“Millions of Children in U.S. Found to Be Lacking Vitamin D,” says a Washington Post headline (August 3, 2009). Who’s to blame? “Unhealthy lifestyles” say the experts, by which they mean, “. . . children spending more time watching television and playing video games instead of going outside, covering up and using sunscreen when they do go outdoors, and drinking more soda and other beverages instead of consuming milk and other foods fortified with vitamin D.” “Study finds rise in student injuries in gym class,” says a Yahoo!News article, quoting a study published in the September, 2009 issue of Pediatrics. Who’s to blame? “. . . lack of adult supervision. . . a decline in school nurses and larger class sizes. . . Classroom teachers who aren’t trained in P.E. [and] might not recognize situations that can cause injury.” Who’s really to blame? A generation of government officials promoting the agenda driven, unscientific USDA dietary guidelines and creating a fear of the very foods that children need for vitamin D and the development of robust, injury-proof bodies—namely butter, egg yolks, lard, liverwurst and cod liver oil.
WANT TO LOWER YOUR CANCER RISK? JOIN A STUDY!
Promoters of vegetarianism are making much of a report published in the British Journal of Cancer (2009 101:192-197), noting that in two studies following more than 61,000 vegetarians over twelve years, vegetarians had less blood, bladder and stomach cancer than meat and fish eaters. But vegetarians had higher rates of colon, rectal and cervical cancer. Rates of breast and prostate cancer were similar in both groups. Actually, the differences in the various rates of cancer were incredibly small, and overall the reduced risk of cancer was larger among fish-eaters (18 percent) than among vegetarians (12 percent). The meat-eating subjects were older and the risk ratios were adjusted for age, so a direct comparison between absolute rates of cancer cannot be made. There was no difference in all-cause mortality between the groups. But the key finding may be that simply being involved in the study is associated with a very large difference in mortality, unlike the small differences in cancer found among diet groups. The first study was the EPIC-Oxford cohort in which both vegetarians and non-vegetarians had a 30 percent reduced risk of cancer compared to the general population and a 50 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality compared to the general population— but there was no difference between the two groups. That means that simply being in the study was associated with a large reduction in mortality risk, but being vegetarian was not. The other study was the Oxford Vegetarian Study, which found the exact same thing. In a paper showing the standard mortality ratios of both the Oxford Vegetarian Study and the Health Food Shoppers Study (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12001975?), the mortality rates were 52 percent of those in the general population within the first study and 59 percent of those in the general population within the second study, but there was no difference in mortality rates between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in either study. Why? One explanation is that in calling for subjects that meet various parameters (such as not smoking), the study selects for more motivated people. More motivated people die less often of cancer and all causes than do less motivated people.
A “NEU” REASON NOT TO EAT MEAT?
In a recent E-Zine (February 8, 2009), Dr. Gabe Mirkin notes that 72 percent of patients admitted to American hospitals for their first heart attack have blood cholesterol levels in the normal range (American Heart Journal, January 28, 2009). According to Mirkin, “This means that the cholesterol guidelines are missing the majority of patients who have heart attacks because either 1) the guidelines are not low enough or 2) something other than a bad LDL cholesterol is causing most heart attacks in the United States.” That “something,” according to Mirkin, is inflammation and the solution, he says, is to avoid meat (while continuing, of course, to take cholesterol-lowering statins). According to Mirkin, meat contains a molecule called Neu5Gc that humans do not have, so the immune system of humans “attacks this protein as if it [were] an invading germ and eventually attacks the host itself to destroy the blood vessels and increase risk for heart attacks and strokes.” Just one problem with Mirkin’s theory: one-time consumption of 150 mg of Neu5Gc, the quantity found in five kilograms of beef, produced no noticeable adverse effects and did not affect antibody levels to the substance. There is as yet no evidence connecting the consumption of red meat, dairy, or other dietary sources of Neu5Gc to antibody levels or tumor growth (www.pnas.org/content/100/21/12045.full). In fact, some evidence indicates that very high natural levels of antibodies to Neu5Gc might actually inhibit tumor growth and be protective in humans (www.pnas.org/content/105/48/18936.full).
