Saturated fat study redux

A little over a year ago the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published a study that purportedly showed what a terrible health risk saturated fat is. I guess because of all the interest generated by the recent bogus red meat/colon cancer study, some news services decided to recycle this old study and pass it off as new.

Today’s headline in HealthDay is:

Saturated Fat: Even a Little Splurge May Be Too Much

The article goes on to say

How bad can it be to indulge in an occasional meal or snack loaded with saturated fat?

How about bad enough to diminish your body’s ability to defend itself against heart disease.

A little later on the reporter quotes one of the study’s authors:

“Saturated-fat meals might predispose to inflammation of, and plaque buildup in, the vessels,” said study leader Dr. David Celermajer, Scandrett professor of cardiology at the Heart Research Institute and the Department of Cardiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

And then, of course, comes the recommendation based on the findings of this study:

The message is clear, Celermajer said: It’s important to limit saturated fat intake as much as possible.

To do that, you’ve first got to know where saturated fat lurks, said Jeannie Moloo, a Sacramento, Calif., dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

She suggests cutting down on meat, full-fat milk and full-fat dairy products as a way to reduce saturated fat. Those foods are all major sources of saturated fat, Moloo said. So are processed foods and snacks.

Why would the staff at HealthDay – a major medical and health news service – recycle this same study that they already reported on a year ago when it had just come out? As I mentioned above, the only reason I can think of is that the recent study on colon cancer stirred up such a buzz that they decided to go for it again by resurrecting this old study.

Some folks are biting already as you can see from this Yahoo.com health blurb. (Note the HealthDay byline) I wouldn’t be surprised to find a bunch of other media outlets jumping on this study over the next couple of days.

As to the study’s validity, it was a travesty. I dealt with it in a post over a year ago when it first came out. Read the post and look at the HealthDay link from back then; you’ll find that it’s been taken down. I wonder why?

This absolutely shameless attempt to pass this study off as new should be a real lesson to us all in how the press can manipulate and influence the gullible. I hope the folks at Healthday are proud of themselves.

The Mark Twain quote at the start of my post from a year ago is absolutely accurate.

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13 thoughts on “Saturated fat study redux

  1. Its funny to me too see this again. This is even more true due to the opening story of the September HARVARD HEALTH LETTER, “TIME TO FATTEN UP OUR DIETS”. While in the sub headline they lump trans and saturated fat together, further on down, Walter Willet, MD, says that niether red meat nor coconut oil have any effect on CHD. Further he advises to eat the skin of chicken, and that a diet of 40% fat is acceptable, and that fat should replace carbs. While he doesn’t go so far as to advocate a low carb diet, Is the light at the end of tunnel being lit?

    I think the light at the end of the tunnel is sort of being lit. Before Willett can jump on the low-carb bandwagon, he’s got to realize that it’s okay to eat red meat, and I don’t think he’s there yet. But it does sound like he’s getting closer.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  2. “A myth is a fixed way of looking at the world which cannot be destroyed because, looked at through the myth, all evidence supports the myth.” — Edward De Bono

    To which I would add: “…or can be fiddled, misinterpreted, misreported, ignored, ridiculed or suppressed so as to support the myth.”

    How true, how true.

  3. The vegans are smugly laughing themselves into the graveyard by all this good news about red meat and saturated fat that backs up their theories, and vegetarians are following suite by further cutting back on the paltry animal products they consume (eggs & cheese).

    The loss of a few or many vegans is no big deal, but the consequences on the masses, who are already obese and trying to lose weight, will be terrible. Actually it will hurt everyone. Hopefully by the time government bans red meat and saturated fat, I’ll be playing on-line video games behind the pearly gates.

  4. It’s amazing how some very intelligent people get hung up on this saturated fat thing. They’ll agree with me that low-carb is the way to go, but balk when I say saturated fat is good for you. Recently, when urging a friend to buy full-fat whole milk instead of the low-fat kind (“If you insist on drinking milk, at least drink whole milk,” I said), she replied, “Oh well, now that I have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, I have to watch my saturated fat.”

    Huh???

    I’ve been waiting for Loren Cordain to come around, too.

    I hope Taubes’ book helps people along the way out of this wilderness of idiocy.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  5. HI Dr. Eades, lurker here–

    I’ve always been a fan of the Eades, but here is a question for you—what about cytokine production and saturated fats?

    I’ve personally found in low-carb dieting that it benefits me to go for the leaner proteins and to emphasize “good fats” over bad ones, and I’ve always thought that perhaps it has to do with inflammatory processes that impede over all metabolic health…what say you?

    I suspect your right, especially if your definition of bad fats are omega-6s.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  6. Help! I can’t figure out how to forward your wonderful blog entries any more!

    Hi Sally–

    Simply click on the title of the post you would like to send. When you do so it coverts to a blue color and is the permalink for that post.

    Send away.

    Best–

    MRE

  7. The French have the highest saturated fat consumption in the world and one of the lowest rates of heart disease. Of course, you’d never see that in any article on sat fat. They like to call the French diet a ‘paradox’, but many of the other European countries eat in a similar fashion and again, they have low rates of heart disease.

    I was a vegetarian for 10 years, and looked and felt awful. I was in my teens and 20s at the time and very active. When I started to add in animal products, my health improved drastically. When will the powers that be ever acknowledge the fact that there is no definitive study linking sat fat to heart disease?

    Maybe after Taubes’ book, which will take them study by study through the history of the how saturated fat wrongly came to be viewed as harmful.

