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Old 02-09-2006, 06:35 AM   #1
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Study: Low-Fat Diets Don't Cut Health Risks

Not sure if FYM is really the place for this, but I'm in a posting mood...so....
Quote:
Chances a low-fat diet will help? Slim and none

By Gina Kolata
The New York Times
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2006


NEW YORK-- The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women aged 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers reported Wednesday.

"These studies are revolutionary," said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. "They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy."

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday, was not just an ordinary study, said Dr. Michael Thun, who directs epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society. It was so large and so expensive, Thun said, that it was "the Rolls-Royce of studies." As such, he added, it is likely to be the final word. "We usually have only one shot at a very large-scale trial on a particular issue," he said.

The study was part of the Women's Health Initiative of the National Institutes of Health, the program that showed that hormone therapy after menopause might have more risks than benefits.

The results, the study investigators agreed, do not justify recommending low-fat diets to the public to reduce their heart disease and cancer risk. The investigators added that the best dietary advice was to follow federal guidelines for healthy eating--less saturated fats and trans fats, more grains and more fruits and vegetables.

Not everyone was convinced. Some, like Dr. Dean Ornish, a longtime promoter of low-fat diets and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, said that the women did not reduce their fat to low enough levels or eat enough fruits and vegetables. He also said the study, even at eight years, did not give the diets enough time.

Others said that diet could still make a difference, at least with heart disease, if people were to eat the so-called Mediterranean diet, low in saturated fats like butter and high in oils like olive oil. The women in the study reduced all kinds of fat.

The diets studied "had an antique patina," said Dr. Peter Libby, a cardiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School. These days, Libby said, most people have moved on from the idea of controlling total fat to the idea that people should eat different kinds of fat.

But the Mediterranean diet has not been subjected to a study of this scope, researchers said.

Barbara Howard, an epidemiologist at MedStar Research Institute, a nonprofit hospital group, and a principal investigator in the study, said people should realize that diet alone was not enough to stay healthy. "We are not going to reverse any of the chronic diseases in this country by changing the composition of the diet," Howard said. "People are always thinking it's what they ate. They are not looking at how much they ate or that they smoke or that they are sedentary."

Except for not smoking, the evidence for advice on what makes a healthy lifestyle is largely indirect, Howard said. Most medical researchers agree, however, that it also makes sense for people to eat well, control their weight and get regular exercise.

That is also what the cancer society recommends. Thun, who described the study's results as "completely null over the eight-year follow-up for both cancers and heart disease," said his group had no plans to suggest that low-fat diets were going to protect against cancer.

Others cautioned against being too certain that any particular diet would markedly improve health and noted that whether someone developed a chronic disease might not be entirely under their control - genetics also matters.

David Freedman, a statistician at the University of California, Berkeley, who is not connected with the study but has written books on the design and analysis of clinical trials, said the results should be taken seriously.

In this case, the diet study addressed a tricky problem. For decades, many scientists have said, and many in the public have believed, that what people eat determines how likely they are to get a chronic disease. But that has been hard to prove. Studies of dietary fiber and colon cancer failed to find that fiber was protective, and studies of vitamins thought to protect against cancer didn't show an effect.

Gradually, many cancer researchers began questioning large parts of the diet-cancer hypothesis, but it has retained a hold on the public imagination. "Nothing fascinates the American public so much as the notion that what you eat rather than how much you eat affects your health," said Libby.

The new study found that women who were randomly assigned to follow a low-fat diet ate significantly less fat over the next eight years. But they had just as much breast and colon cancer and just as much heart disease.

The women were not trying to lose weight, and their weights remained fairly steady. But their experiences with the diets allowed researchers to question some popular notions about diet and obesity.

There is a common belief that Americans get fat because they eat too many carbohydrates. The idea is that a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet leads to weight gain, higher insulin and blood glucose levels, and more diabetes, even if the calories are the same as in a higher-fat diet. That did not happen in the study.

Others have said the opposite: that low-fat diets enable people to lose weight naturally. But again, that belief was not supported by the data in the study.

As for heart disease risk factors, the only one affected was LDL cholesterol, which increases heart disease risk. The levels were slightly higher in women eating the higher-fat diet, but not high enough to make a noticeable difference in their risk of heart disease.

Although all the study participants were women, the colon cancer and heart disease results should also apply to men, said Dr. Jacques Rossouw, the project officer for the Women's Health Initiative.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:43 AM   #2
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I read this article twice over, and for the life of me.........there is no alternative...... figures.
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Old 02-09-2006, 08:38 AM   #3
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I think the clear message is portion control.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:29 AM   #4
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I'm surprised they didn't mention the evils of many processed foods.

