Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Is a high-fat diet GOOD for the heart? Doctors say carbs are more damaging to the arteries than butter or cream

  • Experts claim false interpretation of scientific studies has led to millions being 'over-medicated'
  • Doctors claim it is time to 'bust the myth' of the role of saturated fat in heart disease
  • Some nations are adopting dietary guidelines to encourage high-fat foods
Cutting back on butter, cream and fatty meats may have done more harm to heart health than good.

Experts say the belief that high-fat diets are bad for arteries is based on faulty interpretation of scientific studies and has led to millions being ‘over-medicated’ with statin drugs. 

Doctors insist it is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease.

Some western nations, such as Sweden, are now adopting dietary guidelines that encourage foods high in fat but low in carbs.

Cardiologist Aseem Malhotra says almost four decades of advice to cut back on saturated fats found in cream, butter and less lean meat has ‘paradoxically increased our cardiovascular risks’.

He leads a debate online in the British Medical Journal website that challenges the demonisation of saturated fat.

A landmark study in the 1970s concluded there was a link between heart disease and blood cholesterol, which correlated with the calories provided by saturated fat.

‘But correlation is not causation,’ said Dr Malhotra, interventional cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University Hospital, London.

Nevertheless, people were advised to reduce fat intake to 30 per cent of total energy and a fall in saturated fat intake to 10 per cent.

Recent studies fail to show a link between saturated fat intake and risk of cardiovascular disease, with saturated fat actually found to be protective, he said.

One of the earliest obesity experiments, published in the Lancet in 1956, comparing groups on diets of 90 per cent fat versus 90 per cent protein versus 90 per cent carbohydrate revealed the greatest weight loss was among those eating the most fat.

Professor David Haslam, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘The assumption has been made that increased fat in the bloodstream is caused by increased saturated fat in the diet … modern scientific evidence is proving that refined carbohydrates and sugar in particular are actually the culprits.’

Another US study showed a ‘low fat’ diet was worse for health than one which was low in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, pasta, bread.

Dr Malhotra said obesity has ‘rocketed’ in the US despite a big drop in calories consumed from fat. ‘One reason’ he said ‘when you take the fat out, the food tastes worse.’

The food industry compensated by replacing saturated fat with added sugar but evidence is mounting that sugar is a ‘possible independent risk factor’ for metabolic syndrome which can lead to diabetes.

Dr Malhotra said the government’s obsession with cholesterol ‘has led to the over-medication of millions of people with statins’.

But why has there been no demonstrable effect on heart disease trends when eight million Britons are being prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, he asked.

Adopting a Mediterranean diet after a heart attack is almost three times as powerful in reducing death rates as taking a statin, which have been linked to unacceptable side effects in real-world use, he added.

Dr Malhrotra said ‘The greatest improvements in morbidity and mortality have been due not to personal responsibility but rather to public health.

‘It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity.’

Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a GP and author of The Great Cholesterol Con, said Sweden had become the first western nation to develop national dietary guidelines that rejected the low-fat myth, in favour of low-carb high-fat nutrition advice.

He said ‘Around the world, the tide is turning, and science is overturning anti-fat dogma.

'Recently, the Swedish Council on Health Technology assessment has admitted that a high fat diet improves blood sugar levels, reduces triglycerides improves ‘good’ cholesterol - all signs of insulin resistance, the underlying cause of diabetes - and has nothing but beneficial effects, including assisting in weight loss.

‘Aseem Malhotra is to be congratulated for stating the truth that has been suppressed for the last forty years’ he added.

Professor Robert Lustig, Paediatric Endocrinologist, University of San Francisco said ‘Food should confer wellness, not illness. And real food does just that, including saturated fat.

'But when saturated fat got mixed up with the high sugar added to processed food in the second half of the 20th century, it got a bad name. Which is worse, the saturated fat or the added sugar?

‘The American Heart Association has weighed in - the sugar many times over. Instead of lowering serum cholesterol with statins, which is dubious at best, how about serving up some real food?’

Timothy Noakes, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science, University of Cape Town, South Africa said ‘Focusing on an elevated blood cholesterol concentration as the exclusive cause of coronary heart disease is unquestionably the worst medical error of our time.

