The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. ... In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Milk and 40 Countries Study

An old paper: "Differences in Coronary Mortality Can Be Explained by Differences in Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Intakes in 40 Countries but Not in France and Finland"

The study found that "...with comparable intakes of dietary cholesterol in France and Finland, the CHD mortality rate for men aged 55 to 59 was four times higher in Finland than in France."

In science, finding an exception to a theory always serves as an opportunity to revaluate the theory. Except with the "Fat And Cholesterol Theory" (of heart disease). Since Fat And Cholesterol Theory is treated as fact, finding exceptions to the theory has been used instead to revaluate the exceptions rather than the theory.

One reason that I would consider table 3 having higher chance of reflecting some possible real effects, is that it shows the countries of the similar culture, level of development and standard of living, where as the statistical correlations shown in table 1 are done over vastly dissimilar populations whose different level of development produces totally different set of health hazards that may completely mask any food influence.  For example, most developed countries exhibit both high meat consumption and high CHD (but also higher longevity!). Similar statistics done within one country show typically completely different correlation, the most striking feature is typically a disapearance of correlation between Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and fat, like for example in Malmo Study.

Correlations between Cholesterol and Saturated (fat) Index (CSI) or other consumption attributes and heart disease across Europe may or may not reflect causal connections. There may be many spurious factors possibly involved. However, if we assume, for the sake of discussion that the correlations in Table 3 may be reflecting some causal connections, then this presents us immediately with another "paradox" and not just about France but also involving other West European countries! Namely, that cholesterol and saturated fat cannot possibly explain the huge discrepancy of CHD stats between France, Germany (West), UK and Finland! One immediately notices that while CHD almost doubles from one country to the next in table 3, cholesterol and saturated fat consumption index is roughly the same! More specifically, the fact that butterfat remains also roughly the same (given typical low accuracy of the food statistics) - automatically invalidates the authors' conclusion published at the end (at least the part implicating "butterfat"). Comparison of other factors (except milk) between Germany and the UK also shows no clear trend, yet the CHD is vastly different!

Milk on the other hand, shows a clearly rising consumption trend in Table 3, that tracks the magnitude of the CHD! Not milk fat, not butter and not milk protein (cheese) - just milk! Why milk, what milk, is it real or spurious? If real, does it apply only to milk in Europe or in other parts of the world as well?


FredT said...

where are the wheat and sugar numbers?

Stan (Heretic) said...

Nowhere! That's one of the problem with this particular study. The authors apparently didn't believe that sugar or wheat causes heart disease, they believed that fat and cholesterol does thus they set their goal to "prove" it. They won, science lost.

I was curious about milk since similar correlations emerged out of China study (the real data, not Cornell/Campbells' fakes). Mind you most of the 40 countries study correlation are most likely spurious but some, dealing with similar countries, similar GDP per capita, in the same region and similar cultures may be correct. Milk looks like one but I am not 100% sure.


Neonomide said...

Interesting! One possibility is the back then discredited A1/A2 casein theory or/and calcium excess that is accompanied with Vitamin D deficiency. I have some studies if you're interested.

Stan (Heretic) said...

I don't know what is A1/A2 casein theory but cheese specifically did not correlate with disease so it is unlikely to be caseine. One speculative cause may be lactose, some antigens, or microbial contaminants. I have done some small research on the last item, about 20 years ago. It turns out that a TB epidemics broke out in Ireland in the 1950-ties following an introduction of free milk distribution in the primary schools.

Something similar probably happened in the late 19-th century in the Western Europe (France, Germany) when TB became the main cause of death among children and adults. Distribution of pooled contaminated milk in the cities is one of possible causes (hypothetical).