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Historical Event

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November 1, 1955

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Keys vs Pickering - Keys is embarrassed by lack of evidence for his diet-heart hypothesis.






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A notable early example of this enduring controversy was “Keys versus Pickering”. The venue was the World Health Organization, and the year was 1955. There and then, Ancel Keys put forward his ideas expecting to be accepted on the spot, but he was challenged by Sir George Pickering, who according to witnesses said, “Yes, and Professor Keys would you be kind enough to cite for us the principle piece of evidence that you think supports this diet-heart theory of yours?” Keys’s evidence, at that time, was not convincing and his hypothesis was not accepted, which drove him to build the evidence that would allow him to prove his point.

Health revolutionary: the life and work of Ancel Keys, (Documenting Public Health Leadership project of the Associations of Schools of Public Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration), DVD. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Schoool of Public Health, 2002


"The pivotal moment in Keys life -- Keys got up from being knocked around and said 'I'll show those guys'...and he designed the Seven Countries study." - Nina Teicholz - TBFS - Page 36

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Diet-Heart Hypothesis
The diet-heart hypothesis, also known as the lipid hypothesis, proposes that there is a direct relationship between dietary fat intake, particularly saturated fat and cholesterol, and the development of heart disease. It suggests that consuming high amounts of these fats leads to an increase in blood cholesterol levels, specifically low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which in turn contributes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries. Some consider this hypothesis nothing more than wishful thinking.
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