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2017 DietaryFatisOnlyPartlyWhereIt'sAtNutritionStudies

Dietary Fat is Only Partly Where Its At


August 3, 2010
ByT.ColinCampbell,PhD(http://nutritionstudies.org/author/tcc/)

The breast cancer/dietary fat relationship, once a key point in


getting American women to switch their eating habits, has now been
seriously challenged.
AprominentHarvardstudyofnearly90,000Americannurses,backedupbysomewhatsimilarstudiesfromotherlaboratories,
hasshownnorelationshipbetweentheriskofbreastcancerandtheamountoffatweeat.

Whileitmaybetemptingformanywomentoeaseofftheirdietregimes,therelationshipbetweendietaryfatandcancershould
notbeidlydismissed.TheproblemisthattheHarvardstudy,althoughwellexecuted,isverynarrowlyfocused,leavingmany
womenunderstandablyconfused.AcluetoalleviatingthisconfusionmaybefoundwhentheHarvarddataarecomparedwith
ourfindingsfromruralChina.ContrarytoHarvardsconclusions,wefoundasignificantassociationbetweendietaryfatand
breastcancer.

Harvard Study vs. China Project


TheHarvardstudycomparednurseswhoatelowfatdietswithnurseswhoconsumedhigherfatdiets.Totalfatintakeranged
fromamodestlevelof25%toasmuchas45%ofcalories.Accordingtoevidenceavailableinotherreports,however,thewomen
whoconsumedtheloweramountsoffat,atesocalledlowfatfoodssuchasleanermeats,lowfatmilk,andlowfatdressings
andspreads.Needlesstosay,theystillindulgedineatinglargeamountsofanimalbasedfoods,ratherthanaddingmorefruits
andvegetablestotheirdiets.

Considerableevidenceindicatesthismaybeaformulaforfailure.ThedatafromruralChina,forexample,departfromthe
Harvarddatainseveralimportantways.First,wecomparedpeoplewhoatedietscontainingfatrangingfrom6%to25%of
calories(insteadof2545%).UnlikeparticipantsintheHarvardresearch,wediscoveredthatpeopleinChinawhoeatlowfat
dietsarenotsimplyeatingleanermeatstheyareeatinglittleornomeat.Moreover,inChinawecomparedbreastcancerratesin
130villages,sowewereinvestigatingwholepopulationsratherthanindividuals,andawidevarietyofdietandlifestyle
conditions.

InChina,weaddressedthehypothesisthattherelationshipbetweendietanddiseaseisfarmorecomplexthancanbediscovered
throughlookingatasingledietaryingredient.Asaresult,wearrivedattheconclusionthatlowfatdiets(andImeandietaryfat
intherangeof1015%ofcalories,not30%ofcalories)areassociatedwithlowbreastcancerratesbecausetheyaremostlyor
entirelycomprisedofavarietyofplantmatter,notbecausetheyarelowinfatalone.Furthermore,Isuggestthatremovinga
relativelysmallamountoffatfromatypicalAmericandiet,thatis,onethatreliesheavilyonanimalbasedfoods,will
accomplishlittle,ifany,reductioninbreastcancerrisk.Finally,itisimportanttonotethatitisbesttostartaplantbaseddietat
ayoungage,sinceearlynutritionisimportantbothforsettingthestageforlowerbreastcancerrateslaterinlifeandfor
establishinglastingfoodpreferences.Changeofdietatanyage,however,canprovideconsiderablebenefit,foravarietyof
differentreasons.

TheCornellOxfordChinaNutritionproject,conductedinmainlandChinaandTaiwan,isamassivesurveyofover10,000
familiesdesignedtostudydiet,lifestyle,anddiseaseacrossthefarreachesofChina.Byinvestigatingsimultaneouslymore
diseasesandmoredietarycharacteristicsthananyotherstudytodate,theprojecthasgeneratedthemostcomprehensive
databaseintheworldonthemultiplecausesofdisease.Uponcompletionoftheinitialresults,alllocalhealthauthoritiesinthe
ChinaProjectsurveywereadvisedonhowtochangetheirdietstolowerdiseaserates.

References
1. Campbell, T. C. 1994. The Dietary Causes of Degenerative Diseases: Nutrients vs. Foods. Pages 119152 in: Temple, N. J. and Burkitt, D. P., eds. The Dietary Causes of
Degenerative Diseases: Nutrients vs. Foods. Humana Press, Totowa, N.J.
2. Marshall, J. R., Qu, Y., Chen, J., Parpia, B., and Campbell, T. C. Additional Ecologic Evidence: Lipids and Breast Cancer Mortality Among Women Age 55 and Over in
China. European Journal of Cancer 28A:17201727.
3. Willett, W. C., Hunter, D. J., Stampfer, M. J., Colditz, G., Manson, J. E., Spielgelman, D., Rosner, B., Hennekens, C. H., and Speizer, F. E. Dietary Fat and Fiber in Relation to
Risk of Breast Cancer: An 8-year Follow-up. J. American Medical Association 268:20372044.

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