Mod+ Saturated Fat discussion for David

fls

Member
This thread is an offshoot from here:

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/you-don’t-believe-this-crap-do-you.1480/page-14#post-50089

I would defy anyone to read that article and think it was in any way satirical.

Yeah, doctors are too subtle for our own good. :) Remember, it's not directed at people like you or the other members of this forum (except me and the neurologist who seems to have disappeared).

I read it as an admission that (in the author's opinion as a former editor of the BMJ) medical science has gone hopelessly wrong on this issue - no mention of Santa, or Christmas pudding, or even mistletoe - just a frank exposition of the fact that medical science has mislead many people, and probably caused many to become ill or die earlier than they would otherwise have done over a period of about 60 years.

We get these kinds of articles regularly (regardless of their seriousness). It's an important part of medicine to critically examine programs and ask these kinds of questions. Public Health is especially hard, but you have to make recommendations in the here and now, rather than sitting back and waiting for all the evidence to be in. Again, I find it laughable that you think this process shows that medicine (and science) is on the wrong track, rather than making it stronger. Can you give me an example of a field which has enjoyed greater validity by avoiding critical self-examination?

If you genuinely feel in any real doubt about this, I would suggest that you contact the author and ask him!

If on the other hand, you think this article was not satirical, but wrong, why not explain what his error is.

Do you, in fact, disagree with the article?

David

Yes and no. It's a useful cautionary tale to recognize that addressing the saturated fat problem isn't as simple as reducing saturated fat, but also attending to what is used as a substitute. But it also seems to have left you with the impression that the research does not show a connection between dietary intake of saturated fat and atherosclerosis, or that dietary reduction of saturated fats has a positive impact on human health, which would be an error.

This report, plus its references, would be a better starting point if that is the issue you wish to discuss.

http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/HTML/D4_Fats.htm

Linda

As usual in this forum, Mod+ refers to this:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/does-it-matter.1240/page-5#post-33913
 
Yes and no. It's a useful cautionary tale to recognize that addressing the saturated fat problem isn't as simple as reducing saturated fat, but also attending to what is used as a substitute. But it also seems to have left you with the impression that the research does not show a connection between dietary intake of saturated fat and atherosclerosis, or that dietary reduction of saturated fats has a positive impact on human health, which would be an error.
Well let's stick to that article, and consider this paragraph:
Keys studied few men and did not have a reliable way of measuring diets, and in the case of the Japanese and Italians he studied them soon after the second world war, when there were food shortages. Keys could have gathered data from many more countries and people (women as well as men) and used more careful methods, but, suggests Teicholz, he found what he wanted to find. A subsequent study by other researchers of 22 countries found little correlation between death rates from heart disease and fat consumption, and these authors suggested that there could be other causes, including tobacco and sugar consumption.10

Or this, a little further on:
Critics pointed out that although there was a correlation between countries, there was no correlation within countries and nor was there a correlation with total mortality.

Finally this:
Despite continuing doubts, it became, and still is, the global orthodoxy that saturated fat was an important cause of cardiovascular disease and that people should eat low fat diets. The biggest test of the saturated fat hypothesis came with the Women’s Health Initiative, which enrolled 49 000 premenopausal women in a randomised trial of the low fat diet and cost $725m (£460m; €580m).17 The women were followed for 10 years, and those in the low fat arm successfully reduced their total fat consumption from 37% to 29% of energy intake and their saturated fat from 12.4% to 9.5%. But there was no reduction in heart disease or stroke, and nor did the women lose more weight than the controls.

(BTW, I think that paragraph contains a typo, and should refer to post-meopausal women)

Can you tell me how any of those sentences can be said to endorse the fat/CVD hypothesis, or indeed, can be interpreted as mere festive cheer!

David
 
Well let's stick to that article, and consider this paragraph:

Or this, a little further on:

Right, ecological studies are (quite appropriately) pretty low on the level-of-evidence ladder.

Finally this:

(BTW, I think that paragraph contains a typo, and should refer to post-meopausal women)

Can you tell me how any of those sentences can be said to endorse the fat/CVD hypothesis,...

That's the point, isn't it? They don't. He avoids mention of the research which supports the idea, and presents the WHI in a way which suggests it contradicts the idea. His article wasn't about reviewing the research, in contrast to the report I linked to earlier.

Linda
 
Right, ecological studies are (quite appropriately) pretty low on the level-of-evidence ladder.



