I was interested in my nutritionist colleagues take on last week’s Daily Mail article, The Cholesterol Con?.

It challenges the medical orthodoxy about the role of statins for people (myself included) with high cholesterol.  The Mail article, by GP Dr Robert Kendrick, followed up a report in The Lancet (Are lipid-lowering guidelines evidence-based?). It too examines the role of statins to prevent coronary heart disease (CHD).

The Agency doesn’t give advice about statins because they’re a medicine and not part of our remit. Whenever we’re asked about them we suggest that people seek medical advice. But we do recommend that people reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat to reduce the risk of developing CHD.

This is based on a broad range of evidence, primarily from epidemiological studies, which suggests that a high intake of saturated fat is associated with increased risk of CHD.  Intervention trials have also found that people who eat a lot of saturated fat increase their levels of LDL-cholesterol levels, the ‘bad’ cholesterol that’s a risk factor for CHD.

My colleagues in the Agency’s Nutrition Division tell me there hasn’t yet been large intervention trials to establish the direct link between saturated fat intake and CHD itself.

The Agency wants to help clarify this relationship and is currently awaiting the results of the FSA-funded intervention trial which is examining the effects of different amounts and types of dietary fat and carbohydrate on a wide range of risk factors associated with the development of CHD in over 500 people.  It is set to report in spring 2008.   Meanwhile, check out our advice.