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  #1   ^
Old Fri, Jun-02-17, 11:11
mudgie mudgie is offline
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Default Fred A. Kummerow, an Early Opponent of Trans Fats, Dies at 102

Fred A. Kummerow, a German-born biochemist and lifelong contrarian whose nearly 50 years of advocacy led to a federal government ban on the use of trans-fatty acids in processed foods, a ruling that could prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths a year, died on Wednesday at his home in Urbana, Ill. He was 102.

His family announced his death. He had been a longtime professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Artificial trans fats — derived from the hydrogen-treated oils used to give margarine its easy-to-spread texture and prolong the shelf life of crackers, cookies, icing and hundreds of other staples in the American diet — were ruled unsafe by the Food and Drug Administration partly in response to a lawsuit that Professor Kummerow filed against the agency in 2013, two months shy of his 99th birthday. The ban, announced in 2015, goes into effect in 2018.

He had been one of the first scientists to suggest a link between processed foods and heart disease. In the 1950s, while studying lipids at the university, he analyzed diseased arteries from about two dozen people who had died of heart attacks and discovered that the vessels were filled with trans fats.

He followed up with a study involving pigs that were given a diet heavy in such artificial fats. He found high levels of artery-clogging plaque in them.

Professor Kummerow published his findings about the role of trans fats in 1957, a time when the prevailing view held that saturated fats like those found in butter and cream were the big culprit in atherosclerosis.

His report, which appeared in the journal Science, was not merely criticized. It was dismissed. Detractors pointed out that his research had been conducted on animals, which sometimes react very differently than humans do.

“For many years, he was a lonely voice in the wilderness,” said Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy organization based in Washington that in the 1980s began working to require the use of safer oils in food products.

Interviewed for this obituary in 2016, Professor Kummerow said that in the 1960s and ’70s the processed food industry, enjoying a cozy relationship with scientists, played a large role in keeping trans fats in people’s diets.

“Other scientists were more interested in what the industry was thinking than what I was thinking,” he said. He was often heckled by industry representatives when he presented his research at scientific conferences, he said.

But he gradually won over key members of the scientific establishment. Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the T. H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, credited Professor Kummerow with inspiring him to include trans fats for analysis as part of Harvard’s highly influential Nurses’ Health Study, the results of which were published in 1993.

One finding showed a direct link between the consumption of foods containing trans fats and heart disease in women. It was a turning point in scientific and medical thinking about trans fats.

Fred A. Kummerow in 2013 at the University of Illinois. Credit Sally Ryan for The New York Times
Yet it took another two decades for Professor Kummerow’s research to be translated into regulatory action. The American Heart Association began warning about trans fats around 2004. Finally, in 2015 — 58 years after Professor Kummerow published his findings — the F.D.A. ruled that trans fats were not considered safe and could no longer be added to food after June 18, 2018, unless a manufacturer could present convincing scientific evidence that a particular use was safe.

Dr. Willett estimated that the elimination of industrial trans fats will prevent 90,000 premature deaths a year.

Fred August Kummerow was born on Oct. 4, 1914, in Berlin into a poor family. His father, a laborer, moved the family to the United States in 1923 to join relatives in Milwaukee, where he found a job at a cement block factory. Professor Kummerow said he would likely have been destined for similar work had he not received a chemistry set from his uncle on his 12th birthday. “It opened the world of science to me,” he said.

He received a chemistry degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1939 and continued there for graduate studies. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1943.

During and immediately after World War II, while conducting research into lipids at Kansas State University, Professor Kummerow was awarded contracts by the Army Quartermaster Corps to help eliminate rancidity in frozen turkeys and chickens sent to troops overseas. A simple change in the poultry feed solved the problem, making possible the sale of frozen poultry in grocery stores.

Professor Kummerow moved his lipid research program to the University of Illinois in 1950 and remained there for the rest of his career.