  8. Hi there,

    I am writing from Melbourne Australia and recently I have embarked on a journey of renewed health and well being and I have found most interesting the topic and research into intermittent fasting (reading your journal and many other reseach) I purchased a copy of your book book “Protein Power” and you mention in this book that you shouldn’t allow yourself to get to the hungry stage – to eat several times during the day. This is where I get most confused. Do you think it’s better to eat three meals per day – fast alternative days – or eat regularly during the day? Please advise, i’m most interested in your current thoughts on this subject.

    Kind Regards
    Emma

    Hi Emma–

    When we wrote Protein Power there wasn’t any data or literature out there on intermittent fasting, so we didn’t include anything about it in that book. Since then we’ve looked at it pretty closely and like what we see. It’s probably not for everyone, but for those who get in the swing of it, it works great.

    It’s almost the opposite of going on a diet. Dieting is easy in the contemplation, but difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is difficult in the contemplation, but easy in the execution. In other words, when you contemplate starting a diet, you think of all the good foods you can have and the whole proposition seems like it will be easy, but when you actually start and are on the diet for a couple of weeks, it becomes a real pain and a drag. When you first consider intermittent fasting you think My God I can’t do this. Go without food for an entire day? Are you crazy? But then when you get going on it, you find it the easiest thing in the world.

    There is another post a few days after this one on Protein Power and intermittent fasting that you might want to read.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  9. I have read your book “Protein Power” and also read your article on Inflammation and intermittent fasting. I am interested in your recent thoughts about the amount of food one should eat per day. I see the benefits in Protein Power and also intermittent eating. Do you suggest fasting alternative days is the answer? Do you still believe never allowing yoursefl to go hungry is healthy as in your book? I am most interested to know.

    I think I already answered this in the comment on the other post.

    MRE

  10. Thank you for your prompt response. I will keep an eye out for your next post. What I am thinking of doing is mixing up my eating regime – Fasting on days followed by days of eating high protein, low carbohydrate foods. I am 27 years old and have higher levels of cholesterol but I am slim build, my dad has high cholesterol and is on tablets and my mother has high pressure and sometimes has hypertension and I used to think this was due to her concoction of tablets she is taking – Hormone replacement therapy, high blood pressure tablets, diuretics, & heart reducing tablets – actually it’s her elevated INSULIN levels or hyperinsulinemia… It’s making sense now. Her diet consists mainly of carbs – rice, hot chips & junk food…. It was very insightful to read how hyperinsulinemia is the contributing factor of these diseases and that through eating the right diet we can transform our lives and save thousands on medication. You are very insightful and I will keep you posted on my progress.
    Emma, Melb

  11. Here’s one that will get your dander up

    I just saw a spot on CNN about how “many doctors in the medical community” are beginning to recommend cholesterol screening of kids as young as 15 MONTHS.

    What’s next, Enfamil with Lipitor for babies anyone?

    You can bet some asshat from CSPI is going to be pushing a special (counter productive) “low in saturated fat” diet for nursing mothers and toddlers soon.

    No one wants to speak about the elephant in the room. No one wants to tell people to keep their kids from eating soy/trans fat/high fructose corn syrup/excesses of sugar etc. but they are happy as clams to drug them up and impairing development as much as possible. (Hell, they can always give them ritalin later, right?) No one wants to tell the nursing moms that breast is only best inasmuchas the mother who is feeding her baby is also feeding herself well.

    The world we live in…oy.

    Hi Anna–

    Nice rant…and right on the money. Worrying about the cholesterol levels of little kids and even infants is the height of absurdity.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  12. Hi – just came across this post/blog tonight, as I just finished reading Dr. Cordain’s book “the paleo diet for athletes” and was struck by his very strongly worded statements warning of the evils of “saturated fat”. Funny, I read both of your “Protein Power” books when I first started following a low carb diet (2.5 years ago), and I don’t recall you warning anyone to eat low carb but avoid the dreaded saturated “killer” fats?! I do recall you giving lots of helpful advice about omega 6/omega 3 balance that I attempt to follow till this very day though. I read his book because I am now up to 30 miles/week of running (I would add that I had never been able to run more than about 35 minutes pre-low-carb without getting unjured) — and I am trying to get info on how/when to include carbs in the diet to recover from the hour/plus running efforts I am now doing weekly. He does have great, specific advice about that in his book, which I sincerely hope is more accurate than the advice to cut the fat off your meat and replace it with canola oil (please pass me the ribeye fat, Dr. Cordain)… Thanks again for all your helpful advice, I cured a very gnarly case of 4+ year intestinal/stomach/GERD problems, LITERALLY OVERNIGHT, simply by following your previous books’ advice, and have never looked back since, very highly appreciated.

    Hi Gary–

    Thanks for the kind words about Protein Power.

    If you are running an hour plus, I don’t think it will hurt you to consume a few carbs during recovery. I would stick to starchy foods that provide mainly glucose and avoid foods containing sugar or HFCS.

    Best–

    MRE

  13. Dr. Eades, I believe I recall you claiming in the past that there is not a single valid double-blind study showing that saturated fat contributes to heart disease or mortality. It has since occurred to me that one way to bring this to the attention of the public would be to offer a reward to anyone who can produce such a study, similar to the Amazing Randi’s reward offer for anyone who can demonstrate supernatural abilities. The reward could start out small and a charitable foundation could be created to increase the size of the reward.

    Thanks for being a candle in the dark.

    I think such an reward would be great. All we’ve got to do is set it up.

    Cheers–

    MRE