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Getting to the Heart of the Matter

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by Ross Walker

In a spectacular example of déjà vu, our ABC has retracted yet another Catalyst program presented by the same person – Dr Maryanne Demasi.

In 2013, Dr Demasi was vilified by number of conservative thinking academics, industry bodies and many hanger on apologists in the community for presenting a two-part program, Heart of the Matter.

Much of the criticisms came from people who did not bother to actually watch the program because Heart of the Matter made two basic points;

  1. There is no clear link between saturated fat intake and heart disease.
  2. Statin drugs to lower cholesterol were being over prescribed.

Since the airing of the 2013 program (and well prior to this, for that matter), a number of studies have emerged to clearly back up the statements.

Here are three examples;

  1. Cambridge University published in 2014, a 72-trial meta-analysis of 600,000 people, showing there is no link between saturated fat intake and heart disease.
  2. A recent BMJ article I reported on a few weeks back, again, clearly showed that for people over the age of 60, raised LDL cholesterol is not only not associated with heart disease, but actually protects against the other causes of death such as cancer.
  3. The over prescription of statin segment had one ignorant medical commentator make the outrageous statement that “the Catalyst program will cause death.”

As far as I am aware, there has not been one single death as a result of the Catalyst program going to air in 2013.

To the contrary, a study released last year from the US followed 5,000 people for 10 years, over the age of 45. 77% of the people in that study fit the US criteria to be on a statin.

Half, however, had a 0 coronary calcium score as measured by CT scanning (proven to be the most accurate method for detecting cardiac risk). In those people, their event rate (i.e. the amount of heart attacks they suffered) was so low that the statins were worthless for the people with a 0 calcium score.

So, The Heart the Matter, which in my view, on the whole, was not in question, has been fully vindicated by these studies. However the silence from the critics and the ABC has been deafening.

If that was not enough, Dr Demasi has copped it again over yet another seemingly controversial program, Wi-Fried. This is despite the fact that this segment was approved through the chain of command at the ABC. Dr Demasi's head is certainly on the chopping block, especially after her public vilification recently in the media with no loyalty shown whatsoever by her employers at the ABC.

The overall message of the segment Wi-fried was purely that people should take precautions with the ever increasing exposure to wireless technology. Depending on whether you examine studies that have either been performed by academics with industry associations or sponsored by industry, OR are purely independent studies, the jury is still very much out on the potential health dangers of electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

Regardless, the real answer is we do not know, and therefore we should minimise, our exposure. That is all the Catalyst program suggested. Some experts in the area talk about a 40-year lag time with EMR, rather similar to cigarettes. So again-we do not know.

What we do know is that the extraordinarily malicious attacks against one person over two controversial segments on the Catalyst program seems, in my view, an incredible overreaction. In science, there are always opposing views, which is precisely what allows breakthroughs and advances to occur. In a so-called democratic society, I find it very disturbing that a view that does not suit conservative thinking and industry concerns has been so blatantly censored.

If you are as disgusted as I am, I would suggest you flood the ABC with complaints.

Published: Thursday, August 04, 2016


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