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on 29 March 2010
I have 'suffered' with high blood pressure for most of my life and I am 59 years of age. Truth is , I am not aware of it and I have been on medication #Nifedipine, Hydralazine and Bendrofluazide# to 'treat' my high bp for the last 13 years. I was told that I also had the beginnings of ischaemic heart disease which is a build up of plaque on the major arteries. I don't drink or smoke and my GP and the cardiologist have been trying to force me to take different variations of statins for the last 5 years , despite knowing that they make me very ill; they just kept on changing them. Now I just pretend I take them , but I don't ! I have been aware that the drug companies make billions from statins and that in the USA , children as young as 10 are being prescribed them and I have nursed a doubt for some time that my 'essential' bp was anything to do with anything other than stress and lack of exercise. This fantastic book - written in plain English but packed with accurate studies and easily checkable #by the reader# reference points , is a must in my opinion. It debunks the myth of heart disease and also exposes the medical profession as being as vulnerable to , shall we say, 'hospitality' as any British MP !In my opinion the GPs are being lazy and not checking overall mortality figures and just believing what the pharmaceutical reps tell them. Read this book and you will not be disappoined. It's written by a Scottish-British GP and I believe his version...he may not 100pc right , but I believe his analysis is more right than wrong. Chuck away the statins -especially if you are an older female; he proves they will kill you quicker than heart disease from mortality tables - and exercise and relax.

Meditate , not medicate ! A glass of red in the hand is worth two statins in la bouche !
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Worried about your cholestrol levels based on annual medicals or check ups? Under pressure to start taking statins by your doctor? Sick of eating tofu and lettuce instead of steak?

You get my general drift and if like me in my late 50s you have been subject to such ongoing "medical best advice" for a number of years even though your cholestrol level is not going up but remains above those much quoted lower optimum levels, I strongly suggest that you do not do anything before reading this book.

Kendrick writes in a slightly sarcastic and amusing tone (think Jack Dee/John Cleese) and covers an incredible amount of detailed medical and biological research in a way that helps you through what could have been a very dry medical tome. Openly admitting where he does not know the answer or cannot prove it, he at the same time seems to do a pretty impresssive demolition job on the dietary theory being the root cause of cholestrol levels; the fallacy of certain cholestrol levels especially the good versus bad being that critical to your exposure to heart attacks; and, finally the many real dangers of long term use of statins. The latter has been sadly observed first hand on a relative who has now refused to ever use again given the impact on his memory and digestion and has immediately recovered considerably.

After many years of getting steadily healthier through more regular exercise and better diet (as a fact I feel and function much better than I ever did in my early 30s) this book almost reads like an affirmation to trust in your own instincts as to the quality of life you want to lead. Having undergone extensive medical examination over the last 10 years that stated they could not find anything wrong but the worrying high cholestrol levels kept leading to statins always being suggested, I at least feel vindicated.

As with the recently published research on eating 5+ daily helpings of fruit and vegetables not having the major impact previously supposed on preventing certain cancers, it may be becoming clearer the primacy of quality of life alongside taking personal accountability plus acceptance that your genes may have pre-determined your place in the lottery of life rather than drugs is what health care is about?
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on 9 January 2008
Dr Kendrick provides a very well evidenced work, explaining his perspective on the prevalent paradigm in relation to fats. i.e.The saturated fat-bad, poly/monounsaturated fat-good theme that pervades the majority of mainstream medical and scientific thinking and preaching.
His work is well referenced, inviting the reader to form their own opinions.
I personally enjoyed his humour, and the tone of his writing has been created by decades of frustration caused by the fruit of the poison tree thinking that has pervaded this area of science. His annoyance is understandable, as from his perspective, a lot of the diet doctrine we read about is about as useful as discussing what material is best for the Emporer's New Suit, or what chocolate to build a fireguard from.
The complexity of human illness is so massively multi factorial that we eventually just have to settle for what feels right. I was biased in his direction to start with, hence my selection of the book, but I did get the feeling that he was right, and had the guts to explain how he felt, and why.
Time will tell. I am glad I read it.
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on 6 February 2007
Despite monumental efforts, cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of disability and death in many countries. The Great Cholesterol Con by the British physician Dr Malcolm Kendrick will be a very discomforting piece of literature for many of his colleagues. For in this groundbreaking work, Dr Kendrick shows painfully clearly that the medical establishment has been chasing the wrong enemy for over four decades, while the real villain has been staring them right into their faces.

