I don’t know what’s gotten into Dr. Mehmet Oz as of late to suddenly cause him to present positive national television coverage to some of the fundamental messages of the low-carb community on his popular nationally-syndicated daytime health talk show but I’ve gotta say it’s pretty awesome. After featuring Dr. William Davis in an episode that aired on December 3, 2012 warning people of the health dangers of consuming modern-day wheat, he came back with an equally impressive show on December 11, 2012 entitled “The Doctors Who Say Everything You Know About Cholesterol Is Wrong.” Now you would think from the title that we’d see mocking from Dr. Oz about two medical quacks claiming that cholesterol is no big deal. After all, that’s precisely the kind of treatment that New York Times bestselling author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat Gary Taubes received on March 7, 2011 when he was on this same program in an episode dubbed “The Man Who Thinks Everything Dr. Oz Says is Wrong” (watch this now-infamous episode in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 as well as listen to my follow-up podcast interview with Gary responding to his tumultuous appearance here).
But imagine my pleasant surprise when I watched the episode about cholesterol this week featuring cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra and nutritional health expert Dr. Jonny Bowden discussing the “controversial” concepts they share in their brand new book The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan That Will (listen to my podcast interview with Dr. Bowden about this book in Episode 632 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show”) and Dr. Oz actually agrees with them on most of what they were saying! WOW! This really was an incredible episode that I encourage you to watch right now if you can spare a few minutes:
Here are the key takeaway points from this episode that I enjoyed:
The only part that kinda got me riled up and crinkle my nose in disapproval was the segment beginning around the 5:00 mark of Part 1 and then at the beginning of Part 2 where Dr. Oz does a demonstration of what cholesterol is and what supposedly happens as “the lousy” LDL cholesterol moves around inside the arterial wall vs. HDL cholesterol. His description of cholesterol as “goopy stuff” found in your food and on your body while pouring this thick yellow substance into a glass was I thought a bit disingenuous. Cholesterol in your food does not mean it will necessarily become cholesterol that will get trapped inside of your body. That’s why this “clogged arteries” imagery has been allowed to exist for so long, but there is ample evidence from the scientific literature that eating cholesterol does not raise your cholesterol or become trapped inside of the arterial wall. This was one of the key messages from The Cholesterol Myth book had Dr. Oz bothered to actually read it.
But the kicker to me was when he showed the “good” HDL particles enclosed inside of an acrylic box signifying that HDL is protected as it “banged around the artery” (the deadpan look on Dr. Sinatra’s and Dr. Bowden’s faces when the camera cut to them during this segment was classic!). However, when he turned to the “flimsy” LDL cholesterol represented by big and small balloons was when I just about lost it at how inaccurate this demonstration was. He attempted to make the point that LDL cholesterol passing through the arteries will burst and lead to a big “splash” like this leading to “plaques all over the place” (as the audience gasps):
Dr. Oz went on to say that his perspective is that this process is “gumming up the arteries” inside the body. I’m gonna say it because it just needs to be said: this is utter and complete nonsense, Dr. Oz, and you know it! Ironically, he used the large balloon representing the large, fluffy kind of LDL particles that he later admitted on the show are less harmful than the small, dense LDL particles. There are contradictions galore and yet overall the message that cholesterol may not be the great enemy to our health that we’ve been led to believe it is shone through loud and clear.
All in all, I’m very proud of what the millions of Oz viewers were exposed to and this is not an issue that’s going away anytime soon. As I’m in the writing stages of my own book on reading cholesterol test results from a layman’s perspective (tentatively set to release in the Fall 2013), I’m thrilled to see this message getting out there to the public. Maybe we’ll have more particle size testing being done and we can stand ready to help interpret what those numbers mean and what can be done to improve them for those with a prevalence of Pattern B LDL particles.
Learn more about cholesterol, statins and the real causes of heart disease by listening to these podcast interviews I’ve done with the REAL experts: