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Eggs Fried

How food marketers made butter the enemy

Butter
© Louise Cukrov/Shutterstock
James McWilliams - a historian who has made a name for himself in prestigious publications like the New York Times and The Atlantic for his contrarian defenses of the food industry - is back at it. In an item published last week in the excellent Pacific Standard, McWilliams uses the controversy over a recent study of saturated fat as a club with which to pummel food industry critics like the Times' Mark Bittman.

Here's what happened: A group including Harvard and Cambridge researchers analyzed 72 studies and concluded that there's no clear evidence that ditching saturated fat (the kind found mainly in butter, eggs, and meat) for the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kind (found in fish and a variety of vegetable oils) delivers health benefits.

Bittman responded to the study's release with a Times item declaring that "butter is back." His real point was more nuanced than that, though. The study's conclusion "doesn't mean you [should] abandon fruit for beef and cheese," he wrote. Rather, he urged, "you [should] just abandon fake food for real food, and in that category of real food you can include good meat and dairy."

After a 1977 decree by a US Senate committee that people should consume less saturated fat, the food industry began to promote sugar-laden, carbohydrate-rich products as "low fat" and thus healthy.

Not so fast, McWilliams countered. He pointed out, correctly, that the study turned out to have errors, which the authors had to correct. But even after the corrections, the study's lead author stood by the overall findings, Science reported. Another one of the authors told Science that the study's main problem was the way it was covered by media. "We are not saying the guidelines are wrong and people can eat as much saturated fat as they want," he told Science. "We are saying that there is no strong support for the guidelines and we need more good trials."

Of course, headline aside, Bittman didn't fall into that trap. He merely urged his readers to accept some fat when they're "looking for a few chunks of pork for a stew," and to use real butter in place of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." Indeed, Bittman's call for moderation in eating animal products is long-standing - he's the author of a book called Vegan Before Six and a longtime champion of the "Meatless Mondays" practice.
Pills

What the Tamiflu saga tells us about drug trials and big pharma

Tamiflu 1
© Per Lindgren/REX
Tamiflu capsules.
We now know the government's Tamiflu stockpile wouldn't have done us much good in the event of a flu epidemic. But the secrecy surrounding clinical trials means there's a lot we don't know about other medicines we take

Today we found out that Tamiflu doesn't work so well after all. Roche, the drug company behind it, withheld vital information on its clinical trials for half a decade, but the Cochrane Collaboration, a global not-for-profit organisation of 14,000 academics, finally obtained all the information. Putting the evidence together, it has found that Tamiflu has little or no impact on complications of flu infection, such as pneumonia.

That is a scandal because the UK government spent £0.5bn stockpiling this drug in the hope that it would help prevent serious side-effects from flu infection. But the bigger scandal is that Roche broke no law by withholding vital information on how well its drug works. In fact, the methods and results of clinical trials on the drugs we use today are still routinely and legally being withheld from doctors, researchers and patients. It is simple bad luck for Roche that Tamiflu became, arbitrarily, the poster child for the missing-data story.

Comment: It is not hard to see why Roche refused to hand over the data for half a decade - money. Imagine the profits they made from sales while the data showing the drug does not work was withheld. This was a cynical and deliberate ploy to maximise profits and hide data that showed the drug was a hoax.

Alarm Clock

Gulf War Syndrome comes to the Gulf of Mexico?

A large cadre of marine scientists assembled this week in Mobile, Ala. to discuss the environmental fallout from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred nearly four years ago off the Gulf Coast. Sadly, the impact on human health took a backseat at these meetings to fisheries, socio-economic effects, coastal ecosystems and the circulation of petrochemicals in the sea.

These are critical topics, to be sure, but the health of residents on and near the coast deserve as much attention. Unknown numbers may have been sickened by exposures to chemicals from the spill, including the highly toxic dispersant, Corexit. Those exposures can lead to subsequent intolerances to other substances, including common chemicals, through a newly described disease mechanism called TILT, or Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance.

Sadly, researchers and doctors remain unaware of this new mechanism for disease caused by chemical exposures. We're like the doctors at the turn of the century who, lacking knowledge of the germ theory, had no idea what was causing rampant fevers and deaths during the Civil War.