WEIGHTY FINDINGS ON MSG
Numerous animal studies have indicated that MSG is a factor in weight gain, independent of the number of calories consumed. Now we have confirmation that MSG causes weight gain in humans. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied 750 Chinese men and women, ages 40-59, living in three rural Chinese villages. Most of the study subjects prepared their meals at home without commercial processed foods and about 82 percent used MSG. Those participants who used the highest amounts of MSG had nearly three times the incidence of overweight as those who did not use MSG, even when physical activity and caloric intake were accounted for (Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 August; 16(8): 1875–1880.). Americans consumed about one million pounds of MSG in 1950; today that number is three hundred million pounds. Almost all processed and fast food contains MSG, and the food industry certainly knows that the additive they use to make their food taste good is a major cause of the current obesity epidemic.
National Public Radio (NPR) recently aired a report about the Greek island of Icaria, inspired by the work of author Dan Buettner, who has traveled the globe visiting “Blue Zones,” areas where people tend to have a long lifespan. In Icaria, nearly one out of three people make it to their nineties. According to Buettner, the diet of the Icarians is as politically correct as politically correct can be: olive oil, fruits, vegetables and herbal teas. The Icarians do not eat fish because “pirates pushed the culture up in the highlands and villagers couldn’t depend on the sea as much as might be expected.” We emailed Mr. Buettner to ask him what kind of meat and dairy products the islanders consumed—after all, the island territory is perfect for sheep and goats, animals whose meat and milk are extremely rich in saturated fats. Unfortunately, Mr. Buettner did not reply. Wikipedia notes the presence of domesticated animals on the island, including herds of goats that disturb the tranquility of the island with their clanking bells.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has borne the brunt of considerable criticism for its claim that the number of mothers who don’t have enough breast milk to successfully breastfeed their babies is underestimated. Breastfeeding advocacy groups insist that the vast majority of mothers can produce adequate milk to nourish a growing baby, and that any problems with supply are due to poor technique. But new research reveals an environmental factor that could make nursing difficult for many mothers. Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that dioxin causes so much damage to the cells involved in milk production that rodents exposed to the pollutant (a common component of chlorine- based pesticides) could not nourish their offspring. Exposure to dioxin during pregnancy impairs the normal development of the mammary glands, resulting in diminished supply during lactation. (www.sciencedaily.com, June 14, 2009). The discovery underscores the importance of making the environment for pregnant women as chemical-free as possible; it also points to the need for plentiful vitamin A in the diet, because vitamin A offers a strong protection against dioxins and related chemicals. Surely this is a better strategy than pretending the problem doesn’t exist.
SOME FACTS ABOUT FLU VACCINES
Swine flu is in the news these days, and rumors are swirling. Is the flu a dangerous threat, an artifact of biased reporting, the result of laboratory manipulation to create a bioweapon, or simply the illness that occurs when people are exposed to pollution and toxins? No answers are forthcoming, but we do have some hard facts that should make people pause before they line up to get a flu shot: the flu vaccine does not work, and it contains dangerous, potentially life-threatening additives. A review of fifty-one separate studies published in 2006 concluded that flu vaccines worked no better than a placebo in 260,000 children ranging in age from six to twenty-three months. A report published in 2008 found flu vaccines in young children made no difference in the number of flu-related doctor and hospital visits. They are equally useless for adults, giving little or no protection against infection and pneumonia. And two recent studies show that children receiving a flu vaccine had an increased risk of severe asthma attacks. The additives in flu vaccines include mercury (in thimerosol, used in multi-dose vials), aluminum hydroxide (a neuro-toxin), formaldehyde, MSG (used in the growth medium) and various other adjuvants, including squalene (which when injected into animals renders them crippled and paralyzed). In early trials, the vaccine has caused animal deaths in the Czech Republic and human deaths in Poland. The 1976 swine flu vaccine caused 25 deaths and 500 permanent injuries in a pandemic that never materialized. (For an excellent review, see the report prepared by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Professor Joe Cummins at www.i-sis.org.uk/fastTrackSwineFluVaccineUnderFire.php.) Nevertheless, health officials throughout the world are pushing forward with mass vaccination plans aimed at health workers, pregnant women and children six months and older. The vaccines are mandatory in Greece and possibly mandatory in the UK and in some U.S. States. Our advice: just say no! (If you need a religious exemption, see www.cuwisdom.org/membersh.php.) Meanwhile, be sure to build up your natural immunity to pathogens and toxins by following the principles of a nutrient-dense diet that includes cod liver oil, animal fats and organ meats, bone broths and coconut oil.
