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Saturated Fat Debate and the Reliability of Scientific Studies

Posted Sep 01 2010 1:51pm
While going through my email box this morning, I ran into an old Metabolism Society Newsletter. The articles were focused on saturated fat and the fallacy that it causes heart disease.

Not really news for low carbers.

I did find it interesting that the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in connection with the World Health Organization (WHO) studied the issue way back in 2008 and came to some new conclusions. At least, new for them, and probably new for most medical authorities.

Their findings were published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, " Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition ," 55:(1-3), 2009. But I wasn't able to get into the full length report - either because my computer froze up on me (I have badly damaged RAM), or because the availability was taken down due to the nature of the report.

I was able to get into the introduction (that's what the link leads to) that did claim that "today we have a better understanding of how particular fatty acids are metabolized in the body" and that "Fats and fatty acids are now considered key nutrients affecting both early growth and development, as well as nutrition-related chronic diseases later in life."

However, I couldn't verify the information where they stated that saturated fatty acid intake is not associated with coronary heart disease events, nor that fatal coronary heart disease was not reduced by low fat diets. If someone is able to get into it and verify that info, I'd appreciate a heads-up.

I was able to get into a meta-analysis that came to the same conclusion: that there is insufficient evidence from scientific studies to date to be able to conclude that saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, or even coronary artery disease. And that does back up Gary Taubes' opinion.

But don't get your hopes up that the truth will be coming out any time soon, because these researchers also found what appeared to be publication bias. Studies that showed associations between saturated fat and heart disease tended to be received more favorably for publication, and those that didn't never made it into print.

That sheds some pretty disturbing light onto scientific studies as a whole, doesn't it, and the conclusions that are drawn from those studies. How can they be trusted when they aren't likely to be published unless they tow the party line?

I'd read awhile back the opinion that scientific studies are always slanted toward the findings that those funding the study want to find, and that they are manipulated and even falsified to that end; but since the source was controversial, I didn't know if that was true or not.

But now...I'm not so sure that it isn't.

It's more than a little disturbing, to say the least, that we can't actually get the health information we need; like why many of us stop losing weight part-way to goal, no matter what we do. And it's downright crazy if scientific journals are adverse to publishing studies that don't side with what authorities want us to believe. Or do.

Because that means many of us will have to continue hanging out to dry - until someone important deems it necessary for the public to know the truth. Could be an awfully long wait....
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