Sunday, June 04, 2006

Anthony Colpo: Unplugged And Unleashed

Last week I blogged about the highly-anticipated debut book release from TheOmnivore's Anthony Colpo entitled The Great Cholesterol Con. Colpo said his book is currently only available from his print-on-demand publisher, but he expects it to expand to, Barnes & Noble, and other online book retailers in the next few weeks.

I had the privilege of interviewing Colpo about a variety of topics, including his brand new independent book release which has been four years and thousands of dollars in the making, getting his take on the latest hubbub about cholesterol and the ever-popular statin drugs doctors seem so eager to prescribe to their patients these days, what he thinks about the vegetarian lifestyle, and the role of saturated fat in a healthy diet.

If you thought I was an ardent defender of livin' la vida low-carb, then you ain't seen nothing yet until you experience Anthony Colpo unplugged and unleashed on the world armed with scientific facts to back up everything he claims regarding health, diet and nutrition. He uses his two decades of experience as an independent researcher and certified fitness consultant to provide integrity and credibility to everything he says.

Soak in the wisdom that this man has to offer us and be prepared to hear a lot more from this young man in the years to come as he blows the lid off of the lies the medical establishment has perpetrated on the world. Be prepared to be shocked into this reality and then begin educating yourself, just as Colpo did, about what the truth is about living healthy.

Exclusive interview with author and researcher Anthony Colpo

1. We have with us today the infamous Anthony Colpo who regularly writes on issues concerning health at his very popular and oftentimes controversial web site Tell us how you got interested in studying and researching health issues, namely cholesterol, and why you decided to create a web site and write a book to write about what you discovered.

Jimmy, it was in the mid-nineties that I began to doubt the wisdom of so-called health "experts." At that point, I had been following a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for several years after visiting a doctor in 1989, and discovering that I had an allegedly 'moderately elevated' cholesterol level of 213. According to the doctor, this placed me at moderate risk of heart disease. At the time, every health book, magazine article, pamphlet, and media story was delivering the same message: "To avoid heart disease, avoid fat!" Like most people, I dutifully adopted this advice, thinking that surely all these seemingly authoritative sources must have known what they were talking about. When my father suffered a heart attack a year later, the rest of our family was counseled by his medical advisors, and I was subjected to even more anti-cholesterol hyperbole.

Despite the lavish health promises made by the promoters of low-fat diets, I couldn't help but notice during the mid-nineties that I was actually feeling worse than I did in 1989. I had started to feel constantly tired and fatigued, I developed numerous food sensitivities and often felt bloated after meals, all symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. My fasting blood glucose measurements were below the normal range, indicative of reactive hypoglycemia. My blood pressure had risen from a healthy 110/65 to an elevated 130/90. I was using caffeine to try and get myself perked up for my workouts, and was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the sharp, hard muscular look that I had come to take for granted. In other words, I felt awful!

So while I might have had a higher blood cholesterol level back in 1989, I didn't have the bloated gut after meals, the constant mental fog, the food sensitivities, and the need to jack myself up with caffeine in order to get through a workout. I started to question the wisdom of the so-called experts, and began doing the formerly unthinkable; I started experimenting with a variety of higher fat diets.

The real turning point was in 2000, when I finally embraced fully-fledged low-carbohydrate nutrition, and felt infinitely better for doing so! The fact that I had just adopted a diet that went against virtually everything espoused by health authorities, and proceeded to feel better than I had in years, bought out the skeptic in me. I became intent on finding out the truth behind the reigning diet wisdom. I was a personal trainer at the time, and figured I owed it not just to myself, but to my clients as well. This was the beginning of a fascinating journey that continues to this day.

The more I discovered, the more indignant I became at the blatant lies that were being fed to the public. I strongly felt that the public should know the truth, so in early 2003 I started I had no idea what I was getting myself into…I instantly became the target of disgruntled advocates of the low-fat paradigm. I have repeatedly challenged these individuals to back up their often virulent antagonism with actual scientific data proving me wrong, but no-one has been able to do so. My book, The Great Cholesterol Con, is my ultimate statement to these folks. It goes to places my web site has never ventured, blasting every possible defense of the cholesterol theory of heart disease.

Currently only available from, but coming to Amazon soon

2. Speaking of your book, The Great Cholesterol Con, you state in it that the cholesterol crisis which has been thrust upon the world is VERY big business adding up to BILLIONS of dollars annually for pharmaceutical companies and others in the medical profession. Some have even resorted to accusing you of being a conspiracy theorist for claiming this is all just one big money-making scheme. Without giving away too many details from your book, tell us why you believe cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are "the biggest scam in the history of medicine!"

