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The Cholesterol Times, Issue #004 -- Of Mice, Hamsters, and Men
September 04, 2005
A publication of
September 03, 2005 -- Issue #004

Dear Reader,

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I hope you enjoy this issue, and have a great Labor Day weekend!

-- Chris Masterjohn, Editor

In This Issue

Site Updates
  • Cholesterol Is Necessary For Digestion
  • The Hidden Truth About Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
  • Cholesterol Is the Precursor to All Steroid Hormones
  • The Importance of Isoprenes to the Human Body
  • Search With the Google Search Box
    Best of the 'Net
  • The Real Drug War
  • The Problem With Peer-Review
  • The Advent of a Private Gold Economy?
    Research Watch
  • Analysis Claims Cholesterol Decreases Cognitive Function in School-Aged Children
  • High-CLA Butter and Cholesterol Levels in Hamsters
  • It's the Carbs, Not Fat, in High-Fat Diets that Harm Mice
    An Interesting Experimental Investment
    Weston A. Price Foundation Conference
  • Conference Details
  • Hotel Reservations
  • Travel Accomodations
    Copyright and Disclaimer

    Site Updates

    Cholesterol Is Necessary for Digestion

    Cholesterol is the direct precursor to bile acids, which are produced by the liver and used in the intestines to mix dietary fats and other lipids with the water-soluble enzymes that break them down.

    The Hidden Truth About Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

    A review of Shane Ellison's book by the same title. Ellison exposes the financial conflicts of interest among members of the National Cholesterol Education Panel, the shoddy science behind the benefits of statins, and the potential carcinogenicity of these drugs. His book can be downloaded as a free e-book, or a physical copy can be purchased.

    Cholesterol is the Precursor to All Steroid Hormones

    Cholesterol is the precursor to all steroid hormones, making it essential for the regulation of blood sugar, inflammation, blood pressure, mineral balance, libido, reproduction, maintenance of muscle mass, athletic performance, and more.

    The Importance of Isoprenes to the Body

    Statins don't just inhibit cholesterol synthesis. They inhibit an entire class of compounds called isoprenes. This article describes the vast array of functions that this wide class of chemicals plays in the human body.

    Search With Google

    You can now search itself, not just the web, with Google's search box. This will allow you not only to find material on the website, but also allow you to search the back issues of The Cholesterol Times by keyword!

    Best of the 'Net

    The Real Drug War

    While the government wages war against some drugs, 60% of school children are taking government-approved drugs. But the difference between legal and illegal drugs has nothing to do with safety or health.

    The Problem With Peer Review

    Many are now starting to call for changes in the peer-review system, and several large studies-- yup, studies of studies!-- have found the peer-review system to be ultimately incapable of preventing scientific fraud, plagiarism, and the riddling of studies with errors.

    The Advent of a Private Gold Economy?

    Those of you who arrived at or found The Cholesterol Times through my article Why the State Hates Cholesterol may be familiar with the economic case against paper money.

    I recently found the above project, which is actually initiating a transformation of web commerce based on transactions that are 100% backed by gold! This will, if successful, not only help transform our empty credit-driven economy of booms and busts to an economy of stable growth grounded in real wealth, but will help decentralize our society and allow more avenues of independence from the centralized government that has given us the centralized science that, in turn, has given us the cholesterol myths.

    Research Watch

    Analysis Claims Cholesterol Decreases Cognitive Functioning in School-Aged Children

    An analysis of the recently released data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey published in the August Journal of Nutrition claimed that dietary polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) enhanced cognitive and psychosocial functioning in school-aged U.S. children, while dietary cholesterol decreased cognitive and psychosocial functioning. They found the proportion of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate to be neutral.

    This is a surprising finding considering the established importance of cholesterol to neurological function. As predictable, then, there are several indications that make the findings of this study questionable:

  • The study relied on a dietary recall survey, recalling intake of foods for only the single, previous day. These surveys are notoriously inaccurate.

  • The authors arbitrarily chose to exclude the top and bottom 1% of children for dietary consumption of total calores, total fat, saturated fat, PUFA, and cholesterol. They gave no explanation of the reason for this exclusion, and one can only speculate that it was executed because it, by chance, happened to enhance the statistical correlations they claim to have found.

