Uffe Ravnskov (born 1934) is a Danish independent researcher, a member of various international scientific organisations, and a former private medical practitioner in Sweden. In recent years he has gained notoriety for questioning the scientific consensus regarding the Lipid Hypothesis.
He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and received his medical doctorate from the University of Copenhagen in 1961. Over the following seven years, he worked at various surgical, roentgenological, neurological, paediatric and medical departments in Denmark and Sweden. He then began scientific studies at the Departments of Nephrology and Clinical Chemistry at the Lund University Hospital in Lund, Sweden. He was awarded his doctorate of philosophy (specialising in internal medicine and nephrology) there in 1973, and was assistant professor at the university's Department of Nephrology from 1975 to 1979.
An encounter with scientific fraud committed by a colleague ended up changing Ravnskov's career:
|“||In 1977 I discovered that one of my co-workers had falsified part of his PhD thesis. Whistle blowers are not welcome in the academic world. So, instead of excluding the fraudulent researcher it was my research that was questioned. Finally I found the resistance from my superiors intolerable and decided to go into private practice.||”|
Ravnskov entered private medical practice as a specialist in internal medicine and nephrology in 1979, and worked in Lund in this capacity and as a family doctor until retiring in 2000. Since 1979 he has worked as an independent scientific researcher and since 2000 continues to do so on a full-time basis.
He resides in Lund, Sweden.
Research in Nephrology
In his 1973 PhD. thesis, On Renal Handling of Serum Proteins, Ravnskov introduced the albumin/creatinine clearance ratio, a more accurate way to measure proteinuria. He was also the first to describe the peritubular uptake of low-molecular-weight proteins.
He also proposed a theory that glomerulonephritis is primarily a tubulointerstitial disease, supported by his earlier findings that most patients with glomerulonephritis excrete large amounts of tubular proteins and tubulospecific enzymes.
His major research interest concerns the association between hydrocarbon exposure and glomerulonephritis; this interest was sparked by a 1975 paper in The Lancet by Stephen W. Zimmerman, K. Groehler, and G.J. Beirne, who found that the large majority of their patients with glomerulonephritis on dialysis treatment had prior heavy exposure to industrial solvents. In his subsequent work in this area, he was the first to demonstrate that a discontinuation of hydrocarbon exposure may improve the course of glomerulonephritis, a finding confirmed by follow-up studies made by British researchers.
Investigation of the Lipid Hypothesis, or "Diet-Heart" Idea
When the lipid hypothesis came to be promoted strongly in Sweden Ravnskov felt there was an incongruity between the Diet-Heart Idea and scientific literature he could recall. In Ravnskov's words,
|“||When the cholesterol campaign was introduced in Sweden in 1989, I was very surprised. Having followed the scientific literature about cholesterol and cardiovascular disease superficially for a number of years, I could not recall any study showing that high cholesterol was dangerous to the heart or the blood vessels, or that any type of dietary fat was more beneficial or harmful than another one. I became curious and started to read more systematically.||”|
He reexamined data from past scientific studies, and came to the conclusion that the scientific foundations of the Diet-Heart Idea were scientifically flawed, with what he characterized as all the "inaccuracies, misinterpretations, exaggerations and misleading quotations in this research area." His book Kolesterolmyten ("The Cholesterol Myths") was subsequently published in Sweden in 1991 and in Finland in 1992. It received adverse attention from the local media when they consulted the researchers and health authorities that it criticised; in the 2003 edition of the book, Ravnskov recalls how it was belittled in a television programme on Finland's Channel 2 television station and a copy of the book literally set on fire.
With the popularisation of the internet in the late 1990s, Ravnskov saw the opportunity to publicize his conclusion and, in 1997, published selected sections of The Cholesterol Myths on the world wide web. According to the search engine Direct Hit (since acquired by Ask.com in 1999), Ravnskov's website soon became ranked as one of the top ten most popular websites about cholesterol. As a result of this worldwide interest, his book was translated into English and published in the United States as The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol cause Heart Disease in September 2000 by a publishing house established by the head of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon. It was later published in Germany in 2002 under the title Mythos Cholesterin. Die zehn größten Irrtümer ("Cholesterol Myth: The Ten Biggest Errors").
