More Rewriting of Ancel Keys and History Courtesy of Dr. Cate Shanahan
As I mentioned in my "opening post" on the matter of Ancel Keys, one of the inspirations was listening, for the umpteenth time, to a low carber blaming our ills on the "low fat diet" we were all duped into switching to by Ancel Keys. In this case, it was Dr. Cate Shanahan:
Reversing Diabetes ^Knowledge Summit this past May.
This woman wrote a book called Deep Nutrition with her ghost-writer husband Luke who has absolutely ZERO relevant background in the subject matter. That book is an abomination. Seriously. As she possesses an MD (how she's board certified and practicing eludes me at this point!), the misinformation it contains on basic matters is even more potentially dangerous than that put out by some of the other diet gurus out there.
If anyone is interested in more ridiculousness by Shanahan, they can check out my label here: Cate Shanahan. So as I was reminded of this the past day or so, I thought I'd check to see what she had to say about old A.Ben in her book. Oh my. She didn't disappoint, and may have even bested Teicholz's obvious disdain for the man with her rhetoric. In honor of her book cover, I shall use green for the excerpts from Chapter 8 in her book, a chapter entitled: Good Fats and Bad, How the Cholesterol Theory Created a Sickness Epidemic.
The Man Who Brought Us the Low-Fat Campaign
It’s 1958. A tall, fit Ancel Keys stands before a laboratory chalkboard on a popular CBS news show entitled “The Search” to warn us of something he calls “The new American plague.” Onscreen, we see a row of ten little wooden men standing on Keys’ desk. He flicks five of them with his finger, knocking them over as he speaks: “You know the chief killer of Americans is cardiovascular disease. Of ten men we can expect five to get it.” From that moment forward, America would turn to Keys for advice on preventing heart disease.
Leaving aside Shanahan's obsession with physical characteristics, it was a real "epidemic" of heart disease amongst relatively affluent middle aged men that sparked Keys' interest in the field. If anyone can get this footage I'd love to see it!
The father of the “diet-heart hypothesis” was not a cardiologist or even an MD. Keys had earned his PhD in the 1930s studying salt-water eels. His nutritional credentialing originated in the fact that, during WWII, the military assigned him to create the ready-to-eat meal that could be stored for years and shipped to millions of soldiers.
This is pretty rich coming from someone whose grasp of biochemistry is so poor she thinks sugar is sticky because it glycates the proteins in your skin. I don't suppose Cornell is too proud of the fact that she claims to have "trained" there. I don't care if my critics get their panties bunched when I bring this up, but Cate's bio statements of being "trained" using the name of a prestigious institution is resume inflation plain and simple. She has no degree from Cornell and for all we know she failed the biochemistry and genetics classes she took there. Considering that she purports herself to be an expert, this matters. Also, considering her own lack of apparent relevant education and experience, it's especially ironic she should seek to belittle Keys'. Keys holds not just one, but two PhD's -- receiving the second in Physiology from Cambridge after extensive post graduate work from the first in Oceanography & Biology ... which followed an MS in Zoology and a BA in Economics & Political Science. In between PhDs, he taught Biochemistry at Harvard, to say nothing of all that transpired before he founded his lab in Minnesota. Can we dispense with the Keys as scientific illiterate nonsense? As to cardiology, Keys presumably learned a thing or two in his travels around the world with Dr. White ... which travels were the informal precedent for the Seven Countries Study. Take it away Cate!
Dr. Keys named his pocket-sized meal the K-ration, after himself. When the war was over, the Minnesota public health department hired Keys to study the problem of rising rates of heart attacks. But ego got the better of him.I've now read quite a few accounts of Keys and Minnesota ... I don't think it quite went this way. As to Keys' ego? Eh ... just throw that in to bait the reader.
At his first scientific meeting he presented the idea that, in countries where people ate more animal fat, people died of heart disease more often, suggesting a possible causative relationship. But his statistical work was so sloppy (see figure) that he was lambasted by his peers.OK ... here is her figure.
Do we even need to discuss all that is wrong with this picture? Mark Sisson has this woman speaking at PrimalCONs, she will be doing some sort of metabolic counseling for him, she is touted in articles and such as an expert advising The Lakers, based on some coach reading this book. Apparently she thought it cute to replace data points with hearts, but it is not very cute to "reproduce" data by changing it. She never cites the original for comparison. Dr. Cate Shanahan, I'm calling you out for your deception and inaccuracies. I've extended the x-axis to 50% and played with the aspect ratios to closely match the scaling of the original plot in Yerushalmy & Hilleboe to that of Shanahan. I've also dropped a vertical at 25% fat so you can get a better idea of the Shananagans afoot.
Yeah, nothing like making up data while doling out accusations of deception. SHAME ON YOU CATE. You really ought to be embarrassed. Oh ... and just where did that 23rd country come from??
Rather than cleaning up his act, Keys vowed vengeance: “I’ll show those guys.”198Clean up your act.
