A recent report of the National Research Council (NRC) showing that average Americans do not benefit from restricting cholesterol and fat intake except to maintain normal body weight could be dangerous to the public, according to a Medical School physician.
Donald Berwick, instructor in Pediatrics at the Medical School, responding to the study released last week, said yesterday, "People who liberate their diets to include more cholesterol because of the NRC report could be making a serious error."
The food and nutrition board of the NRC reported that they found no difference in the mortality rate of those who restricted their cholesterol levels and those who didn't and that concern about cholesterol intake in healthy Americans is unfounded.
Berwick said, however, that "any American who does not lower his cholesterol intake is taking a risk."
Although the information on cholesterol is not as conclusive as that on smoking, "any consensus would agree that it is always good to have as low a cholesterol level as possible," Berwick said.
"Nobody has suggested that lowering cholesterol levels in people with pathologically high levels does not help" Berwick said, adding, "If you believe it helps unhealthy patients, you have to believe it can help healthy ones."
Berwick has co-authored a new book, "Cholesterol, Children, and Heart Disease: An Analysis of Alternatives," to be published in July. He argues that too much time and money is spent on finding out who already has a high cholesterol level, and not enough on lowering cholesterol levels before the problems start.