Transcript: Eliminating the #1 Cause of Death
The #1 cause of death in the United States, however, is heart disease. Late last year, a landmark review was published on the cause of our #1 killer by a Dr. William Clifford Roberts.
First of all, who is this guy? The head of Baylor’s Cardiovascular Institute, he’s authored a mere 1,387 scientific publications, written more than a dozen textbooks on cardiology, and has been the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology for 25 years.
Well, then, what is the cause of atherosclerosis? Well, first of all, doesn’t he mean "causes", though? I mean, there are lots of things that increase our risk of heart disease—hypertension, diabetes, obesity, inactivity, cigarette smoking. None of that matters, he says—unless we have high cholesterol. All those things can speed the buildup of plaque in our arteries, but if our cholesterol level is low enough, there’s nothing our body can build the plaque with. According to Dr. Roberts, atherosclerosis simply does not occur if elevated cholesterol is not present, regardless of how high our blood pressure is, our blood sugars, no matter how obese, how inactive, or how many cigarettes we smoke. The plaque that builds up in our arteries choking off blood flow to our heart, to our brain, to the other arteries in our body, is made out of cholesterol. If you don’t have enough bricks and mortar to build a dam choking off a river, the dam will not be built. Unless we have elevated cholesterol levels, there simply isn’t enough substrate to form these plaques throughout our arteries to trigger strokes, heart attacks, kill us, make us impotent (though, not necessarily in that order).
If cholesterol is the cause of atherosclerosis, how low does one's cholesterol have to be to become heart-attack proof? Ideally, our bad cholesterol—LDL—should be under 70. “If such a goal was created, the great scourge of the Western world would be essentially eliminated.” There are only two ways, he says, to get it down that low: put a hundred million people on a lifetime of high-dose statin drugs starting in one’s twenties, or be what he calls a “pure vegetarian fruit eater,” which is just what he calls those eating whole foods, plant-based diets.
Now, if we put everyone on drugs, then thousands of people would suffer side-effects, so: “Of course a [vegan] diet is the least expensive and safest means of achieving the plaque-preventing LDL goal, but few in the Western world are willing to live on the herbivore diet.” In his words, in a recent interview: “The best way to prevent heart disease is to be a…non-flesh-eater, a non-saturated fat-eater. (...) Because humans get atherosclerosis, and atherosclerosis is a disease only of herbivores,” he reasons, “humans also must be herbivores.”
The cause of our #1 killer is elevated cholesterol. So, according to probably the most renowned cardiovascular pathologist in the world, that means the cause of our #1 killer is: not eating vegan.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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