Sunday, May 12, 2013

Who Got Ancel Keys' office?

Oh, I don't know who got it either, but I got somethin' better.

This REALLY COOL THING that happened today.

I had been feeling out of sorts lately at the local Sunday potluck, since it has gone so much towards vegetarian/vegan.  Earlier I spoke about the demonization of butter, and how coconut oil is the new star.

Maybe it was my speech, or maybe just chance, but a few friendly people joined me at the dinner table, and we continued the discussion regarding butter-as-evil.  Then one guy said something I really didn't expect to hear in polite company:

"We really don't know all that much about nutrition, do we?"  Well, I sure could agree with that.  People tried to recall the exact time (and what they were eating) when butter was declared B-A-D.  Then my friend offered another tidbit.

"Do you know Ancel Keys?"

I replied that I did know him.  Well.....I didn't really know him.  I had read some of his work, and many of the critiques.

"Did you REALLY know him?" I asked.

"Yes I did, in fact, I shared an office with him."  He went on to explain that they used to share lots of the data, and years after Keys' first papers on arterycloggingsaturatedfat, long-term data started coming in that didn't match the theory.

Keys said, "Based on what these people are eating, they should be dead by now."  He couldn't figure it out.

Of course, many were still alive.  These old folks were eating BAD stuff, probably some of that evil butter.  Keys admitted that he had come to the conclusion that his theory was wrong.

"What were these people eating that was supposed to make them dead?  Sat fat?  Lots of eggs?" I asked.

"Yes, lots of eggs and fat.  At first we tried to explain it away by saying that some people were hanging on longer because lots of the fat-eaters must have died so early."

There were lots of rationalizations.  My friend and I talked about our theories as to why all the rationalizations, and will be the subject of another blog post.   I wanted to know why the about-face wasn't made public.

"Well, it was a professional reputation issue," my friend continued.  "This was in the late 80's."  I guess at the time, people weren't allowed to have another opinion on the matter.

My how times have changed!  Or have they?

(Here's the information that spurred the thoughts on butter.  I thought, HUH?  Have I been punked?  Is this from the Onion?)

5 comments:

  1. I wonder, which diet the friend of A.Key follows himself? O ,and I hate the vegetarian trend.

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  2. In keeping with my personal policy, I didn't really notice what he was eating. But, since we were drawing from the same potluck, I suspect that this particular meal was vegetarian. I suspect from his leading comments that he is not all that lock-step with Bloomberg. Bloomberg seems to think he knows all about nutrition.
    I think most epidemiologists, if they were to talk freely, would also agree that the situation is murky. All the more reason to be at least tolerant of other ways of eating.

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  3. Just picking up on your comment about butter. Butter is GOOD I wish more would realise this. Some countries seem to be far more pro butter than others.

    All the best Jan

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  4. Hi Jan! I was wondering where everybody went to. There was plenty of time to get off that cruise ship and get the laundry done.

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  5. Several potlucks later, and I conclude that my friend pretty much eats everything that is put in front of him.

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