Crumb Trail
     an impermanent travelogue
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another one, or three, bites the dust.

Despite findings being announced this week that a low-fat diet introduced in the middle-age years didn't reduce the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke or colon cancer, one of the researchers says people still need to focus on the types of fat they eat. The national diet study of almost 50,000 healthy postmenopausal women was part of the massive Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study.

The hypothesis that low-fat diets could help reduce the risk of certain diseases had been assumed, but never tested. . .

Nationally, the WHI enrolled 157,000 women between 50 and 79 years old at 40 clinical centers, making it the largest clinical trial ever undertaken in the United States. . . Women were 50 to 79 years old when the study began and were followed for an average of 8.1 years.

Ok, so low fat doesn't help women 50-79 years old avoid breast cancer, heart disease, stroke or colon cancer. But there are still ways to dis fat. In addition to parsing the type of fat, it's possible that these women might have been more healthy had they started fat consciousness earlier in life.
Vitolins said one explanation for the results is that the low-fat diet was designed to reduce total fat and didn't make a distinction between good fats, such as those found in nuts, fish, and vegetables oils, and bad fats, such as the saturated fat in meats and the trans fat used in baked goods and potato chips.

"The study was testing the belief that lowering total fat would reduce the risk of cancer," said Vitolins. "Since the study began, we've learned a lot more about how the types of fats we consume make a difference." . .

"Our diets start when we are born and it makes sense that what you eat over a lifetime will make a difference," she said.

Make a difference. That seems likely, but will it make a measurable difference or is it like the untested belief that was disproved with this study?

There have been animal tests done that show that dietary fat amount and type matters, but the tests are usually amateurish in spite of being done by scientists because they often don't distinguish one type of fat from another or know what foods contain what. Consider the statement above: "good fats, such as those found in nuts, fish, and vegetables oils, and bad fats, such as the saturated fat in meats. . ." Some vegetable oils are full of nasty fats and some meats are full of good fats. Some fish have insignificant amounts of good fats and others give you a dose of heavy metals along with those good fats.

What matters is what the animal ate. If it ate junk food - nasty vegetable oils and grain starches - it will have junk food flesh. This is true for both fish and meat but the fish also have the toxic chemical problem from polluted water.

Maybe if enough studies show that the current advice is worthless the advice will improve? Maybe they will get to the point where they actually give good advice? Nah, never happen.

posted by back40 | 2/07/2006 06:40:00 PM


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