Medicine: The Fat of the Land

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"I've Got 5,000 Cases." Though Keys's theory gained sanction from the American Heart Association last month (TIME, Dec. 26), it is still questioned by some other researchers with conflicting ideas of what causes coronary disease. The main difference is that they variously blame hypertension, stress, smoking and physical inactivity, while Keys gives these causes only minor roles. But the army of Keys supporters is growing. Some of them are converted skeptics, like Heart Specialist Irvine Page (TIME cover, Oct. 31, 1955), who, with Harvard Nutritionist Frederick Stare and others, drafted the A.H.A.'s position paper. Keys's chief weapon has been the sheer weight of solid statistics. Says one Philadelphia physician: "Every time you question this man Keys, he says, 'I've got 5,000 cases. How many do you have?' "

Keys gets his cases all over the world. A doggedly inquisitive scientist, he is as familiar a figure in the vineyards of Crete, the mountains of Dalmatia and the forests of Finland as he is on the University of Minnesota campus. Money to support his wide-ranging studies comes from the U.S. Public Health Service ($100,000 a year), the American Heart Association ($17,000), the International Society of Cardiology, six foreign governments and about a dozen other no-strings sources. One of his chief fund raisers is Dr. Paul Dudley White, President Eisenhower's heart specialist, who, together with Mrs. White and Mrs. Keys, has traveled widely with Keys on foreign research missions. Keys used to get money also from the National Dairy Council and American Meat Institute. Shrugs Keys: "They didn't like my findings."

Three Breakfasts a Day. A man whose interest in food is sybaritical as well as clinical, Ancel Keys tends to regard his own life as one long experience of culinary concern. As a child in Berkeley, Calif., he satisfied his early (and still strong) yen for fresh fruits by stealing apples, apricots and cherries from neighborhood orchards. Meals at home were varied and imaginative—"Mother was reputed to be a great cook''—but Ancel was not home much. Bright but unbridled, he disliked school, at ten spent three days camping with two young friends on the slopes of nearby Grizzly Peak. "We didn't see a solitary soul." says Keys. "Just hiked and ate. Three breakfasts a day—Aunt Jemima pancakes, dried prunes and bacon. Not too bad a diet. You can eat anything for a few days."

Already his present height (5 ft. 7½ in.) at 13, Ancel "sort of stopped growing." But he did not step eating. ''I was always ready to eat," he says. "Chinatown was wonderful: an egg roll and two bowls of chow fan for 40¢. A little concentrated on the calories, perhaps." Precociously peripatetic at 15, Ancel spent the summer in a lumber camp, left school midway through the year to shovel bat manure in an Oatman, Ariz. cave. "Great fun," says Keys. "I slept out in the desert with the other desert rats. I'd hate to think what we ate. Stews and sourdough bread, I guess."

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