Fish Oil
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 09:37AM
Plant Positive

Running a Cholesterol Confusionist Gauntlet, Part 4 – Fish Oil

How many times have you heard that we should eat fish if we want healthy hearts? Anthony Colpo’s interest in fish oil gives me the chance to get into that subject again.

He says I don’t want you to know that fish oil seems to reduce heart disease mortality despite the fact that it increases LDL levels. This is a part of his argument against the lipid hypothesis. He is saying there may be a circumstance in which LDL might go up yet heart disease deaths might go down. Therefore LDL cannot be linked to heart disease. This is typical of an overall strategy of the confusionists of making way too much out of apparent minor inconsistencies. As I go through this explanation, please consider something. Think how few words Colpo needed to state this point. It’s very easy for someone intent on spreading misinformation to sew doubt. I will need far more words to satisfactorily explain this. Understanding this effect of fish oil takes time and research. It’s always easier to make a mess than to clean it up. In this video, I am cleaning up the mess purposefully caused by Anthony Colpo.

Do you remember Climategate? How easy was it was to allege that climate scientists faked their data? That’s an easy concept. It takes much longer to explain what actually happened. The subtleties of dendrochronology aren’t reducible to sound bites. It’s really easy to take quotes out of context, though. This video attempts to clean up the mess caused by Climategate. Yet how many people have seen it? Do you think the misinformation of the Climategate fiasco has been undone by only 33,000 views? Like the purveyors of climate confusion, Anthony Colpo seeks to undermine the work of responsible scientists, and unfortunately, that doesn’t take much effort.

I commented in my video 39 that Uffe Ravnskov uses this same confusionist tactic of latching onto tiny inconsistencies without bothering to try to explain them. In Ravnskov’s mind, atherosclerosis cannot be a complex disease. It must be caused or affected by one thing and one thing only. If cholesterol levels don’t match up exactly with death rates in every imaginable circumstance, that must mean cholesterol is completely innocent of any involvement in heart disease. This is totally unrealistic and illogical. The confusionists cannot name any alternative cause for heart disease that meets this standard. So are we to conclude therefore that they think nothing causes heart disease? Don’t you think that if some other risk factor out there tracked more closely with cardiac death than the lipid biomarkers, we would know about it by now?

It should be obvious that if heart disease mortality always went down when LDL levels went up, Mr Colpo would just say that and not even bring up fish oil, because that would completely refute the lipid hypothesis. But he cannot say that. So he is off to a weak start before we even look into this. By even bringing up this issue, he is actually implying that as LDL concentration goes up, usually the risk of death from heart disease does, too, but fish oil seems to create an exception to that relationship under the right conditions. Anyone with rudimentary critical thinking skills should then deduce there must be something special about fish oil because that’s the added wrinkle here. The topic is not LDL anymore. It’s fish oil. It’s clear we’re in for more games from Anthony Colpo.

I’ve already discussed the superiority of plant-based and algal omega-3’s over fish oils in my video number 66. In this study, they were not associated with diabetes, unlike fish oils. As a whole food vegan, I don’t see much reason to be interested in fish or fish oil. They are promoted as half-measures to diminish risk factors that a plant-based diet would have addressed even better. Just like other whole food vegans, I have very low cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. Why on Earth would we take fish oil? To prevent a heart attack? The fish oil companies will need to sell their products to someone else.

In vulnerable patients who are having their various risk factors controlled by drugs, fish oil failed to show any benefit. My foods do for me what drugs did for these patients. I don’t expect fish oil would help me, either.

Look at populations that eat a lot of fish and what do you see? I see high toxic burdens due to the contaminants in fish. More on that soon. I see suppressed immune function. Greater vulnerability to tuberculosis? More upper respiratory tract infections? Delayed virus clearance? Imagine if those issues were associated with soy what the Weston Price Foundation would say. Anthony Colpo should note this immuno-suppression by high fish consumption might be due to increased lipid peroxidation and decreased antioxidant status, according to this paper.

Here fish oil was said to lead to increased LDL oxidation both in vitro and in vivo.