More than anything else, it seems, Keys wanted everyone to think he single-handedly discovered the cause of heart disease. And so did the country’s margarine producers, who now had the perfect spokesperson. Though Keys’ work failed to convince professional scientists (at least for the first decade or two), the margarine industry knew he still had a shot at convincing the man on the street. If the public thought butter and other animal fats would “clog their arteries,” they might buy margarine instead.Professional scientists? I.just.can't.
A few years after the embarrassing performance in front of an audience capable of sniffing out misleading statistics, Keys was on TV laying out those same, misleading statistics to a trusting public.
How about making up graphs and presenting them to trusting readers who are capable of counting?
The American Heart Association, which depends on large donations of cash from the vegetable oil industry, jumped on the bandwagon with Keys. They took his sloppy statistics and ran, eventually convincing most doctors that “steak is a heart attack on a plate” and margarine made from hydrogenated vegetable oils (full of trans fat) was healthy. Within a decade, grocery store shelves were loaded with ready-to-eat foods, and Americans were buying. No longer insisting on fresh food from small farmers right in our neighborhoods, we’d been convinced that products made in distant factories were safer, healthier, and better. Funny thing is, they were also cheaper. But even Keys had his doubts about eating them.
Oops! Everything I Said About Saturated Fat Was Really About Margarine —Paraphrasing Ancel Keys, PhD
I interrupt this version of revisionist history to point out that the formatting -- bolded and apart from the text -- was Shanahan's, and her own sloppy "statistics" are evidence that she should not even attempt to paraphrase anyone. And now to finish up our excerpt with some Ancel Keys time travel.
By 1961, under increasing scientific scrutiny, Keys began to waver in his support for his own (now publicly accepted) diet-heart hypothesis.199 Scientists had pointed out Dr. Keys’ misleading use of scientific terms. In public, he denounced animal fat as the culprit behind the rising rates of heart attacks. But in his laboratory and human experiments, he didn’t use animal fat.200 His subjects were fed margarine made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. And what was in the margarine? Trans fat—a full 48 percent! To conclude from studies that used hydrogenated vegetable oil that animal fat causes heart disease is utterly nonsensical.
Unfortunately, the public never heard the straight story. Because margarine contains saturated fat (made during the hydrogenation process that also generates trans fat), industry had the opening they needed to put an antisaturated-fat spin on Keys’ findings. Ignoring the presence of trans (and other distorted fats in margarine), spokesmen simply blamed saturated fat. And on TV, Keys equated saturated fat with animal fat, completing the deception.201 This ingenious spin on the facts is akin to poisoning rats with strychnine-laced milk and then blaming the deaths on the milk.
The anti-saturated fat, anti-cholesterol ball was rolling along nicely, and there was so much money being made selling “healthy” low-cholesterol, low-fat processed foods, the rolling ball wasn’t going to be easy to stop. All the news reports you’ve ever heard on the hazards of saturated fat and cholesterol have been based on studies that were performed by using hydrogenated vegetable oil full of unnatural molecules that aren’t found in butter, steak, or any natural food.202 With so much junk science saturating the media, professionals who give nutritional advice need to go beyond the sound bites to find the truth for themselves. While it’s easy to go with the flow and tell patients to “cut out animal fat,” doing so turns well-meaning healthcare practitioners into unwitting participants in an ongoing campaign to sell high profit-margin man-made substitutes for natural foods—substitutes which, in turn, make people ill.
198. Health Revolutionary: The Life and Work of Ancel Keys (movie, dead link to online source)199. Hydrogenated fats in the diet and lipids in the serum of man. Anderson JT. J Nutr. 75(4):338, 1961
200. Hydrogenated fats in the diet and lipids in the serum of man. Anderson JT. J Nutr. 75 (4):338, 1961201. Health Revolutionary: The Life and Work of Ancel Keys202. Tracing citations in consensus articles and other policy setting research statements leads us back to Keys and his junk science. Case in point, the 2004 National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) coordinating committee issued an update to the third Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III) Consensus panel statement
I would repeat my request the CBS footage and also put in a request for the movie from 198/201. The link in her book is dead and I've had no search love as of yet. As to the duplicated reference 199/200, that full text is available here. This 1961 paper opened with:
In man, the average cholesterol response in the serum to changes in the dietary fat can be predicted reasonably well when only the common natural fatty acids are in volved (Keys et al., '57, '59; Turpeinen et al., '60). Whether the same relationships hold with the unnatural fatty acids produced by hydrogenation is uncertain.
This would be the study Teicholz slanders Keys' over in her book -- describing it as being ethically questionable because it was conducted in a mental hospital. It's beyond the scope of this post and my time availability to look into this further. I'll leave this line of inquiry to anyone who feels so inclined. But her "dismantling" of Keys doesn't even make good on her promise of how Keys brought the low fat diet to America. Her tale weaves a picture of a man who merely wanted to poison us all with hydrogenated vegetable oils, the more the better. Sometimes when you seek to demonize you contradict yourself, and Shanahan does that quite often in this book. (Later in the chapter, she cites the exploding rates of cardiac deaths in 1950, the same deaths she makes Keys out to be exaggerating to drive his agenda in he opening paragraph).
I think this post provides ample evidence for why Deep Nutrition should be pulled from the shelves and apologized for, not touted as any sort of academic work by a serious medical professional.