Cholesterol Deceptions – The New York Times Should Apologize But Does Not
Majid Ali, M.D.
Here are two established scientific facts of biology of cholesterol: (1) Healthy cholesterol prevents coronary heart disease; and (2) Unhealthy (oxidized) cholesterol (damages cells circulating in the blood and those lining the inner surfaces of blood vessels, and initiates cascades of molecular events that lead to heart attacks. It is profoundly saddening that companies making cholesterol drugs have kept doctors and medical journalists completely blinded to these basic facts of molecular biology of cholesterol.
Almost forty years ago, I began to add my voice to a handful of students of molecular biology who recognized the stupidity of blaming cholesterol for heart attacks.
The New York Times Should But Does Not Apologize
On June 19, 2015, The New York Times published an editorial entitled “The Slow Death of Trans Fats.” Since the Times considers itself the principal trustee of public health in the United States, it must be held accountable for disease promotion in the country more than any other newspaper.
I suggest the Readers read the editorial reproduced below and decide for themselves if the Times accepts any responsibility for having grossly misinformed hundreds of millions of Americans over decades. Does it epress any remorse? Does it offer any apology?
Full Text of The New York Times Editorial
The Food and Drug Administration has ordered the food industry to remove artificial trans fats from the food supply within three years, bringing closure to a prolonged battle to eliminate the artery-clogging substances from American diets. The agency on Tuesday issued its “final determination” that partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of trans fats in processed foods, are no longer considered safe and may no longer be added to food after June 18, 2018, unless a manufacturer can present convincing scientific evidence that a particular use is safe.
This is a major, long-overdue gain for public health. It is expected to prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease every year. Trans fats increase the level of so-called “bad” cholesterol and reduce the level of “good” cholesterol, thus raising the risk of heart disease. Epidemiological studies have shown that they are associated with a high risk of heart disease and diabetes. Removing trans fats, which are primarily used to extend the shelf life of processed foods, may be the easiest and fastest way to save tens of thousands of lives in coming years.
Some scientists had been warning for decades that trans fats were unsafe. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, petitioned the F.D.A. in 2004 to prohibit the use of partially hydrogenated oils and conducted a campaign to cajole and pressure companies to reformulate their products with safer oils. In early 2006, the F.D.A. required that nutritional labels on packaged foods disclose the trans fat content, leading many companies to eliminate the fats. In late 2006, New York City’s Board of Health, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, decided to prohibit restaurants and bakeries from using all but small amounts of trans fats, and soon other local governments across the country took similar action.
These efforts played a major role in driving down consumption of trans fats by almost 80 percent from 2003 to 2012, according to the F.D.A., or possibly by even more, according to an industry estimate. But trans fats are still used in many consumer products, like ready-made frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, frozen pizza, stick margarines and coffee creamers.
Three years should be more than enough time to reformulate these remaining products. Given how many deaths trans fats still cause, civic-minded manufacturers should move even more quickly than required.