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  • 30 mg/dL decrease in cholesterol in those over 65 associated with 35% GREATER risk of death

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Saturday, April 16, 2016 11:31 am Email this article

    A 30 mg/dL decrease in cholesterol levels in people 65 and older was associated with a 35% GREATER risk of death according to a reanalysis of an old study, the Minnesota Coronary Experiment (MCE; 1968-73) which replaced saturated fat with vegetable oil rich in linoleic acid (an omega-6 polyunsaturated fat) from corn oil and corn oil polyunsaturated margarine.

    The analysis found NO benefit in reducing all-cause mortality—actually there was a 7% GREATER risk of death in the vegetable oil group, but the difference was not statistically significant—and NO benefit in reducing coronary heart disease mortality—actually there was a 13% GREATER risk of death from coronary heart disease in the vegetable oil group, but the difference was not statistically significant.

    “Paradoxically, MCE participants who had greater reductions in serum cholesterol had a higher, rather than lower, risk of death,” the paper notes.

    The analysis was done by researchers at the US National Institutes of Health.

    Conclusion: Replacing Saturated Fat with Linoleic Acid Does NOT Lower the Risk of Death

    “Available evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacement of saturated fat with linoleic acid effectively lowers serum cholesterol but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes,” the authors of the paper concluded.

    “MCE [the Minnesota Coronary Experiment] findings add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of bene- fits, and underestimation of potential risks, of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid.”


    Ramsden CE, Zamora D, Majchrzak-Hong S, Faurot KR, Broste SK, Frantz RP, Davis JM, Ringel A, Suchindran CM, and Hibbeln JR. Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73). BMJ, 2016; 353: i1246.

    The study is posted here.

    Author’s Contact Info

    Christopher E Ramsden
    Laboratory of Membrane Biophysics and Biochemistry
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD 20892, USA
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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