Cambridge Study: Saturated Fat ‘DOESN’T Cause Heart Disease

March 26, 2014

(DAILY MAIL UK) Guidelines urging people to avoid ‘unhealthy’  fat to stave off heart disease are wrong, according to a major study.  After decades of advice on  the harm done by saturated fat such as butter, scientists have found no evidence of a link with heart problems.

untitled (5)A ‘mega’ study which analyzed a huge amount of existing data also said so-called healthy polyunsaturated fats, such as  sunflower oil, had no general effect on the risk of heart disease. In contrast, a dairy fat called margaric acid  ‘significantly reduced’ risk, while two kinds of saturated fat found in palm oil  and animal products had only a ‘weak link’ with heart disease.

imagesCA96M2ZVTwo types of omega-3 fatty acid found in oily  fish – EPA and DHA – and the omega-6 fat arachidonic acid were linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

But omega-3 and omega-6 supplements appeared to have no benefit.  This study comes in the wake of growing controversy over the relative importance of sugar and fat in the diet.

Fats have long been blamed for obesity and  heart disease, but some scientists now say there is evidence that fat may have  been unfairly demonized and sugar is really to blame.

Lead researcher Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, from  Cambridge University, said:

‘These are interesting results that potentially  stimulate new lines of scientific inquiry and encourage careful reappraisal of  our current nutritional guidelines. Cardiovascular disease, in which the principal manifestation is coronary heart disease, remains the single leading  cause of death and disability worldwide. In 2008, more than 17 million people died from a cardiovascular cause globally. With so many affected, it is critical to  have appropriate prevention guidelines which are informed by the best available  scientific evidence. “

The team, whose results appear in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, conducted a ‘meta-anaylsis’ of data from 72 studies involving 600,000 participants in 18 countries.  The technique can reveal trends that may be masked in individual small studies but become obvious when the are amalgamated.

A key finding was the total saturated fat, whether measured in the diet or bloodstream, showed no association with heart disease.  The study fails to ‘yield clearly supportive evidence for…guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of saturated fats.

Almost four decades ago advice began to emerge from scientific and medical bodies to cut back on saturated fats found in cream, butter and less lean meats. Last year, however, London cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra told the British Medical Journal it was time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease, which was based on faulty interpretation of scientific studies.  He said yesterday:

‘This huge and important study provides even  more evidence that our focus purely on saturated fat as the number one dietary  villain in causing heart disease has been misplaced when we should be focusing  on food groups. Our over-consumption of processed food is  what is driving much of the increasing burden of chronic disease currently  plaguing the Western world. Poor diet is responsible  for more  disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and  smoking combined. Furthermore, nutritional supplements have no  proven benefit for the vast majority of people. It’s better for the body to gain essential nutrients from just eating real food.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical  director at the British Heart Foundation which co-funded the study, said:

‘This  analysis of existing data suggests there isn’t enough evidence to say that a  diet rich in polyunsaturated fats but low in saturated fats reduces the risk of  cardiovascular disease. But large-scale clinical studies are needed,  as these researchers recommend, before making a conclusive judgment.”

The industry-backed Health Supplements Information Service said that while the study showed only a modest protective  effect of omega-3 fats, the trials involving omega-3 supplements nearly all  involved non-healthy participants, which was likely to give misleading  results.