That's the point, isn't it? They don't. He avoids mention of the research which supports the idea, and presents the WHI in a way which suggests it contradicts the idea. His article wasn't about reviewing the research, in contrast to the report I linked to earlier.

Linda
So you really think that article was some kind of joke! Would you like to check with him? None of the responses to his article seem to take the article as a joke.

David
 
Denise Minger examines the studies upon which the USDA guidelines are constructed:

http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/02/04/the-new-usda-dietary-guideline/#more-848

There's a lot of stuff touched on here, but one thing, amongst others, that I always want to know is talked about below figure (or graph?) 3-5: what is the source of saturated fat? Traditional foods we evolved on for thousands (or tens of thousands) of years like coconut oil or grass fed butter? Or more likely cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar? . . .
 
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http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/03March/Pages/Saturated-fats-and-heart-disease-link-unproven.aspx:

So--there's evidence that the link between saturated fats and heart disease is unproven (i.e. not statistically significant), and the article is from the British NHS.

Scientific American also suggests we may have chosen the wrong target: it is carbohydrates that may be the villain in heart disease:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/carbs-against-cardio/

However, the NHS article seems to be sticking to the story that excess fat intake leads to obesity. This lengthy NYTimes article discusses that:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/what-if-it-s-all-been-a-big-fat-lie.html

and suggests it might not be so after all. Whatever, it goes to show that the science ain't settled and suggests that so-called experts can screw up big time and prove lethally counterproductive. Which isn't news to me: they've screwed up over global warming, may have done so over the HIV-AIDS link, and then there's cosmology, and, of course, psi research.

We've almost reached the point, especially with medicine, where the best advice is to ignore the experts. Emergency treatment is probably a notable exception to this: I'm glad to say that in Britain we have the NHS providing such treatment to all without charge at the point of service. I've benefited from it on several occasions in my life. As to non-emergency treatment, I stay away from the medical profession as far as I possibly can.

The following is from Wikipedia, which one needs to treat with caution, but if it's biased, I'd suggest that on past form it'd be doing its best to minimise iatrogenic illness:

Iatrogenesis is a major phenomenon, and a severe risk to patients. In a study carried out in 1981 more than one-third of illnesses of patients in a university hospital were iatrogenic, nearly one in ten was considered major, and, in 2% of the patients, the iatrogenic disorder ended in death. Complications were most strongly associated with exposure to drugs and medications.[20] In another study, the main factors leading to problems were inadequate patient evaluation, lack of monitoring and follow-up, and failure to perform necessary tests.[citation needed]
In the United States, figures suggest estimated deaths per year of: [2][21] [22][23]

12,000 due to unnecessary surgery
7,000 due to medication errors in hospitals
20,000 due to other errors in hospitals
80,000 due to nosocomial infections in hospitals
106,000 due to non-error, negative effects of drugs

Based on these figures, iatrogenesis may cause 225,000 deaths per year in the United States (excluding recognizable error). An earlier Institute of Medicine report estimated 230,000 to 284,000 iatrogenic deaths annually.[2]
The large gap separating these estimates from annual deaths from cerebrovascular disease suggests that iatrogenic illness constitutes the third-leading cause of death in the United States; after heart disease and cancer.[2]
 
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/03March/Pages/Saturated-fats-and-heart-disease-link-unproven.aspx:

So--there's evidence that the link between saturated fats and heart disease is unproven (i.e. not statistically significant), and the article is from the British NHS.

Scientific American also suggests we may have chosen the wrong target: it is carbohydrates that may be the villain in heart disease:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/carbs-against-cardio/

However, the NHS article seems to be sticking to the story that excess fat intake leads to obesity. This lengthy NYTimes article discusses that:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/what-if-it-s-all-been-a-big-fat-lie.html

and suggests it might not be so after all. Whatever, it goes to show that the science ain't settled and suggests that so-called experts can screw up big time and prove lethally counterproductive. Which isn't news to me: they've screwed up over global warming, may have done so over the HIV-AIDS link, and then there's cosmology, and, of course, psi research.

