Reading between the lines of bad science and cholesterol-controlling miracles

Reading between the lines of bad science and cholesterol-controlling miracles

Hyperlipidemia, excess fat in the blood, can be a health hazard. This is true, if it really is in excess. But will you ever experience an excess great enough to affect your life? Probably not. Let me tell you something that will amaze you. (It did me.) If you look at fresh blood under a microscope–drawn after a person eats a meal–you will see a sea of fat between the blood cells. This is perfectly normal.

So my reason for reporting this fact is not to terrorize you about animal fat but to illustrate to you how much silly science there is out there, masquerading as the real thing. Even though blood lipids–the liquid fat between your blood cells–are normal, overzealous scientists can’t seem to keep from playing God, trying to regulate how much fat is there using various substances. For example, one Chinese study involved 446 patients for eight weeks and looked at red yeast rice extract as a potential agent for reducing blood fats. OK, fine–if they insist. But then they decided to study another Chinese herbal medicine, Jiaogulan, along with the red yeast study. This involved 122 more subjects. So instead of having 568 patients in the red yeast study and focusing on one thing at a time, they ran off in two directions and reduced the statistical power of the red yeast study.

But that’s not the worst of it. They also put the subjects on a low-fat diet. Then, when they saw “improved” cholesterol levels (don’t even get me started on that issue), they had the nerve to conclude “use of [red yeast] preparation produced a favorable lipid-lowering effect in hyperlipidemic patients.”

So there you have it–put them on a low-fat diet, thus lowering the cholesterol levels–which don’t need to be lowered in the first place (see page 8 of the December 2001 issue of Dr. Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs)–and give the credit to red yeast rice extract.

Bad science. RH


“Multicenter clinical trial of the serum lipid-lowering effects of a Monascus purpureus (red yeast) rice preparation from traditional Chinese medicine,” Current Therapeutic Research 1997; 58(12): 964-978