THOUGHTS ON THE FINDING OF ATHEROSCLEROSIS IN ANCIENT MUMMIES: “The more important point is that atherosclerosis does not equal heart attack. Atherosclerosis is an important risk factor, but extensive cardiac autopsy studies have suggested that traditional cultures with near-zero heart attack incidence have coronary atherosclerosis. Although they tend to have less atherosclerosis than industrial populations when adjusted for age, differences in atherosclerosis alone cannot explain their remarkable resistance to heart attacks: other factors must be involved. These could include the tendency of the blood to clot, the tendency of atherosclerotic plaque to rupture, and perhaps the diameter of the coronary vessels. Some have used the mummy paper to argue the view that it’s silly to try to eat like our ancestors because they got sick just like we do. The paper does not support this view, for two reasons. First, as I said previously, atherosclerosis is not the only risk factor for heart attacks, and we have extensive cardiac autopsy data from multiple non-industrial cultures indicating that the actual rate of heart attacks was very low, even when adjusted for age. And second, although arterial calcification was common in all cultures represented by the mummies, it was less common in the coronary arteries, where it matters most for heart attack risk. . . . The mummy data do not overturn our thinking about atherosclerosis; they simply confirm what we already knew from other sources: developing atherosclerosis with age is part of being human, but the modern diet and lifestyle increase its severity, particularly in the coronary arteries, contributing to a higher risk of heart attack.”