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  'HEALTHY' CHOLESTEROL LEVEL


The enclosed three paragraphs, which I wrote last week for the Weston A Price Foundation website to add to the "Oiling of America" article tells how the 200 mg/dl cutoff for serum cholesterol was decided back in 1984
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Dr Mary Enig

Gary Taubes, a staff writer for Science wrote an article called "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat" for the 30 March 2001 issue of Science. He had reviewed all the available information on the demonization of dietary fat and the cholesterol issues and listened to the tapes of the 1984 Cholesterol Consensus Conference. He presented the graph which showed quite clearly that serum cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dl to 240 mg/dl were definitely in the normal cholesterol range for which there was no increased risk of heart mortality in males and even above 240 mg/dl there was a decrease in risk for women.

But what Gary Taubes didn''t know was that there was a political decision being made on the floor of the NIH (Building 10) Mazur Auditorium that day in December 1984. The decision would allow the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to have yet another even more extensive long-term "trial" to work on. The NHLBI could not get more money from Congress for more large trials such as the MRFIT or LRC and they were developing the National Cholesterol Education Program. With the cutoff number at the lower end of the normal range (200 mg/dl), they could include all of the healthy normal citizens in the range that would need treatment with diet, and since the diet would never work to permanently lower those normal levels (eg, 200 mg/dl to 240 or 260 mg/dl) to below 200 mg/dl, they could recommend that all these people should go onto cholesterol-lowering medications.

The three men who were heading the NHLBI (Cleeman, Lenfant, and Rifkin) were standing together in the Mazur Auditorium just before the Cholesterol Consensus Conference began. They were discussing the cutoff level of serum cholesterol to put into the consensus report. One said to the other two, "but we can''t have the cutoff at 240 [mg/dl]; it has to be at 200 [mg/dl] or we won''t have enough people to test." Several of us from the University of Maryland Department of Chemistry Lipids Research Group were standing directly behind them and within clear earshot. We looked at each other and of course were not surprised when the final numbers came out. This small chat did not get onto the tapes that Taubes reviewed.


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