Since 1990, Ravnskov has published over 80 scientific papers critical of the Diet-Heart Idea, proposing new hypotheses and also contending that "the successful dissemination of the diet-heart idea is due to authors systematically ignoring or misquoting discordant (contradictory) studies". He was the first to suggest that the positive effect of the statins may be due to other effects than cholesterol-lowering.
Awards and Organisations
He is a member of the free panel of the Journal of the Swedish Medical Association (the medical journal Läkartidningen), the International Science Oversight Board, the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, and is the spokesman for THINCS, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics.
- Uffe Ravnskov, The Cholesterol Myths, (Washington DC, 2003), p. 307. ISBN 0-9670897-0-0.
- "The Cholesterol Myths: About the Author". www.ravnskov.nu Website. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- "Uffe Ravnskov: My life and my work". www.ravnskov.nu Website. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- "Uffe Ravnskov MD, PhD (2005 Interview)". Health Myths Publishing Website. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- Ravnskov U., "On renal handling of plasma proteins", Scandinavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology 1973; 7 (suppl 20) (Thesis).
- Ravnskov U., Johansson B.G., Göthlin J., "Renal extraction of β2-microglobulin", Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation 1972; 30: 71-75.
- Ravnskov U., and Karatson A., "Renal handling of human β2-microglobulin in the rat: The importance of sham-operation", Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 1975; 94: 467-471.
- Ravnskov U., "Serum β2-microglobulin and glomerular function", New England Journal of Medicine 1976;294:611.
- Johansson B.G., Ravnskov U., "The serum level and urinary excretion of a 2-microglobulin, β2-microglobulin and lysozyme in renal disease", Scandinavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology 1972; 6: 249-56.
- Hultberg B., Ravnskov U., "The excretion of N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase in glomerulonephritis", Clinical Nephrology 1981; 15: 33-8.
- Ravnskov U., Johansson B.G., Ljunger L., "Proteinuria in pigs with experimentally induced renal damage", Contributions to Nephrology 1975; 1: 50-61.
- Ravnskov U., Johansson B.G., "Isolation and partial characterization of a porcine low molecular weight protein occurring in plasma and urine", International Journal of Biochemistry 1976; 7: 579-583.
- Ravnskov U., "Soap is the major cause of dysuria", The Lancet 1983; 1: 1027-8.
- Ravnskov U., "Dysuri kan orsakas av tvål", Läkartidningen 1985; 82: 836.
- Ravnskov U., "Dysuri skyldes som regel sæbe", Ugeskrift for Læger 1985; 147: 1493-94.
- Ravnskov U., "Sæbe og dysuri", Ugeskrift for Læger 1985; 147: 2093.
- Zimmerman S.W., Groehler K., Beirne G.J., "Hydrocarbon exposure and chronic glomerulonephritis", The Lancet 1975 Aug 2;2(7927):199-201.
- Ravnskov U., "Influence of hydrocarbon exposure on the course of glomerulonephritis", Nephron 1986; 42: 156-160.
- Uffe Ravnskov, The Cholesterol Myths, (Washington DC, 2003), p. xv (Author's Forward).
- Uffe Ravnskov, The Cholesterol Myths, (Washington DC, 2003), p. xv. (Author's Forward).
- "About Ask.com: Webmasters". Ask.com Website. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
- Ravnskov U., "Quotation bias in reviews of the diet-heart idea", Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 1995; 48: 713-9.
- Ravnskov U., "Debatt i Science: Kostråd mot hjärtinfarkt försvaras med felcitat", Läkartidningen 2002; 99: 2673.
- Ravnskov U., Allan C., Atrens D., Enig M.G., Groves B., Kaufman J., Kroneld R., Rosch P.J., Rosenman R., Werkö L., Nielsen J.V., Wilske J., Worm N., "Studies of dietary fat and heart disease", Science 2002; 295: 1464-5.
- Uffe Ravnskov Website
- The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics
- International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids
- Biography on the website of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine