Monday, November 05, 2007

Arteriosclerosis and saturated fat

Observational studies are useless for proving anything, but they do provide interesting starting points for speculation. They can also give some interesting insights in to human behaviour. I particularly enjoyed the American Paradox study.

On the raw data a high intake of saturated fat didn't quite reverse the women's arteriosclerosis, but after modeling it did. Modeling appears to involve adjusting your results to estimate what the values would have been if your patients didn't smoke, didn't have diabetes, didn't eat cholesterol (gasp) etc.

Glancing through the patient characteristics in table 1 you can see why adjustment might be needed.

Look at smoking. The high saturated fat group had the highest percentage of smokers and a hugely higher pack-years value (34 pack-years) than any other group (all below 18). They boozed the most, ate most trans fats and pooped the least fibre. They may even, wait for it, have eaten an egg a day! On the plus side they obviously had the highest HDL cholesterol and lowest triglycerides, because they also ate the least carbohydrate.

If you had to describe this group in one word it would have to be "naughty". These naughty people did all the WRONG things (according to the AHA) and, after adjustments, began the reversal process of their IHD. Thumbing your nose at the AHA, even in this mild manner (by my standards), looks to be good for you.

The lowest saturated fat group had the highest carbohydrate intake, let's call them the Goody Goodies. They made excellent progress as coronary bypass fodder.

Just observational. But what an observation of disobedience!


1 comment:

Thinking Aloud said...

Hey Peter

Just a quick question for my Lay-Brain: Are you saying that naughty people who eat saturated fat actually directly benefit from the saturated fat ?

Or does the benefit purely come from the reduction in carbs ?

The idea that saturated fat from Grain fed animals harms one, which many low carbers seem to support, has been flashing through my naughty mind as I munch Döner.

Although my instincts tell me that it can surely be no different to saturated fat from grass fed beasts.

Ron Rosedale, without being speicific, seems to suggest that metabolizing mono-unsaturates is the least damaging and that you should basically try to become an avocado.

Hope the move has passed without too much incident.