We've almost reached the point, especially with medicine, where the best advice is to ignore the experts. Emergency treatment is probably a notable exception to this: I'm glad to say that in Britain we have the NHS providing such treatment to all without charge at the point of service. I've benefited from it on several occasions in my life. As to non-emergency treatment, I stay away from the medical profession as far as I possibly can.
Right - you have nailed the connection between my discussion with Linda and homeopathy! The link is that modern institutional science goes wrong so easily. It is run by manager types who really want the institution to pull in lots of grants and grow. That means they want the research to stay 'on message' whatever that message happens to be! If a different farming lobby had successfully lobbied for the meat/dairy industry, I have little doubt that Ancel Keys would have chosen a different subset of countries for his graph, and medical orthodoxy would be that people thrive on fatty diets!

I found the saturated fat and cholesterol stories absolutely staggering when I stumbled upon them a few years back. If I hadn't been burned by statins, I'd never have discovered this nonsense.
You simply can't trust modern science to test any fringe idea properly - particularly if it treads on anyone's toes - as alternative medicine obviously does.

Linda has taken the approach that diet research is going along just fine, and I just picked up on a jokey Christmas article and misunderstood it! In reality she simply has to know that at the very least there is huge dissent in the medical profession, and that Sweden in particular, has some doctors recommending high fat, low carb diets to those with raised blood sugar, obesity or diabetes. They are reporting that in many cases these diets return people to normal. Put another way, these people would not have become ill if they had continued to eat the traditional Scandinavian high fat diet.

I didn't want to broaden the debate to include other articles, because I think it was important to focus on one article - obviously written by someone eminent - that was really laying into the medical research establishment for the mess they have made. Linda's only real explanation was that this was written at Christmas. I knew that there wasn't some macabre BMJ joke to publish utterly misleading articles around Christmas, because, of course it was the Medical Doctor, Malcolm Kendrick who brought this article to favourable attention in his blog.

What was the point of Linda trying to move the debate from Richard Smith's critical article to a set of NHS guidelines, given that it was exactly those guidelines (in general) that Richard Smith's article was attacking?

What I think Linda totally fails to acknowledge, is that there are a lot of scientifically minded individuals - including you and I - who really want science to be honest. Nobody can be an expert at everything, and we want to trust experts, but they absolutely have to earn that trust. We hate to see science destroy itself in this way. I am sure that science could make a great contribution to our knowledge of ψ and alternative medicine, but it could only do that if it were scrupulously honest.

David
 
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What I think Linda totally fails to acknowledge, is that there are a lot of scientifically minded individuals - including you and I - who really want science to be honest. Nobody can be an expert at everything, and we want to trust experts, but they absolutely have to earn that trust. We hate to see science destroy itself in this way. I am sure that science could make a great contribution to our knowledge of ψ and alternative medicine, but it could only do that if it were scrupulously honest.

David

Amen to that, Bro!
 
Denise Minger examines the studies upon which the USDA guidelines are constructed:

http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/02/04/the-new-usda-dietary-guideline/#more-848

There's a lot of stuff touched on here, but one thing, amongst others, that I always want to know is talked about below figure (or graph?) 3-5: what is the source of saturated fat? Traditional foods we evolved on for thousands (or tens of thousands) of years like coconut oil or grass fed butter? Or more likely cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar? . . .
While I agree that cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar are likely to contribute to heart disease, eating cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar is not a recommendation is any food guide I'm aware of. The recommendations tend to be to increase the proportion of unsaturated fats (usually PUFAs) to saturated fats, and to limit carbohydrate intake (most especially cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar).

Linda
 
Thanks for your examples David and Michael. That's helpful.

So let's look at what we have here:

http://www.cebm.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CEBM-Levels-of-Evidence-2.1.pdf

We have dietary guidelines which are based on Level 1 and 2 evidence (systematic reviews of RCTs and prospective cohort studies), and were previously based on level 3 and 4 evidence.

We have estimations of iatrogenesis based on level 4 evidence (non-controlled cohort studies, case series).

We have the HIV/AIDS connection based on an overwhelming mass of level 1 evidence.

David says that science and medicine is broken because the dietary recommendations are wrong (based on an alarmist article for the BMJ Christmas edition) mostly because people follow habits not recommended by food guides (consuming carbohydrates in an amount and kind which are not recommended) as a result of following the food guide (reducing saturated fats), iatrogenesis is a leading cause of death, and the HIV/AIDS connection is doubtful. So clearly this isn't about the level of evidence. When dietary guidelines are based on level 3 and 4 evidence this is bad. When estimates of iatrogenesis are based on level 4 evidence, this is good.

