Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Viewing Catalyst's cholesterol programs through the sceptometer

By Justin Coleman

Was the ABC wrong to air a program that might encourage people at risk of heart disease to stop taking cholesterol-reducing medications without consulting their GP?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

On the past two Thursdays, the ABC’s Catalyst program set off a chain reaction of protest from sections of the medical community, aghast that the non-medical media would question the accepted wisdom that dietary saturated fats kill people and statins – medication to lower cholesterol – save lives.

Professor Emily Banks, chair of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines, warned the ABC to pull the second program. Yet the show went on: as befits a catalyst, it remained unaffected by the reaction it had produced.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton claimed the programs “gave extraordinary weight to an opinion that is a minority view,” while his predecessor Professor Kerryn Phelps put her weight behind the minority view, tweeting “Time for Australian therapeutic guidelines on cholesterol and statins to be revisited.”

Plenty of fat spitting from the frying pan in all directions – so what is a non-expert to make of it?

As a GP who has no intention of ever doing a PhD on sub-types of fat (for...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.