Forget about cholesterol

Stuart Buck on Overcoming Bias posted this great article summarizing Gary Taubes's book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories".

Gary Taubes appears to be making a strong case that diet-health research has developed a strong bias in the past few decades, which led to evidence being ignored that (1) cholesterol and high-fat diets might not in fact be as bad for us as we've been told, and (2) processed carbohydrates might in fact be much worse for us than we've been told.

My suspicion is that these correlations might all boil down to abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is really bad for you - especially for men. The cells in abdominal fat convert testosterone to estrogen. Because the brain regulates testosterone production based on the amount of estrogen in blood, this causes testosterone production to lower, which further throws your hormone levels out of whack. The elevated estrogen then proceeds to cause all sorts of damage, increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Stuart's article mentions this from Taubes:
[In] 1961, a conference of the Association of American Physicians included a presentation showing that in comparing heart disease patients in New Haven to a healthy population, the diseased patients were much more likely to have high triglycerides than high cholesterol, thus implicating high carbohydrate diets (which elevate triglycerides).
I would like to know if this result was controlled for the amount of abdominal fat.

My suspicion is that, in the end, as far as health is concerned, diet doesn't really matter. Just stay away from outright poison and - above all, and especially if you're a male - don't be fat.


Anonymous said…
I saw your comment at Overcoming Bias today, and looked at your blog. Gary Taubes's book is perhaps the best researched, least biased study on the subject of diets yet to be published, and it flies in the faces of those in the establishment who have been so wrong for so long. You agree that Buck's article is *great*. Yet in the end of your post, you say: "My suspicion is that, in the end, as far as health is concerned, diet doesn't really matter." Either Buck's article (and the work it reviews) are not "great", and your opinion is the start of an alternative untested hypothesis, OR, your opinion is not supported by any evidence at all, while Taubes' work is completely evidence-based. Opinion vs. evidence doesn't seem like much of a contest. Personal blogs are wonderful for any off-the-wall opinion, and I say go for it; but you won't win many hearts and minds at a rationalist, scientific site like Overcoming Bias with such banter.
denis bider said…
Dear Retired Urologist,

I've read some of your comments too, and I find your attitudes unnecessarily patronizing and abrasive.

I think your behavior is reminiscent of someone who used to smugly consider himself an authority figure, and could get away it because he had a captive audience. Now your audience is lost, and you go online to find an outlet for your excess of patronizing sentiment to be expressed. It's pathetic.

You tell me how you view me, well, I told you how I view you.

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