In this video Malcolm Kendrick, a Scottish doctor, points out the lack of cross-country correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease rates.
In this video Kendrick explains why he believes that extreme stress — often caused by emigration — is a big reason for high rates of heart disease.
This view is supported by research by Michael Marmot and others on the social gradient: People higher in occupational level have better health than those below them. This seems to be because lower jobs are more stressful. The lower your job, the less control you have. Lack of control is the problem.
Kendrick’s view calls into question the usual interpretation of migrant studies. When persons emigrate across countries — from Japan to America, from India to England — they usually have higher heart disease rates in the new country This is often attributed to differences in diet — the old-country diet is presumed healthier than the new-country diet. Kendrick lays the blame elsewhere. He also makes an interesting point about Finland. Finland used to have a very high rate of heart disease. Kendrick points out that in the early 1950s, about 700,000 persons of Finnish descent were pushed by the Soviet government out of the Soviet Union and into Finland. Kendrick also mentions Roseto, Pennsylvania, a town created by emigration en masse from Roseto Italy. The old customs and social networks survived the move intact and the people of Roseto Pennsylvania were for many years remarkably healthy.
Thanks to Dave Lull.
Addendum: Kendrick on “The Great Cholesterol Myth.”