When someone presents a point of view that dissents that which is held dear by the mainstream, it is a common ploy to label that person a "conspiracy theorist." For many people, the term conjures up images of a disgruntled crackpot, so the intent is clearly a ploy to dismiss the dissenter's argument, without actually addressing the argument itself.

Whether or not someone wants to label me as a "conspiracy theorist" is of little relevance - it is basically an exercise in semantics, and I would hope that most people would quickly see through such a thinly-disguised attempt to distract attention from my main argument. And my main argument is that the entire cholesterol paradigm is false. Cholesterol does not cause heart disease, and neither do saturated fats. I explain in my book why cholesterol-lowering drugs are useless for the majority of people they are prescribed to. I also explain how there are far more effective ways to lower heart attack risk, but people are not aware of these strategies because their doctors and the rest of the health establishment are mesmerized by the cholesterol theory of heart disease. The above assertions are not my opinion--they are findings that have been borne out repeatedly in the scientific literature.

My book explains these findings in great detail, but in a way the average person can readily understand. For example, I tabulate the results of all the clinical dietary intervention trials for heart disease conducted over the last five decades, and then carefully discuss the conduct and results of each and every one of these trials. It sounds elementary, but amazingly, no-one has ever bothered to do this before! So until now, when health authorities claimed that dietary cholesterol-lowering had been proven beneficial, the public really had no way of knowing whether this was true. Now they can see plainly for themselves that it is not true! There is now no excuse for anyone to keep claiming that controlled clinical trials have proven the worth of dietary cholesterol-lowering or saturated fat restriction! My book cites and explains the published, peer-reviewed evidence showing this to be totally false.

Why do I call it "the biggest scam in the history of medicine?" I call it that because it is, well, the biggest scam in the history of medicine! The belief that cholesterol causes heart disease truly is one of the most pervasive and fundamental precepts of medicine. It has arrived at this exalted status, not on a foundation of solid science, but through a relentless campaign based on half-truths, distortions, selectively-cited evidence, and outright lies.

Do you think the cholesterol theory of heart disease would be so widely accepted if more people knew that not a single well-controlled trial has ever shown any cardiovascular or overall mortality benefit that can be attributed to dietary cholesterol-lowering or saturated fat restriction?

Do you think this theory would have been so widely embraced if more attention was paid to the fact that people with the lowest cholesterol levels have higher death rates from numerous causes, and therefore tend to live shorter lives than those with higher cholesterol levels?

Do you think the lipid hypothesis would be so widely embraced if people knew that in the Framingham study, which ironically is one of the key studies used to support the cholesterol theory, those whose cholesterol levels fell during the first half of the study had a significantly higher death rate during the second half of the study?

Do you think food companies would continue to make billions from the sale of low-fat, low-cholesterol foods if people knew about the populations, such as East African nomads and Pacific Islanders, who consumed large amounts of saturated fat but were found by researchers to possess outstanding health and a virtual freedom from heart disease?

These are but a few of the contradictions to the reigning cholesterol paradigm; my book cites many, many more. The reason this nonsensical theory has become so widely accepted is because it has been extremely aggressively promoted by powerful interests who profit greatly from its continued propagation. These powerful interests have developed the practice of selective citation and distortion of evidence down to a fine art. And sadly, relatively few people seem to be aware of what's really going on.

My challenge to anyone skeptical of my claims is simply this: Read the book, and then carefully check my sources. I've said nothing that cannot be verified by published, peer-reviewed research. Where my book stands apart is that I present a full analysis of this research - I don't extract isolated segments of this research and then present only these segments in a way that can be used to support my case, as the anti-cholesterol campaigners do. I cite over 1,400 studies in my book to demonstrate my case.

The most popular cholesterol-lowering statin drugs -- Lipitor and Crestor!

3. I have personally been on both Lipitor and Crestor in the past because my doctor worried about my cholesterol being too high, especially my LDL. After I lost 180 pounds on the Atkins diet in 2004, my LDL dropped to 119 while my HDL jumped to an incredible 72 making my total cholesterol just barely over 200. While he wasn't alarmed, my doctor said I should go on a statin drug which I vehemently refused to do. Six months later, my LDL rose to 230 while my HDL remained the same. But my total cholesterol is over 300 for the first time ever. Now my doctor is "very concerned" and says I absolutely MUST go on a statin again or on a long list of non-statin drugs to ward off a heart attack. Should I be worried about this warning from my doctor? If so, is there anything I should be doing to improve my lipid profile without prescription drugs?

