Omega-6 (Vegetable Oil) Harmful (N=500, P=.05, Large Effect)

One of the main claims of “paleo” bloggers is that it’s better to have saturated fat than polyunsaturated vegetable oils (except flaxseed oil), that omega-3 is good polyunsaturated and omega-6 is bad past some ratio of 6:3.

Experts endorsed by the US gov, Harvard, and in general the high-status pro diet/medicine institution got this badly wrong, Seth Roberts notes¬†that there’s some strong new evidence (reanalysis of existing randomized/controlled N=500 data):

As these studies go, it was relatively small, only about 500 subjects. The main results:

Compared with the control group, the intervention group had an increased risk of all cause mortality (17.6% v 11.8%[emphasis added]; hazard ratio 1.62 (95% confidence interval 1.00 to 2.64); P=0.051), cardiovascular mortality (17.2% v 11.0%; 1.70 (1.03 to 2.80); P=0.037), and mortality from coronary heart disease (16.3% v 10.1%; 1.74 (1.04 to 2.92); P=0.036).

A 50% increase in death rate! The safflower oil was so damaging that even this small study yielded significant differences.

The authors go on to show that this result (omega-6 is bad for you) is supported by other studies. Walter Willett and countless other experts were quite wrong on the biggest health issue of our time (how to reduce heart disease, the #1 cause of death).

I’m still prepared to accept that, for whatever reason, red meat intake is correlated with (even causes) a large increase in mortality (heart disease and colon cancer if I recall correctly). But is the saturated fat the culprit? And the type of diet fed to beef makes a difference in the lipids we consume (feed them with omega 6 or trans fats and it would be understandably unhealthy to eat). But pros were wrong about cholesterol (lowering it with statins is harmful) and vegetable oil.