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Just what we need — syndicated columnists and politicians getting involved in nutrition and science ("The politics of nutrition science," Dec. 20).

We do not need conspiracy theories to explain nutrition recommendations. Much of what columnist Jonah Goldberg presents is a distorted view of the evidence, but I will address his misrepresentation of Ancel Keys' findings.

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Mr. Keys' primary and most significant finding from the 10-year follow-up on the populations in the Seven Country Study was that three countries where men 40 to 59 years of age that consumed 18 percent to 20 percent of their calories from saturated fat had more than four times the mortality from heart disease compared to men in four countries where 5 percent to 9 percent of their calories were from saturated fat.

He found that percent of calories from saturated fat was strongly correlated with high serum cholesterol levels, which were in turn strongly correlated with coronary heart disease.

The relationship between saturated fat, serum cholesterol and heart disease has been substantiated many times over in clinical studies.

Science is messy; there are always studies that do not support certain hypotheses and scientists who disagree. That is why we need reputable scientists to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to review the studies in a rigorous manner, and to present the conclusions that scientists can agree are supported by current evidence.

The process works. Leave the conspiracy theorists and politicians out of it.

Ted Buxton, Columbia

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