  • The authors excluded all children who reported their diet themselves rather than by proxy through their mothers. While it may be assumed that this is more accurate, this excluded almost 80% of all children from the survey, dramatically decreasing the data pool. Additionally, while the childrens' mothers may recall the composition of home-cooked food more accurately, the child was probably more likely to accurately recall what she or he ate from a school lunch or from various pre-packaged snacks.

  • There was no differentiation made between omega-3 PUFA and omega-6 PUFA, which have different and in some cases opposite physiological effects, nor between very long-chain (from animal foods) and comparatively shorter-chain PUFAs (from plant foods) which also have differing physiological effects. This casts doubt upon the value of the data.

    In fact, the authors only stated the best evidence for their correlations in the abstract, which has gotten the widest attention in the media. They reported the effects of the digit-span test in the abstract, but this was only one of four tests that were reported in the full-text.

    The multivariable-adjusted figures shown in Table 3 show that cholesterol was associated with increased performance on the reading score, and its negative correlation on the block-design test was far less impressive than on the digit-span test.

    What's more important, on three out of four tests where the cholesterol intake was associated with the actual scores on the tests the range of effect of cholesterol fell across the "no effect" mark, meaning it was found to be associated with increased performance in some subjects and decreased performance in others. When the range of effects falls across the "no effect" point, it makes it much more likely that random chance was involved in producing the correlations.

    Since there was no clear relationship between the dose of cholesterol intake and the magnitude of response on the cognitive tests, there was thus no dose-response relationship, which makes it less likely there was any causal relationship.

    By contrast, the associations reported in the abstract and the media did not show the relationship between cholesterol intake and the actual score on the cognitive tests, but between cholesterol intake and the chances of scoring "poorly" on the tests, which is obviously a less precise measurement.

    And even here, the full-text figures are less impressive than those shown in the abstract. While the abstract and media reports cited the 25% positive correlation between cholesterol intake and poor performance on the digit-span test, the less impressive 4% positive correlation on the reading test, the 1% negative correlation on the block-design test, or the 2% negative correlation on the arithmetic test were not mentioned. As with the previously mentioned figures, on these three tests the range of effect of cholesterol fell across the "no effect" point, showing opposing effects, making it more likely any correlations were due to chance.

    Additionally, the text of the analysis offers us no clues as to what foods the subjects were eating. Did the cholesterol that was associated (inconsistently) with poor cognitive performance come from egg yolks, which contain numerous memory-boosting nutrients, or from the nacho cheese used to drench acrylamide-laden public school tortilla chips that lack nutrients and are fried in hydrogenated vegetable oils?

    If certain multivaraible criteria were adjusted for to differentiate between the cholesterol in junk food and the cholesterol in whole foods, would the (inconsistent) associations still exist?

    The original data can be obtained from the CDC for a price, and I will make an effort to obtain this data so I can present independent findings to readers of The Cholesterol Times.

    As an interesting side-note, the authors found, by one method of measurement, that replacing saturated fat with PUFA was associated with 44% increase in the liklihood of children reporting difficulty getting along with peers.

    High-CLA Butter and Cholesterol Levels in Hamsters

    Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and trans-vaccenic acid (VA) are naturally occurring trans fats found in milk and beef fat, which appear to have positive health effects, unlike the trans fats found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, which appear to be deleterious to human health. Evidence suggests CLA is anti-carcinogenic and can reverse athersclerosis in animals.

    A recent study by Lock et al. published in the Journal of Nutrition compared the effect of CLA-enriched butter to standard butter and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil on cholesterol levels.

    It should be noted that while grass-fed (as opposed to grain-fed) cows produce butterfat with much higher concentrations of CLA, the cows in this study were fed diets about 40% corn and soy, and the high level of CLA was achieved through feeding high quantities of sunflower oil. Additionally, the butter had to be taken from milk produced during the initial feeding, because over several weeks the cows' production of CLA began to decline in adaptation, indicating that the fatty acid profile found in this butter is not something that would be found naturally. (You can read the details on the diet here).

    Interestingly, the CLA-enriched butter had similar effects to the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (PHVO), compared to standard butter, on serum (blood) lipoprotein levels, only much more pronounced. Both CLA-enriched butter and PHVO decreased serum chylomicron, LDL, and IDL cholesterol concentrations. No diet produced a significant change in HDL. CLA-enriched butter was more effective at lowering the above-mentioned lipoproteins than PHVO, and only CLA-enriched butter was effective in specifically lowering VLDL cholesterol.

