More Links & Quick Hits

With pressing business issues throughout the week I might not have a lot to post about. But, for now, here’s some of the more interesting things I’ve seen whilst clearing my head at the cabin this weekend.

~ In the American Journal of Epidemiology, which cholesterol level is related to the lowest mortality in a population with low mean cholesterol level; a 6.4-Year Follow-up Study of 482,472 Korean Men? You guessed it.

A low cholesterol level (<165 mg/100 ml) was associated with increased risk of total mortality, even after eliminating deaths that occurred in the first 5 years of follow-up. The risk of death from coronary heart disease increased significantly in men with the highest cholesterol level (£252 mg/100 ml). There were various relations between cholesterol level and cancer mortality by site. Mortality from liver and colon cancer was significantly associated with a very low cholesterol level (<135 mg/100 ml) without any evidence of a preclinical cholesterol-lowering effect. With lengthening follow-up, the significant relation between a very low cholesterol level (<135 mg/100 ml) and mortality from stomach and esophageal cancer disappeared. The cholesterol level related with the lowest mortality ranged from 211 to 251 mg/100 ml, which was higher than the mean cholesterol level of study subjects.

Like I’ve said before, all-cause mortality is the thing to watch, not just death from heart disease. In this study, the lowest mortality was in those men with total cholesterol between about 210 and 250, pretty close to the "sweet spot" I’ve blogged about before, this being the most recent. (Thanks to Ricardo for the link.)

~ Via Patrik, I’ve just got to put this up, even though it’s mostly about global warming. I think Winterspeak makes an excellent point regarding the parallels between the awful, politicized, big-corporate driven bad science we see every day in diet & nutrition and this sordid tale of the demise of the "Hockey Stick" graph that forms the foundation of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis.

The most amazing part of this story from my point of view was the way in which a dogged Canadian mathematician, acting practically alone with the help of his trusty readers, forced the establishment back step by step to explain where the conclusions upon which a trillion dollar public policy came from and insisted on reproducing the results. If ever there was a tale of triumph over dauntless odds — almost to the point of comparing it to breaking the bank — this is it. The story of man’s search for the scientific truth is still ongoing. Research doesn’t end with McIntyre. It may still prove to be the case that the Hockey Stick exists, but it must be shown on the basis of the data, not on the strength of “consensus” and public relations campaigns. What McIntyre showed is that nothing beneath the stars need be taken on authority. Whether the truth will set you free is a proposition not all will accept; but at least the search for it will.

Remind you of anything?

~ As far I can tell from reading the text of this entire article on Celiac (or Coeliac) disease and its link to osteoporosis, there’s not a single call for the obvious: eliminate gluten grains from your diet. Rather, as usual, it’s about drug therapy. (Thanks to Calvin in Anckorage for that one.)

~ Whoa! Loren Cordain, finally, at long last appears to be turning the corner on the saturated fat issue.

The Seven Country Study, a cross-cultural analysis, reported strong positive associations among a population’s average SFA intake, serum total cholesterol concentrations, and 25-year death rates from CHD. However, it is important to note that several groups with very high SFA intakes from coconut fat (up to 40% of energy) and apparently low CHD rates have since been identified. In the Nurses’ Health Study, a large prospective cohort study, a weak but significant positive association between SFA intake and CHD risk was initially seen. With long-term follow-up, this association was no longer significant. Any association between SFAs and CHD appears to be a small fraction of that observed for TFAs [trans-fatty acids]. Other observational studies and dietary trials have been unconvincing or even contradictory. In general, experimental evidence does not support a robust link between SFA intake and CHD risk.

Yes indeed. Traditional Tokelauans were getting about 40-50% of their energy from saturated fat and certainly were not dropping like flies from heart disease. But once they began migrating to New Zealand and became addicted to sugar and processed foods like the rest of the world, guess what happened?

Keep it up Dr. Cordain. I look forward to the day when this is past history.

~ A very interesting chapter on gout originally in Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, and got cut by the editors. Tim Ferris serves it up, courtesy of Gary Taubes. Now, go get a load of that and understand the suffering so many have endured because society will simply not accept the fact that our evolved hunter-gatherer bodies — many of which are the product of surviving ice ages — are ill adapted to sugar.

~ Check out this video footage of polar bears and sled dogs. Awww…

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  1. g on October 12, 2009 at 20:13

    This is QUANTUM leaps for Cordain.

    He is a brilliant man — he was talking about vitamin D and its importance and even how gluten/wheat degrades vitamin D metabolism and activation YEARS AGO.

    And… it is even more heartening to see him ‘evolving’ *wink!!*

  2. shel on October 12, 2009 at 12:50

    The Paleo Diet changed my life. i’m not sure i would have been introduced to paleo if i hadn’t stumbled on Cordain’s website one day, many moons ago, and bought the book. it was like all the lights went on.

    before this i had been a lapsed Seventh-day Adventist, still caught up in the “grains are good” mindset. i went from “health” diet to “health” diet, looking for answers to my hypoglycemia question. it didn’t click in that every diet i tried for a cure had starches and fruit as the common denominator.

    grains were simply a part of life, not something to be thought about; kind of like breathing.

    looking at the paleoanthropological and archaeological records regarding diet had a profound effect on the “god” question too, and cemented my atheism. the original Biblical diet was frutarian. quite a contrast from the scientific evidence. tie meat eating and the vibrant health i experience now with the philosophy that we’re “sinners”, i can’t help thinking that perhaps the religious premise frowns on the idea of lusty and animalistic good health and pride in one’s self, as if we should be focusing instead on the skies, be a bit on the passive beta male side, and not enjoy ourselves too much down here.

    “sacrifice”, you know. evil pride gets in the way of that wonderful state.

    …anyway, i digress.

    i’ve heard people really diss Cordain’ book on various sites, sometimes with venom. why, i don’t know. people really take some things too seriously. as well, if i’m not mistaken, he was a bit embarrassed about how he had to allow the book to be dumbed down for mass consumption, because the publishers had little faith in the cranial ability of the masses.

    he’s a researcher. he’s looking for truth. he’s coming around.

  3. steve on October 12, 2009 at 19:12

    i would not say Cordain is there as highlighted by the following from his report:
    n-3 PUFAs, especially long-chain n-3 PUFAs, reduce CHD risk.
    Increasing intake is unlikely to cause harm.
    − Industrially produced TFAs increase CHD risk. Restricting or eliminating
    TFA intake is unlikely to cause harm.
    − MUFAs possibly reduce CHD risk. Substituting MUFAs for TFAs or
    SFAs, especially palmitate, is unlikely to cause harm.
    − High consumption of palmitate may increase CHD risk

    Palimate is in meats and other sat fats; he still is cautious in my view

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