There are individuals who were affected by the spill now being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. These are common effects of chemical exposures in susceptible persons, and can also be caused by stressful events.

Of course, at this late date, those exposed in the Gulf area no longer have increased levels of chemicals in their tissues. The petrochemicals and dispersants they were exposed to have left their bodies and are no longer measurable. This is not DDT which deposits in our fat stores and remains there for decades. These are synthetic organic chemicals that in susceptible persons cause TILT. They enter the body, do their damage, and leave within days. Subsequently, everyday exposures trigger symptoms in those affected.

It's true that large sums of money are being spent to study the health impact on people--including fishermen, cleanup workers, volunteers and others--who were exposed to the spill. But researchers who are looking into the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill are not asking some key questions.
Hotdog

Sugar - The elephant in the kitchen: Robert Lustig at TED

Robert H. Lustig is an American pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where he is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics.

Robert Lustig
Dr. Lustig assesses the health dangers of sugar and its link to Type-2 diabetes and the global obesity epidemic. He is the author of several books and many articles on childhood obesity, including the recent "Obesity Before Birth."


Comment: For a contrast of how everybody should be feeling or looking both inside and outside, see:
Jimmy Moore - Nutritional Ketosis

More information:

Is sugar toxic - 60 minutes investigates
Jeff Volek - The many facets of keto-adaptation: Health, performance, and beyond

Arrow Up

The benefits of having a fever

fever kid
© unknown
Most of our society lives with the idea that health is a state of "feeling good," and "not being sick or diseased." We fear contact with bacteria, virus, and other microorganisms. We use anti-bacterial soap, sprays, pills, potions, & lotions. We are constantly "gearing up," for the next big flu pandemic, etc.

In traditional cultures, fevers were always well respected and understood. Most people knew that the fever would build up and then break, much like a wave rolling into shore. Now, our society tries to suppress the fever immediately using antipyretics, or substances that lower temperature.

These antipyretics include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These quickly lower the temperature but they also silence the body and hinder the development of the immune system. This allows the invading organisms to survive and contribute to the formation of chronic disease.
Health

Germs from coughs and sneezes travel further than previously thought

sneeze
© unknown
When you are sick, practicing social distancing techniques not only protects you from the crowds, it protects the crowds from you. If one actually falls ill, the best thing to do from a public health standpoint is not brave it through the illness to get to work, but self-quarantine at home to prevent the spread of the virus. You may not realize it, but that multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud you're about to expel in a sneeze of cough have associated gas clouds that keep their potentially infectious droplets aloft over much greater distances than previously realized, say MIT researchers.

"When you cough or sneeze, you see the droplets, or feel them if someone sneezes on you," says John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT, and co-author of a new paper on the subject. "But you don't see the cloud, the invisible gas phase. The influence of this gas cloud is to extend the range of the individual droplets, particularly the small ones."

Coughs

Researchers have illuminated the flows of coughs with powerful lasers and fancy photo techniques through the use of powerful computers to model this flow of thousands of tiny particles. They've used heated manikins and cough machines in rooms filled with tiny droplets of olive oil or theatrical smoke to track how air moves, where breath goes, and how exposed we are to someone else's cough.
Alarm Clock

Is sugar toxic - 60 minutes investigates

Sanjay Gupta reports on new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health, worsening conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer.
If you are what you eat, then what does it mean that the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year? Sanjay Gupta reports on new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health, worsening conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer. Some physicians go so far as to call sugar a toxin.


The following script is from "Sugar" which aired on April 1, 2012. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the correspondent. Denise Schrier Cetta and Sumi Aggarwal, producers.