Chemical preservatives and chemical fat replacements etc are big contributors to our outrageously increasing cancer rates.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I think the clear message is portion control.

I agree. And exercise.


So, I guess instead of ordering the 100x100, I could order the 50x50.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by AliEnvy
I'm surprised they didn't mention the evils of many processed foods.

Chemical preservatives and chemical fat replacements etc are big contributors to our outrageously increasing cancer rates.




avoid corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils at all costs. (stupid sugar tariffs)

it's not about fat, it's about artificiality.

and exercise. stop driving and walk. ride a bike. take the stairs. try to get at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, more is better. go swimming.
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Old 02-09-2006, 10:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511




avoid corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils at all costs. (stupid sugar tariffs)

it's not about fat, it's about artificiality.

and exercise. stop driving and walk. ride a bike. take the stairs. try to get at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, more is better. go swimming.


I love my power walks and pilates.
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Old 02-09-2006, 10:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

avoid corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils at all costs. (stupid sugar tariffs)
Both of those are found in baby formula...all brands...of all things.
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Old 02-09-2006, 11:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by AliEnvy


Both of those are found in baby formula...all brands...of all things.

bad, bad, bad.
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Old 02-09-2006, 07:55 PM   #10
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All of this Food Police and The For-Your-Good Health Storm Troopers propaganda we have been bombarded with for years and years seems to be suggesting that we have some control over how long we live.

It's false.

I had a friend who never smoked, drank, and did all the proper thaings to take care of herself and she died at the age of 34 from breast cancer.

A neigbor I know smoked cigarettes from the age of twelve and died at the age of 98(he was still smoking cigs) from natural causes.

My great-uncle was a farmer all his life. He ate garden grown vegetables, raised his own cattle, chickens, and pigs.

His wife seasoned all the veggies with fatback.

He smoked ocassiobally, chewed tobacco, and smoked a fine cigar every now and then.

He died from all of this very unproper behavior at the age of 107.


My point is, I agree that we should exercise and do our best to not go to any extreme in our diet,

but I think Saint Paul gave some very good advice"


"Moderation in all things."


And we should always remember that how long we live and when we die is something we do not control.
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Old 02-09-2006, 10:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by the iron horse
All of this Food Police and The For-Your-Good Health Storm Troopers propaganda we have been bombarded with for years and years seems to be suggesting that we have some control over how long we live.

It's false.

I had a friend who never smoked, drank, and did all the proper thaings to take care of herself and she died at the age of 34 from breast cancer.

A neigbor I know smoked cigarettes from the age of twelve and died at the age of 98(he was still smoking cigs) from natural causes.

My great-uncle was a farmer all his life. He ate garden grown vegetables, raised his own cattle, chickens, and pigs.

His wife seasoned all the veggies with fatback.

He smoked ocassiobally, chewed tobacco, and smoked a fine cigar every now and then.

He died from all of this very unproper behavior at the age of 107.


My point is, I agree that we should exercise and do our best to not go to any extreme in our diet,

but I think Saint Paul gave some very good advice"


"Moderation in all things."


And we should always remember that how long we live and when we die is something we do not control.
Here here!

Personally, I'm getting fed up with all these diet Nazis hyping up the "food-that-will-kill-you-next" propoganda and the next diet fad.
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by the iron horse
All of this Food Police and The For-Your-Good Health Storm Troopers propaganda we have been bombarded with for years and years seems to be suggesting that we have some control over how long we live.

It's false.

I had a friend who never smoked, drank, and did all the proper thaings to take care of herself and she died at the age of 34 from breast cancer.

A neigbor I know smoked cigarettes from the age of twelve and died at the age of 98(he was still smoking cigs) from natural causes.

My great-uncle was a farmer all his life. He ate garden grown vegetables, raised his own cattle, chickens, and pigs.

His wife seasoned all the veggies with fatback.

He smoked ocassiobally, chewed tobacco, and smoked a fine cigar every now and then.

He died from all of this very unproper behavior at the age of 107.


My point is, I agree that we should exercise and do our best to not go to any extreme in our diet,

but I think Saint Paul gave some very good advice"


"Moderation in all things."