    On the other hand, CLA-enriched butter and PHVO had opposite effects on esterified cholesterol stored in the liver! While PHVO decreased liver cholesterol esters by 10% compared to the standard butter, the CLA-enriched butter increased liver cholesterol esters by 52%. This seems to indicate that while both diets lowered serum cholesterol, they may have done so through different mechanisms, or with differing ultimate effects on health and physiology.

    Unfortunately, this study didn't investigate endpoints, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, or life span, but only biomarkers such as blood and liver cholesterol levels. So we don't know whether the PHVO and CLA-enriched butter would have similar effects on disease, like they did on blood cholesterol levels, or opposite effects on disease, like they did on liver cholesterol levels.

    The take-home points of this study are:

  • Not all butters are the same. This study shows that the diet of a cow producing a butter is more significant than the butter itself. This completely refutes all conclusions of all studies that merely measure the proportion of butter itself in a person's diet, since different butters from cows on different diets can have opposite physiological effects.

  • Not all trans fats are the same. Many health journalists have been reporting in the media that red meat and milk contain the same trans fats found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This is false, since the trans fats in these foods are different fatty acids, and in some respects have opposite effects on phsyiology.

  • Not all cholesterol-lowering is the same. If both CLA-enriched butter and PHVO can lower cholesterol levels in the blood while having opposite effects on cholesterol levels in the liver, this shows that the lowering of cholesterol levels in different contexts could be representative of very different physiological phenomena. This calls into question the value of cholesterol levels in and of themselves as biomarkers for disease and phsyiological phenomena.

  • Problems generalizing from hamsters to humans. The authors noted in this study that they had previously shown that "development of atherosclerosis in hamsters was directly correlated with the concentration of VLDL, IDL, and LDL," the latter two of which were lowered both by CLA-enriched butter and PHVO. This would indicate that both products should have similar effects in humans, and should lower atherosclerosis in humans and promote health. Yet human studies beg to differ: The authors also noted that "epidemiological evidence indicates that it is consumption of trans fatty acids derived from PHVO that is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, whereas no clear relation exists for trans fatty acid intake from animal-derived foods.

    It's the Carbs, Not Fat, in High-Fat Diets that Harm Mice

    Another August study in the Journal of Nutrition by Susanne Klaus compared the effects on obesity and insulin resistance of a high-fat, high-carb diet to those of a high-fat, low-carb diet and a control diet, where the difference bewteen the two high-fat diets was the protein to carbohydrate ratio.

    Some strains of mice develop insulin resistance and obesity on a high-fat diet, but Klaus pointed out that it has never been studied whether the dramatically lower protein content in high-fat lab rodent chow plays a causal role in this phenomenon.

    The total body weight and weight gain of mice on a high-fat, low-carb diet was intermediate bewteen that of mice on a high-fat, high-carb diet (highest) and mice on a control diet (lowest). There was no difference in lean body mass between the groups, so the change was attributed to fat gain.

    Oddly, the author referred to this fat gain as "obesity," without any evidence of a what a proper body fat percentage for a mouse was! (Data on the actual body fat percentages were not even shown.)

    The only clear indicator of health-- insulin sensitivity-- was improved dramatically on the low-carb diet, and didn't differ at all between the other two groups. The author made the most preposterous attempt to explain this:

    "It is somewhat surprising that control mice also were insulin resistant; however, it should be noted that the mice were ~1 y old at the end of the experiments, making it possible that this was age-related."

    This is an interesting explanation, since the high-fat, low-carb mice did not experience the same effect of "aging." Do low-carb diets distort the space-time continuum?

    It was also odd that the author claimed the study was evidence against the hypothesis that low-carb diets increase thermogenesis in humans, since the increased energy intake of the mice on the high-fat diet was directly related to their weight gain. The reason this is odd is because the author explicitly states in several places that only specific strains of mice become insulin resistant or obese on high-fat diets (although these mice only became insulin resistant on high-carb diets). If we cannot generalize across different strains of mice, how can we possibly generalize from mice to humans?