REFERENCES AND CORRECTION ABOUT FLU VACCINES
Several astute readers have asked for references about statements on flu vaccines (Fall, 2009, page 15). The Cochrane review of fifty-one studies published in 2006 can be found at http://mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD004879/pdf_fs.html. We erred in stating that the flu vaccines worked no better than a placebo for all 260,000 children. The flu vaccines worked no better than a placebo only for children under the age of two. The 2008 report which found that flu vaccines in young children made no difference in the number of flu-related doctor and hospital visits was published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (2008, 162, 943-51, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18838647). A more recent study found that children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization compared to children who had not received the vaccine (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519172045.htm).
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER UPDATE
The artificial sweetener aspartame (sold as Equal and Nutra- Sweet) is a diabolical poison, no doubt about it, confirmed by new evidence. In 2005, scientists in Italy reported a rigorous three-year study on 1,800 rats concluding, “Aspartame causes significant increases in lymphomas/leukemias and is a multipotential carcinogen.” The findings were ignored by health officials in both Europe and the U.S. But on May 14, 2009, the National Cancer Institute confirmed the link between formaldehyde, one of the breakdown products of aspartame, and cancer, reporting a 37 percent increase in death risk from lymphoma and leukemia in workers exposed to formaldehyde (doorway.com, May 27, 2009). The industry knows it has a problem with aspartame and is actively seeking a replacement. Ajinomoto, a leading producer of aspartame, has asked the FDA for approval of a new no-calorie sweetener derived from the same amino acids as aspartame plus vanillin (artificial vanilla) called Advantame (www.foodnavigator-usa.com, April 8, 2009). The company notes that the sweetener “blends very well with sugar and high fructose corn syrup.” The main alternative sweetener, Splenda (made from chlorinated sugar), has its own dangers. A recent study shows that Splenda has a negative effect on gut flora. Subjects at Duke University took various doses of Splenda over a twelve-week period. Test showed numerous adverse effects on gut flora. Even twelve weeks later, levels of some of good flora were still depressed (J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-29). The latest news is that sewage treatment fails to remove sweeteners from waste water. Researchers detected acesulfame, cyclamate, saccharine and sucralose downstream of sewage treatment plants. Manufacturers are wringing their hands—not out of concern that the sweeteners may do harm, but because the findings “might become a primary issue for consumer acceptance” (www.foodnavigator.com, June 18, 2009).
STATINS FOR THE MILLIONS
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new guidelines recommending cholesterol-lowering drugs for some children as young as eight years old, “to ward off future heart problems.” The group also now recommends lowfat milk for one-year-olds and cholesterol testing for all children by the age of ten (Pediatrics, 2008 Jul 122;(1):198- 208). The combination of lowfat diet and cholesterol-lowering medicine will ensure blighted life for these youngsters, but of course increased profits for the drug companies. A number of physicians have expressed outrage (New York Times, July 8, 2008), noting that there are no data on the side effects of taking statins—which include impotence—for forty or fifty years (if the children live that long!). But someone has to pay for drug company advertising and lobbyists, so why not start with children. The elderly need to pay also. An article from the American Journal of Cardiology (2009;104:354- 358) suggests “universal statin therapy” in the elderly. Here’s the logic: since it is difficult to identify individuals with elevated C-reactive proteins, and since a recent study (called the JUPITER study) showed that treatment of older adults with elevated C-reactive protein “significantly” reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, and since the statins “do no harm,” why bother with expensive testing and just put all the elderly on statins! And all this market expansion is working! A survey of nine countries finds “improvement” over a tenyear period, with 73 percent of patients surveyed (most of whom were taking a statin) reaching their “target level” for LDL-cholesterol. Countries surveyed included Spain, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, the Netherlands and Taiwan (Daily Health News, June 22, 2009).
