On September 6 1492 the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria along with their crew and captain Christopher Columbus set sail from the Canary Islands. Some scientists of that day warned that Chris would sail off the edge of the flat earth, they were wrong.
In the mid 1800’s Louis Pasteur posited his germ theory to the leading scientists and doctors of the day. Pasteur insisted that tiny invisible microorganisms were causing the spread of death and disease. His solution to this problem, wash your hands, he was right and the great scientific minds of the day were wrong.
Today scientists tell us all sorts of things. For example it has been thought for many years that high cholesterol was a major contributor to heart disease. In fact a recent review of patient records admitted to the hospital for a first time cardiac event revealed that nearly half had LDL or bad cholesterol levels well within the normal range. In other words these people had no indication that a heart attack was coming solely based on cholesterol level.
Ignoring these findings which are not the first to indicate that cholesterol is not a major risk factor for heart disease the scientific community continues to push medication to solve the problem. Statin drugs are used by over 13 million Americans as a means of lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attack. However of all those who take this type of medication only a fraction benefit in fact one study showed that a sugar pill was just about as effective as the cholesterol lowering medication in preventing heart disease.
Another popular scientific theory is that losing weight can lead to better health and a reduction in risk factors for heart and other diseases. As one who works in this area of nutrition science I heartily agree that this is in fact true weight loss can lead to better health. However 95% of those who lose weight gain it back within five years with a little extra on the side. Moreover this yo-yo type dieting and weight loss then gain can have a negative impact on the body especially the heart. So what then?
Accepted science does not always have the correct answer and this has been true throughout history. Perhaps time will reveal that the whole issue of high cholesterol as related to health has more in common with the flat earth theory that actual truth. Perhaps it is time for us the patients and targets for these scientific interventions to apply a little critical thinking when it comes to our own health. We may find a New World of health far beyond what the mad scientists of the day tell us is possible.