I asked David for suggestions about what science would look like if it wasn't broken. I gave the suggestion that evaluating ideas on the basis of evidence would be useful. But now that we have some examples, I can see that this is not what anyone has in mind.

So, if we presume that the complaints which have been made are valid, how does one identify valid concerns (HIV does not cause AIDS) from invalid concerns (diets with a relatively high proportion of saturated fats increase the risk for heart disease) beforehand? What are some of the other things it would take to fix science and medicine?

Linda

Christmas present:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11751349
 
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Nobody can be an expert at everything, and we want to trust experts, but they absolutely have to earn that trust.

You mean, they have to earn it when they say something you don't want to hear. You don't seem to have any trouble trusting that the Richard Smith article is a fair and accurate representation, despite not really knowing about him or the journal edition.

Linda
 
You simply can't trust modern science to test any fringe idea properly - particularly if it treads on anyone's toes - as alternative medicine obviously does.

Huh? There's a whole research program dedicated to the testing of alt-med ideas. How does that represent an unwillingness to test novel ideas? Who gets awards and accolades - researchers who contribute nothing new to our knowledge or those who test novel ideas?

Linda has taken the approach that diet research is going along just fine,...

I didn't say that. I said that it should continue to follow an evidence-based approach, which includes good-quality outcome-based intervention studies.

...and I just picked up on a jokey Christmas article and misunderstood it! In reality she simply has to know that at the very least there is huge dissent in the medical profession,...

I said that there is always dissent in the medical community (and that this is a good thing).

What was the point of Linda trying to move the debate from Richard Smith's critical article to a set of NHS guidelines, given that it was exactly those guidelines (in general) that Richard Smith's article was attacking?

Yeah, silly me. What was I thinking. No point in critically examining those guidelines directly. It's much better to critically examine a second-hand representation of those guidelines. In fact, ideally we should look at a third-hand report and see if someone has represented Smith's representation of the guidelines. Didn't you say something about Kendrick? We really should look at what he says about what Smith says about what the advisory committee says. Pretty much the last thing we need is to look at research reports.

Linda
 
Thanks for your examples David and Michael. That's helpful.

So let's look at what we have here:

http://www.cebm.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CEBM-Levels-of-Evidence-2.1.pdf

We have dietary guidelines which are based on Level 1 and 2 evidence (systematic reviews of RCTs and prospective cohort studies), and were previously based on level 3 and 4 evidence.
The trouble is - as Richard Smith pointed out - that the entire demonisation of saturated fat started with Ancel Keys, who cherry picked his graph to get the desired result. It only took a short time before the problem with Ancel Key's work was revealed, but it seems like the bandwagon had started rolling. Honest science means weeding out all the junk and fraud before you even begin.
David says that science and medicine is broken because the dietary recommendations are wrong (based on an alarmist article for the BMJ Christmas edition) mostly because people follow habits not recommended by food guides (consuming carbohydrates in an amount and kind which are not recommended) as a result of following the food guide (reducing saturated fats),
Actually I was well aware of the crisis in the saturated fat theory long before I read that article, but I thought that article summed up the problem well, and was written by someone you couldn't easily dismiss. I'd forgotten that it was Christmas :)

Both Michael and I could shower you with internet links screaming about the mistake of displacing fats with sugars, but I thought focusing on one such article coming from someone you couldn't easily dismiss, would be more useful.
I asked David for suggestions about what science would look like if it wasn't broken. I gave the suggestion that evaluating ideas on the basis of evidence would be useful. But now that we have some examples, I can see that this is not what anyone has in mind.
The problem is that you really need to start at the bottom. Richard Smith also pointed out how incredibly hard it is to study people's actual diets and the effect that they have on your health. Quite apart from the fact that people misreport their diets, there is an obvious potential systematic error of this sort:

If there is a perceived 'healthy diet' then those who try to remain healthy - running or whatever - may tend to favour the diet that is supposed to be healthy.

One of the problems with modern science is that it can't say no to a research grant, so it makes whatever assumptions it needs to get a result.
So, if we presume that the complaints which have been made are valid, how does one identify valid concerns (HIV does not cause AIDS) from invalid concerns (diets with a relatively high proportion of saturated fats increase the risk for heart disease) beforehand? What are some of the other things it would take to fix science and medicine?