    What this study did show is that restricting carbohydrates dramatically improves insulin resistance in these mice, a major marker of health. Speculation about what kind of fat gain constitutes "obesity" in a mouse is non-sensical in the absence of any evidence that this fat gain caused a decline in health.

    An Interesting Experimental Investment

    I've put into an interesting advertising experiment to see if it has the potential to help support the website's growth. This may or may not be a good deal, but it is an experiment, and I will report back after I find out whether or not it is worth its salt.

    Studio Traffic is a program whereby you can both earn money and free advertising by "surfing" specific websites. Actually, you can just minimize the window that is surfing the sites, do something else for an hour, and reap the benefits.

    At the very minimum, by doing this silly task (or letting it do itself), you can gain free advertising by having your own website shown 100 times per day within this cycle. You also earn 1% of any money you've invested (which is entirely optional) per day, and you're started out with a free $10.

    This could be treated as a high-risk, high-yield investment, or one could simply let the yields from the free $10 accrue and be reinvested and compounded over time at zero risk. If your account is "upgraded," meaning you've invested some money (or simply let the gains from the free $10 accrue), you can accrue the right to a greater amount of free advertising as well.

    So, if you invested no money, "surfed" every day, and had your gains compounded entirely, you would have $232.95 at the end of a year. If you invested $100, you would have $2,329.78 at the end of a year. If you invested $300, you'd have $6,989.40, and if you invested $1000, you'd turn it into $23,298.09 at a year's end, earning $5,376 in your last month.

    You can also, by investing the $1000, be able to earn 700 showings of your website per day.

    Studio Traffic has been around for 2 years, and judging by its Alexa ranking, which is now higher than 1000 and climbing steadily, it is continuing its growth at a high pace. Still, 2 years is not enough to know how sustainable it is.

    A potential drawback of this program is its potential to become a self-contained system, relying too heavily on future membership growth to fuel present payouts. On the other hand, Studio Traffic has been developing numerous external sources of revenue. In addition to outside advertisement revenue, it has various other projects such as Studio Rocks, a music program that is ranked within Alexa's top 8,000 websites, which is impressive.

    The potential for a major risk is to invest an important sum of money and have the program collapse six months down the road because its external sources of revenue could not be sufficiently developed. Short of that, a reasonable investment could make a remarkable return.

    The question for its value to If it's so easy to minimize the browser and pay no attention to the ads, will advertising in this venue, even though free, help spread the message that cholesterol is a vital nutrient and not a poison? Or will it fall upon blind eyes-- or eyes browsing another browser window, to no effect?

    I will report back with my findings.

    In the mean time, if you do decide to check out Studio Traffic, please use this link so that The Cholesterol Times will be fairly credited for the referral.

    Weston A. Price Foundation Annual Conference

    Conference Details

    Friday, November 11, through Sunday, November 13, The Weston A. Price Foundation will be holding its Sixth Annual Wise Traditions Conference.

    Conferences in the past have featured Dr. Uffe Ravnskov's presentation of his hypothesis that cholesterol protects against infectious diseases, Dr. Kilmer McCully discussing his revolutionary work on homocysteine, Dr. Russel Blaylock's presentation of his work on excitotoxins, and many other excellent presentations.

    This year's conference will feature social activities, workshops on fertility awareness and fermentation of beverages, 2 main tracks on heart disease and cancer, and a long list of featured speakers, including Dr. John Cannell, President of the Vitamin D Council, and Dr. Noel Solomons, Director of the CeSSIAM International Nutrition Foundation.

    For more information on the conference, click here.

    Travel and Lodging.

    You can get a conference-related discount at the Westfield Marriot where the conference is being held of $139/night for double, triple, and quadruple occupancy by making reservations here.

    If you need to make travel arrangements, we encourage you to use Price Line, with which you can search for the cheapest price according to your own specifications.

    You can also use PriceLine for hotel accomodations if those at the West Marriot are too pricey. Plus, you'll help by using the link below:


    Thank you for your support of Please help support our continued growth by forwarding this newsletter to a friend, who can subscribe by clicking here.

    Copyright and Disclaimer

    Please take notice that the contents of this newsletter and are copyright of Chris Masterjohn, 2005, and that this information is not to be construed or understood as any form of advice. Please visit our disclaimer page here.

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