Antioxidant benefits have been demonstrated only for extracted EPA and DHA for people with so-called normal cholesterol and higher. As a whole food vegan, my cholesterol is far below the norm in the US.

Yes, fish oil seems to help people like Anthony Colpo who insist on eating saturated fat. It appears it enhances reverse cholesterol transport, meaning it helps to return cholesterol to the liver.

And fatty fish can decrease platelet aggregation and coagulation. This is why a diet high in fish can increase bleeding and stroke risk. The first paragraph here is worth reading. Someone put himself on a diet for 100 days of only marine animal foods. He experienced greatly increased bleed times. Now I’m not saying small amounts of fish oil will do this, but decreased platelet activity is not going to be very interesting to a whole food vegan. My platelets are fine, thank you. I don’t need to compensate for eating saturated fats.

When we discuss the effects of fish oil on heart disease risk, it matters what the background diet is, as well as the background risk for heart disease. As a whole food vegan, I’m not exposed to the risks that Anthony Colpo is.

I’m not aware of any normal plant food that was linked to sudden cardiac death in a study, as fish oil capsules were here. This says, “Men advised to eat oily fish, and particularly those supplied with fish oil capsules, had a higher risk of cardiac death.” This study is probably an outlier, but I think I’ll save a few bucks on supplements and spend it on food instead.

Omega-3 fatty acids do seem to improve LDL phenotype, but as I discussed in video 43, my diet does that, too, but without the saturated fat and with healing phytochemicals.

Another possible plus for fish oil is its ability to prevent arrhythmias in patients with heart disease. Again, this is not something I’m concerned about for myself.

So what about Colpo’s claim that fish oil raises LDL? Once again, unsurprisingly, Colpo has either not done his homework or he is not giving us the full story because as a confusionist, that’s what he does. Fish oil increases LDL in patients with high triglycerides. This slight increase in calculated LDL probably reflects an increase in LDL particle size rather than an increase in particle number. Mr Colpo, are you telling us your triglycerides are out of control, and that’s why you need fish oil capsules?

Because if you had normal triglycerides, fish oil would likely lower your cholesterol.

In normal subjects, fish oil causes a decreased synthesis of LDL.

And therefore a decrease in plasma LDL. This was an important oversight by Mr Colpo, don’t you think? It was just an oversight, right?

Here’s Colpo’s reference to fish oil in his vanity journal article. He tells us that in a two-year-long trial, fish oil recipients had fewer cardiovascular events but higher LDL. This must be what he is referring to in his blog about me. If you look at this paper closely, you’ll see why I don’t see much here to interest a healthy person. Look at the bottom left paragraph. Colpo is taking his cues from studies of sick people. Look at the right to see their triglyceride numbers. All of the groups in the study had mean triglycerides that were too high. Are you combing the medical literature to see how to bring down your high triglycerides? Me, neither. But apparently Mr Colpo is.

Here’s another opinion on fish oil and LDL. The perceived increase in LDL for some patients may not be real because it is a calculated value. I alluded to this earlier.

If you want the effects of fish oil, algal oil can deliver them. That’s where the fish get their omega 3s. You’ll be eating lower on the food chain, avoiding toxins, and sparing the lives of fish.

As for the next issue Colpo brings up in his bullet points, he offers no references so I don’t know what he has in mind. You can pause the video to read this. I’m guessing he is thinking of Uffe Ravnskoff’s ploy comparing cholesterol levels before death with atherosclerosis measured at autopsy. Ravnskov says that when bodies are examined after death in some studies, the amount of atherosclerosis measured in them is not related to the cholesterol levels measured when the subjects were recently alive. I covered this one in video 40 so I’ve made it easy for Colpo to educate himself a little by watching that. Suffice it to say that atherosclerosis builds over decades, so cholesterol levels at the end of life don’t mean much.

I said earlier I would return to the topic of high-marine-animal-consuming cultures and their exposure to toxins. Colpo gives me that opportunity by raising the Tokelauans and the Pukapukans in the third bullet point. That’s the topic I’m addressing next.

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