Someone who can interpret statistical evidence looked at this and said that at first sight, the results look statistically marginal or insignificant. The error bars are bigger than the trends. Perhaps you can tell this to your friend.
He referred me to the Japanese Lipid Trial which has more significant results. What I found there is that in Japan there has been a decline in mortality but an increase in acute myocardial infarction. I do not know how to interpret this but it seems that the situation could be pretty much as it is in this country--modern medicine is good at preventing death from heart attacks but not in preventing heart attacks themselves (possibly in the case of overeating and bad diets.)
While reading, I also discovered that eating meat and fat actually reduced the rate of stroke. Before you get excited about this--the Japanese have very high rates of hemorrhagic strokes (possibly due to the very high salt content of their diets)and eating the SAD actually stiffens the arteries thus decreasing the risk of this particular kind of stroke. As a matter of fact, Fuhrman says if you are on his diet, you had better keep the salt level in your diet very low because it could result in this type of stroke.
On another post with a question about cholesterol, Jeff says that in some cases harboring some sort of illness could be the reason for low cholesterol. Healthy people in traditional cultures who eat their traditional plant based diets have low cholesterol numbers and are heart healthy. In people on the western diet, very low cholesterol numbers could be a sign that some illness is involved that causes low cholesterol.
The statistics guy seemed to think that that the Japanese Lipid Study which showed that people with lower cholesterol numbers and very high cholesterol numbers had higher mortality rates than those in between said this study seemed to be better done.
In the light of the excellent results in improving health of Esselstyn, McDougall, Pritikin, Fuhrman, Barnard etc. I will stick to a plant based (and for me lower salt) diet.