Funding for the study of heart disease increased significantly after President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a severe heart attack in 1955. Grants from the National Institutes of Health enabled Professor Kummerow to conduct the research that led to the discovery of trans fats in diseased arteries.

He traveled frequently behind the Iron Curtain, speaking with scientists in the Soviet Union, as well as in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and East Germany. After the meetings, he sent reports to the State Department.

Professor Kummerow began his campaign to halt the use of trans fats when he found that food manufacturers had continued to rely heavily on trans fats even after his findings were corroborated by other scientists. In 2009 he filed a petition with the F.D.A. to ban the use of trans fats but, he said, received no response. He then sued the agency in 2013.

He is survived by a son, Max; two daughters, Jean and Kay; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson. His wife of 70 years, Amy, died of Parkinson’s disease at 94.

Dr. Willett, of Harvard, said trans fats had also been implicated in diabetes. In 2001, he co-wrote a paper showing a diet low in trans fats could help prevent Type 2 diabetes in women. “Heart disease was the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Professor Kummerow was one of the first scientists to suggest that the saturated fat in butter, cheese and meats did not contribute to the clogging of arteries and was in fact beneficial in moderate amounts. This hypothesis, controversial at the time, was proved correct.

His own diet, he said, included red meat, whole milk and eggs scrambled in butter.
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  #2   ^
Old Fri, Jun-02-17, 11:59
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Merpig Merpig is offline
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Wow, an amazing life - but to think he showed the relationship to trans-fats and heart disease in 1957, and yet here it is 2017 and they are STILL not fully banned until sometime next year. True he did his study on pigs but I understand that pigs, omnivorous creatures, are biologically similar to humans in many ways - unlike rabbits or mice. To think he had to SUE the FDA to finally get some action on banning trans-fats.

They we have Michael Jacobson, the Guy from CPSI, with his claims of working years for healhier fats - which in his case means eliminate whole milk, eggs, red meat, butter, coconut oil, etc and replacing them with the WORSE polyunsaturated oils. He was the driving force behind McDonald's switch from frying their fries in tallow (healthy) to using Canola oil (unhealthy). I wonder why on earth they chose to quote him????

Gee if trans-fats had been banned around 1957 or so, instead of not banned even now, I would have been trans-free most of my life. I wonder what difference that might have made in my health?
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  #3   ^
Old Fri, Jun-02-17, 12:16
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khrussva khrussva is offline
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Thanks for posting this. Good article. I wonder how many premature deaths this guy will end up saving due to his research and diligence in pushing against the grain (so to speak)?

Last edited by khrussva : Fri, Jun-02-17 at 13:23.
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  #4   ^
Old Fri, Jun-02-17, 12:46
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GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Thanks for the article. It's important to understand Kummerow's place in history and to know he was willing to take a stand to encourage action based his research and findings. We find ourselves in a similar situation today with many foodstuffs such as sugar.
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  #5   ^
Old Sat, Jun-03-17, 09:30
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WereBear WereBear is online now
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What a guy! Thanks for sharing this article, I wouldn't have known.

I avoid the news lately
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  #6   ^
Old Sun, Jun-04-17, 08:08
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Seejay Seejay is offline
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My sister knew about him through her connections in Champaign, the university, and a food science degree.

Check out this article from Champaign on his daily diet, at age 99. Spoiler - to me it looks Sissons Primal like, without the strength training.

At age 99, professor continues research

At age 99, professor continues research

Julie Wurth The (Champaign) News-Gazette Sep 27, 2014 CHAMPAIGN, Ill. |

Targeting a primary cause of heart disease might be enough for one research lifetime, but Fred Kummerow doesn't rest on past glory.

The biochemist who was the first to pinpoint the heart risks of trans fats in processed foods — and challenge long-held theories about the role of dietary cholesterol — is turning his attention to two other debilitating diseases: Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

At age 99. Almost 100, in fact (on Oct. 4). Kummerow, an emeritus professor of comparative biosciences at the University of Illinois, officially retired more than a quarter-century ago, at age 71.

