For years it has been claimed that Nordic diets high in fish and other generally-regarded-as-good foods would save you from death by making your heart beat forever. A study in Sweden has now debunked this.
From the information I have been passed so far, it appears that the Danish diet is largely composed of pork, bacon and cakes. I think I’ll go with that one. I like fish but, y’know, bacon…
But I digress, as always. Back to the Swedish study…
The study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, analysed data from the Swedish Women’s Lifestyle and Health cohort study, which included 43,310 middle-aged women who completed a food frequency survey in 1991-92 with follow-up until the end of 2012.
A sample set of over 43,000 and a study over 20 years. Sounds pretty comprehensive. They must have been disappointed by the result.
Nearly 8,400 of the women developed heart disease during the follow-up period – but the researchers found no association between a healthy Nordic food index and heart disease risk, despite previous studies to the contrary.
Nope, no link between diet and heart disease. Eat whatever you like, just not too much of it, and you might or might not get heart disease because of something else.
What’s the ‘something else’? Oh, have a guess…
The researchers also aimed to determine if the effect of a healthy Nordic diet was modified by smoking, drinking, BMI or age, and found that smoking was the only statistically significant factor –
Yep. The only significant factor, Ah, but…
– but only among former smokers, who were found to have a lower heart disease risk than current smokers or those who had never smoked.
The only statistically significant result from this huge study was that ex-smokers have a lower risk of heart disease than smokers or never-smokers. Since there is no mention of a difference between smokers and never-smokers, I think it’s safe to assume there isn’t one.
This is explained away as ‘oh, but those ex-smokers would have changed to a healthy diet when they stopped smoking’ but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to back this up. The possibility that it’s the smoking and then stopping that causes the effect cannot even be considered. That would be heresy.
Well, science seems no nearer to pinning down the cause of heart disease – apart from genetics and that unmentionable thing these days, getting old. There are likely to be multiple causes but one of them isn’t diet.
Another of them isn’t smoking. If there had been a significant effect of smoking in this study, you can bet it would have been shouted out loud. There was no such effect. Only a beneficial effect of stopping smoking.
One day I might consider it. But not today.