We're all told that a better diet and more exercise will help reduce our risk of heart disease - but two major trials have just failed to prove it.
Neither approach reduced levels of the 'bad' LDL cholesterol, or lowered the numbers of people who die from heart disease or who were treated in hospital for it.
The first trial, called FIT, involved 501 healthy participants who adopted a healthier diet and started engaging in regular exercise. But after a year, LDL levels in the healthier-lifestyle group were no better than in a group who had carried on with their usual diet and general lack of exercise.
In the second trial, heart attack patients were put on a strenuous exercise programme with the expectation that they would live longer, and need less hospital care, than patients who didn't exercise. But after 30 months, the level of death and hospital stays was no better in the exercise group.
Despite failing to prove a link, FIT's head researcher Lori Mosca remains adamant that one exists, and that the standard scientific model used in most medical trials is inappropriate for lifestyle research. "Lifestyle needs to be tested using a different paradigm, with multiple outcomes that show benefit," she says.
Alternative medicine's practitioners say something similar, and nobody listens to them either.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009; 301: 150-1).