Well if you start by recognising that the original evidence produced by Ancel Keys was bogus, you have to start by asking if there is actually any strong evidence in favour of the proposition. It is also worth considering whether there is evidence pointing the other way. In as much as the fat ends up being replaced by carbohydrate, I'd have thought the fact that this ends up being absorbed as glucose and fructose in some cases, would give anyone pause for thought. If you go for dietary advice because of high blood sugar, you get told to eat less of the food that doesn't digest into glucose, and explicitly or implicitly more of those that do!

As regards HIV, The whole subject is far more obscure and complex, but you might read this article by Kary Mullis (who wonf the Nobel Prize for his work on the polymerase chain reaction):

http://www.duesberg.com/viewpoints/kintro.html

I can't read that essay without feeling uneasy.

David
 
While I agree that cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar are likely to contribute to heart disease, eating cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar is not a recommendation is any food guide I'm aware of. The recommendations tend to be to increase the proportion of unsaturated fats (usually PUFAs) to saturated fats, and to limit carbohydrate intake (most especially cheap-o grain desserts soaked in sugar).

Linda

Did you read any of the article? I think she has quite a bit of useful criticism of the guidelines . . .One of which concerns replacing saturated fat with PUFAs . . . In fact, she walked through every article that the guidelines use to prop up their erroneous conclusions with . . . You only commented on my comment.

And while it's true enough that guidlines may not condone cheap-o grains soaked in sugar, they all sure as hell condone many, many servings of whole grains . . . In fact, that's the pillar of the healthy food pyramid . . . When it should instead be almost nonexistent on it.
 
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The trouble is - as Richard Smith pointed out - that the entire demonisation of saturated fat started with Ancel Keys, who cherry picked his graph to get the desired result. It only took a short time before the problem with Ancel Key's work was revealed, but it seems like the bandwagon had started rolling. Honest science means weeding out all the junk and fraud before you even begin.

I agree with that. So does EBM, which is specifically directed against cherry-picking. So what would you suggest be done which isn't done already?
Both Michael and I could shower you with internet links screaming about the mistake of displacing fats with sugars,...

You don't have to. I already provided you with links to this in the report I offered earlier. The report specifically mentions that replacing fats with carbohydrates increases the risk of atherosclerosis and refers to the supporting research.

The problem is that you really need to start at the bottom.

What does "start at the bottom" mean?

Richard Smith also pointed out how incredibly hard it is to study people's actual diets and the effect that they have on your health. Quite apart from the fact that people misreport their diets, there is an obvious potential systematic error of this sort:

If there is a perceived 'healthy diet' then those who try to remain healthy - running or whatever - may tend to favour the diet that is supposed to be healthy.

That's the point. Because of the heavy risk of confounding and other biases, research which addresses these risks will be far more useful than studies which are not randomized, not controlled, and/or not outcome-based.

One of the problems with modern science is that it can't say no to a research grant, so it makes whatever assumptions it needs to get a result.

Huh? The point of research is to find out what the results are, regardless of assumptions. And that's the point of all the measures in place which prevent assumptions from altering the results.

Well if you start by recognising that the original evidence produced by Ancel Keys was bogus, you have to start by asking if there is actually any strong evidence in favour of the proposition.

Agreed. Which was why I linked to a report which reviews the evidence on the basis on its strength.

As regards HIV, The whole subject is far more obscure and complex, but you might read this article by Kary Mullis (who wonf the Nobel Prize for his work on the polymerase chain reaction):

http://www.duesberg.com/viewpoints/kintro.html

I can't read that essay without feeling uneasy.

David

Agreed, but probably for quite different reasons. We've already established that its not about the evidence, but has something to do with which essays you decide to hang your hat on. I'm still looking for an answer to my question. How do you decide which ideas are legitimate and which are not?

Linda
 
Did you read any of the article? I think she has quite a bit of useful criticism of the guidelines . . .One of which concerns replacing saturated fat with PUFAs . . . In fact, she walked through every article that the guidelines use to prop up their erroneous conclusions with . . . You only commented on my comment.

What led you to decide that her criticisms were valid?

Linda
 
tooth-decay-pictures-photo.jpg
samoan.jpg

What led me to first fully reject modern Western diets in all their varieties, including the low-fat form, were these pictures and studies done by Weston Price. Can you guess which ones were eating as their ancestors ate for thousands of years and which ones were eating newer forms of diets? (There are tons more pictures).