But he's kept up his lab and is still sending out grant proposals.

"My research has been on heart disease, but I've finished that. I've found the answer," he says. "Now I'm working on problems in the brain."

Kummerow doesn't stop to think about his age.

"Nobody knows when he's going to die. And I have no idea," he says.

He's not wasting any time. Most days he's busy churning out papers with help from his primary aide, nursing assistant Lou Ann Carper from Diversified Health Services.

"She does the typing and the arguing," he says.

Poverty to Fort Knox

Kummerow was born a century ago in Berlin and moved to the United States with his family in 1923, when his dad was invited to take a job at a block factory in Milwaukee. The factory closed in the Depression, and Kummerow grew up in poverty.

He worked odd jobs after high school, including at Miller Brewery, to save enough to attend college. He was only able to get through with help from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's National Youth Administration, which funded university jobs for students. He was assigned to a biochemistry lab and was mentored by a professor there, eventually winning an assistantship and graduating with a chemistry degree. He started working with the professor and moved his parents to Madison, where they both got jobs at the university. (His mom lived to be 97.)

He later worked as a nutrition scientist at Clemson University, where he developed a method to add niacin to grits to combat a disease known as pellagra, caused by a niacin deficiency. People were eating lots of corn and pork fat, but eggs, milk and meat were scarce. Kummerow and his colleagues found a macaroni manufacturer who ground the vitamins with macaroni dough, and "they looked just like corn grits."

He took a job at Kansas State from 1945 to 1950, but was later fired "because I didn't tell the department head what I was doing."

"He's not a good rule follower," Carper notes.

Kummerow caught the UI's attention after he received a citation from the Army at Fort Knox for research that solved a problem with frozen turkeys. It seems the birds would turn rancid when shipped overseas because they were fed linseed. Kummerow fed them corn instead, and the taste was preserved.

He joined the UI faculty in 1950.

Pioneer and contrarian

In the 1950s, using samples of arteries from patients who had died of heart attacks, he discovered that the diseased arteries were filled with artificial fatty acids called trans fats — hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils found in margarine and 30,000 processed foods, Kummerow says.

That accumulation causes blood vessels to take up calcium more easily, leading to blockages, he says. Trans fats also prevent the synthesis of a lipid called prostacyclin, which causes blood clots.

His findings were not widely accepted for decades. But last November, the Food and Drug Administration proposed banning trans fats in foods. Kummerow had petitioned the agency to do so in 2009 and threatened a lawsuit in 2013 unless it acted. The industry is still fighting that proposal, arguing that a little trans fat isn't a bad thing. He begs to differ.

His position on cholesterol and animal fats puts him at odds with other scientists. He says foods with saturated fats, such as butter, are beneficial in small doses, because they contain amino acids essential for the body.

Animal fats also have cholesterol, which is why physicians urge patients to limit fats in their diet or use vegetable fats instead.

But Kummerow has been arguing since the 1970s that cholesterol is not the problem. It's the oxidation of fats that causes damage to the body, he says.

Fats are oxidized when they're overheated, usually in commercial fryers — for french fries, fried chicken, etc. They turn into compounds that aren't metabolized correctly by enzymes in the liver, he says.

"The way we use our food is complex. You've got to get the right food in your mouth so your body can work normally," he says.

The theory applies to the brain as well as the heart, he says. The brain is 20 percent protein and 80 percent fat. Oxidized fats destroy dopamine, which is involved in Parkinson's disease, he says.

Kummerow hopes to work with Carle Foundation Hospital to take blood samples from patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to test for two suspect compounds involved in oxidation. If he finds them, he hopes to work with dietitians to alter the patients' diets.

The big holdup is money. He is working with a firm in Silicon Valley that has provided $25,000, but he needs to raise another $15,000 by Oct. 15 to continue his research. He has grant proposals out, and Carle has shown interest but hasn't committed money yet, he says.

