this book on it's own is not comprehensive enough.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2008
As an internist/epidemiologist I was thrilled by this well written book (as good as Gary Taube's, and much more fun to read). I hope to be around when the pillars collapse around the fifty year old specious theory of cholesterol's role in CVD.However,like the erroneous theories of gastric ulcer causation, Big Pharma and the medical establishment are unlikely to give up on this money-making enterprise soon. The theory is now orthodoxy, and like any threat to a religion, people like Kendrick will be considered heretics for years to come. Think of Helicobacter pylori.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2007
Although Dr. Kendrick's writing style is witty and lighthearted, his logic is murderously accurate. He exposes not only the circular reasoning upon which the cholesterol theory of heart disease is based, but also the involvement of the pharmaceutical companies in perpetuating the scam. He points out, for example, that some of the recent published statin trials omitted total mortality data--an ominous omission. It is important that the public recognize the bad thinking that is driving the ongoing "statination" of the developed world, and it's even more important that physicians know it. So by all means read this book, and get one for your family doctor.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
This book will give you more than enough science to understand what cholesterol is and how it performs necessary functions in the human body. Dr Kendrick has a solid understanding of biology and effortlessly exposes the flaws in the diet/cholesterol hypothesis. His wit and incisive observations will have you shaking your head with amazement at the way the research data is manipulated and then presented as proof that high cholesterol causes heart disease and that statins are the wonder drug of the 21st century. Thankfully, in the midst of all this detailed information and analysis, Dr Kendrick manages to make us chuckle.
At times this book gets a bit too technical for the layman-there are many terms which will be unfamiliar to the average reader. But if one forges on, Dr, Kendrick's points are easily understood.
Summing up: If one walks away still thinking that high cholesterol causes heart disease after reading this book, all i can say is please contact me, because I have a great deal on a bridge in Brooklyn that I need to get off my hands quickly..
118 of 142 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2007
And here I thought I had read all the great books on the subject!
Looking to my left, I can see my special Tasmanian oak bookcase, an anniversary gift; it holds only books of exceptional value.
There are several titles by Dr. Abram Hoffer, then there are three on the subject of cholesterol and its colourful history in modern medicine.
Those are: Ravnskov, U : "The Cholesterol Myths"
Colpo, A : "The Great Cholesterol Con"
Hartenbach W: "Die Cholesterin-Luege"
They are framed by Skrabanek's "The Death Of Humane Medicine" and "Nutrition And Physical Degeneration" by Dr. Weston A. Price.
After reading Dr. Malcolm Kendrick's book "The Great Cholesterol Con" I knew I had found another work worthy of occupying sacred space.
Kendrick is a practicing doctor who freely shares his considerable wisdom on the internet, in organisations such as The International Network Of Cholesterol Skeptics[...] and in various publications such as Red Flags.
Once you read something Kendrick has written, you become hooked in a subtle way; his ability to convey the meaning of complex material in a user-friendly manner would have made him a superb teacher. However, I am glad he became a doctor instead as he can do so much good with his insight and with his often idiosyncratic style and demeanour; his patients can only benefit from this skeptic who does not accept things the way they are alleged to be, without question.
The book contains a wealth of information and bucketfuls of the truth. It will no doubt raise hackles in certain quarters and it may receive some scathing critiques. But it is certain to join the other noble works mentioned above in disseminating that what the establishment does not want to be disseminated. It will spread the word !
No, I don't agree with all of his statements but this is mainly a matter of assigning importance to various facts of life. His views on nutrition are more right wing than mine but that's okay. We can differ. The book still is a must read.
How sad that in today's doctor's surgery one is unlikely to find a genuine effort to heal the patient. Or to prevent disease through suggestions of how to live and what to eat in order to ensure good health. No, Medicine has become the Sickness Industry, married to that loose woman called Big Pharma and the couple are united in greed.
The cholesterol hypothesis has been a very profitable Milchkuh for decades now. From the days of Ancel Keys and his very selective reporting cum scare-mongering, through the invention of medication to combat the evil thing called cholesterol, to the culmination of frantic and self-altruistic efforts to market the lifesavers called statins, this has been a nice ride for those who are clever enough to achieve perpetual wealth transfer from patient to doctor. Dr. Kendrick points out how the game is played, it's not only the genuine sick but everyone is requested to listen to the Church of Medicine and submit to its ministrations.
What made it difficult for me to put the book down is the wonderful sense of humour that fills the pages. It seems that each new thought comes with its own subtle bonus, a smile and perhaps a nudge-nudge, wink-wink.
Perhaps it is his background, and judging from this book, Scotland sure breeds them.
The cholesterol game has long been recognised as a fiasco by many. It is time the dance was over and books like this are clear signals to those who would continue the deception and who need to lay off the histrionics and come down to earth, back to honesty and compassion in Medicine. As Skrabanek puts it, let's put the word "humane" back in the equation.
It's a wonderful book and those who do not get a chance to read it will be missing a great experience and may not be equipped to stand up when the statin merchant comes calling. The book will inform and educate all those with a modicum of intelligence and it does this in a painless, easy-going way. Being reasonably priced, it is affordable for the masses. And that's who it was written for. Buy it and find a special place for it in your home.