Comment: Sugar belongs to the same wastebasket along with alcohol which is toxic to the body due to its fructose content, just as sugar, among other things. Whereas tobacco has nothing to do with all of this, on the contrary:

Nicotine can boost blood vessel growth
Top US academics discover fresh tobacco leaves can fight cancer
Science is conclusive: Tobacco increases work capacity
Why 'World No Tobacco Day'? Smoking is good for memory and concentration
Tobacco used as medicine
Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer
Dr. Gori on the passive smoking fraud
The devious plan of anti-smoking campaigns to control people and stop them from using their brain
Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State
Let's All Light Up!
5 Health Benefits of Smoking
Nicotine Lessens Symptoms Of Depression In Nonsmokers
Nicotine helps Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Patients
Brain Researchers: Smoking increases intelligence

Attention

Nano-Particles in consumer products damage DNA and lead to cancer

© angrysummit.com
One of the latest trends in manufacturing for today's consumer products is the use of engineered nano-particles (ENP's), yet, most people have no idea that they are consuming and absorbing ENP's. Research is discovering that certain ENP's may be toxic and extremely harmful to human health, causing cell and DNA damage, potentially leading to the development of cancers.

Nano-particles are microscopically sized particles with at least one dimension less than 100 nano-meters (nm). To put this in perspective, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nm thick, and a strand of human DNA is about 2.5 nm thick. A current trend in research and development, ENP's are generating widespread interest for their potential to enhance consumer materials and food products, and for their potential applications in the electronic, optical and biomedical fields. "Nanoparticles are of great scientific interest as they are effectively a bridge between bulk materials and atomic or molecular structures." [1]

Comment: Nanotech: The Unknown Risks:

Nanotechnology - the new threat to food

Food Industry 'Too Secretive' Over Nanotechnology
Study: Potential Hazards of Nanotechnology Not Known
Nanotechnology could reduce plant's ability to produce food
Nanotech labels for food wanted, consumers willing to pay more for labeling
U.S. should follow Europe and put the brakes on nanotech food and other products

Sheeple

Herd immunity: Myth or reality?

Tetyana Obukhanych (Ph.D. in immunology from Rockefeller University, New York, NY) is the author of Vaccine Illusion. The book is available in pdf e-book form for immediate download here.

Even though endemic outbreaks of common childhood diseases, such as measles, have been eliminated in some regions after prolonged mass-vaccination efforts, we are still being constantly reminded that reducing vaccination coverage of children in a community poses the risk of a reimported disease outbreak with potentially dire consequences to infants and immuno-compromised individuals. We are also being persuaded that implementing strict vaccination compliance will prevent an outbreak and protect vaccine-ineligible infants via the herd-immunity effect.

There is no question that a disease outbreak can happen in a non-immune community, if a virus gets there. The real question is, how well can high-vaccination compliance ensure herd immunity and protect a community from an outbreak?
Info

Everything you wanted to know about GMOs but were afraid to ask

If you've been to a barbecue and ate burgers, ribs, and corn on the cob, it's probably a pretty good bet you that while you were wiping barbecue sauce off your chin you weren't thinking about DNA splicing in some far away laboratory. However, there are folks who do just that: come up with ways to genetically modify foods in order to make them "pest resistant" or "herbicide resistant," and the way scientists accomplish this is reminiscent of a grade B horror film.

Genetic engineering is the science of creating transgenic organisms, meaning genes are manipulated from one species to another to create a trait that did not previously exist. This is also called "recombinant DNA technology." For instance, the DNA in Monsanto's "Bt" corn has been modified by inserting specific genes from Bacillus thuringiensis, a ground-dwelling bacterium that is also used as a means of natural pest control. The genetic modification produces a crystalline protein in the stalks, pollen, and leaves of the plant that is toxic to borers and other corn pests.

The first genetically modified organisms, commonly known as GMOs, appeared in 1982 as plant cells that had been genetically modified by scientists of Monsanto Corporation, a chemical giant now turned biotech behemoth, who is also the producer of Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), a commercial livestock hormone that has been linked to breast and prostate cancer. Since 1994, GMO crops and livestock, labeled "Frankenfoods" by anti-GMO activists, have proliferated across the globe, with many unanswered questions creating a firestorm of controversy. What are the long-term health effects of ingesting GMO products? How extensively will airborne pollen taint organic crops? By mutating the genes of plants and animals, how will the evolution of species be affected, including humans? Why were GMOs released into the global food markets with no testing?

Comment: For more in depth information about the growing concerns over GMOs read: Are you inflamed over GMO foods?

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