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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: too many supplements?
Date: 2 Oct 1998 07:40:36 GMT

In <> jwwright <>

>Steven B. Harris wrote:
>> In <6uu5me$22e$> wright@nospam.clam (David Wright)
>> writes:
>> >Me, I'm inclined to supplement nutrients that appear to be protective
>> >against cancer or heart disease, e.g. selenium or B-complex. There
>> >doesn't appear to be much of a downside, as best I can tell, as long
>> >as I don't go totally nuts and start taking toxic amounts.
>> Don't forget vitamin E.
>well, if you eat a dr. harris fruit smoothee every day you get a variety
>of vitamins in the food. the only thing lacking maybe is calcium?,
>according to my calcs. i'm using a banana, peach, papaya, apple,
>pineapple, tomato, carrot, orange juice and a scoop of SPI.

Congrats.  I'm sure there's a lot of good stuff in there you can't find
in any pill.

However: One thing really hard to get in a good low fat diet is enough
vitamin E.  If I were only permitted one supplemental substance, gamma
tocopherol would probably be it.  The rest I could do by paying really
close attention to variety in fruits, vegetables, and whatnot.  With
Brazil nuts for the selenium.

From: (RunnSwim)
Subject: Re: Ravnskov "Cholesterol Myth" Website
Date: 04 Mar 1998
Newsgroups: says:

>>We should distinguish "causal" from "correlative", and
in all of these discussions, regard cholesterol as a
correlant with CHD.  Maybe.<<

>>I have heard the grumblings of MDs who SWEAR that upon
re-analyzing the statistics of these cholesterol studies,
there is near-ZERO correlation!! Sort of like establishing
causality (or correlation) between shoe size and math
ability, where in fact age is the relevant variable. <<

	>>Plaques are known to mobiley appear and
disappear in infant aortas, suggesting that atherogenesis
is normal process gone awry. <<

My response:

I recently cam across a real interesting analysis in a
paper debunking the alleged relationship between low
cholesterol and depression/ suicide (Law,M.  Having too
much evidence (depression, suicide, and low serum
cholesterol). Br Med J  313:651-2,'96).  Law quotes
Sherlock Holmes:

"What was vital was overlaid and hidden by what was
irrelevant." Law goes on to point out that "observational
data that are unable to  distinguish cause from
consequence...serve only to obfuscate, leaving an overall
impression of uncertainty.  We should, like Holmes, 'from
all the facts presented to us, pick just those which we
deem to be essential'."

Law reviews all of the data first for deaths from
accidents and suicides. In 13 different trials with statin
drugs, there were 11 such deaths in the treatment group
and 14 in the control.  In 25 trials of diet alone or diet
and drugs, there were 78 deaths in the treatment groups
and 77 in the control.  In two widely quoted trials (by
Sears and everyone else who tries to downplay the
importance of lipids in heart disease) were 20 deaths in
the treatment group and 9 in the control group.  But these
cases were investigated and the data were further broken
down thusly:  In patients who actually complied with the
protocol, there were 9 deaths in the active treatment
group and 7 in the control.  In patients randomized to
treatment but who were non-compliant with treatment, there
were 11 deaths in the "treatment" group, but only 2 in the
control.  What people tend to forget is that in studies
which are deemed significant by virtue of having a P <
0.05, there will be one false positive finding in every 20
endpoints examined.

What is the point?  Simply that you've got to cut through
the irrelevant chaff and get to the relevant wheat.
Ravnskov's Web site spins an elaborate tale by focusing on
the fact that this has been (for a long time) a pretty
complicated subject. He rightly points out that all
authors have their own biases and preconceptions.

And on no subject are people as biased as they are about
their diet, which is central to the core of one's
identity. Diet is more important than religion or
politics.  Let us say that you are having a business lunch
with a stranger. It turns out that he has the same
religion and politics as you, but you order a thick steak
and a baked potato with cheddar cheese and sour cream.  He
takes great pains to tell the waiter not to drizzle butter
on top  of his baked fish and steamed vegetables.  You
order cheescake for desert, while he begs the waiter to
find a raw apple.  You'd be able to cut the tension only
with a very sharp knife.

But let's say that you are a Catholic and he's a Muslim
and he's a Democrat, while you're a Republican.  But you
both order the steak and cheese-cream potato and
cheesecake.  You'll have a great meal together and begin
to bond pretty closely.

