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Cholesterol, the Great Bluff
A film by Anne Georget
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film still

film stillFor more than six decades, doctors, nutritionists, and public health officials have been waging a war against high cholesterol in an effort to fight heart disease. It’s a war that has seen the demonization of saturated fats, the rise and fall of hydrogenated oils, and the introduction of several generations of “miracle” drugs.

But what if the basic premise linking cholesterol and heart disease is wrong?

CHOLESTEROL, THE GREAT BLUFF convincingly argues that the link between cholesterol and heart disease is tenuous – and that its persistence results from a potent mix of bad science, entrenched interests, and pharmaceutical profits.

The problems date from the earliest days of the cholesterol hypothesis, first proposed by physiologist Ancel Keys, who proposed that a diet high in saturated fight leads to cardiovascular disease. Medical journalist Dr. Dominique Dupagne cites evidence that Keys cherry-picked his data. But it was too late. Americans were trying to understand what lay behind the soaring rate of heart attacks, and fat seemed like the perfect villain. Once saturated fats were to blame, heavily industrialized products such as "pure vegetable shortening"—the result of a process including emulsification, bleaching, and steam-cleaning—come to be seen as healthier foods.

As the film makes clear, researchers who made any serious attempt to study other hypotheses—that sugar led to vascular disease, for instance—found themselves threatened, their research funding cut and their careers derailed.

CHOLESTEROL, THE GREAT BLUFF deploys an array of authoritative and engaging experts to attack the foundations of the cholesterol hypothesis. Author and nutritionist Sylvain Duval uses markers and easy-to-understand analogies to explain the mechanisms of how cholesterol works and how the body uses different fats. Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz lays out how Keys came to demonize cholesterol, and details the intimidation faced by those who sought alternatives. Cardiologist and nutritionist Dr. Michel de Lorgeril, who did the first study on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, is scathing in his views on the pharmaceutical industry’s complicity in propagating faulty research, including the studies that led to the widespread adoption of statins. The film also hears from an array of other researchers, physicians, and writers who, among other things, question the notion of "good" and "bad" cholesterol. 

Peppered throughout are vintage and recent clips from advertising (including Tom & Jerry pushing margarine), sponsored films, and newscasts blaring the latest cholesterol breakthroughs.

"Clear and pointed." —Télérama

"An explosive investigation."Films & Documentaires.com

"Exposes and denies all of the accepted ideas about cholesterol. The results are as fascinating as they are surprising."Télé-Loisirs

"Not to be missed!"Thierry Souccar Editions

"This intelligent, precise and often quite amusing movie offers up medical and nutrition professionals who do not believe in all the lower-your-cholesterol! hype that has been dished out to Americans and much of the western world over the past half century." —TrustMovies

"Adroit and thoughtful." —Yes! Weekly

"For American audiences the ideas that Georget presents, which run counter to medical orthodoxy, will be provocative, but her experts-who include doctors and researchers as well as journalists and academics-deserve a hearing." —Video Librarian

Official Selection, 2017 PARIScience International Science Film Festival
Official Selection, 2016 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)

82 minutes / Color
English; French / English subtitles
Closed Captioned
Release: 2018
Copyright: 2016

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

For individual consumers (home video)

This DVD is sold for private, home use only.

This title is also available online from:

Subject areas:
Aging, Biology, Cholesterol, Culture, Ethics, Health Issues, Media, Politics, Science

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