Ever since 1953 when a physiologist named Ancel Keys, Ph.D. compared fat intake and deaths from heart disease in seven countries including the U.S., the American medical establishment has clung to an unproven belief that saturated fat was evil.
But in 1957, Jacob Yerushalmy, Ph.D. established this research was false and that Keys was guilty of only reporting the data that fit his hypothesis that elevated cholesterol lead to heart disease.
While Dr. Keys used data from seven countries, he actually had statistics from 22 countries available. And when scientists analyzed all 22 of those statistics, the apparent link between cholesterol intake and heart disease disappeared.
This new study is a meta-analysis of the 21 existing studies of 347,747 healthy people of whom 11,006 suffered a heart attack or stroke during the course of the studies examining the relationship between saturated fat intake and heart disease. This meta-analysis combines all the unique and relevant “prospective epidemiologic studies of saturated fat intake and the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke” that exist. combining the data gives it much more statistical power to determine if there is a real cause-and-effect between fat intake and heart disease or stroke.
This study concluded that there is no significant evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery heart disease or strokes.
The authors of this study state, “Our results suggested publication bias, such that studies with significant associations [between fat intake and heart disease or stroke] tended to be received more favorably for publication.” They further stated if other unpublished studies that failed to show any connection between cholesterol levels and heart disease were included in the current analysis, the pooled risk of cholesterol leading to heart attacks and strokes would be about zero.
Of additional interest is that many of these trials demonstrated an increase risk in cancer in those participants who ate a lower fat diet. Read my post on obesity and cancer to find out why that might be.
If you are interested in reading the entire sordid story about how the American population was feed misguided advice, I suggest reading the book, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Its a fascinating read.