There are lots more people on this newsgroup and even in
science following "prudent" (30% fat) diets and even
higher fat diets than there are low fat radicals like me
following 10% diets.  That's why virtually no one has ever
studied 10% fat diets and why "low fat" to most people
means an American Heart Association Step 1 diet, which I
would consider to be high fat. And why I have so many
critics and so few supporters (not at all complaining...I
wouldn't be wasting my time here if I were only preaching
to the choir).

These leads to all sorts of misconceptions and
contradictions, which are taken advantage of by people
like Dr. Ravnskov, who I am sure enjoys his steaks and
cheesecake immensely.  Ravnskov makes the ridiculous
statement that "the diet has nothing to do with your blood
cholesterol level."  This is patently false, but he can
find some data to support his case by confining his
analysis to cohort studies of populations where nearly
everyone is eating the same general sort of diet and
ignoring the studies (cohort and intervention alike) of
people on true low fat diets.

Ravnskov and others can create further confusion by the
confusing ploy of looking at studies of degree of
atherosclerosis, rather than incidence of heart disease,
where the relationship between serum cholesterol and heart
disease and heart disease death is as perfect and linear
as one could want in any clinical relationship.

Sure, once you've got atherosclerosis, the extent of the
disease (how bad it gets) is a function of other factors,
as discussed by Grundy in the 1997 paper I quoted. But no
elevated cholesterol, no heart disease or at least very
little heart disease, "risk factors" pretty much
notwithstanding, again as described by Grundy.

Basically, you've got cholesterol and you've got the mob,
where the mob is everything else.  Let your cholesterol
get high, and you are at the mercy of the mob.  But keep
your cholesterol low and you can pretty much keep the mob
at bay (though I think that it makes sense to reduce risk
factors even if you've got a low cholesterol by choosing
your foods wisely and getting regular exercise).

Regarding "plaques" in infants:

True enough, young children who eat a lot of fat develop
fatty streaks in their arteries.  These will eventually
progress to frank plaques, with fibrin clots and smooth
muscle  proliferation and the whole deal, which is
probably exacerbated by homocysteine, and by smoking, and
by hypertension, and which is maybe reduced by vitamin E,
yada, yada, yada.

But vitamins don't reduce plaques already formed.  Neither
does stopping smoking or controlling hypertension or
drinking booze, per se.  The only thing shown to reduce
plaques is the same thing which caused them to form in the
first place... cholesterol, or rather, reducing

It's a lot more than sheer association.  It's a nice,
neat, clear story, as documented by Grundy and the other
papers I quote.

You want to consider an interesting fact?

Barry Sears sold a zillion books and became rich because
he told Americans that eating fat was OK.  It's what
everyone wanted to hear.  Never mind that he had no
credible data confirming benefits of his diet.  The best
popular diet book in the past 20 years was just published
-> called _The Pritikin Weight Loss Breakthrough_, by
Robert Pritikin, Dutton/Penguin, New York, 1998.  Of all
the  popular diet books written in the past 20 years, this
is the best, for the following reason:

Not only is every dietary principle clearly and completely
referenced with articles in the peer-review medical
literature, but every dietary claim for the diet is also
clearly referenced and backed up with articles about the
diet published in the peer review medical literature.

At the end of the book is not just a list of references
(hundreds), but a chapter by chapter list of specific
claims made in those chapters, each claim supported by
specific literature references.

It's a great reference, even if you choose not to follow
the  recommended diet. But I predict that almost no one
will buy it or pay much attention...because most people
like to order steak and this diet is for people who tell
their waiters not to drizzle butter over their veggies,
which is not very many people at all, including all those
diet researchers who are supposedly promoting low fat
diets which are not so low in fat, after all, and which
have ambiguous benefits which allow iconoclasts like
Ranskov to go on a feeding frenzy, to use an unfortunate

- Larry Weisenthal

From: (RunnSwim)
Subject: Re: Ravnskov "Cholesterol Myth" Website
Date: 21 Apr 1998 17:45:03 GMT

Tom says:

>I'm suprised that the following article from the March 98 American
>Journal of Clinical Nutrition has not been referenced here (apologies if
>it has and I missed it)--abstract is at
>in which Walter Willet (of Framingham and Harvard fame) concludes
>"...Diets high in fat do not appear to be the primary cause of the high
>prevalence of excess body fat in our society, and reductions in fat will
>not be a solution. Am J Clin Nutr 998;67(suppl):556S-62S."

