PMID: 7939861Aug 1, 1994Paper

The questionable wisdom of a low-fat diet and cholesterol reduction

Social Science & Medicine
D M Atrens


The prevalent wisdom that a low-fat diet and cholesterol reduction are essential to good cardiovascular health is coming under increased scrutiny. An examination of the foundations of this view suggests that in many respects it was ill-conceived from the outset and, with the accumulation of new evidence, it is becoming progressively less tenable. Cross-sectional, longitudinal and cross-cultural investigations have variously suggested that the relationship between dietary fat intake and death from heart disease is positive, negative and random. These data are incompatible with the view that dietary fat intake has any causal role in cardiovascular health. Although hypercholesterolemia is associated with increased liability to death from heart disease, it is as frequently associated with increased overall life expectancy as with decreased life expectancy. These findings are incompatible with labelling hypercholesterolemia an overall health hazard. Moreover, it is questionable if the cardiovascular liability associated with hypercholesterolemia is either causal or reversible. The complex relationships between diet, serum cholesterol, atherosclerosis and mortality and their interactions with genetic and environmental factors suggest...Continue Reading


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