Unpublished letters from members of THINCS, 
The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics

The following letters were sent to the editor of New York Times  No answer.

July 16, 2003

The New York Times
Letters to the Editor
By fax:  (212) 556-3622


According to Jane E. Brody, your nutrition “expert,” the human anatomy “more closely resembles herbivores like cows and deer, strict vegetarians consuming only plant-based foods” (“Cholesterol: When It’s Good, It’s Very, Very Good” 7/15/2003).  If this is the best the New York Times can do, the public is in serious trouble. Even school children know that the human digestive tract is completely different from that of ruminants like cows and deer, which have multiple stomachs, do not produce hydrochloric acid and have extremely long intestines compared to humans.  The human digestive tract is much more like that of a dog than any herbivorous animal. If Brody is so wrong on this elementary fact, how can we trust anything else she says, including the merits of the plant-based diet she espouses?

The Times is just emerging from the scandal of a journalist who made up news reports, but in your health section your most prominent health writer is still passing off falsehoods as fact.

Sally Fallon
Mary G. Enig, PhD


19. July, 2003.

The New York Times
Letters to the Editor

By FAX: 212 556 3622

Dear Editor:
You should be aware that Jane E. Brody in Cholesterol: When It’s Good,
It’s Very, Very Good, NYT, Tuesday, 15 Jul 03, pF7, wrote quite a number of non-facts. For example, our digestive systems do not resemble those of cows and deer. Cows have multiple stomachs and chew cud; they eat all day long because the nutritional value of their plant foods is so poor. 

LDL, called "bad cholesterol" is absolutely vital as the carrier of cholesterol to build membranes and maintain brain function. In people with cardiovascular disease (CVD), low levels of total cholesterol (TC), LDL, and triglyceride (TG) in serum, as well as low HDL, are serious risk factors, contrary to Brody (Horwich TB, et al. Low Serum Total Cholesterol Is Associated With Marked Increase in Mortality In Advanced Heart Failure. J Cardiac Failure 2002;8(4):216-224.) 

Not only is more HDL correlated with fewer heart attacks, but more TC is as well. A result of the Framingham study was that mortality increased by 11 % for each 1 % reduction in TC (Krumholz HM, et al. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. J Am Med Assoc 1994;272:1335-40). The "surge" in HDL level by 1 mg/dL for every 7 lbs lost would require losing 70-140 lbs to achieve a serious increase in HDL. 

The old dogma that all calories are alike was hauled out, implying that merely replacing fat with carbohydrate of equal calories was not a benefit. This was actually a tout for a low-fat diet. In 1956 Prof. Alan Kekwick and Gaston Pawan, MD, at Middlesex Hospital, London, England, conducted tests of 4 1,000 kcal/day diets: 90% fat (by fuel values), 90% protein, 90% carbohydrate, and a normal mixed diet. Subjects on the high-fat diet lost much more weight than any of the others. Several subjects on the high-carb diet actually gained weight, even at only 1000 kcal/day! Even at 2,600 kcal/day of very low-carb diet, subjects lost weight (Groves B, Eat Fat Get Thin, 1999, p21-2). 

There is no evidence that saturated fats are bad for health, and plenty of evidence that saturated fats prevent both CVD, stroke and cancer (Ottoboni A and F, The Modern Nutritional Diseases, 2002, pp36-7). Instead a high-carb diet was touted, despite overwhelming evidence the such a diet will cause obesity and diabetes, leading to CVD and stroke (Ottoboni A and F, The Modern Nutritional Diseases, 2002, all). 

Recommending 1-2 drinks per day of alcoholic beverages to prevent CVD would be acceptable if the cost were not more cancer and stroke; there is hardly any difference in all-cause mortality between low and moderate drinkers (Theobald H, et al. The Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Mortality and Morbidity: A 26-Year Follow-Up Study. J Stud Alcohol 2001;62:783-9). 

Many people cannot exercise, so only a low-carb (high fat, high protein) diet will improve health for most of them. The only prospective, randomized study of exercise after heart attack found no effect of exercise on all-cause death and a slight benefit of exercise on cardiovascular mortality for the first few years, disappearing at 5 years (Dorn J, et al. Results of a multicenter randomized clinical trial of exercise and long-term survival in myocardial infarction patients: the National Exercise and Heart Disease Project (NEHDP). Circulation 1999 Oct 26;100(17):1764-9).

The recommendation for gemfibrozil is irresponsible, as heart attacks doubled in trial patients who took it. No anticholesterol drugs reduce all-cause death rates by a significant amount, and some trials of lovastatin showedincreased death rates (Ravnskov U, The Cholesterol Myths, 2000, pp176ff). 

From the standpoint of the reader, plagiarism is less of a problem than misinformation, which is more likely to lead to litigation for the NYT.

Sincerely, Joel M. Kauffman, PhD


More unpublished contributions