Vegan Health ArticlesDr. McDougall's 2004 Letter to Bill Clinton
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From Robert Cohen,, August 2011

"If only there were a longer time between epiphany and epitaph."
- David Glaser

This week, People Magazine reported: Bill Clinton Turns 65 and Vegan!

The next thing you know, he'll be competing in triathlons.

Bill Clinton has experienced his epiphany.

From Wikipedia:

An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the larger essence or meaning of something. The term is used in either a philosophical or literal sense to signify that the claimant has 'found the last piece of the puzzle and now sees the whole picture,' or has new information or experience, often insignificant by itself, that illuminates a deeper or numinous foundational frame of reference."

When President Clinton had his famous heart attack in September of 2004, Dr. John McDougall wrote him a letter which made all vegans proud and which seems to have worked:

William Jefferson Clinton
The William J. Clinton Foundation
55 West 125th St.
New York, NY 10027

Dear Bill:

The chance you will ask for my opinion on your pending surgery this week for blockages of your heart arteries is about the same as you escaping the heart bypass business. Regardless, for the sake of others and to clear my conscience by at least trying, I will take this opportunity to share ten challenging thoughts with you.

1) Don't be rushed into making a decision - think about it - they gave you several days already - so immediate surgery is obviously not critical - you have time to learn more.

Over 80% of men in the USA by your age (58 years) have coronary artery disease which can be found by an angiogram, and over half with your cholesterol level (233 mg/dl) have at least one coronary artery already closed by 50% or more - in other words, they are fair game for bypass surgeons.

Fortunately, coronary artery disease is not very deadly - the over-all risk of death from this disease for people with affected arteries is less than 2% per year, untreated. Compare these facts with what you have been frightened into believing this past weekend.

2) Nearly four decades of scientific research show coronary artery bypass surgery fails to save lives in most cases. This is because the goal of this surgery is to go around very stable (rock hard) blockages; however, these firm, partial obstructions to heart blood flow are not the life-threatening problem and your doctors know this well-established fact.

These big blockages rarely close down the arteries and almost never cause heart attacks. However, most of the attention is focused on these pseudo-villains found on your angiogram because the result of their discovery feeds money into the heart businesses.

3) The culprit lesions are tiny - invisible to the angiogram - sores (volatile plaques) which explode inside your arteries - suddenly forming an occluding blood clot (thrombosis). Surgery does nothing to stop these lethal events. Fortunately, because the lesions are recently formed, soft, and active, this deadly side of heart disease is also easily amenable to simple methods.

4) These little time bombs (volatile plaques) can be quieted down quickly with a healthy diet and judicious use of cholesterol-lowering medications. Plus, a baby aspirin will immediately thin your blood and make the formation of a potentially lethal blood clot much less likely if a plaque were to burst.

5) You have a reversible disease, Bill - this is not concrete in your arteries. Living tissues heal and your body will fight to stay alive. Now is the time to talk to your friend Dr. Dean Ornish. Regardless of whether or not you have the surgery, you are going to have to change back to the low-fat, no-cholesterol diet Dr. Ornish taught you several years ago. Read my June 2003 newsletter article: Cleaning Out Your Arteries.

6) The real indications for bypass surgery are: a) incapacitating chest pain and/or b) damage to your left ventricle (heart chamber) so that you eject 50% or less of your blood with each heart beat. Every cardiologist and bypass surgeon knows this. From what I have read you have neither of these legitimate indications for surgery.

7) You are known for your wit and intellect. This surgery causes brain damage. Measurement of chemical products released into the spinal fluid during surgery shows that 100% of people suffer brain damage. In most cases the changes are subtle - like personality disorders, or you may not be able to remember names and numbers as well. A study in the February 2001 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found 42 percent of patients five years after surgery had a 20% decrease in brain function. My experience has been that doctors mislead patients into believing this is not an important problem.

8) There is a real possibility that bypass surgery could interfere with another of your well-known attributes. Erectile dysfunction has been reported to be caused by bypass surgery. (Don't you just hate it when people hit below the belt?)

9) Your most recent attempt at weight loss, the South Beach Diet, contributed to your present troubles. Steak, chicken, eggs, and Canadian bacon consumed without limitation are bad for your arteries, Bill. Even the author, Arthur Agatston, MD, must know this - after all he, himself, takes statin drugs to lower his cholesterol, and fish oil and aspirin to help reduce his personal risk of a heart attack.

10) You have always been interested in better healthcare for Americans and now you have an opportunity to make a real difference - stand up to this big business and demand the truth before you make your decision to have or postpone  surgery. Right now you are being lied to - mostly by omission of vital information from doctors - you can verify everything I have written to you within a few short hours on the Internet ( Your example could save more lives and people from suffering unnecessarily than any action you could have ever taken while you were in office. Make the most out of this apparent setback in your health.


John McDougall, MD

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.