England — Some data just released by the Medical Research Council (MRC) should create some interesting controversy among medical circles during the next several months. Peter Elwood, director of the Epidemiology Unit at Landough Hospital in Penarth, South Glamorgan, dropped a bombshell. His ongoing life-style study of 5000 men produced some startling and very unpopular findings. He discovered that men who drank the most full-fat milk and ate butter (rather than margarine) had a lower risk of suffering from heart attacks! (New Scientist 1991; 129(1759):17)
Needless to say, everyone in the medical community and the officials at the MRC are upset. (I’m sure margarine producers aren’t thrilled about the news either.) Since Elwood made his findings public prior to having them published in a peer-reviewed journal, the MRC has instructed him to make no further statements to the press.
We’ve learned, however, that Elwood’s study collected data on 5,000 British men between the ages of 45 and 59 for a period of 10 years. Of those that drank at least a pint of whole milk a day, only 1% suffered heart attacks! Some researchers are already claiming the difference is due to a healthier life-style on the part of the milk and butter consumers. Others, however, think that milk and butter may have some yet undiscovered benefits.
In 1929, Dr. J.E. Crewe with the Mayo Foundation reported “uniformly excellent” success using raw milk in treatment programs for high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, kidney disease, prostate problems and tuberculosis. He later stated that the only problem with using raw milk to treat these ailments was that it was too simple. As such, it didn’t appeal to the medical profession. Only raw milk seemed to be of benefit. Pasteurized forms seemed to make most conditions worse.
It will be interesting to see how the results from this study are handled. Admittedly, his interpretation of the data may be flawed, but if his findings are simply swept under the rug and never published we can suspect another instance where the “golden rule” went into effect. (The “golden rule” simply says that whoever has the most gold makes the rules.)