In the first chapters, Dr Kendrick uses plain textbook biochemistry to show that there is no such thing as a `cholesterol level', that there is no thinkable way for the bogyman LDL to cause arterial plaque, that the idea that the `good' HDL could reverse plaques by breaking out incorporated LDL is a perfect example of magic thinking and that the ingestion of saturated fat can not have any influence at all on the amount of any lipoprotein floating around in the blood stream. He presents statistics from the WHO ("Not the pop band, but the World Health Organisation") that show that countries with the lowest saturated fat intake invariably have a much higher cardiovascular heart disease mortality than the countries with the highest saturated fat intake.

After describing in detail why statin therapy probably does more harm than good in the general population, Dr Kendrick explains the observation that people with inherited super high LDL levels (familial hypercholesteraemia or FH) indeed do have a substantially increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. In the land of FH, children aged ten die of massive heart attacks (although others live happily to be 104...) Even to those who clearly understand that the cholesterol hypothesis must be utter bonkers, made up in the minds of the worlds most gifted fairyologists, this has always been a hard nut to crack. To many doctors, the excess pathology in the FH population is the kind of Aha experience that overrules all the contradicting evidence. Children aged five get massive heart attacks, aha! Astatinate, astatinate! Aha!

To speak with Dr Kendrick: "And Aha to you too!" Once again, it's not what it looks like. Actually, it's a hell of a lot more complicated than so. To begin with, many individuals with FH not only have elevated levels of harmless LDL, they also have higher levels of lipoprotein a, most often called Lp(a). This is ordinary LDL, with a slightly different protein coat. Lp(a) - which is never measured in ordinary cholesterol tests - is the only cholesterol containing vehicle that actually is atherogenic. Extremely so. It is a potent clotting factor. Once incorporated in clots, it makes them as robust as concrete, keeping them out of reach for natural clot dissolving agents. Secondly, many hypercholesteraemiacs (but not all of them) suffer from a whole range of other clotting abnormalities. These people should be identified and subsequently treated for their life threatening clotting disorders, not for their elevated LDL levels.

Then what is it that really causes this dreaded `killer of the Western world'? Well, a huge part of the cause is in our brain, or more precisely, in our nervous system. Perceived stress - especially the prolonged stress brought on by social dislocation, lack of control, insufficient reward - disrupts the HPA-axis: an intricate and highly complicated set of hormonal feed back loops that allows us to properly deal with life's challenges. By constantly pushing the HPA-axis over the edge, we are effectively giving ourselves various degrees of `Cushing's Disease,' a malady characterised by chronic overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol. Cushing's Disease, invariably ruins the cardiovascular system. This is well documented. The sub clinical form - which is induced by such apparently unrelated stressors as smoking, cocaine or steroid abuse, discrimination and spinal cord injury - is no less dangerous. Kendrick explains exactly how this works. His model also for the first time explains the distribution of cardiovascular heart disease in time and place. Why did the Fins once have the world's highest heart disease mortality? Did anybody know that Finland endured the greatest forced relocation in the recent European history?

Once you have read the first lines, you will read the whole book, probably right on the spot. It is extremely information dense, so it definitely helps that Malcolm Kendrick is one of the better writers of our time, gifted with an ultra dry Scottish wit. I challenge everybody in the field - cardiologists, GP's, lipid researchers, health insurers, nutritionists and journalists - to carefully read this book and shoot at its flaws.

I expect a deafening silence. It requires a great deal of courage to admit that one plus one is two, when you have always maintained it is three.