The JUPITER trial that has the statin-pushers so excited looked at patients with no evidence of pre-existing cardiovascular disease and low-to-normal LDL, with elevated C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker for inflammation). Those receiving the statin Crestor (Rosuvastatin)—JUPITER stands for “Justification for the Use of statins in Primary prevention: and Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin”—reduced the risk of sudden death by 47 percent, cut the risk of heart attack by 54 percent, the risk of stroke by 48 percent and total mortality by 20 percent, according to news reports. When you look at the actual numbers, however, the differences were very small. For example, .77 percent of the Crestor group experienced a cardiac event, compared with 1.36 percent of the placebo group. This means you need to treat 120 patients for nearly two years for a single patient to benefit. Even the appearance of slight advantage in the Crestor group should be called into question because the study was funded by AstraZeneca, the company that makes Crestor, and the lead researcher is a coinventor of a CRP test—so there was plenty of temptation to cook the books. Most concerning was the fact—overlooked in news reports—that those taking Crestor reported an increase in diabetes compared to the placebo group (www.bottomlinesecrets.com, June 9, 2009). Diabetes greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. One more thing: JUPITER was slated to be a five-year study, but was terminated at two years, ostensibly to give the placebo group the advantage of taking Crestor. Perhaps the real reason was that the sponsors could not afford to find out what happens to patients taking Crestor for as long as five years.
“High Fat Diet May Make You Stupid and Lazy,” screamed the headline. “A new study on rats finds that 10 days of eating a high-fat diet caused short-term memory loss and made exercise difficult,” said the copy. There’s just one problem with the press release: the rats in the experiment were not fed fat, they were fed an oil. The fatty acid composition of the “high-fat” diet that caused memory loss and muscle weakness was 27% saturated, 48% monounsaturated and 25% polyunsaturated, which would be liquid at room temperature (http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/rapidpdf/fj.09-139691v1.pdf). The predominant fatty acid in the mix was monounsaturated, the kind of fatty acid in olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil and high-oleic safflower oil, the kind that is supposed to be so good for us. The problems encountered in the rats are typical of those encountered in diets high in industrially processed vegetable oils. So while the Diet Dictocrats are urging you to avoid meat, sausage and cheese, the foods you really need to avoid are cooking oils, commercial salad dressings, fried foods, chips, snack foods and bakery products like donuts and cookies. If anything will make you stupid and lazy, it is foods like these.
COD LIVER OIL WINS AGAIN
Using data from the Norwegian Women and Cancer cohort study, researchers explored the relationship of supplement use and survival of cancer patients with solid tumors. They found that women who took cod liver oil were 44 percent less likely to die from cancer than those who did not take supplements. (Women who use supplements other than cod liver oil were 30 percent less likely to die.) Use of cod liver oil was also found associated with improved survival rates for patients with breast and colorectal cancer. Overall, consumption of cod liver oil for a year prior to diagnosis was associated with a 23 percent reduction in the risk of death in patients with solid cancers (International Journal of Cancer 2009 Sep 1;125(5):1155-60). For a list of other studies showing benefit from cod liver oil, see Wise Traditions, Spring, 2009
A GROWING ECONOMIC SECTOR
Now for the good news. According to a new USDA report, from 1997 to 2007, direct farm sales grew by 104.7 percent in the U.S. while total agricultural sales increased by only 47.6 percent (www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0). From 2002 to 2007, nearly 300,000 new farms were started in the U.S., many of them small and operated by younger farmers. The USDA census shows the number of small farms earning under $50,000 has risen 6 percent over the last decade. Local and regional sales by farmers directly to household consumers rose 49 percent to $1.2 billion in 2007. The number of farmers markets has increased from 1,755 in 1994 to 4,685 in 2008 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 2009). In the state of Iowa alone, direct meat sales now exceed $53 million annually and the number of CSAs in Iowa has risen from two in 1995 to more than fifty today. By one estimate, if Iowans consumed 10 percent or more of their produce from local farmers, it would create $54 million in farm revenues (www.practicalfarmers.org). This real growth is not reflected in the stock market or even the GNP, but it is very real, improving the health and quality of life for both buyers and sellers.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2009.