JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

For 80 years cholesterol experts said ‘eat less fat’. But where was the evidence?

Depressing. A consensus based on nothing much, still lasted three generations

And it’s not dead yet: Groups like the American Heart Association, UCSF Guidelines, VicHealth, etc are all still advising that people avoid saturated fats, and eat whole grains.

For years, people with the kind of high cholesterol linked to their genes, were told they could lower their cholesterol if they stopped eating things like butter, cream, eggs, cheese, chocolate, and even coconut oil.

A new study looked for evidence to justify that advice and couldn’t find any. They are, of course, not the first – even in the 1950s John Yudkin was already warning people about the dangers of sugar. But the vested interests and fat-police leapt into gear, and thus and verily a million low-fat products filled the shelves, most of them with added sugar.

How many people did this consensus kill?

People with high cholesterol should eliminate carbs, not saturated fat, study suggests

“For the past 80 years, people with familial hypercholesterolemia have been told to lower their cholesterol with a low saturated fat diet,” said lead author David Diamond, professor and heart disease researcher at the University of South Florida. “Our study showed that [...]

IPCC announces Fatwa on meat eating

The Steak is coming to get you.

Good news, the Intergovernmental Holy Panel has finally released the new World-Saving IPCC Diet (WSID) which will stop storms, volcanoes and the spread of jellyfish. It also solves all those difficult dietary questions — instead of worrying about your weight, your blood pressure, or your brain, you can sip on a soy latte and know that even if you get dementia from the B12 deficiency or the tofu, you are A Virtuous Signaller. Lucky you.

And even though an atmospheric physicist supposedly can’t advise us on the climate, it’s fine for a climate scientist to tell us what to eat. They already tell us what car to drive and how many kids we should have. Why not?

Vegetarian diets and a “sin” tax on unsustainable meat could help to limit climate change, a major new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says.

–The Australian

Sinning with meat for 2 million years?

Humans have been eating meat for 2.6 million years at least, or about 100,000 generations, but it’s time to take the precautionary principle and toss that genetic heritage to the wind.

Meat is a good [...]

Low Fat consensus was wrong: High carb diets increase death rates

How many people have died prematurely because they swapped their fats for carbohydrates?

More fat meant less death (left). More carbs (right) meant the opposite (at least above 60%). (Click to see the full table of Figure 1 results).

New research published in the Lancet shows that low fat diets could increase your risk of death.

Specifically, those who are in the top fifth of carbohydrate-eaters are also about 28% more likely to die than the fifth eating the lowest amount. This is a correlation (only), but the PURE* study was tracking the thing that matters most — all-cause mortality – and they followed the diets of 135,000 people in 18 countries for 5 – 9 years. Loosely, if people avoided high carbohydrate diets, they were less likely to die.

The graph flattens off below “60% carbs” (that’s a percentage of total calories). However, the mortality numbers keep improving for the highest fat intakes which rather skewers 40 years of headlines. I’m guessing that some people who kept carbs below 60% ate more protein instead, which, judging by the “fat” graph, wasn’t as useful.

The McMaster University team announced this quiet bomb, slightly obscured, in a press release [...]

Chocolate is the fountain of youth, eat blocks, live long, be slim

We have found the holy grail and it is chocolate. Lo, “Eating 100 g of chocolate daily linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk”. One hundred grams a day! That’s about a quarter of the average adult woman’s total daily calorie intake. (About one sixth for a man).

So much for the 99% certain consensus that chocolate was junk food.

ScienceDaily:

Eating up to 100 g of chocolate every day is linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk. The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate higher intake was linked to an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25% lower risk of associated death.

They base their findings on almost 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study…

Around one in five (20%) participants said they did not eat any chocolate, but among the others, daily consumption averaged 7 g, with some eating up to 100 g.

Chocolate was associated with younger age… (we want some of that, right?)

Higher levels of consumption were associated with younger age and lower weight (BMI), waist: hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins, diabetes and more regular [...]

Cholesterol — how the web and books are years ahead of “Consensus”

Consensus — slowing real science for decades

There is a surprising amount of interest in the cholesterol story of Matt Ridley’s in The Times and The Australian last week. Surprising to me anyway, because 15 years ago the other benevolent side of cholesterol was pretty clear online. Fifteen years is not a long time in human civilization, but it’s a long time in a human life. And in the case of the war on cholesterol, it’s been running for 40 years. How many people died sooner than they would have, because they followed expert advice?

Finally the official consensus on cholesterol is admitting defeat:

“Any day now, the US government will officially accept the advice to drop cholesterol from its list of “nutrients of concern” altogether. It wants also to “de-emphasise” saturated fat, given “the lack of evidence connecting it with cardiovascular disease”. “

In the late 1990′s it was widely known online (among health zealots) that our livers are mostly in charge of our cholesterol levels, not what’s on our dinner plates. Something like 80% of the cholesterol in our blood came from our own livers, not the food we eat. Way back then, it was [...]

Hypothesis contradicted? Fatter people get *less* dementia

Researchers were sure fatter people would get more dementia, so they studied two million middle-aged people for nearly a decade but were “baffled to find the exact opposite. Their sample included 45,000 cases of dementia and the obese were 30 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with it.

This contradicts previous studies and was not at all what the researchers expected, so they analyzed the data every which way they could think of but can’t explain the results. Need I say “experts” and “consensuses”?

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said they were baffled by the results as previous studies have shown that being overweight raises the risk. –Telegraph

Risk factors such as alcohol and smoking made little difference to the results, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. — Mirror

Dr Qizilbash said the findings held despite attempts to adjust for other causes of dementia and the tendency of obese people to die earlier. “We did a lot of analysis to see if we could explain it but just seems to persist. We couldn’t get rid of it so we’re left with this apparent protective effect,” he said. [...]