The ones eating a diet as their ancestors had for thousands of years and to which our bodies are adapted are the ones whose teeth fit in the head. What Weston Price found is that after a few - two or three - generations of eating a Western diet, the dental arch shrunk. Now a days, most people don't even realize that all of our teeth should actually fit in our heads and we should hardly have a cavity our whole lives long. What Price also found was that chronic disease was virtually non-existent; this means heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. What made most of these groups so great to look at is that many had split into one group that retained their eating habits and one that had modernized, allowing for comparisons.

Though the indigenous diets that Price looked at varied greatly, they all ate meat, all ate all parts of the animal, even bones through making broth, all ate some parts of the animal raw, none ate many grains, if any at all, and they all consumed larger amounts of fat soluble vitamins . . . Yet, the USDA would have us believe we'd be healthier if we replaced the saturated fats these guys were eating with newly invented, PUFA-rich vegetable oils . . .
 
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From the Minger link above:

Quite by accident, the USDA does a rockstar job of proving saturated fat goes hand-in-hand with a junky cuisine—making it a nightmare to untangle in epidemiological studies, and more likely to be “guilty by association” when it comes to disease. Check out this pie graph of the most common sources of solid fats (AKA saturated) hitting America’s collective dinner plate:

usda_saturated_fat_sources.jpg

Here’s the lowdown. “Grain-based desserts” (think cookies, cakes, pies, pastries) are the second-largest contributor to America’s saturated fat intake—right behind the rather ambiguous “all other food categories.” In fact, grainy desserts are a bigger source of saturated fat than butter, eggs, and whole milk combined. What’s after grain-based desserts? Pizza. Then cheese. Then processed meats. Then french fries. Then dairy desserts.

In fact, if you add it all up, 45 percent of our saturated fat intake comes from starch-based meals, sugary desserts, or processed meat, whereas only 32 percent comes from whole foods traditionally associated with saturated fat (butter, milk, unprocessed meat, eggs). The remaining 23 percent is that mysterious teal slice on the pie chart.

Think of it this way: When a study looks at someone’s saturated fat intake in relation to disease, is it really measuring foods like animal products and coconut oil, or is it actually recording stuff like deep-dish pizza and Oreos—markers for an I-don’t-give-a-hoot-about-my-health lifestyle? I’ll let you be the judge.
 
Got it.

Keys + cherry-picking = bad
Price + cherry-picking = good

How to tell beforehand? Is it alphabetical?

Agreed about the issue of confounders, which is why the results of randomized controlled trials are useful.

Linda
 
Linda,

I just don't think you get it. A scientific theory was founded on a bogus piece of research by Ancel Keys. Richard Smith summarised what happened, but you can find corroborative accounts all over the internet. Senator McGovern also leant his weight behind the saturated fat hypothesis, and the whole thing became political.

By the time Jacob Yerushalmy and Herman Hilleboe showed that the graph of heart disease against saturated fat intake was deliberately cherry picked, the bandwagon was already rolling. Richard Smith catalogued the way that the opportunities to stop the bandwagon were repeatedly missed.

When I said "start at the bottom", I thought you would understand that I meant start with the original piece of faulty research - that is where this whole theory came from. Have you even viewed Ancel Key's graph and the way he cherry picked the data. For example, he left out France because it had (and I think still has) low levels of CVD and high saturated fat consumption.

What we are talking about - and what I think Richard Smith is talking about - is a form of corruption of science. Once an idea has caught hold - even if it turns out to be based on fraud - a strong confirmation bias then operates, driven by the fact that large institutions are using the theory. It is obviously going to be far easier to bend the rules slightly to confirm what you 'know' to be true, than to face the enormous brouhaha which would follow a volte-face on an issue like saturated fat.

By quoting the latest research without examining the roots of the mistake, you are tainted with that same confirmation bias. There are innumerable ways in which diet/health studies can be distorted - Richard Smith commented on exactly that. My favourite - which you didn't comment on - is that people who live an otherwise healthy lifestyle will tend to eat whatever is perceived as the most healthy diet. That bias will always favour status-quo science.

Corporations and governments can handle awkward news from scientists, just so long as it stays the same, but they don't like scientists who change their mind.

You of all people should be able to see the myriad of ways that this can happen.

Anyway, I am getting bored with this, if it has made you the slightest bit worried that medical science might have made a mistake, why not contact Richard Smith. If he tells you his article was a joke, well the laugh is on me, but if he fills you in with far more information to back up his case..............

David
 
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