‘After reviewing all the scientific evidence I draw just one conclusion - Never prescribe a statin drug for a loved one.’

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Guest Editorial > A Radical Care Pathway for ME/CFS

The following is on the NHS Managers website - 

A Radical Care Pathway for ME/CFS | Nancy Blake

Much maligned and misunderstood, ME gets a radical makeover in this exclusive editorial for But is this pathway really so radical? Perhaps only if you are a healthcare professional!


Based on the premise that if an illness is defined by the fact that exercise makes it worse, maybe that should be a starting point for dealing with it!

Immediate diagnosis by careful initial interview:  If patient reports an extraordinary level of debility following a viral illness, which has persisted – has other symptoms which seem random and variable but can be understood as problems of muscle metabolism, cognitive function (short-term memory problems, difficulty in following lines of reasoning), endocrine function (disturbances of appetite, sleep rhythms, temperature regulation) and immune system activity (sore lymph glands, persistent low fever, sore throats),  this whole constellation points to ME/CFS.

This should be regarded as a medical emergency, because the patient’s behaviour in the early stages determines either a path towards recovery or a path towards extreme and long lasting states of incapacity. (1)

The basic prescription should be to go home and go to bed; just doing the minimum exercise necessary to prevent DVT (getting up to go to the loo might be enough!).  Families need an explanation that for the patient, minimising muscular exertion is essential.  A home visit from a Physiotherapy/OT team can provide advice about how to do everyday tasks using a minimum of muscular exertion, like the advice given to MS sufferers for the management of their exhaustion.  The OT should assess the home and recommend/ provide aids as appropriate for any physical illness which causes extreme weakness. The patient will need psychological support to accept that the (unwelcome!) adoption of a ‘disabled’ lifestyle is the way to ‘fight’ this illness and facilitate a gradual return to as normal a life as possible.   After that, a regular visit from a key worker backed up by online support may be all the patient needs while he is conserving energy towards getting better.

What should absolutely not happen is a referral to hospital, unless to provide a period of complete bed rest.  Tests to eliminate other potential diagnoses should be done at home as far as possible.  The expensive centres which have been set up, requiring patients to attend in order to engage in extra exertion (just getting to a hospital appointment is enough to wipe out an ME/CFS patient for days) should be replaced by these less expensive domiciliary services.   Apart from encouragement to keep on resting, and encouragement to family members to appreciate that this is needed, the patient should be left alone, allowed plenty of time to get better.  Under this regime, gradual improvement is to be expected  (school-age children should be provided with home education until a gradual return to school becomes a possibility).

When the patient is ready, there should be interventions at the patient’s educational institution/place of work aimed at eliminating all avoidable exertion. Along with facilities for rest breaks and perhaps being able to do some work from home, this gives the patient the best chance of returning to their education, job, or professional activities.  Which, contrary to the ‘false illness beliefs’ of some psychiatrists, is what patients are desperate to do.  It needs to be respected that this illness is not one of motivation: ‘I can’t’ does not mean ‘I don’t want to’, it means that there is a physical limit to what the patient can do without serious subsequent repercussions.

Doctors brave enough to use this ‘light touch’ approach would be rewarded by positive relations with their patients, and the prospect of seeing them getting better instead of getting worse.  But it would take real courage to challenge the cultural myths that ‘fighting’ illness is the only way to go, that exercise is good for absolutely everything, and that people who have ME/CFS don’t want to get better, and must be persuaded or coerced into activity.  Counter-intuitively, treating ME/CFS patients like invalids initially is the process most likely to maximise ‘return to function’.

The current psychiatric model has no way of acknowledging treatment failure – failure can always be blamed on the patient.  No wonder there is so much hostility.  It is time to step across the divide, accept that patients are telling the truth, and start giving them a chance to get better.

Nancy Blake is author of ‘A Beginner’s Guide to CFS/ME’, and co-author, with Les Simpson, Ph.D. of ‘Ramsay’s Disease – ME’.  She is currently undertaking a Ph.D. project at Lancaster University on the conflicting paradigms of ME/CFS


1. Melvin Ramsay. [Online] [Cited: 3 October 2013.] “The degree of physical incapacity varies greatly, but the dominant clinical feature of profound fatigue is directly related to the length of time the patient persists in physical effort after its onset; put in another way, those patients who are given a period of enforced rest from the onset have the best prognosis.”

