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The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS) is a lobbyist-backed think tank, founded and led from 2003 by Uffe Ravnskov. Its primary objective is to promote
denialism "skepticism" regarding the scientific consensus on the lipid hypothesis, the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease, and the deleterious effects of dietary cholesterol.
THINCS has a particular opposition to statin medication, probably because evidence of its efficacy would undermine their agenda. As such, they cherry-pick studies to suggest that statins promote cancer and heart failure, despite the prevailing science tending to show, if anything, a preventative effect.
The Cholesterol Myths
The formation of THINCS was apparently inspired by Ravnskov's book, published under the English title of The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease in 2000. Although respected as an authoritative guidebook for cholesterol "skeptics", this work engages in fallacies and deceptive rhetoric.
Ravnskov misinterprets the term "cause" in a scientific context (hint: it does not mean "sufficient condition"), and thus, systematically argues against a strawman position that respectable scientists don't even hold - i.e. that the amount and type of dietary fat is the only factor determining blood cholesterol, which in turn is the only determinant of atherosclerosis and heart disease, and no other factor matters. Accordingly, at one point, he interprets a statistic of only 80% and not 100% of heart attack deaths being in people with atherosclerosis as a vindication of his theory (it's not.)
Similarly, in citing the Framingham Heart Study and the declining rate of heart-disease mortality in Japan since 1970, he conflates correlation with causation to support his hypothesis that high cholesterol is actually beneficial, while ignoring other factors (e.g. malnourishment or chronic illness) that could be simultaneously lowering both blood cholesterol and general health outcomes.
- THINCS homepage
- Harriet Hall. A review of THINCS, Science-Based Medicine
- Robert T. Carroll. Mythbusting the Cholesterol Myths, The Skeptic's Dictionary
- THINCS Homepage
- Prospective Studies Collaboration, et al. Blood cholesterol and vascular mortality by age, sex, and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of individual data from 61 prospective studies with 55,000 vascular deaths, The Lancet, 2007 Dec 1;370(9602):1829-39.
- Hall, Harriet. Cholesterol Skeptics Strike Again, Science-Based Medicine.
- Meijer, Melchior. Statins - Miracle drug or tragedy?
- Ravnskov, Uffe. Evidence that statin treatment causes cancer
- Statins and Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute.
- Affilalo J, et al. Statins for secondary prevention in elderly patients: a hierarchical bayesian meta-analysis, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2008 Jan 1;51(1):37-45
- Baigent C, et al. Efficacy and safety of cholesterol-lowering treatment: prospective meta-analysis of data from 90,056 participants in 14 randomised trials of statins, The Lancet, 2005 Oct 8;366(9493):1267-78.
- Ford I, et al. Long-term follow-up of the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study, New England Journal of Medicine, 2007 Oct 11;357(15):1477-86.