Skip to comments.Say 'No' to Bad Science
Posted on 05/06/2014 4:32:36 AM PDT by Kaslin
The headline looks like a hoax-- saturated fat does not cause heart disease -- but it's real. This news is more than just another example of changing health guidelines; it's a cautionary tale about trusting the scientific consensus.
For more than 50 years, the best scientific minds in America assured us that saturated fat was the enemy. Animal fat, we were instructed, was the chief culprit in causing obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Throughout my adult life, I have conscientiously followed the guidelines dispensed by the health arbiters of our age. Trusting utterly in the scientific research of the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, I accepted the nearly universal wisdom of the medical and nutritional experts.
Boy, did I accept. I practically banned red meat from my diet for decades. Butter? Only on special occasions. Cream? Do they still make it? Lean chicken, turkey and fish, combined with complex carbohydrates and, of course, lots of fruits and vegetables were the ticket, I was certain, to the best odds of avoiding heart disease, diabetes and cancer. When the Atkins diet craze swept the country, I shook my head sadly, half expecting my friends who indulged in it to keel over from heart attacks.
Now, the Annals of Internal Medicine declares that beef, butter and cream do not cause heart disease. Women whose total cholesterol levels are high live longer than those with lower levels.
This is not just reminiscent of Woody Allen's 1973 movie "Sleeper" -- it's nearly word for word. In the future, Allen joked, wheat germ and organic honey would kill you but "deep fat, cream pies and steak" would be regarded as health-enhancing.
How could the experts have been so wrong for so long?
Nina Teicholz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, notes that "there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias."
It seems that the founding father of the saturated fat theory was a sloppy researcher. In the 1950s, Ancel Benjamin Keys studied men in the U.S., Japan and Europe and concluded that poor diet caused heart disease and other pathologies. He examined farmers living in Crete, Teicholz writes, but studied them during Lent, when they had given up meat and cheese for religious reasons. Still, Keys was apparently charismatic and convincing, and while subsequent research was mixed on the question of fats, cholesterol and disease, the whole nutritional/governmental blob had become too committed to the low-fat orthodoxy to turn back easily.
From the initial anathematizing of eggs, dairy and fat, the experts have been slowly walking it all back. First, eggs were removed from the evil list. Next, we were told dietary cholesterol actually didn't seem to be correlated with blood cholesterol at all. Then the experts explained that some fats weren't bad, and wait, that olive oil was positively good for you. And so on. Today we've nearly arrived at Allen's future. A breakfast of eggs and bacon is, according to the newest understanding, no worse for you than oatmeal. (Though sugar remains forbidden.)
Arguably, the health establishment's embrace of the wrong ideas about nutrition have made the U.S. fatter and sicker than we might otherwise have been. We've increased our consumption of carbohydrates by 25 percent since the 1970s, which may be the reason that Type 2 diabetes is reaching epidemic levels. The switch to vegetable oil from butter and lard may have increased rates of cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
The moral of this story is not to ignore science but to stay skeptical. The scientific method remains the best way yet devised to ascertain truth. But the scientific establishment is hardly immune to politics, fads, bias and self-interest. Bad science is endemic. As The Economist magazine noted in October, "half of all published research cannot be replicated ... and that may be optimistic."
Our experience with nutrition science over the past half-century should arm us with doubt about climate science, too. The point is not to ignore scientific data but to treat all studies, models and predictions with a degree of skepticism. Don't accept the argument from authority: That the entire medical establishment endorsed the war on saturated fat did not make it true.
But, but, but there was a consensus. Doesn’t that make it settled science?
97% at least.
There was once ‘settled’ science for ‘bleeding’ as a therapeutic approach, and few would have believed that a bacterium could cause ulcers.
I’m hoping that as more of the bad dietary science of the last 30 years is debunked and cast into history’s refuse bin, we can finally get to real science in understanding obesity, its causes, and how best to combat it.
I’ve been overweight/obese my entire life except a stretch of 5 years when I tried Atkins/keto and dropped 150 lbs. My love of beer and fried food along with marrying a great woman helped to pack on the pounds again, but I always say that I remember what I did to get where I was and could do it again.
I hope science can prove to my wife that I wasn’t crazy and that we can live on meat and vegetables alone. Starches and carbohydrates are not our friends, and I believe time will prove that to be a truth. Fat is our friend.
But fat comes from animals and animals are people too and it’s not fair to those who can’t eat animals and corporations kill animals and killing animals is like killing earths children and killing earths children is killing the planet through CLIMATE CHANGE!
Science: Always changing its mind
‘Fat is our friend.’ Yes it is and this is just one more battle we have to overcome. I wonder when Mrs. Obama will come out with new guidelines for the school children.
No bread or sugar is a good starting place.
Why Butter Is Better
Butter & Heart Disease
Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America’s number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America’s best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.
Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.
Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant—containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ.
Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals—usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils.3 A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.4
Some say margarine is better for us. Some say butter is.
Here’s one mans experience. I eat whatever I want. I love fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, beef, lamb, every cheese I’ve ever tried except those repulsive slices calledAmerican cheese, olive oil, butter and chocolate. For some reason pork products don’t agree with me. I can’t stomach ham, bacon or anything from a pig. Other than pork, I’ll eat and enjoy almost anything in any quantity I want. My cholesterol is too high, my blood pressure is low, I’m 6’2” and weigh 185 lbs. with a 34” waist. I’ve outlived two doctors so far and I feel fine.
One day, an ME is going to have to put a cause of death on a death certificate for me. I don’t want it to be boredom.
” Bacon, cheerens...Eat your bacon and be happy. Don’ be eatin that whole wheat stuff no...Eat yore bacon. Let’s move!”
...We've increased our consumption of carbohydrates by 25 percent since the 1970s, which may be the reason that Type 2 diabetes is reaching epidemic levels.
I've long ignored that bit about eggs and bacon (you can add sausage, too). Diabetes is rampant through my family but I don't have it, partly because I watch my weight.
A stupid question, I know.
“4 out of 5 doctors recommend non-filter Camels”.
This is great testimony if you are over 40 years old.
It would be greater if you were over 50.
Greater still were you over 70.
Years ago my wife and I drove my mother-in-law to a convention of the ADA, an organization of dieticians. My two sisters-in-law are registered dieticians who were always lecturing me on the evils of eating fill-in-the-blank. I didn’t pay much attention to either of them because both of them are nitwits.
I did get to see the people attending the convention. I was shocked by the number of obese dietitians. (For the record, both of my sister-in-law were three women in one redlining the scale.)
I am old enough to remember milk and eggs were nature’s nearly perfect foods. They then became evil and now are once again nature’s nearly perfect foods.
My take away on dieticians is that most of them are stupid people who think they are scientists. They are the type of people who fall for all sort of scams like Globull Warming and machines that “change” the pH of water making it “ideal” for human consumption.
You poor soul...
“Bacon tastes good, Porkchops taste Gooood”
That is so sad! I read your post aloud, under the shade of a mighty oak, and it morphed into a weeping willow.