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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Low-Fat Study: Full of Baloney?
A new study was prominently touted on TV yesterday and in newspapers today. Its conclusion: A low-fat diet didn't help post-menopausal women cut their risk of cancer or even heart disease. Sorry, but this study has several major flaws.
(1) Only total fat intake was tracked, with no regard for cutting "bad" fats (saturated, trans). And we all know people, if allowed, would rather cut salad dressing than fries.
(2) Eight years isn't long enough to show much effect on cancer, which can take 20 years or more to develop.
(3) The goal attained, an average of 29 percent of calories from fats, isn't really that "low," and not impressively different than the control group's 37 percent. The reportedly beneficial Dean Ornish and Pritikin diets aim for 10 percent. And if 29 was the average, how many participants weren't "low" at all?
(4) Can you really trust people to accurately know and honestly report what they're eating? C'mon, be serious. Admitting scarfing extra brownies can be embarrassing.

Said Meir Stampfer, chair of the epidemiology department of the Harvard School of Public Health: "We have known all this for a long time, which is why this extremely expensive diet trial part of the Women's Health Initiative failed scientific peer review when it was proposed, and only was funded by political intervention by Congress. It never had much scientific merit because it was not testing a good diet." More expert comments.


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