The cause is close to his heart. His wife, Amy Kummerow, who served on the Champaign County Board for 20 years and was a Democratic candidate for Congress, died of Parkinson's disease two years ago. The two met in graduate school and were married for 70 years.

Advice for retirees

"Eat a decent diet, exercise every day and keep your brain functioning. Keep thinking. After you retire, don't just sit back and do nothing," he said.

When he was younger, Kummerow would bike two miles to the lab and back home every day, and swim for an hour at lunchtime. He had to stop swimming after he hurt his knee at the pool — two years ago. At age 97.

His morning routine now involves getting up at 8, showering, eating breakfast, working and then exercising for an hour before lunch — 10 laps around the house.

He eats a scrambled egg (in a teaspoon of butter) every morning, plus a spoonful of cooked oatmeal and wheatberries, some yogurt, a sprinkle of chopped nuts, a banana and other fruit.

Lunch always includes some kind of meat or protein, perhaps a potato, fruit, and lots of vegetables. He doesn't eat crackers (trans fats) and limits himself to whole grain breads. Supper is the same, with smaller portions.

He drinks whole milk with all three meals. You need animal fat so your stomach can absorb the fat-soluble vitamin A, D and E in the milk, he argues.

He is his own best advertisement, looking two or three decades younger than his age. While he uses a wheelchair because of his knee, he takes no medications, other than vitamins.

As for his birthday plans: he's throwing a party for Ann Callis, Democratic candidate for state representative.

"It's kind of a fundraiser for both of us," he says.
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  #7   ^
Old Mon, Jun-05-17, 06:09
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is online now
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Wow. Proof of concept, he was.
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  #8   ^
Old Thu, Jun-15-17, 11:32
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Judynyc Judynyc is offline
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Default Fred A. Kummerow, scientist who raised early warnings about trans fats, dies at 102

This is the guy that finally got trans fats banned. A true pioneer.

"Fred A. Kummerow, a scientist who fought the food industry and prevailing medical practices for decades until his early warnings about the dangers of trans fats were finally vindicated, died May 31 at his home in Urbana, Ill. He was 102.

His death was announced by the University of Illinois, where he was a longtime professor. The cause was not disclosed.

Dr. Kummerow, who maintained a research laboratory until he was 101, was a biochemist who specialized in the study of lipids, or compounds containing fats. He also had an interest in the study of nutrition, dating to his days as a student, when he had to care for laboratory rats.

Early in his career, Dr. Kummerow helped develop a cure for pellagra, a chronic disease that killed more than 100,000 Americans between 1900 and 1940, primarily in the South. The disease was caused by a vitamin deficiency, which Dr. Kummerow solved by adding niacin to grits and other foods.

In the 1950s, Dr. Kummerow began his long and often contrarian study of heart disease. His research focused on the accumulated fats in blood vessels.

At the time, most doctors believed that saturated fat from animal products such as meats, butter and cheese were the principal culprits in producing harmful amounts of cholesterol, which could lead to heart disease.
Dr. Kummerow questioned that assumption as early as 1957, when he published his first paper about the dangers of trans fats, also known as trans-fatty acids. Most trans fats are created through an industrial process in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oils, making them solid at room temperature.

“Partially hydrogenated” oils can be stored longer without spoiling and can be used in margarine, for deep-fat frying and in countless forms of processed foods.

To Dr. Kummerow, they were “a diet of sudden death.”

In his laboratory, he examined the arteries of people who had died from heart attacks and strokes, discovering that they were often clogged with the residue of trans fats. In his experiments with pigs, he found the same results: If they were fed artificially produced fats, their arteries hardened and filled with plaque.

“By the time they were 3 years old,” Dr. Kummerow told NPR in 2014, “they had exactly the same kind of structure in their coronary arteries as the people who had died of heart disease.”

more at the link
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