Dietary effects on heart health… there aren’t any.

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.

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16 thoughts on “Dietary effects on heart health… there aren’t any.

  1. Apocryphal I know, but having worked for some time in both A&E and CCU my experience is that smokers are much ‘less’ likely to present with ‘heart disease’ (much like my experience on the oncology wards and cancer).

    The thing is, what diagnostic definition did they use for deciding the presence or absence of ‘disease’ in the sample?

    You are aware that here doctors don’t rely on, for example, a ‘degree of compromised cardiac function’ as the sole diagnostic criteria. No, they include ‘risk factors’ in that diagnosis, so by definition being a smoker automatically increases your risk of being diagnosed as having a ‘heart disease’ (whether or not any compromised function occurs or will ever occur).

    So … that just made me wonder, since the smokers and never-smokers have essentially identical rates of diagnosis, is the “lower heart disease risk” for former-smokers simply an artefact of removing a spurious (made-up, inflated, hyped, …) diagnostic criteria. If so, then wouldn’t that indicate that smokers would (minus that self-same spurious criteria) have noticeably less risk of heart disease – and wouldn’t admitting that just cause a significant rise in heart disease (as well as strokes, panic attacks and general wailing-and-gnashing-of teeth) from the ‘doctors’ and anti-smoking zealots?

    “One day I might consider it. But not today.” Dear god man, what are you trying to do, alter a universal constant or shake the entire basis of a belief system? ‘Leggy smokes’ is as unchallengeable as Planck’s and ‘The Trinity’ of Leggy/Whiskey/Tobacco is …. well, it’s fundamental I tell you! So stop it, I’m too old to face universal collapse and/or Armageddon at my age!

    Liked by 1 person

      • On reflection, and showing a distinct lack of bothering to remember the catechism they tried to beat into me, I believe that should have read “The Trinity – The Leggy, The Smoke and The Holy Single Malt Spirit” instead.

        Nevertheless, I stand by my assertion that I’m too damn old (and grumpy) to face the four horsemen of the PC Tribulation – Made-up-diseases, Micro-Aggression/Triggers, BMI-obesity and, on his pale horse, Being-disconnected-from-the-internet.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This study parallels the lies we’ve been fed about the fabulous effects of a Mediterranean diet. When I checked, average life expectancy in Italy was identical to that of the UK. We have, therefore, been fed total bollox wrapped in a thick coat of bullshit yet again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A subtle variation of the old scam? The authors insist that the results are preliminary and that further research is needed. Thus, like the EU and referenda, they’ll keep at it until they come up with the right answer. Funding for another 20 years is almost inevitable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Having just proved that there is no such thing as a healthy diet, they blithly announce that the ex-smokers must have switched to a healthy diet to avoid heart disease. Hmmm?

    Ain’t Science wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s interesting to note that Greece, which has the highest annual per capita consumption of cigarettes in the world (2,995, as opposed to UK which comes in at a lowly 73rd with a per capita consumption of 750) ranks 19th equal with Korea, Finland, Portugal, Ireland Malta, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Austria and Germany in terms of life expectancy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cigarette_consumption_per_capita

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

    You would have thought that with the Greeks smoking four times as much as the Brits that they would be dropping like flies with ‘smoking related’ diseases, would you not?

    Not only that, but far from suffering the dire effects of smoking on their health (and we all know that smokers only live half-lives because they are so unhealthy, coughing their way from one miserable day to the next – according to Tobacco Control and its acolytes, that is) they are well above EU average for ‘Healthy life years at birth’, in fact slightly better than the non-smoking Brits.

    How can this be? Surely ‘Tobacco Control’ wouldn’t be lying to us, would they?

    Noooo, never….

    Worth noting also is that the number one spot for longevity is held by the Japanese, who clock in at a respectable number 17 in the smoking stakes, with an annual per capita consumption of 1,841. Not nearly as good as the Greeks, but more than double the Brits.

    Liked by 1 person

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