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For Immediate Release
GLOBAL MEDICINE HUNTER NEWS
Dr. Meg Jordan
SAN FRANCISCO)---A new examination of older research on dietary fats may startle those of you who love to snack on greasy popcorn saturated with vegetable oils (such as, safflower, corn, canola oils known as polyunsaturated fatty acids). You may be better off having some old-fashioned saturated fats, like a bowl of ice cream.
February is National Heart month, and this new meta-analysis of research done decades ago was just released by the British Journal of Medicine. Researchers found that the use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease should be roundly questioned.
We've been warned for years to avoid saturated fats (fats from animal products—meat and dairy) and instead, favor the vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fats, PUFAs); however, doing so is linked to an increased risk of death among patients with pre-existing heart disease.
We are long overdue in updating dietary recommendations, and we can start with those issued from the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Dr. Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, CWP, a behavioral medicine specialist and clinical medical anthropologist at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Authors of the British Medical Journal article just released today, reported that an in-depth analysis of the effects of linoleic acid on deaths from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease has not previously been possible because data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study - a randomised controlled trial conducted from 1966 to 1973 - was missing.
But now, a team of researchers from the US and Australia have recovered and analyzed the original data from this trial, using modern statistical methods to compare death rates from all causes, cardiovascular, and coronary heart disease.
Their analysis involved 458 men aged 30-59 years who had recently had a coronary event, such as a heart attack or an episode of angina.
Participants were randomly divided into two groups. The intervention group was instructed to reduce saturated fats (from animal fats, common margarines and shortenings) to less than 10% of energy intake and to increase linoleic acid (from safflower oil and safflower oil polyunsaturated margarine) to 15% of energy intake. Safflower oil is a concentrated source of omega-6 linoleic acid and provides no omega-3 PUFAs.
The control group received no specific dietary advice. Both groups had regular assessments and completed food diaries for an average of 39 months. All non-dietary aspects of the study were designed to be equal in both groups.
The results show that the omega-6 linoleic acid group had a higher risk of death from all causes, as well as from cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, compared with the control group.
The authors then used the new data to update an earlier meta-analysis (a review of all the evidence). This also showed no evidence of benefit, and suggested a possible increased risk of cardiovascular disease, emphasizing the need to rethink mechanisms linking diet to heart disease.
The researchers conclude that recovery of these missing data "has filled a critical gap in the published literature archive" and that these findings "could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega-6 linoleic acid (or polyunsaturated fatty acids in general) for saturated fatty acids."
In an accompanying editorial, Professor Philip Calder from the University of Southampton says the new analysis of these old data "provides important information about the impact of high intakes of omega 6 PUFAs, in particular linoleic acid, on cardiovascular mortality at a time when there is considerable debate on this question."
Calder says the findings argue against the "saturated fat bad, omega 6 PUFA good" dogma and suggest that the American Heart Association guidelines on omega-6 PUFAs may be misguided. They also "underscore the need to properly align dietary advice and recommendations with the scientific evidence base."
Prof. Jim Cross, ND, LAc, who teaches in the Integrative Health Studies M.A. program chaired by Prof. Jordan, stated, "The whole Prudent Diet Hypothesis, which demonized butter and eggs, evolved when noting that rabbit cholesterol levels were elevated after the animals were fed cholesterol." This is an absurd hypothesis since cholesterol is completely absent from the rabbit's natural diet!"
Jordan is hopeful that US dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association to increase the intake of omega-6 PUFAs will be halted, as doctors ponder the significance of this meta-analysis. "It is just one more indictment of the false premise that PUFAs were a panacea for lipid management and weight control. We've seen worsening heart disease and incessant weight gain ever since the American diet has proportionately taken in more calories from PUFAs."
For more details, go to bmj.com/open-data
Research: Christopher Ramsden, Clinical Investigator, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA?Tel: +1 919 381 7630?Email: email@example.com
Editorial: Philip C Calder, Professor of Nutritional Immunology, Human Development and Health Academic Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK?Tel: +44 (0)23 8079 5250?Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dr. Meg Jordan is a clinical medical anthropologist, Professor and Department Chair of Integrative Health Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies. email@example.com