International statistics indicate that there is a close correlation between the consumption of saturated fats (dairy fats and meat fats) and the mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD), and this conception has been confirmed by many epidemiological studies. Such studies alone, however, cannot prove the existence of a cause-and-effect relationship between these two variables; dietary intervention trials are needed.
The Finnish Mental Hospital Study was such a trial, conducted in two hospitals near Helsinki in 1959-1971. Practically total replacement of dairy fats by vegetable oils in the diets of these hospitals was followed by a substantial reduction in the mortality of men from CHD. Total mortality also appeared to be reduced. As to the causes of death other than CHD, none was significantly influenced by dietary change. This was also true for malignant neoplasms.
To alleviate the burden of CHD on public health, many investigators have recommended important changes in the quantity and quality of dietary fats.