As previously mentioned, I’m not a huge television watcher, discerning, no couch-potato. One show I must see each and every week – or I seriously get the grumps – is Catalyst.
For those not-in-the-know, Catalyst is a superlative Australian science program aired weekly on ABC TV, it’s always current, often a lark and most beautifully produced.
My favourite science reporter is back with another superlative question, “Is the role of cholesterol in heart disease really one of the biggest myths in the history of medicine?”
The answer is surprising. In this must see episode of Catalyst, Dr Demasi and team track down some surprising insights ::::
For the last four decades we’ve been told that saturated fat clogs our arteries and high cholesterol causes heart disease. It has spawned a multi-billion dollar drug and food industry of “cholesterol free” products promising to lower our cholesterol and decrease our risk of heart disease.
But what if it all isn’t true? What if it’s never been proven that saturated fat causes heart disease?
For more information, extended interviews and original papers head here: www.abc.net.au/catalyst
The only thing more worthwhile than a good broadcaster is a controversial broadcaster, and it seem Ms Demasi and team have stirred up a bunch of trouble with their latest offering.
Catalyst has come under fire from sections of the medical community for it’s latest two-part special that questions the scientific evidence linking cholesterol to heart disease. Catalyst described the claim that saturated fats and cholesterol causes heart attacks as one of the biggest myths of medical history.
The most recent claim put forward by the program is that the anti-cholesterol medication called Statins is a massively over-prescribed drug and has no guarantee of reducing heart attack The program goes further to say that the drug can, instead, do serious harm to the health of people taking them.
“All drugs have side effects and when you look at the clinical trials, it suggests that the side effect profiles are quite low,” Catalyst presenter Ms Demasi told ABC’s PM program. “But when you look at side effects in the general population, they’re a lot higher. And when you speak to doctors who are in clinical practice, they say that sometimes 20, 25, up to 30 per cent of their patients experience these side effects.”
Ms Demasi says that if patients are not getting a benefit in having a longer lifespan from these drugs then patients need to question whether or not they expose themselves to the risks of these drugs.
However, Professor Emily Banks, the chair of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines, says the program may prompt people not to take necessary medicines.
Ms Demasi, a Doctor of Philosophy in medical research, says as a broadcaster she has a responsibility to inform the public that people may be using the drugs unnecessarily.
“I share her concern that patients will stop taking their medication unnecessarily but we also have a responsibility to tell people that the majority of people on these drugs may be on these drugs unnecessarily,” Ms Demasi said. “We have a duty of care to those people as well.”
The National Heart Foundation of Australia maintains there is a clear link between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease, contrary to the Catalyst report. The Heart Foundation said it has serious concerns about the conclusions presented in the ABC Catalyst program and is “shocked by the disregard for the extensive evidence upon which the Heart Foundation’s recommendations are made”.
“Australians need to be aware that the information presented by the ABC is not supported by the Heart Foundation,” a statement said. “There is international scientific consensus that replacing saturated fat with ‘good’ unsaturated fat, in particular polyunsaturated fat, reduces your risk of heart disease.”
The Australian Medical Association supported the broadcast of the program, but added that it was important to have “balance” and “debate”. The program includes a warning advising viewers it is not intended as medical advice.
Ms Demasi (we should be calling her Dr, but Ms sounds so neat) said via Catalyst’s Facebook page that she moved from medical science to journalism to encourage critical thinking about people’s health.
“It becomes more and more apparent to me that a lot of what you hear in the media about health is a regurgitation of press releases and repetition of the old dogma,” Ms Demasi said. “I want it to be different, I want to push the envelope when it comes to informing people about their health and explore new avenues and new ideas.”
Dr Maryanne Demasi discusses why she tackled ‘The Cholesterol Myth’ in depth on Catalyst’s blog, her insight is well worth a read: www.abc.net.au/catalyst/
RELATED! MUST SEE! Catalyst’s Dr Maryanne Demasi Does Chiropractic
I’m not a huge television watcher, discerning, one show I must see each week – or I seriously get the grumps is Catalyst. For those not-in-the-know, Catalyst is a superlative Australian science program aired weekly on ABC TV, it’s always current, often a lark and most beautifully produced.
My favourite Catalyst, Dr Demasi, this week looked into a worrying trend that has science based medicine up in arms – chiropractors with ambitions of replacing the family gp – There have been reports that chiropractors are the new refuge for a range of health problems, like asthma, colic, reflux and even autism?
Dr Maryanne Demasi reckons, “…most people go to the chiropractor for back pain, and, despite its surging popularity, its proven benefit is fairly limited. A review of spinal manipulation showed that it could alleviate lower back pain, but it was no more effective than heat therapy, or even a good massage.” :: Read the full article »»»»
Follow Dr Demasi on Twitter: @MaryanneDemasi