“…in those patients whose dynamic or conscientious temperament urge them to continue effort despite profound malaise or in those who, on the false assumption of ‘neurosis’, have been exhorted to ‘snap out of it’ and ‘ take plenty of exercise’ the condition finally results in a state of constant exhaustion.”

Monday, 7 October 2013

Some Day He’ll Make It Plain

I do not know why oft ’round me
My hopes all shattered seem to be;
God’s perfect plan I cannot see,
But some day I’ll understand.

Some day He’ll make it plain to me,
Some day when I His face shall see;
Some day from tears I shall be free,
For some day I shall understand.

I cannot tell the depth of love,
Which moves the Father’s heart above;
My faith to test, my love to prove,
But some day I’ll understand.

Tho’ trials come thro’ passing days,
My life will still be filled with praise;
For God will lead thro’ darkened ways,
But some day I’ll understand.

Lydia S Leech, 1873 – 1962

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The doctor who dared say vaccines don’t work

Dr Jayne Donegan’s career was almost ruined when she did her own research into vaccinations and discovered that doctors are being misled by the government about their safety and effectiveness

Anti-vaccine groups are variously dismissed as hysterics, conspiracy theorists and antisocial alarmists—but what happens when a doctor starts out as pro-vaccine, reads the evidence for herself and decides that the MMR and other vaccinations for our children probably do more harm than good?

Dr Jayne Donegan is a GP who believes her profession is being deliberately misled by the UK’s Department of Health (DoH) which, in its ‘Green Book’ on vaccinations issued to all doctors, is deliberately massaging the data to make vaccines seem more effective and safe than they actually are.

For her troubles, Dr Donegan was charged by her own governing body, the General Medical Council (GMC), of serious professional misconduct and of bringing the profession into disrepute. The hearing, which ran over three weeks in 2007, was the result of the GMC charging her directly although, in the vast majority of cases, it acts only after receiving complaints from the public.

Remarkably, the GMC panel found her not guilty and agreed in their findings that she had been objective, independent and unbiased in her research and conclusions—which, by implication, suggests that the UK’s leading medical authority happens to agree that vaccines are not as safe or effective as government agencies state.

Research first

To find out the truth about vaccinations, Dr Donegan spent many days at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) studying health records going all the way back to 1837. There she discovered something that shook her world: deaths from whooping cough had fallen dramatically from the mid-1850s onwards and death rates had dropped by 99 per cent before the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine was partially introduced in the 1950s.

And yet the graph in the DoH’s Green Book only showed data from 1940 and so suggested that the vaccine had a more dramatic effect than it really had.

She found the same thing with measles. Again, the Green Book graph starts in 1940 and appears to show an enormous drop in cases from 1968, when the vaccine was introduced. But when Dr Donegan took the data back to the early 1900s, she uncovered a similar picture to pertussis: there had been around a 99 per cent drop off in death rates in the 60 years before the vaccine was brought out. “There was a virtual 100 per cent decline in deaths from measles between 1905 and 1965—three years before the measles vaccine was introduced in the UK,” she says.

Public sanitation, personal hygiene and better nutrition had played a far more significant role in controlling childhood diseases—making them benign rather than killers—than vaccines ever did.

Something’s wrong

Dr Donegan’s journey from vaccine believer to vaccine sceptic was a courageous one because she had so much to lose. After qualifying as a doctor in 1983, she had been very pro-vaccination and had urged worried parents to vaccinate their children. “I used to think that parents who didn’t want to vaccinate their children were either ignorant or sociopathic. I believe that view is not uncommon among doctors today,” she says. When her own two children were born—in 1991 and 1993—she had them vaccinated, even though one had suffered worrying reactions to the BCG (bacillus Calmette–GuĂ©rin) tuberculosis jab.

Then in 1994 the government launched a major measles vaccination drive after an epidemic had been forecast; only years later was it revealed that the forecast had been based on a faulty mathematical model. Even children who had already been vaccinated were to have a second dose, the DoH announced, as one dose might not provide maximum protection. Dr Donegan accepted this, but she was concerned by a further announcement that even children who had received two doses before should still have a third shot.

This started raising alarm bells especially as the vaccine had been heralded as a ‘one-shot’ jab that on its own would provide life-long immunity. The second worry was the need to vaccinate tiny babies to achieve herd immunity and “break the chain of transmission”, as the DoH described it. Dr Donegan wondered why they couldn’t just vaccinate children aged three or so and so break the chain among those whose immune systems might at least be strong enough to withstand any adverse reactions to the jab.

“Some things just didn’t seem to quite add up,” Dr Donegan recalls, “but it’s very hard to start seriously questioning whether or not vaccination is anything other than safe and effective, especially when it is something that you have been taught to believe in so strongly.

The more medically qualified you are, the more difficult it is, as in some ways the more brainwashed you are.”

She started to read anti-vaccination books, but the evidence in them was so contrary to what she had been taught that she decided to do her own research.

Vaccine studies

That research, which included her visits to the ONS, culminated in the research paper ‘Vaccinatable Diseases and Their Vaccines’. The report includes data from the mid-1850s that she gleaned from the ONS, and a review of the small number of studies into vaccine safety and effectiveness.

Astonishingly, there haven’t been any “clear, open, objective and well-designed studies on vaccination safety”, she states in the report’s introduction. And the studies that have been done invariably conclude that vaccines are safe—even though the data don’t support such a conclusion.

Dr Donegan antidoted all the vaccines given to her children with homeopathic nosodes—she had qualified as a homeopath in 1990—and she also appeared as an expert witness in a high-profile vaccine case where a mother was refusing to have her child vaccinated even though it was against the wishes of her estranged husband.

Because she had spoken out against vaccines in a court case, the GMC decided to take action against her. The GMC expert witness was Dr David Elliman, consultant in community child health at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who spent four months reviewing the evidence Dr Donegan had given in the case before he attended the GMC hearing.

Under cross-examination, Dr Elliman admitted that, as Dr Donegan had stated, there had been no proper randomized, placebo-controlled trials into any childhood vaccines in the past 30 years, and his 62 criticisms of her evidence were reduced to just two.

Despite this significant victory, the media failed to report on the result—although it had written up the first day of the hearing with headlines such as “GP accused of misleading court over MMR danger”.

Afterwards she reflected: “If a parent says ‘I’m worried about the safety of the vaccination’, they are told ‘You don’t understand, you’re not a doctor’. But if a doctor says the same thing, he or she is charged with serious professional misconduct.”

Dr Donegan is speaking on vaccinations at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, 41 Riding House Street, London W1, on November 11, starting at 6.30 pm. The talk is entitled ‘Vaccination—The Question’. The entrance fee is £10. To purchase tickets or find out more, telephone 01342 410 505 or book online at  

Donegan on the DPT (diphtheria–pertussis–tetanus) jab

Diphtheria: The likelihood of contracting diphtheria in the UK is so low that I do not think any benefit is to be gained by vaccinating against it, and any detrimental effects are therefore unacceptable.

Pertussis (whooping cough): Children develop natural immunity against whooping cough from breast milk, but parents who want their child vaccinated should choose the acellular vaccine. It is currently not available without the mercury additive thiomersal (thimerosal in the US), and the whole-cell version has such a high incidence of side-effects that I think it should never be used.

Tetanus: Wounds should be cleaned immediately, and 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide is an excellent cleanser. As the tetanus vaccine is available only with thiomersal, aluminium hydroxide and formaldehyde, it is safer to build up a child’s immune system and clean any wounds carefully.

Donegan on the MMR (measles–mumps–rubella) jab

Measles: This is a benign childhood illness in the child with a strong immune system. In the Steiner alternative school community, during a measles outbreak not one severe case was reported. There is plenty of evidence about adverse reactions to the vaccine that should convince parents not to have it. Don’t give in to the fear about measles generated by doctors and governments.

Mumps: This is generally a mild illness. I do not recommend mumps vaccination, as any benefit is minimal and any side-effects unacceptable.

Rubella (German measles): The effects of rubella are minor and the vaccination cannot be recommended. And the vaccine doesn’t seem to work very well, as it often fails to protect the unborn child of women who are not immune.