According to a new study, eating cheese will not lead to a heart attack or stroke, in research funded by three separate pro-dairy lobby groups.
Those findings, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, were widely reported online this week, with a team of international experts claiming that fears about the high saturated fat content of cheese represent “a misconception [and] mistaken belief.”
The study’s results come from a new meta-analysis of 29 previous academic papers on dairy products and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The paper concluded that cheese does not raise the risk of having a stroke or death, with the yellow foodstuff having a “neutral” impact on human health.
“There’s quite a widespread but mistaken belief among the public that dairy products, in general, can be bad for you, but that’s a misconception,” Ian Givens, a professor at Reading University, told The Guardian. “While it is a widely held belief, our research shows that that’s wrong.”
This meta-analysis was part-funded by three pro-dairy groups – Global Dairy Platform, Dairy Research Institute and Dairy Australia – but the researchers claimed that those groups had no influence over the findings.
But as Gizmodo points out, the problem with drawing a conclusion from the meta-analysis of nearly 30 other studies is that the researchers get to pick and choose which papers they want to include in their study and ignore the ones they don’t.
“In this case, the researchers excluded any study where the participants eating the cheese were children, had prior cases of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other chronic disease,” writes Ryan F Mandelbaum.
Based on the studies involved in this paper, the research suggests that eating cheese does not correlate with a higher mortality rate, nor increased in heart disease. While the researchers are clear to mention any ethical conflicts of interest, listing all of the food companies that have funded their research in the past in a very lengthy paragraph, most media reporting on the wonders of cheese have failed to note this.