Boy, is this a misleading statement.

Firstly, it is a true statement.  No doubt about it.

Between 1960 and 1976 percentage of calories as fat
fell from 40% to 36%.  There was a marked reduction
in cardiac disease and no increase in obesity.  Between
1976 and 1992 there was a further reduction in percent
calories as fat from 36% to 32-33%.  There was a further
reduction in cardiac disease, but an explosion in obesity.

However, the total per capita fat intake did not drop appreciably.
Rather the consumption of sugar increased dramatically (Greater
than 20 pounds more per year per capita).  This is like adding
chocolate syrup to whole milk.  Percent calories as fat drops
but total fat remains the same.

The biggest reason for the weight gain is not dietary at all; rather
it is decreased exercise.  This was documented in a recently
published book which was reviewed by the LA Times last fall,
but the citation for which I don't have.

Military training standards have had to be dramatically cut back
because of the appalling lack of fitness in today's military
recruits.  Since 1976 we have seen the universal introduction
of VCRs, cable TV, remote controls.  We've seen physical education
in schools cut back.  We've seen dramatic decreases in use
of public transportation (requires walking) and other things.

As I said, when medical scientists look at people who are most
successful at losing weight (minimum 30 pound weight loss,
maintained over 5 years) the majority are in a regular exercise
program and are eating a relatively low fat/high carb diet.

You think that you can lose weight/avoid obesity without exercise?
And keep it off, long term?  Few people can, on any diet.

- Larry Weisenthal

From: runnswim@aol.comnet (Larry Weisenthal)
Date: 18 Feb 2003 18:46:44 GMT
Subject: re: Does Larry Weisenthal (aka Runnswim) post here anymore?
Message-ID: <>


From: Robert Ruddy (
Subject: Does Larry Weisenthal (aka Runnswim) post here anymore?
This is the only article in this thread
View: Original Format
Date: 2003-01-05 12:26:19 PST

He used to post here a few years ago on a fairly regular basis but I haven't
seen him in in a while.


Hi Robert,  It's been more like 5 years, but thanks for the memories.  I loved
talking and debating the pros and cons of different diets on,
but, as you know, it's a black hole.  You jump into a debate and it takes over
your whole life.

In point of fact, however, I now have a powerful new argument to back up my
favored approach to health through nutrition, which, simply stated is the
classic advice to eat a low fat version of either a Mediterranean or Asian
diet, with an emphasis on fresh veggies and fruits, and with a hefty dose of
daily exercise.  I still feel that Nathan Pritiken got it remarkably right,
except the knowledge didn't exist back then that fish oils, nut oils, and olive
oil actually have a useful role in a healthy diet.  So I'm what you might call
modified/updated "Pritiken."

The important new evidence is that statin drugs should NOT be "added to
drinking water," as some have only partly in jest suggested.  These drugs,
which are toxic to mitochondria, may cause irreversible damage to skeletal
muscle.  Thus, the strategy of eating what you want, but "correcting" with a
statin drug, seems decidedly inferior to the classic Pritiken diet and exercise

I'm now almost 56...haven't eaten a mammal since 1971 and have been
Pritiken/modified Pritiken since about 1981.  I'm 6 ' 1/2" tall, weigh 165
pounds, which is what I weighed at age 18 and have a 32 inch waist, which is
also what I had at age 18.

My blood lipids are very interesting.  When I was "classic" Pritiken, I had a
total cholesterol of about 135, a total cholesterol/HDL ratio of about 5
(considered "unhealthy" in someone on a "normal", i.e. high fat diet, but of no
negative health consequence whatsover in someone on a very low fat diet, as the
HDL is not needed to counteract a high LDL).  My triglycerides were always in
the low/healthy range.  Now that I eat more salmon, almonds/walnuts, and olive
oil, my total cholesterol is up to 172, but by TC/HDL ratio is now close to 3.
So, lipid-wise, I don't know if I was better with "classic" Pritiken or now
with "modified/updated" Pritiken, but I think that either set of numbers is
pretty good.

I think that whole Atkins' diet thing is quite fascinating.  I await the
results of long term studies with interest, but, in the meantime, I wouldn't
recommend the diet even as a poor second choice to my own favored approach.  I
am more convinced than ever that the whole Zone Diet business is junk science
and quackery.

- Larry Weisenthal


Larry Weisenthal

Certitude is poison; curiosity is life

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