Assorted Links

  • Against the new statin guidelines. “For people who have less than a 20 percent risk of getting heart disease in the next 10 years, statins not only fail to reduce the risk of death, but also fail even to reduce the risk of serious illness.” This is one way of saying that although heart disease has been a top cause of death for more than half a century, doctors still have almost no idea how to prevent it. Vast amounts of money and time have been spent studying heart disease, but, judging by the great emphasis on an almost useless method of prevention (statins), the researchers who spent the money and time didn’t do effective research. Cancer could have a hundred different causes. Heart disease, probably not.
  • earlier but it bears repeating. “There was a 30% greater risk of cardiovascular death among the people in the study who ate the cholesterol-lowering oil.” The cholesterol-lowering oil was safflower oil, high in omega-6. According to the Cleveland Clinic and many others, oils high in omega-6 are “heart-healthy”.
  • Use of yogurt to prevent infections in hospitals
  • Surviving your stupid stupid decision to go to graduate school (a reading list)

Thanks to Phil Alexander and Claire Hsu.

7 Replies to “Assorted Links”

  1. As someone who has done extensive reading on causes of heart disease over the past two years – motivated by the heart attack of a loved one who had none of the usual risk criteria – I am appalled at how much time and money has been wasted by scientists pursuing the wrong things. However I am becoming more convinced that there are at least several causes for it and it depends on a combination of lifestyle and genetics with the possibility that infection and other enironmental stressors also play a part.

    1. “[heart disease] depends on a combination of lifestyle and genetics with the possibility that infection and other environmental stressors also play a part.”

      The cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease was very popular, much more popular than it deserved to be based on evidence, I believe, because it allowed health scientists and their supporters to do three things they always want to do: 1. Expensive high-tech research (= high status research). 2. Promote expensive solutions (cholesterol lowering drugs). 3. Promote a pill solution (the whole system is geared for pills). The same thing has happened with depression.

  2. As someone considering getting a PHD, I’m not sure exactly what I should take away from #4.

    1. Just don’t do it.
    2. Be more personally hesitant to do it if you have other options.
    3. Be more hesitant if you’re not going to a highly ranked institution.
    4. Be more hesitant if you’re subject matter is not as employable afterward.


  3. Seth, I’d add a 4th point as to why the cholesterol hypothesis was (and still is!) so popular. Simply, they could measure it.

    Seth: The neurotransmitter theory of depression has been very popular even though neurotransmitters cannot be measured.

  4. The neurotransmitter theory and the cholesterol theory are both easy to explain to patients: “You’re depressed because your serotonin levels are too low”. “Your cholesterol numbers are too high, so you are in danger of heart disease”.

  5. I also suspect the cholesterol hypothesis was popular because it gave an opportunity to tell people to not eat food they liked. Telling people they must give up something they like is a basic power grab.

    Seth: The hairshirt theory of science: the more it makes you suffer, the more true it must be.

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