Such a question is based on the premise that the cholesterol paradigm is scientifically valid. It is not. Forget about cholesterol, and start focusing on the things that really do influence heart disease.

Let me ask you this: Do you know your fasting blood glucose level? Has your doctor checked your fasting insulin? Your serum ferritin level? Has he sat you down and inquired about the level of stress in your life, and how you deal with this stress? Has he asked you if you exercise regularly, and if you don't, has he given you any intelligent advice about how to structure a safe, effective exercise routine? Has he asked you about your diet, and whether it is based on fresh meats and plant foods, or whether it is replete with processed, packaged, nutritionally inferior junk? Has he explained the importance of maintaining a proper dietary omega-6:omega-3 ratio? Has he talked to you about the nutritional supplements that have been shown to lower heart disease and overall mortality? (Editorial Note From Jimmy Moore: The answer is "no" to virtually ALL of these questions!)

My bet is that your doctor hasn't talked to you about any of these things, even though they exert a far more profound influence on your cardiovascular health than cholesterol ever could. I would further venture that if you did attempt to discuss these factors with him, you would be met with blank stares or snide dismissal. Most doctors have a very limited understanding of heart disease prevention, one that revolves primarily around cholesterol and cholesterol-lowering drugs. This limited understanding comes courtesy of the drug industry, which goes to great lengths to create a compliant mindset among doctors. Most physicians reading this would no doubt indignantly object to any claim that they are unduly influenced by drug company propaganda, but again, the evidence shows otherwise.

4. The dirty little secret about the so-called effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering drugs is that they have not decreased the age-adjusted incidence of heart disease at all. Why hasn't this fact been broadcast to the masses and what can we do to educate people about this big fat lie?

People need to realize something: Public health guidelines have virtually nothing to do with public health. They have everything to do with appeasing the demands of the powerful interests that aggressively lobby policymakers, provide money to researchers, and donate millions to influential health organizations such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and so on.

The end result is that you have a network of organizations, both governmental and private, who set diet and health guidelines for the public, and that these organizations are subject to enormous influence from those who stand to profit by favorably influencing the outcome of these guidelines. And if you think I'm being a "conspiracy theorist," be aware that published research does indeed show that politicians are far more likely to vote for legislation favoring groups from which they have received PAC money. Research also shows that doctors are indeed more likely to request and prescribe drugs from companies that ply them with free gifts. That money and perquisites can be used to influence important policy decisions, and determine the type of information that eventually finds its way to the public, really should come as no surprise to anyone.

Why has it not been broadcast to the masses that the age-adjusted incidence of heart disease has not decreased at all? Why would it be? Our health authorities are hardly going to trip over themselves to draw attention to data showing their massive anti-cholesterol campaign - funded by our taxpayer dollars - has completely failed to achieve its stated purpose! Drug companies are hardly going to highlight the fact that their staggering array of wonder drugs, taken by millions around the world and drawing in billions of dollars in profits every year, have completely failed to make a dent in the incidence of heart disease. Pathology companies, which make a fortune from cholesterol testing, aren't going to be real enthusiastic about the public discovering that the zillions of cholesterol tests they have performed over the last 45 years have done absolutely nothing to lower heart disease incidence! Likewise, the manufacturers of vigorously marketed low-fat, low-cholesterol foods are unlikely to want to jeopardize their highly lucrative markets for the sake of some trivial concern like public health!

This is why I repeatedly emphasize to people that they need to start thinking and researching for themselves. If they continue to rely on mainstream sources of information, then they will continue to be reliant on information of doubtful quality, information that has been presented, not to enlighten the public, but to enrich the coffers of vested financial interests.

5. What's your stake in this battle with cholesterol? Some believe you are simply an opportunist sensationalizing an issue for the sake of profiteering. Convince us why you are not and what you hope to accomplish with your book.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when people intimate that I am doing this for the money! The book has been four years in the making; during this time, I have spent hundreds of hours poring through scientific papers, analyzing data, and recording my findings. Every hour spent doing this is an hour I have been unable to earn income from other sources. Over the last four years, I have literally spent thousands of dollars on books and photocopying expenses. Once I completed my manuscript, I started sending proposals to literary agents and publishers, mainly in the US. I spent several hundred dollars doing this. When this failed to produce any interest, I engaged a print-on-demand firm (I won't mention their name, but it rhymes with Bookscourge), who proceeded to entertain me with several aggravating months of mind-blowing incompetence. Finally, after switching to the print-on-demand company Lulu, my book is now available. So as of June 2006, I have a book which has actually cost me thousands of dollars to bring to market, and is only available on the Internet.