And we should always remember that how long we live and when we die is something we do not control.


i am sure we can all pull out our little anecdotes -- the health nut who dies of lung cancer and the chain smoker who lives to be 90.

the fact remains: you are what you eat.

make good decisions, both for your body and for the earth itself.
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Old 02-10-2006, 10:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
i am sure we can all pull out our little anecdotes -- the health nut who dies of lung cancer and the chain smoker who lives to be 90.

the fact remains: you are what you eat.

make good decisions, both for your body and for the earth itself.
We know we should make good decisions, the issues is "what constitutes a good decision?" After years of demonizing fat, a lengthy study shows no material difference between "healthy" eaters and people with no dietary limitations - seriously questioning the notion that "we are what we eat".
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Old 02-10-2006, 10:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


We know we should make good decisions, the issues is "what constitutes a good decision?" After years of demonizing fat, a lengthy study shows no material difference between "healthy" eaters and people with no dietary limitations - seriously questioning the notion that "we are what we eat".


because it's not about fat, its about what kinds of fat, and more importantly, how artificial your food is.

we can also go through this article and debate all of these words -- what kind of fat? what is "healthy" eating? what is a low-fat diet? what are the possible other factors not tested in the study?

it seems quite common sensical that you are what you eat. compare cancer rates and longevity on, say, Okinawa and then compare it to, say, Ohio, our fattest state. it makes little sense to read every study and do a diet overhaul each time something new comes out, but it makes total sense to eat fresh, nautral foods, seasonally if at all possible, and keep things like saturated fats, sugar, corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated oils as low as possible (if not totally eradicated).

i think the problem is that we seem to be looking for a diet as an answer or a solution. it is one component of a lifestyle that one can adopt that probably -- but of course not definitely -- help one live longer and healthier. on a personal note, i've changed my diet fairly dramatically over the past year or so, not only what i eat but when i eat, and i've seen a noticeable difference in both the weight i've lost and in my complexion.
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Old 02-10-2006, 10:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
it seems quite common sensical that you are what you eat. compare cancer rates and longevity on, say, Okinawa and then compare it to, say, Ohio, our fattest state. it makes little sense to read every study and do a diet overhaul each time something new comes out, but it makes total sense to eat fresh, nautral foods, seasonally if at all possible, and keep things like saturated fats, sugar, corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated oils as low as possible (if not totally eradicated).
Missing from the equation is genetic make-up of the people in the two locations.

I know there are many "studies" which point us in different directions. And many result in new diet changes, even though the studies may involve small numbers of people over relatively short periods of time.

I would tend to give more emphasis on a study of this magnitude, but didn't sit down to a plateful of Oreos to celebrate.

Perhaps it is a matter of being in tuned with how your body responds to different foods. I've also eliminated many of the same things you cite from my diet and generally feel better.
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Old 02-10-2006, 11:13 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


Missing from the equation is genetic make-up of the people in the two locations.

I know there are many "studies" which point us in different directions. And many result in new diet changes, even though the studies may involve small numbers of people over relatively short periods of time.

I would tend to give more emphasis on a study of this magnitude, but didn't sit down to a plateful of Oreos to celebrate.

Perhaps it is a matter of being in tuned with how your body responds to different foods. I've also eliminated many of the same things you cite from my diet and generally feel better.


i also wonder how genetic make-up is influence by generations of particular diets? are people in Okinawa less likely to get cancer because of how they themselves eat, or is it because of how their parents and grandparents and so on have eaten have made their offspring more or less genetically predisposed to cancer? what affect does diet, over generations, have on genetics?

i suppose i find all studies like this to be interesting, yet ultimately they usually have little affect on my eating habits. i think broad lifestyle changes work best, and it simply makes logical sense, to me, to avoid processed foods as much as possible. fast food can't be good food, can it? if it sits in a vending machine for 6 months, how good could it be for you?
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Old 02-10-2006, 01:42 PM   #17
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Quote:
The investigators added that the best dietary advice was to follow federal guidelines for healthy eating--less saturated fats and trans fats, more grains and more fruits and vegetables.

Not everyone was convinced. Some, like Dr. Dean Ornish, a longtime promoter of low-fat diets and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, said that the women did not reduce their fat to low enough levels or eat enough fruits and vegetables. He also said the study, even at eight years, did not give the diets enough time.

Others said that diet could still make a difference, at least with heart disease, if people were to eat the so-called Mediterranean diet, low in saturated fats like butter and high in oils like olive oil. The women in the study reduced all kinds of fat.

The diets studied "had an antique patina," said Dr. Peter Libby, a cardiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School. These days, Libby said, most people have moved on from the idea of controlling total fat to the idea that people should eat different kinds of fat.
This is the most important section.

See, the problem with non-medical people (i.e., the media) interpreting medical studies, coming up with a one-line headline like "Low-Fat Diet Doesn't Affect Health," and then spreading it all around---is that it twists what's actually in the study and confuses everybody.

I'm in my final 2 months of medical school, and one of the most important things I've learned in these 8 years of studying medical material is that one must read into what's really presented in a study that makes big claims.

Reading into this one, you'll see that the study was flawed in that they only decreased total fat---but paid no attention to what kinds of fat they kept or took out. That's a huge flaw. The problem is that the study began well over 8 years ago. Since that time, it's become much more widely known that different types of fat affect cholesterol & other negative factors differently.

