The 2010 Meta-Analysis
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 09:31AM
Plant Positive

Running a Cholesterol Confusionist Gauntlet, Part 2 –
The 2010 Meta-Analysis

High-strung blogger Anthony Colpo wants me to talk about that 2010 Meta-analysis again. Very well.

Here’s his account of it. Once again, Colpo feels so sure that I have completely ignored this that he feels safe in calling me a hypocrite, even though he is completely wrong. I did not ignore this study. It’s in my first The Best Low Carb Research video, video number 52 . This study looked at several prior studies to produce a meta-analysis, looking for correlations between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease. The authors stated that they found nothing to support this link. They said there is no significant evidence that saturated fat is associated with heart disease. This contradicts most prior research on this matter. This study was published in 2010.

Curiously, Colpo is a bit less interested in this meta-analysis examining saturated fats from a year earlier, which concluded that replacing saturated fats in favor of polyunsaturated fats would prevent coronary heart disease. This study got less attention than the one Colpo likes because it was not an outlier. It reaffirmed the consensus view so it wasn’t in anyone’s interest to blow it out of proportion.

 Because I have addressed this study in a video already, I won’t repeat my comments about it here. I had recommended that my viewers read Jeremiah Stamler’s critique of it to learn about its flaws but I’ll take this opportunity to highlight some of his observations now. Stamler makes a similar comment about this one as to what I have said about the Swedish farmers study. Stamler says no accounting was made of at-risk individuals eating lower saturated fat diets in an effort to lower their cholesterol. It’s a valid point, don’t you think? Stamler also talks about the Women’s Health Initiative Trial. Colpo wants me to talk about that study, so I will a bit later. Stamler points out something obvious about it: minimal changes in diet produced minimal changes in lipids and consequently minimal changes in the frequency of coronary heart disease. You need substantial differences between diets for their health consequences to be obvious in a study. These are typical problems with modern epidemiological studies of homogeneous populations, and this was a problem in this meta-analysis.

I need to point out that the cross-cultural studies by researchers like Ancel Keys and T Colin Campbell are the most valuable population studies because the people they studied were not fibbing about their diets, or taking statins, or trying to lose weight. They were just doing what they normally do, just like most everyone around them. The accuracy of observations of their habits could be trusted. I’ll come back to this point later. Next, Stamler goes on to note that some important studies were not reviewed in this paper, studies that might have affected their conclusions. Stamler’s last sentence here is important. He says that no definitive diet-heart trial has been done, and it is unlikely that one will ever be done. Quoting myself from video number 48, “You can’t take people and put them in controlled lab conditions for decades. There will probably never be a perfect study assessing diet and mortality for this reason.” If perfectly controlled long term trials were absolutely required to assess the effects of environmental factors on degenerative diseases, we would not be able to say smoking causes lung cancer today. Confusionists let the perfect be the enemy of the good just to serve their agenda.

We have plenty of animal studies to fill in any gaps in our studies of humans. As Stamler says, ignoring this body of research implies that the Darwinian foundation of biomedical research is invalid. This puts Colpo in the same bind as the Paleo people. He accepts speculative diet concepts based on evolution, but he rejects hard science based on evolution.

 When I discussed this study in my prior video, I was critical of Frank B Hu’s participation in it. I was disappointed to see him associated with a study providing support for the consumption of saturated fat.

Here you see he is listed as an author of this meta-analysis. This was surprising to see considering his other publications.

Last year, without the involvement of the other authors, he made his own views clear. An unhealthy diet raises LDL. Diet quality can be improved by reducing or eliminating saturated fats. Plant foods have proven their benefits through clinical trials. These ideas are all mainstream and well-supported by evidence.

Professor Hu is named here as the lead researcher in a study linking even a small daily serving of red meat with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. He says, “saturated fat, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, is really just the beginning of the story” of how red meat harms us. Mr Colpo, will you be promoting the results of this study on your blog?

And what do you think of his participation in another study saying that red meat eaters suffer more strokes? Maybe your readers should have this brought to their attention as well, Mr Colpo.

Another author of this meta-analysis was Ronald Krauss.

Colpo is familiar with him. He says that anyone suspecting that a study with his name on it might be the result of influence from the meat or dairy industries is mistaken. Colpo has once again done no research to support one of his statements.

Ronald Krauss has received funding from the National Dairy Council, the National Cattleman's Beef Association, and the Atkins Foundation. Mr Colpo, the National Dairy Council represents the dairy industry. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association represents the meat industry. And of course, the Atkins Foundation exists to promote high-animal fat diets.

Here he is advocating low-carb diets for the 2007 Protein Summit. That was supported by the egg, dairy, pork, and beef industries. Nope, no industry influence here.

Yes, you can see at the bottom that Krauss is a low carber who thinks the blame for heart disease doesn’t belong with high LDL or saturated fat. He thinks lower carbohydrate intake will improve things. You can see why those industries like him.

To his credit, Anthony Colpo has said carbs don’t make you fat, excess calories do. And he has said that Gary Taubes is a source of nonsense ideas these days. Yet Ronald Krauss agrees with Taubes here about carbs, saying people should limit their carbs because they are too dumb to eat natural high-fiber carbohydrates. No, in his mind, it’s safer to recommend saturated fat. Just try making sense of this quote. That’s my best guess as to what he is saying.

By the way, this is another example of an apparent disagreement between the saturated fat apologists about the cause of heart disease. Krauss thinks carbs are to blame. Colpo thinks antioxidant status is the key issue. Once again, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious alternative to take the place of cholesterol as the most important cause of heart disease. I made this point in video 34 as well.

Here you see in a journal abstract that Krauss subtly implies that the only diet choice left to us to make is between low carb diets and high-glycemic diets. That’s it. No other options. As long as simple sugars exist in the marketplace, we should recommend people limit all carbs. What a wonderful contribution to educating the public he is making!

This may seem like an obvious false choice to you, but then your work probably isn’t being sponsored by the dairy and beef lobbies.

Mr Colpo, even Ronald Krauss has authored a paper suggesting that low-carb diets are less atherogenic with less saturated fat. Not very consistent, is he? Why does he think these cholesterol-related measurements are of interest?

Colpo did include another reference in addition to the Swedish farmers study and that meta-analysis in the original post that got my attention. I’ll return to this in my Confusionist Gauntlet video number six. But right now, I’ll address Colpo’s very own published journal article. Part 3 is next.

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