The NHLBI: Trustworthy?

What is the NHLBI? It’s the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a sub-department of the National Institutes of Health.

They are the sponsors of the famous and expensive 1964 Framingham Study, which is cited by most governmental nutritional agencies as a reason for Americans to lower their cholesterol levels through diet and drugs.

According to them, the Framingham study claimed a strong link between elevated cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease mortality. If you take the time to read the original study and study the raw data, this “strong” link is nowhere to be found.

But the authors of the study did not reject their invalidated hypothesis as good science would dictate. Too many taxpayer dollars had been spent for that outcome to be possible.

Under pressure from their NHLBI sponsors, the authors spun the data instead. In the study summary, they wrote that the data did suggest a link between cholesterol levels and heart disease, knowing that very few doctors and their patients would read the original study.

Worse, this organization has hidden a more important public health fact which the Framingham study uncovered. In 1987, the Framingham researchers published a 30 year follow up paper on the “all-cause mortality rates” and the coronary heart disease (CHD) rates of the Framingham study participants.

The researchers looked not only at coronary heart disease deaths, but deaths from stroke, cancer and other illnesses over the longer time frame, and they reported a surprising outcome.

For those participants who were over age 50, lower cholesterol rates were associated with a higher risk of death from CHD and all causes.


In fact, for every 1 mg/dl drop in cholesterol levels, there was a 14% increase in heart-related death and an 11% increase in overall mortality.


In other words, declining levels of cholesterol increased the risk of death from all causes, not just CHD.


The people who had lower cholesterol levels died at greater rates!

In 1992, the NHLBI convened a conference to discuss the fact that the Framingham study and other studies were finding that the long term result of lowering cholesterol was an INCREASE in all-cause mortality. The results of this conference were never published.

In fact, if you look at the Framingham Research Milestone page on the new Framingham website, no reference is made to this conference or to the results showing that lower cholesterol levels are associated with an increase in all-cause mortality rates. Take a look, and note that there is no listing of activities in 1987 or in 1992. They would prefer you never know the truth that an elevated cholesterol level is predictive of a longer life.

How committed can they be to public health if they lie about the unsupportive Framingham 30 year follow up report and the conference results in their educational products? The NHLBI does not tell the American public that there is no link between elevated cholesterol levels and heart disease mortality.

In fact, half of all people who die of heart disease have normal cholesterol levels.

Evidentially, after telling people to lower their cholesterol for years, and building huge financial structures and lucrative ties to corporate partners on that advice, the NHLBI can’t admit to having been wrong all this time.

NHLBI Quotes and My Responses

Here are some quotes from the NHLBI website and education booklets, along with my general responses in italics:

  • The NHLBI says: Has your doctor told you that your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol is too high, OR that your total cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL or higher, OR that your HDL (“good”) cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL?

    I say: Again, the NHLBI convened a conference in 1992 to discuss study results that were revealed that lower cholesterol levels are related to higher all-cause mortality rates. But they still advise people to lower their cholesterol levels.

  • New research shows that at least 65 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure—a 30-percent increase over the last several years. Equally worrisome, blood pressure levels have increased substantially for American children and teens, raising their risk of developing hypertension in adulthood.

    My first thought is why is that? If we are all following their recommendation of a low-fat diet, why is our blood pressure increasing? Could it be a low-fat diet that causes high blood pressure?

  • To prevent congestive heart failure, and stroke as well, you must control your high blood pressure to below 140/90 mmHg.

    This is the recipe for drug manufacturer profits. Push a low-fat diet that raises blood glucose, insulin, and blood pressure levels, and then tell people they’ve got to get these factors under control. Drug intake seems to be the result most of the time.

  • A recent study found diuretics (water pills) work better than newer drugs to treat hypertension and to prevent some forms of heart disease.

    This is true. I did find some good advice on the NHLBI site, but there are still many statements that don’t support the latest scientific evidence.

  • The body needs cholesterol to function normally. However, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Over a period of years, extra cholesterol and fat circulating in the blood build up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

    Recent research points out that arterial plaque builds up in the presence of arterial damage, usually from inflammation caused by elevated insulin levels, which are a direct result of A LOW-FAT DIET.

  • Here are some healthier, low-fat snacks: 100-percent fruit juices, vegetable sticks; try a dab of reduced-fat peanut butter on celery sticks, fat-free frozen yogurt, sherbet, and sorbet, low-fat cookies, such as animal crackers, graham crackers, ginger snaps, and fig bars, low-fat crackers, such as melba toast, or rice, rye, and soda crackers, air-popped popcorn with no salt or butter; fat-free, low-sodium pretzels, fresh or dried fruit or fruits canned in their own juice.

    Unfortunately, this snacking plan is very high in carbohydrates, very high in refined sugars, and high in man-made chemicals as well. High carb diets increase blood glucose and insulin and result in an increase in inflammation and other factors that contribute the heart disease.

  • Everyone older than age 2 should care about cholesterol to reduce the risk of developing heart disease as an adult. Children, as well as adults, can improve the health of their hearts by following a low-saturated-fat and low-cholesterol diet, avoiding obesity, and being physically active.

    This really bothers me. They are counseling children to eat a low-fat diet. Given the fact that long term study results show those with lower cholesterol die at higher rates from all causes, I find this sickening. Children need rich nutrition in full-fat dairy products and animal foods to get the vitamins they need to grow and develop normally.

Another Interesting Note about the NHLBI

They also have a web page that promotes a pamphlet about cholesterol called “High Blood Cholesterol – What You Need to Know.”

I read the document, and it has some blatant lies in it, including:

  • The NHLBI says: Your blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

    This is a total lie. NO study has ever found a link between elevated cholesterol and heart disease. In fact, elevated cholesterol levels have been found to protect you against heart disease, especially if you over 50.

Here’s the interesting part…

The web page for this pamphlet has a “review” feature. It allows you to add your comments on what you think of the pamphlet.

I added a comment on September 21, 2008, that is very nice, very intelligent terms, politely said that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for heart disease.

When I submitted it, the site offered a bit of text that said: “your comment will be posted after it is reviewed and approved”.

It has yet to be posted, and most likely won’t be.

And if you look at that web page, you’ll see many other blank postings. My guess is that these were posts that did not support the information in the pamphlet. Note that the only postings on the page are those that support the pamphlet.

Could the US National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute be censoring free speech in an effort to save face?

Is lying trustworthy behavior? If the evidence that high cholesterol caused heart disease was real and undisputed than the NHLBI should have no problem with an alternative view being presented.

So it seems that the NLHBI silences the comments of dissenters. Does anyone else think that is scary?

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