To assume that diet doesn't affect health based on the results of this study is pretty daggone ignorant. Iron Horse, your great uncle ate veggies seasoned with fatback, but he also grew his own veggies and raised his own livestock----doesn't sound like he ate many things with preservatives or synthesized chemicals, and I'll bet that "seasoning" things with fatback still resulted in less daily fat intake than a Big Mac every day. And certainly, a cigar now and then won't kill you. As you say, everything in moderation for sure! And while we do not have total control over our health or when we die--we don't have a total lack of control, either. I can stand in front of a train right now and have a pretty good amount of control then!

Irvine---just about everything you've suggested is spot-on.

I will add a thought about genetics.... It's a pretty common cop-out these days to use genetics as an excuse for one's current health. "My dad had high cholesterol, so that's why I have it." "My whole family's overweight---it must be genetics." Sure, there's a genetic cause of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)----but if you have this rare condition, your cholesterol will be well over 500, not something in the 200s! for weight, the way that scientists find out that there's a genetic factor in weight is by genetically modifying rats to either have waaaay too much or a complete lack of a certain protein called leptein. You are not genetically modified---rather, you have some level in between these man-made rats, not near the extremes.

The real issue in the "genetics" excuse isn't really genes, but instead socialization. Someone's whole family is fat not because of genes, but instead of that family's traditions. If your family has eaten crap for the last 2 or 3 generations, and your family isn't one that places an emphasis on exercise, well you're not going to be skinny. And unless you make an active change in your lifestyle, you'll pass on the same traditions to your kids. You're passing genes on, too, but what's going to make your kids fat is what habits you instill in your kids.

Irvine, there certainly are differences because of what people in various locations have eaten for generations. However, it doesn't really affect the genes. In order for it to affect the genepool, people with bad genes would have to not reproduce for some reason. Essentially, the idea is that "bad" genes would somehow keep you from reproducing. That would happen if 1). you die because of your condition before you reproduce, or 2). you don't reproduce because of "sexual selection"--no one will mate with you because of your condition. Diet thus shouldn't shape the genepool. The only way the diet of your grandparents can affect your genetic makeup would be if your granddad's diet somehow caused a mutation in one of his sperm cells--a pretty rare occurence, considering that the mutation could have occured in any of the billions of cells in his body----and then was passed on to your father/mother, and then passed on to you. If diet caused any genetic mutation, it's more likely to occur in one of your non-sperm or non-egg cells, thus affecting only you and not your offspring.

As far as we know, the cancer differences between races/countries arise somewhat in part of genes, but more often due to the conditions that those cultures experience. For example, as hinted at in the article, there is a lower rate of heart disease in Mediterranean areas---mainly because of the types of fats that they consume (i.e., olive oil)---fats that result in higher HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad one). There are lower cancer rates in Asian areas that eat more fish---for the same reasons related to the type of fat. However, Japan has a higher rate of a certain type of gastric cancer than we in the US do. It's not related to genes, but instead related to the fact that they eat so many cured foods compared to us. Nitrites, common in cured fish & meats, can increase the risk of gastric cancer. The most common foods with nitrites in the US are chargrilled meats, but we eat less of that on a daily basis than some Asian countries eat cured fish & meats.

Anyway, after all that here's the cliff notes:

1). Yes, everything in moderation.
2). In my post-medschool opinion, most genes define a spectrum on which you might fall, and your environment/habits define where along that spectrum you go--and for things like weight and cholesterol, you get a pretty darn big spectrum to work with.
3). Diet certainly affects your health, and it's foolish to think otherwise. It's not merely the amount of fat or bad things you eat, but the type of fat & other foods that you eat.
4). Be sure to try and figure out what a study is really saying--and what it's not saying.
5). Thanks for listening!
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Old 02-10-2006, 01:45 PM   #18
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P.S.---One more health/food tidbit:

Whole grains are big right now--and they should be. But the key to why whole grains are good is the fiber they provide. Don't get suckered by companies like General Mills that print "WHOLE GRAIN" in giant letters on a package, but only give you a measly 1 gram of fiber in the cereal, etc. If there's only 1 gram of fiber, who cares if it's whole grain?? Get the whole grain product with fiber. Example: don't bother with "whole grain" bread that has 1 gram of fiber per serving---find the one that gives at least 3 grams.

Okay, off my soapbox.
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:30 PM   #19
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Okay, off my soapbox.
[/B]
You are not ranting, you are spot on!
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:37 PM   #20
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Unless it's written in a published hardcover book.....I will not buy it. Then they will come up with another sequel to the contrary.....and thus it swings like a pendulum clock...........eat.....don't eat.......eat........don't eat.........
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