Do I expect to make a lot of money from this book? NO!

Did I set out to write this book in order to cause a 'sensation' and make lots of money from the ensuing publicity? NO!

If my goal was to make bucket loads of money, I couldn't have picked a worse strategy. I knew full well from the outset that for a person with no formal qualifications to find a publisher for a book that slams the most widely accepted precept of modern medicine would be a tough, if not impossible, call. I knew this from the experience of others who had gone before me. Dr. Uffe Ravnskov wrote a terrific book called The Cholesterol Myths, but couldn't find a publisher despite persistent efforts. It wasn't because no-one was interested in what he had to say--at the time, his high ranking web site was one of the most popular search engine destinations for 'cholesterol'. It wasn't until Sally Fallon, from the Weston A. Price Foundation came across his web site that he was able to get his book published. Sally had started her own publishing company after failing to find a publisher for her own book Nourishing Traditions. This book also bucks mainstream diet wisdom, and has gone on to become something of a cult classic. Russell L. Smith is another case that comes to mind. He had to self-publish his massive two-volume destruction of the cholesterol hypothesis, and his book The Cholesterol Conspiracy, although a great read, was published by a small publisher and remains almost unknown; despite being printed in the early 90s, amazon only started selling it a couple of years ago.

If I wanted to make money, I would simply have put together a hyperbolic weight loss book, with a gimmicky, attention-grabbing title such as "The Colpo Diet: Lose Fifty Pounds in 5 Weeks!" or "Why Australian-Italian Personal Trainers From Melbourne Don't Get Fat!," or some other such rot. Personally, I don't think most publishers give a damn about the scientific validity of what they publish. The bottom line is money, and novel, gimmicky weight loss books make money. Publishers, like a lot of businesses, would prefer to take a punt on a relatively safe bet.

I wrote this book because it needed to be written. People need to know that they have not been told the truth. If someone was lying to me about something that affected my health, I'd sure as heck want to know, and I'd be grateful to anyone who told me the truth. How can I keep this information to myself, when I know full well that the cholesterol myth has adversely affected the lives of millions of people all around the world?

Noted author and nutritionist Dr. Ron Rosedale

6. Dr. Ron Rosedale has written on the subject of blood sugar levels being more responsible for heart disease than cholesterol ever will. Like me, you also went on the Atkins diet and experience incredible results in your weight and health. Share what it was like for you to switch from the low-fat, high-carb propaganda diet we've all heard is the "healthiest" diet we can be on since we were kids to the freedom that comes from livin' la vida low-carb.

I finally made the decision to jump full-bore into low-carbohydrate nutrition back in 2000. I had been following a Zone-style diet for a while, and had noticed that I had felt a lot better on that than when I was following a higher-carb diet. But I wasn't 100% happy with the Zone, I still felt like there was something missing. I had met another trainer who had been following the Atkins diet, and he piqued my curiosity enough to try it for myself. I immediately felt better, and knew that low-carbohydrate eating was going to be a regular fixture in my life. However, being a chronic tinkerer, I wanted to know how to fine tune my new diet for optimal results. I started reading everything related to low-carbing I could get my hands on. Within a few months of beginning my low-carbohydrate diet, I discovered the Paleolithic diet concept. I quickly dumped my Atkins-style diet in favor of a diet based on Paleo food choices and by doing so, stepped up to a whole new level of nutrition. It was like switching from standard to premium fuel.

7. You hit vegetarians and vegans pretty hard with the facts showing a plant-based diet is NOT healthier in the prevention of heart disease or in extending mortality rates. What does the science show to back up that assertion?

Numerous long-term follow-up studies show no overall mortality benefit among vegetarians, even though they are more likely to exercise regularly and eschew alcohol and cigarettes. I believe the benefits of these activities are negated by the nutritional shortcomings of vegetarian eating. Meat is an extremely nutrient-dense food, and it defies logic to claim that avoiding it will somehow enhance health. It's a little like saying switching from high-octane to low-grade gas will boost your car's performance. The exact opposite is more likely to happen.

If people adopt vegetarianism because of religious beliefs or what they perceive to be ethical grounds, then that's a decision they need to make for themselves. But when certain vocal groups claim that vegetarianism is healthy and extends life span, then people should be told that this is not at all true.

