Examining Dr. Atkins' Death--UPDATED

This post is part of an on-going review of the recommendations of celebrity doctor Joseph Mercola, D.O. For an overview, check out Monday's post.

As I was going through Dr. Mercola's website, I found that he attacks the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. That group, he claims, "horribly distorted the facts behind the death of Dr. Robert Atkins, one of Dr. Mercola's mentors."

I happen to know something about this, and am compelled to add my thoughts.

It is Dr. Mercola who is distorting the facts. Before Dr. Atkins was hospitalized near the end of his life, he weighed about 200 pounds. Atkins' medical record showed he had atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, had suffered from a previous heart attack, and had high blood pressure. However, many would have you believe he was merely a healthy guy who died after slipping on a patch of ice.

Of interest is that one of my patients, who had severe coronary artery disease which he developed on the Atkins diet, who now has reversed his heart condition under my care, was friends with Dr. Atkins and they used the same cardiologist. This successful man had no motive to make up this story. He told me that after Atkins died his cardiologist (who was Dr. Atkins' doctor too) mentioned to him that Atkins had a heart attack, that is why he fell--he did not slip.

Dr. Atkins' wife quickly switched cardiologists to find one who would aid in the cover-up. The only point to be made here is these guys advocating a high meat diet are unfortunately hurting themselves too, not just their followers, but it is a shame that people have to suffer and even die needlessly from the advice of these high-meat advocates.

UPDATE: TheSmokingGun.com has a wealth of information regarding the death of Dr. Atkins, including a leaked copy of his actual death certificate. The autopsy report medical examiner's report shows a 77 year old white male with a medical history of myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. The hand writing reads of these three conditions. Also check out Snopes.com for more information.

Tomorrow we will examine healthy ways to integrate meat into your diet.

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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Louise - March 27, 2006 10:12 PM

That's rich! Enjoy the trivea stemming from an insider's observation - just hope it doesn't get you sued, Dr. Fuhrman!

Keep the interesting anecdotes coming!


Elijah Lynn - March 28, 2006 12:59 PM

Great snippet!!

Brandon - September 28, 2006 5:03 PM

i have eaten(as a bodybuilding bulking diet experiment)up to 6 tablespoons of butter, 18 egg yolks, 2 lbs of 80% lean beef(which is higher fat), and 10 ounces of cheese per day for 3 months. my cholesterol was 243 with HDL at 85, and triglycerides 37 at the end of it. My only carboydrate intake was on weekends. I recently just had another blood test done wher my fat was maybe 1/5th of that but my carbs were up higher. i should have those results back soon and will post.
im sure itll be under 200, but i have to factor in the carbs, they will probably affect Triglycerides. Either way, my diet still included 5 ounces of cheese, 8 ounces of ground beef, 4 egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of butter, on average per day, for several weeks.
I also have heart disease in my family. But if fatty stuff was really that bad, wouldnt 18 eggyolks+ 2lbs of beef+ 10 ounces of cheese+6tbls of butter be enough to shoot choesterol way past the 300 mark at least? even if the subject is only 23?

Tricia - April 2, 2007 1:03 AM

Hippa violation there, you think?

Jim - January 25, 2008 12:33 PM

In 1997 I was 33 years old, 230 lbs with high cholesteral and high blood pressure. I was taking meds for all 3 conditions. I ate mostly fruits and vegitables (rice, potatoes, beans, apples, bannanas,etc...) On Nov.1st 1997 I changed doctors and he advised me to go an all meat diet for a couple of months. I told him I thought he was crazy, but that I would try anything for 2 months. In 6 weeks I was off all my meds, lost 10 lbs, and lowered my cholesteral to 140. 8 months later I weighed 155 lbs, cholesteral was 120, and my blood pressure was an amazing 90/55!!!! Those numbers were lower than any that had ever been recorded in my medical records from 1985-1997. I still adhered to a low carb life style, but I do eat a few starchy vegitables every once in a while. I have maintained a 170-175 lb weight and a 140 or lower cholesteral for the last 9 years eating red meat 3 meals a day.I have been completely off all medications for the same 9 years. My old doctor had me on a high fiber/low-fat/no-fat diet from 1994-1997. I was exercising an hour a day. I gained 35 lbs in those 3 years and went from taking no meds to taking meds for cholesteral and high blood pressure. All doctors need to see my medical files and study them closely because I'm not a fluke. There are a lot of people like me (anyone with a little native American in them). I've advised several people on my diet and all have had success in lowering weight, cholesteral, and blood pressure. I have firends that are Type-2 diabetic and they are off insulin. The secret is not to mix starchy carbs with saturated fats and eat all the protein you want. Eliminate all processed carbs and sugars (processed wheat/flour/bread). Then eliminate all fruits or anything containing pectin. Pectin stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin (which is a bad thing).

Kalani - July 14, 2008 7:38 PM

Why is it that Atkin's supporters want to hide his medical records and supporters of low-fat, low animal product advocates such as Pritikin want medical records made public? Pritikin at his request was autopsied and his arteries were clear after a lifetime of high-carbohydrate eating. You have to ask the question, "what are Atkin's supporters afraid of?" Finding that he had atherosclerosis? (which it is apperent that he did)

It is clear that a low-fat primarily plant-based diet will induce a reduction in weight and cholesterol - too many studies support that for it to be in question. It is also clear that a high protein diet can also cause weight loss - at least in the short run. But a high protein diet causes serious calcium loss. And high animal product diets tend to have more heart disease associated with it. And the models for a lifetime of high protein intake - the eskimos, (highest rate of osteoporosis in the world) - the Masai (short lifespan) and paleolithic man (even shorter lifespan - about 25 to 26 years) do not speak well for a high protein diet. Conversely, the populations that live the longest tend to center their diet on grains (okinawans eat lost of rice) and vegetables supplemented by small - not large - amounts of animal protein.

In addition, if the carbs cause obesity and heart disease, why is it that the slimmest populations and the populations that have the least heart disease consume the MOST carbohydrates? I await an answer to this and the question of why people want to hide Atkins' medical status.


Alpinecalm - October 2, 2010 6:35 PM

The fallacy behind all of these comparisons to Masai, Japanese, and the China Study is that genetic make up is simply not taken into account. Couldn't one type of diet be better suited for certain peoples than another? Having had the China study thrown in my face for years now I have one thing to say.... I AM NOT CHINESE! My Scandinavian ancestors eat meat. When I eat grains consistently I feel horrible. When I eat high protein meats and fish with plenty of vegs and fruit I feel great. Isn't that the true test?

Seljuk - April 18, 2011 9:29 PM

Although the Bible does allow us to eat meat(Genesis 9:3), it also hints to us that it is harmful(Daniel 1:12-16). In Genesis 1:29, it shows that God originally created humans to eat nothing but seeds, herbs, and fruits. I adhere strictly to this diet and I have no problems with my health. Anyone who says you should eliminate fruits, or only eat fruit as an occasional treat, or that fruit is bad for you is an idiot.

And God said , Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. -Genesis 1:29

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