Melchior Meijer
Medical reporter
The Netherlands
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on 13 December 2011
Having been diagnosed with High cholesterol and told it's probably hereditary I have been put under a lot of pressure by the consultant to start taking Statins. I was looking for evidence to see if they would be beneficial and also to find out how 'dangerous' my cholesterol levels were. So far I have resisted taking them having read articles in 'What the doctors don't tell you' etc and have had so much negative feedback about them in normal chats with friends that I am even less convinced of their safety. Reading Dr kendrick's book has given me a lot more insight into the false science peddled to make the drug companies rich and us ill. I doubt if the book is 100% correct, and it is easy to take statements out of context etc but since Dr Kendrick isn't selling anything, except his book, I can't see that he would have an axe to grind. The book is quite readable and often very amusing and makes lots of very interesting points. He mentions the harmful effect for example of statins on the muscles.. when I mentioned this to the consultant she said 'the heart muscle was different from other muscles so not affected'! Brilliant, I'll be unable to walk or move but have a fine healthy heart! Just what I've always needed. Having worked in a GP's surgery I am well aware of the 'treats' provided by the drug sellers to the doctors and staff - lovely lunches etc and maybe more.And the point he makes about healthy people being turned into patients as in the Norwegians with highest life expectancy in the West is very relevant and worrying. He also produces evidence printed in the BMJ and The Lancet that do not support statins as the wonder drug they are advertised as.In other areas of medicine, Drug companies appear to be slowly and surreptitously widening the description of ailments in order to sell more drugs regardless of the outcome. For example, On a Woman's Hour programme a year of so ago, they discussed a campaign in the US about social anxiety, seemingly funded by a drug company to make people 'aware of this illness' before launching their product. One of the criteria was 'feeling anxious when entering a room of strangers'!!!! This is 100% normal animal reaction - we would probably not survive long if we didn't feel anxious in new surroundings or with strangers etc- they could be head hunters, violent criminals or whatever. So the companies are gradually brain washing the medical profession into accepting that natural phenomena are symptoms of illness. As Dr Kendrick points out, the drug companies are reducing the level of 'acceptable' cholesterol every year. A few years ago it was 6 now it's 3. Would that be to sell more drugs? I would have liked a bit more on the effects of stress which seems to be all bundled up in a short final chapter, but generally a very thought provoking book.Whatever your take on medicine/drug companies etc, if you are thinking of taking Statins, read this book first to get a different perspective from the one peddled by GPs. Then decide.
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on 23 February 2007
For the newly diagnosed patients with raised cholesterol, who have been prescribed Statin therapy, this book will explain simply, and with great humour, why you ought not to take statins. It explores (and debunks) the current medical gold standards which have been based on rather poor science, since the first major study (Framingham, Mass) was carried out, ostensibly to determine the effects of cholesterol on heart disease. The long-term statin taker could also benefit from reading this book.

You will be surprised at the twists and turns that the medical profession, in conjunction with the large pharmaceutical companies, has taken to preserve the illusion that high cholesterol is a predictor of heart disease. The most startling evidence is that low cholesterol levels are a robust predictor of the risk of dying prematurely.

Dr Kendrick is to be applauded for writing about a complex subject, in terms that any layperson could easily follow. He explains medical jargon simply and summarises each chapter in plain English. If your own personal medical practitioner is banging on about your elevated cholesterol levels and the risks you run of dying from coronary artery disease, you now have the means to prevent yourself being bullied into accepting statin medication.

Information is power and knowledge is the means by which you can wield that power. You deserve the opportunity to take control of your own health... which is far better than letting a drug company decide how you will live your life. The book is very reasonably priced and it does not attempt to sell anything to the reader nor do you have to sign up to any cult.

This book truly deserves to be a best-seller and there should be a copy of it on every medical practitioner's desk.
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on 19 September 2009
This book explained some of the symptoms my mum was having whilst taking statins. Once she stopped taking them (she never had high cholesterol anyway) the pains in her toes went away within a couple of weeks. She was lucky as statins can cause permanent damage.

If only I could persuade other friends and relatives of mine who are using statins with similarly dire consequences, such as heart failure and severe memory loss to read this book as well, I'm sure their quality of life would be much improved. But the 'great cholesterol con' has too tight a grip on our consciousness for most people to even be curious.

Thank goodness for this book and others like it, or we would never know the facts.
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on 26 October 2009
There are a handful of books on the market about the cholesterol myth, but this is by far the most readable and funny. I laughed out loud in a couple of places.

I love the approach in this book - the logic, the refreshing deconstruction of things we have held to be true for far too long, the brave attack on established thinking. People are always quick to attack people who stand up and first declare that the world is in fact round. Kendrick does this in this seriously important book and we need to read it, spread the word and provide a counter balance to the staggering machinery that is the pharmaceutical industry and the lucrative statin market.

This isn't just about statins (although anyone should read this before ever going on this drug). The book explains how crucial cholesterol is for our entire body functioning, that there is no such thing as good and bad cholesterol, that some really basic simplifications, which we are told by doctors, are not true or accurate and so on.

My only criticism is that I would have liked an index at that back - and that's the only comment I can make on this quite brilliant book.

I bought 1 and then bought 6 straight after and have been giving them away to people who need them. First my brother in law, then my mother, then my brother - is there no one in my family safe from the statin prescription?!
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on 5 January 2008
Having done my own research into cholesterol and statins, I thoroughly concur with this book. I have believed for a number of years that big pharma have a vested interest and are big enough and powerful enough to skew research in their favour. After all business is busines! I've also come across more than a few people who have become weak, insomniac, fatigued and with muscle cramps. One who lady kept trying to get her cholesterol down to below 2, ended up in hospital totally distraught. The doctor explained her folly. Anyone who doubts the validity of this book, just do your own research - if you are able (it's avery complex area). You will find dirty tricks and "massaged" results all over the place.
At a nutritional therapist I cannot agree with Dr. Kendricks stance on diet. He is totally wrong to think it does not matter - but that is his view. Really he is only talking about the saturated fat/cholesterol link. The other foods in your diet do make a big difference - for example high sodium/low potassium diets may increase BP in some people. There can be no doubt that high BP makes CHD worse.

I thught his point on side effects was excellent. Large studies do not monitor comparatively minor side effects like fatigue, increased diarrhoea, constipation etc., so if the treatment induces them in trials, it will during treatment. It seems that statins can do this.

On the point about going to a doctor to be healed. Doctors are not trained in healing, whatever you might think: they are trained in treatment. There is a big difference: it means they "manage" the problem. Healing comes from within the body and that means correcting the root cause (if it can be found).

I found the book highly oringinal, amusing and readable, making a complex subject accessible to the lay-person.

As an aside by eating a healthy diet including meat, cream, butter, full fat cheese & milk my LDL cholesterol (so called bad) dropped from 4 to 3 and my HDL (so called good) increased from 1 to 1.2. So how is it sat fat increases cholesterol?
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on 19 March 2011
This book has totally convinced me that the high cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis is a convoluted myth promoted by the pharmaceutical giants in order to sell billions of dollars worth of statins. Kendrick explores a vast amount of research that contradicts the official hypothesis; research that, for financial, ideological and conformity reasons, is largely ignored or dismissed by the mainstream. The `mainstream' being the pharmaceutical giants and the well funded and too well respected researchers who sit snugly in their very deep pockets.

Kendrick argues convincingly for such initially surprising and little known positions as: diet does not affect cholesterol level, a below average cholesterol level is far more harmful than a high cholesterol level and statins can cause heart failure! He does acknowledge that statins can slightly reduce the risk of heart disease in certain groups, but only because statins function as a blood anti-coagulant in much the same way as aspirin. Otherwise statins are bad, bad, bad, and anyone taking them or thinking of taking them should seriously consider what Kendrick has to say.

Thanks partly to the work of Kendrick and others the harmful side effects of statins are now reasonably well known - how could they not be with so many millions of people taking statins and daily reporting, at least to each other, the negative consequences of doing so: muscle damage, liver damage, cancer, depression and impaired cognitive function such as memory loss. Perhaps the most damaging consequence of the abiding faith in the cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis, a faith that absolutely nothing is allowed to challenge as far as the mainstream is concerned, is that it serves to discourage research into, and treatment of, the true causes of heart disease.

Kendrick is clear that by far the main cause of heart disease is stress. He defines stress in detail, identifies its causes and describes the physiological mechanisms by which stress ultimately damages the endothelium lining of the blood vessels. Basically, if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, reduce your stress levels via moderate alcohol consumption, regular exercise, quitting smoking (and cocaine), cultivating rewarding friendships and finding, if you can, a job you enjoy.

An important book that will shock you into the realisation that the great cholesterol con is even greater and far more pernicious than you may currently think possible.
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