Saturday, July 18, 2009

Heart Frauds

I decided I needed to read Heart Frauds, Uncovering the Biggest Health Scam in History by Charles T. McGee, M.D. after reading an excerpt of it online at

I had seen a dramatic picture of two rats, one fed with eggs and one fed with egg substitutes, and wanted to find the original source of that picture. It turned up in Heart Frauds, but I didn't feel like reading it on my computer. So I got the book through interlibrary loan.

Heart Frauds is a very interesting book. Dr. McGee attacks accepted medical practices aggressively - taking on the by-pass surgery (known as 'cabbages'), angiograms, angioplasties, even the theory that high cholesterol leads to heart disease. He examines medical studies, the history of these procedures and how they became accepted practices. He also presents alternative therapies and the studies which support, or are used to discredit, these therapies.

As I was reading the first part of this book, I kept thinking about the previously acceptable medical practice of letting blood and how now we know that practice was actually detrimental instead of helpful. I was more than a little surprised when McGee addressed blood letting, describing President George Washington's 'last battle' (pg 139-140). The point being that Washington was treated with the best medical care of his day, which we now know caused his death. McGee would say that the same is happening today - common medical practices for coronary heart disease are causing patients' deaths instead of helping them.

Dr. McGee argues that we've brought "arterial diseases upon ourselves through a combination of poor diets and lifestyles. However, it now has been proven to the satisfaction of the biggest skeptics in medicine that our arteries have the ability to heal and dissolve away fatty obstructions." (pg 96)

I found Chapter 13, "Reasonable Actions," the most practical chapter in the book - which makes sense because in it McGee discusses actions we can take now to prevent, manage, even heal heart disease.

He discusses foods we should eat (fresh, natural, minimally-processed foods, including eggs), and what foods we should avoid (refined and processed foods, especially vegetable oils, salad dressings, all margarines and anything that has been hydrogenated). It's in this section of the book that you'll find that dramatic picture of the rats. After seeing it, you'll never want to eat Egg Beaters. McGee also warns against the word natural.
"The word has no standardized meaning and is not regulated. Many processed foods are being advertised as being natural. According to common attitudes of the processed food industry, if an ingredient in one of their products was once a natural food, the end product can be called natural as well. Therefore we are told in advertisements that sugar and corn syrup are natural sweeteners because they come from cane and corn. In addtion, heat treated corn oil containing harmful trans fatty acids is advertised as being pure." (pg 164-165)

I find most of what McGee says in this book thought-provoking. However, McGee is a follower of Chinese medicine, which base their therapies on bring the body's energies back into balance. Fortunately, he only has a couple of sections in the book discussing these philosophies, which I think are more religious in nature than medical.

Bottom line: If you have heart disease, or a history of heart disease in your family, this book is worth reading. It's an eye-opening look at conventional medical practices, and will help you better evaluate your current lifestyle and any medical procedures you may eventually have to face.

No comments: