Saturated fats and heart disease

Health & Nutrition in the News

A review of recent health related research stories that made the news with five items comprising: ‘Saturated fat heart disease ‘myth’; ‘Taking vitamin pills daily could cut breast cancer death rate by 30%’; ‘Chief medical officer calls for free vitamins for kids’; ‘Nearly one in five adults across the UK are eating less fruit and veg as prices soar’ and ‘Women who walk for an hour a day can cut their chance of breast cancer by 14%’.

Saturated fat heart disease ‘myth’. Is the online headline from the BBC in relation to a British Medical Journal article that really hit the headlines and had huge numbers of people responding. The BBC report (link to full story below) continues:

“The risk from saturated fat in foods such as butter, cakes and fatty meat is being overstated and demonised, according to a cardiologist. Dr Aseem Malhotra said there was too much focus on the fat with other factors such as sugar often overlooked.

Saturated fats and heart disease
The risk from saturated fat in foods such as butter, cakes and fatty meat is being overstated and demonised, according to a cardiologist

It is time to “bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease”, he writes in an opinion piece in the British Medical Journal. Dr Malhotra, a cardiology registrar at Croydon University Hospital, London, says the “mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades”.

He says saturated fat has been “demonised” and any link with heart disease is not fully supported by scientific evidence.”

We provide links to how a number of media outlets reported on this story. What was fascinating was the very high numbers of people who commented online in response. At Cytoplan we are big fans of the Paleo Diet which would avoid saturated fats. Similarly we encourage the Mediterranean Diet which has a wealth of positive research and uses olive oil regularly but very little saturated fats.

BBC: Saturated fat heart disease ‘myth’
The Independent: Forget low fat diets
The Telegraph: Eat butter not low fat spreads

“Taking vitamin pills daily could ‘cut breast cancer death rate by 30%” The Daily Mail reports on research from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, who studied 8,000 women aged 50 to 79 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Taking the pills daily cut death rates by 30 per cent among post-menopausal breast cancer sufferers, research has found. However, specialists are likely to take some convincing that multivitamins have such a powerful anti-cancer effect because so many other studies have been inconclusive. But Prof Wassertheil-Smoller (lead author of the study), who has spent decades examining health issues affecting older women, said the results of the study held true even adjusting for these differences”.

Naturally many notes of caution (as well as optimism) are sounded in the reporting and commenting of this research. “But further studies are needed to confirm whether there truly is a cause-and-effect relationship here. And our findings certainly cannot be generalized to premenopausal women diagnosed with invasive cancer or to other populations of women.” Comments Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller in the Science Daily report (link below).

Daily Mail: Taking vitamin pills daily cut breast cancer death rate
Albert Einstein College: Multivitamins may protect older women with invasive breast cancer
Science Daily: Multivitamins With Minerals May Protect Older Women With Invasive Breast Cancer

Chief medical officer calls for free vitamins for kids “The chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has made this recommendation because there is increasing evidence that the number of children with vitamin D deficiency is rising. As many as 40% of young children may have levels below the accepted optimal threshold.” NHS Choices website – link to full story below.

In 2012 the chief medical officer for England recommended that all children aged six months to five-years-old should take vitamin D supplements. Indeed the UK Department of Health separately recommends that all children from six months to five years old are given a multivitamin supplement which contains not just Vitamin D, but Vitamins A and C too. *Unless they are drinking 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day – as infant formula has vitamins added to it*

Renewed fears about rickets caused by lack of vitamin D have prompted Professor Dame Sally Davies to call for a review of current policy, which distributes free vitamins only to low-income families. As a result, Professor Dame Sally Davies has asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to look into whether all children could get the tablets containing vitamins A, C and D for free.

NHS Choices News: Chief medical officer calls for free vitamins for kids
The Independent: Chief Medical Officer ‘ashamed’ as rickets makes a comeback

“Nearly one in five adults across the UK are eating less fruit and veg as prices soar. Nearly one in five adults have cut back on eating fruit and vegetables in the past year because of rising prices, new research revealed last night. Mintel said that just 24 per cent of the nation were now eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, the Department of Health target. .

The Daily Telegraph reported on the release of Mintel research whilst other organisations such as the NHS reported on research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which shows that falling incomes and rising prices meant consumers were buying more processed foods with increased saturated fat and sugar content.

At Cytoplan we talk about the ongoing ‘Nutrition Gap’ in modern society and it’s saddening and deeply worrying that despite the Governments best efforts to encourage ‘5-a-day’ and other healthy eating it would appear many people are not getting good levels of appropriate nutrients such as vitamins and minerals

NHS Choices News: Recession may lead to unhealthy diet
Daily Telegraph: Nearly one in five adults across the UK are eating less fruit and veg as prices soar
NHS Cytoplan: The Nutrition Gap

“Women who walk for an hour a day can cut their chance of breast cancer by 14%” The Guardian reported that a “new study has found that even moderate regular exercise is associated with lower risk of cancer”.

The study was carried out by researchers from the American Cancer Society and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. It was widely reported on in the UK mainstream media with a number of comments from breast cancer experts.

The NHS Choices ‘behind the headlines’ reviewed the research and in depth (link below) and it is well worth reading their observations and their ‘conclusions’ section at the end. There report includes the following summary of the study:

“This US cancer prevention study involved over 73,000 postmenopausal women who were tracked for 17 years. During this time 6% of the women developed breast cancer. The researchers then looked back to see whether reported time spent walking, sitting or in recreational physical activity was linked to risk of developing breast cancer. The researchers found that the most physically active women had 25% reduced cancer risk compared to the least active.”


NHS Choices News: Walking an hour a day may help cut breast cancer risk
The Guardian: Walking reduces breast-cancer risk study

If you have any questions regarding this article, any of the health topics raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.

Amanda Williams
01684 310099

Last updated on 15th December 2014 by


We'd love your comments on this article
It's easy, just post your questions, comments or feedback below

Names will be displayed as entered. Your email address will not be published. Required *