For many years I have published critical reviews and comments about the misleading dietary advices we have got from the leaders of the cholesterol campaign. Last month Rajiv Chowdhury at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge and his coworkers published a review of all observational and experimental studies about dietary fats. Not unexpected, at least not for me, they found no evidence for the view that too much fat in our diet increases the risk of heart disease.
Their paper made a headline in New York Times and in many other newspapers all over the world and was followed by violent criticism from many scientists. The critics found some errors and required that the paper should be retracted. The authors corrected the errors, but the corrections did not change the result, and the authors withheld their view: “In conclusion, the pattern of findings from this analysis did not yield clearly supportive evidence for current cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of saturated fats.”
You can read more about this story in the magazine Science.
Shortly afterwards Renata Micha from Harvard and her coworkers from various institutions in the US and UK published a review in British Medical Journal about the intake of dietary fats in various countries. They did not specify which fats they considered as beneficial or unhealthy, and in the abstract they concluded the following: “These novel global data on dietary fats and oils identify dramatic diversity across nations and inform policies and priorities for improving global health.”
True, but there is no doubt about which types of fat they considered unhealthy; this appears from table 2 and from their references to the medical literature. You can read more about that in my comment to their paper and Renata Micha´s answer (click on Responses).
A curious fact is that the Harvard scientist Dariush Mozaffarian, one of the most eager proponents of the idea that saturated fat should be exchanged with polyunsaturated fat, was coauthor of both papers. According to the “Author contributions” to Chowdhury et al.s paper his role was to make a “critical revision of the article for important intellectual content”. He was also the main author of a study published ten years ago about the diet of elderly women with heart disease. The authors followed the women for three years and found that atherosclerosis in those who ate the smallest amounts of saturated fat and the largest amounts of carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats had worsened the most.
It is not too easy to change one´s mind.
The truth about the statins is also approaching. Here comes a link to an excellent video about the dangerous misinformatins about statin treatment. Read also the publisher´s detailed description of the video. A large step forwards, although some of the critics still seem to be afraid of high cholesterol and saturated fat.
Read also our member Malcolm Kendrick´s comment to statin treatment in The Guardian.