Many people just don't have the resources to subscribe to the journals and hence don't read the original articles, so here is the full article as published in the Lancet in 1990.

For anyone diagnosed with MS who doubts the role of diet as a treatment to prevent progression of the illness, perhaps through criticism of the Swank study by health professionals and others, this is 'must read' stuff.

And for healthcare workers who have never read the actual study, here is the opportunity. It is telling that the journal chose to publish this landmark scientific paper under the category 'Viewpoint' as if the issue was being debated.

To reiterate, Swank's study used the best available scientific method of the time it was started (1949). It was solid mainstream medical research by a highly decorated academic neurologist; had it been published at that time, it would have been a serious contender for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. We hope this paper provides hope to those who are struggling, and reinforces the faith of those using diet to manage the illness.

Roy Swanks and his study 

  • Roy Swank was an academic neurologist at the University of Oregon
  • Professor Swank noticed that there was a higher incidence of MS in countries where saturated fat consumption is high
  • First proposed the low saturated fat diet in 1949 
  • Published 'Effect of low saturated fat diet in early and late cases of multiple sclerosis' in the British medical periodical The Lancet in 1990
  • 144 MS patients took part over 34 years 
  • For each of three categories of neurological disability (minimum, moderate, severe) patients who adhered to the prescribed diet (≤20 g fat/day) showed significantly less deterioration and much lower death rates than did those who consumed more fat than prescribed (>20 g fat/day).
  • The greatest benefit was seen in those with minimum disability at the start of the trial; Dr. Swank reported that 95% of patients who adopted this very low-fat diet following an early diagnosis of MS had a remarkably good chance of remaining free from further disability
  • Published book 'The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book Low-Fat Diet for the Treatment of MS' in 1972

Find more information in p 84- in Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis book. 

The Swank low-fat diet consists of:

  1. Saturated fat should not exceed 15 grams per day
  2. Unsaturated fat (oils) should be kept to 20-50 grams per day
  3. No red meat for the first year; after that, a maximum of 3 oz. (85 grams) of red meat per week
  4. Dairy products must contain 1% or less butterfat
  5. No processed foods containing saturated fat
  6. A good source of omega-3 (oily fish, Flaxseed, cod liver oil, cod liver oil tablets, etc.) along with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement are recommended daily
  7. Wheat, gluten or dairy product quantities are not restricted

What is the difference between OMS and Swank Diet? 

  1. Fat counting - OMS diet is designed so that you do not need to count saturated fat, 
  2. Meat - the OMS diet does not recommend consuming meat 
  3. Dairy - the OMS diet does not recommend consuming dairy, Swank allows dairy 


Hear from George Jelinek as he reviews the death rates from MS in people with varying fat intakes in Swank’s study.