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From: Doug (
Subject:         Re: Article on Saturated Fats
Date: December 14, 2007 at 12:00 pm PST

In Reply to: Article on Saturated Fats posted by Brian on December 13, 2007 at 4:44 pm:

Hmm, I just heard an apparent excerpt from the cited article on the radio:

"We've spent billions of our tax dollars trying to prove the diet-heart hypothesis. Yet study after study has failed to provide definitive evidence that saturated-fat intake leads to heart disease. The most recent example is the Women's Health Initiative, the government's largest and most expensive ($725 million) diet study yet. The results, published last year, show that a diet low in total fat and saturated fat had no impact in reducing heart-disease and stroke rates in some 20,000 women who had adhered to the regimen for an average of 8 years.

"But this paper, like many others, plays down its own findings and instead points to four studies that, many years ago, apparently did find a link between saturated fat and heart disease. Because of this, it's worth taking a closer look at each."

Source --

I did some googling and found some interesting qualifications in the reported results of the Women's Health Initiative study at

Under the heading "Description and Overview" --

"The Dietary Study researched the effect of a low-fat (20% of calories), and high fruit, vegetable, and grain diet on breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and heart disease in postmenopausal women. Women were randomized (assigned by chance) to either a Dietary Change (intervention) group or a Comparison group, making this the largest randomized clinical trial of low-fat diet ever conducted....

Starting from an average of about 35% energy from fat at the time they joined the study, women in the Dietary Change group reduced their fat intake to 24% of total calories by the end of the first year. By the end of the study, their average intake was 29% energy from fat."

Note -- not everyone would call 24% to 29% a "low fat" diet!

Under the heading "Cardiovascular Disease (Heart attack and Stroke) Findings"

"The most likely explanation for the lack of a statistically significant effect on heart disease is that the dietary pattern reduced all types of fat, in order to test whether reduction in total fat prevents breast cancer. It was anticipated that reducing total fat would also lead to reductions in saturated fat with a consequent lowering of blood cholesterol. The lowering of blood cholesterol in Dietary Change participants was less than anticipated, and therefore there was no effect on heart disease. A diet designed to reduce risk of heart disease would focus specifically on reducing saturated and trans fats, and would not reduce polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Studies have shown that such a diet leads to lower blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease."

The cited MSNBC/Men's Health magazine excerpt was very selective in its reporting of the study, to say the least.

FWIW, I've often found that "Mainstream Media" citations of health studies are not really reliable and that is often wise to read the cited study for myself.

Rodale publishes "Men's Health" mag which tends to emphasize very high protein, relatively low fat diets.

Rodale also publishes "Prevention" which has a much lower emphasis on protein. Odd that they seem to tailor their dietary recommendations towards their target demographics.

Doesn't seem altogether scientific. Seems almost like targeted marketing, masquerading as journalism...

For a different perspective on the same study, Dr. McDougall calls it a "A Clear Case Against Moderation" in

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