Chapter 8: Smoking and Heart Disease

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Apparently, various cancers, emphysema, lung disease and a war on second-hand smoke is not enough for anti-tobacco crusaders.  Their agenda is to ban smoking, and to do this smoking must be linked to as many health problems as possible. Predictably, smoking is now considered a cause of heart disease.  There is, though, a serious lack of evidence. There have been studies looking at risk factors of heart attacks and strokes since the 1950s, when government scientists started to conduct studies in Framingham, MA.  Three risk factors were identified early on: smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol.  However, these are by no means the only risk factors and well known ones now include fatty food (and foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats), excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise.  Oestrogen pills have been linked to heart attacks in women;[1] male pattern baldness has been linked to heart attacks in men;[2] and even more recently researchers have discovered a link between heart attacks and surplus iron in the diet,[3]with claims that the iron oxidises cholesterol and deposits harmful plaque on artery walls.

Of course, the problem with risk factors is the researchers decide which ones to assess, and which to include in the final report.  Further, it cannot be overstated that correlation does not mean causation – after all, 100% of lung cancer victims inhale air, and 100% of heart disease victims eat food, but everyone knows we cannot link breathing to lung cancer and all food to heart disease. Furthermore, how can researchers be sure that a particular risk factor was responsible for the heart attack? As I said in chapter five, the only way to deduce a risk factor is by isolating it as the one variable to which anomalous results can be attributed.  As such, risk factors are automatically and without fail biased by the researchers’ opinions, as they choose which to include, exclude, study, and, ultimately, whether to reveal their raw data or to alter it to match their hypothesis or premise.

[1] Bishop, J. E. 24th Oct 1985 Studies Conflict on Estrogen Tie to Heart Attack Wall Street Journal
[2] Ruffenach, G. 24th Feb 1993 Baldness in Males and Heart Disease may be Connected Wall Street Journal
[3]Base Metal: Heart-Attack Study Adds to the Cautions about Iron in the Diet Wall Street Journal 8th Sept 1992

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