8. Saturated fat consumption is also blamed for heart disease, but you disagree. Does this mean we can go out and eat bacon, butter and lard all the time without worrying about clogged arteries? Which saturated fats are the healthiest to eat from what you have studied about them?

I think a little commonsense goes a long way. Just because saturated fats, or any other food item, are not harmful does not mean you go out and gorge yourself senseless on them. My dietary philosophy is a diet based on fresh Paleo-style foods. In other words, fresh untrimmed meats and a variety of fresh, no-cereal plant foods. The healthiest fats are those found in meats, these are the fats that occur in the form nature intended us to eat. Rendered or refined fats such as butter and coconut oil have their positive qualities, but they should be treated more as condiments rather than primary sources of fat.

Colpo chose the P.O.D. publisher LuLu to print his book

9. "The Great Cholesterol Con" was self-published through a print-on-demand company called LuLu as you previously stated rather than being picked up by a major publisher. Did you pitch your book idea to any publishers or did you intend for it to be a self-published book all along? Would you sign on with a major publishing company if they wanted to give your book a larger distribution audience? Why or why not?

I touched upon the reasons why I self-published earlier, but if a major publishing house approached me I'd certainly listen to what they had to say. At the end of the day, I'd like to get the message of this book out to the greatest number of people, and a major publisher obviously has a lot more marketing pull than a lone independent researcher from Melbourne, Australia. However, I would not be willing to sign any deal that would require the book to be watered down into an impotent version of its former self. Obviously, minor editorial and grammatical changes would be fine, but I would not be willing to let the book lose its impact for the sake of making it more accommodating to mainstream sensibilities.

If I don't get any interest from a large publisher, then I just hope that people read the book, carefully consider what I am saying, check the research behind what I have said, and then tell others about it. If you are incensed by the cholesterol scam, then don't stay silent, tell others, tell your friends, family, your doctor, whoever will listen! Major paradigm shifts don't occur by people staying apathetically silent and wishing someone else would "do something."

10. I get specific questions from people about the low-carb lifestyle all the time since I have put myself out there as a low-carb weight loss success story with my blog and book. Do you get a lot of e-mails from people sending you their cholesterol stories and do you respond to them? If so, how can people get in touch with you with their cholesterol questions?

I get a ton of email from people all over the world asking all sorts of questions on a mind-boggling array of diet, health and exercise issues. I don't get a whole lot of people asking me about personal cholesterol concerns, because anyone who has read even a small portion of my web site would quickly realize I think the whole cholesterol issue is just a massive red herring.

As my schedule grows busier, I have less and less time to answer emails. I welcome reader feedback (my email address is, but people should realize there is a great chance I simply will not have time to reply. If someone takes offense when their emails go unanswered, it's best they don't email me to start with. I wish I could reply to every email I receive, but it's just not possible; if I attempted to do so, I simply would not have time to do anything else!

What I would suggest is that people avail themselves of the Google site search function on the home page of my web site. I routinely get emails from people asking questions that I have already addressed on my site. A quick search on my site would save them the trouble of sending an email, and give them the answer they are looking for right away. That's what my web site is there for - a vast amount of information intended to add to the public pool of knowledge in the diet and health arenas.


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Excellent interview, Jimmy! Remarkable and very bright fellow, isn't he? His book is absolutely brilliant and a must-read for anybody longing for the truth.

6/05/2006 1:36 AM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

Great Interview Jimmy!

Colpo's work is very important for the Low Carb cause!

Now I have to get a copy of this book!

6/05/2006 5:25 AM  
Blogger Danny Haszard said...

Well said,i applaud your blog,mental health consumers are the least capable of self advocacy,my doctors made me take zyprexa for 4 years which was ineffective for my symptoms.I now have a victims support page against Eli Lilly for it's Zyprexa product causing my diabetes.--Daniel Haszard

6/05/2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Dave James said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/05/2006 12:28 PM  
Blogger Dave James said...

Anthony is a great guy. The idea that he wrote his book to make money is a laugh. The amount of time he has spent on research alone, would easily seperate the "money-grabbers" from the "labor of love" writers instantly.

Sure, he would be happy if his book became a national best-seller. Who wouldn't. But I would wager that public awareness of the lies they've been told about cholesterol and fats would make Anthony happier than receiving cash.

6/05/2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger WereBear said...

I've been a happy reader of The Omnivore for three years now, ever since I started low-carbing. I have every respect for his ability to understand research. I hope his book is a great success!

6/27/2006 5:14 PM  

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