I feel like such a pig.

I already knew that humans and pigs share a lot of the same DNA.  (Some would argue this is more true for men than women.)  But it only occurred to me recently that we might also store the same kind of fat in our bodies.

The thought was sparked by some literature my wife brought home from a town fair.  A registered dietician had her own booth, and she was passing out pamphlets that warned – surprise! – against consuming too much “artery-clogging saturated fat.”

Yada, yada, yada … same old bologna about how saturated fat drives up your cholesterol, the cholesterol sticks to the inside of your arteries, and then someday you clutch your chest and realize you should’ve tried hang-gliding when you had the chance.  I’ve heard it thousand times, and I’ve known for at least two years that it simply isn’t true, so my reaction was, “Okay, whatever.”

Then I checked another pamphlet, which explained how we should all eat less and exercise more to lose weight.  Yada, yada, yada.  But then my usual “Okay, whatever” screeched to halt at about “whatev—.”

Looking at both pamphlets, I started thinking about the twin pillars of The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life:  Don’t consume animal fat, because it’ll kill you.  And you should eat less to lose weight – which means consuming your own body fat.

Uh, wait a second … that sounds a teeny bit inconsistent.  Are we talking about two totally different kinds of fat here?  Or is it more likely that the fat in fat-back bacon is similar to the fat in Fat-Back Francis Bacon?  So I looked them up.

It’s easy to find the breakdown of lard on the internet.   It’s mostly oleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid, with several others making up the balance.  Add them up, and it turns out that lard is about 38 percent saturated, 11 percent polyunsaturated, and 45 percent monosaturated.   (The numbers don’t add up to 100 because some of the trace fats were unclassified.)

So most of the fat in lard isn’t even saturated, and nearly half of it is monosaturated, like olive oil.  Pretty interesting, considering that in The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life, monosaturates are worshipped as The Great Protector Of Arteries and Valves.  And while stearic acid is saturated, it’s been shown to raise HDL.  That hardly sounds like a killer fat.

For some reason, finding an analysis of human body fat was trickier.  (I suppose it’s because few of us care about the smoke point or other cooking properties.)  I finally found a paper in which the researchers stated that they extracted human body fat from the subjects’ buttocks.   Since research subjects are often college sophomores, I’m guessing this took place at a fraternity initiation.

In any case, I saw pretty much the same list of fatty acids.  Add them up, and it turns out that human body fat is about 35 percent saturated, 51 percent monosaturated, and the rest polyunsaturated.  In other words, it’s similar to lard.

The implications are interesting.  For one, if you were fat growing up, this means the skinny snot-nosed kid who used to call you a “lard butt” might not have been such a bad kid after all.  He may have just  been studying biochemistry – secretly, of course, because if the classroom bullies found out, they would make alterations to his biochemistry during recess.

For another, if the anti-fat hysterics are correct, then we know why cannibals are mostly extinct:  they died of atherosclerosis.  I’ve already started writing the docu-drama:

EXT. The Cannibals’ Camp – Day

The cannibals are tying Livingston to a pole.  He remains calm, chin up, even as other cannibals begin lighting the kindling around his feet.

Livingston
Go ahead, you savages!  Wait until my beer
belly collides with your coronary arteries.  Ha!

EXT. The Cannibals’ Camp – Night

A feast is in full swing.  A grinning CANNIBAL takes a hearty bite from a roasted leg.  Then, wide-eyed, he clutches his chest and falls to the ground.  From inside his chest, we hear LIVINGSTON LAUGH.

The other cannibals drop the bones they’ve been chewing and begin fighting over the pile of untouched vegetables.

FADE OUT

So let’s do a little math.  If you consume 2500 calories per day and half of them come from fat, that’s 1250 calories – pretty close to my daily fat intake, in fact.

Now, suppose you’re overweight and burn about 2500 calories per day.   The High Priests of The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life (otherwise known as dieticians) would happily put you on a diet in the 1200-calorie range, with very little fat.  Why?  So you’ll burn your own body fat to make up the difference and lose weight.

This is considered healthy.  But it means you’d be getting 1300 of your daily calories from fat.  Even if your diet consisted of nothing but Weight Watchers “Smart Ones” meals (just 1 gram of fat per serving!), more than 52 percent of your fuel would come from fat.  And not just fat:  human body fat, which is nearly as saturated as lard.

So, much as I did when I was in catechism classes, I have an annoying question to ask:  when this porky fat streams out of your adipose tissue and invades your unsuspecting muscles and organs to be burned for fuel, why isn’t your health at risk?  Why don’t your arteries clog up?

Maybe you’d be better off leaving all that “artery-clogging saturated fat” safely imprisoned in your buttocks.  After all, it’s an unrepentant killer.

Or perhaps there’s something about body-fat the High Priests haven’t told us.   Perhaps our own fat knows a secret password it can use to identify itself so the body doesn’t try to commit suicide – which is, of course, what it does when saturated fat mounts an invasion via the digestive system.

“Red alert!  Red Alert!  Fat globules attempting flanking maneuver!”

“Roger!  Liver, crank out the artery-clogging LDL!  Small particles, full charge, dead ahead!  Stop the heart!  Stop the heart!  They’ll never take us alive!”

“Wait, sir!  The fat globules are signaling!  I’ll issue the challenge.  Flash!”

“Thunder!”

“Abort!  Abort!  They’re ours! Proceed back to full health; I repeat, proceed to full health!”

Then, of course, the muscles and organs would welcome the fat globules, who would regale them with stories about life trapped in a prisoner-of-war buttocks, and express their gratitude to have finally escaped.  Then they’d be ceremonially eaten.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t see the difference.  If you go on the Atkins or Protein Power diet and get most of your calories from fat, why is that more dangerous that consuming your own body fat on a calorie-restricted diet?

According to the theories espoused by the High Priests, Mother Nature screwed up, big time.  She designed our bodies to store our fuel reserves as a fat that could kill us when we actually need it.  But I don’t think Mother Nature is that stupid.  After all, she was smart enough to make pigs.  She was also smart enough to make fat-back bacon delicious.

But for the record, I have no opinion on Fat-Back Francis Bacon.

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44 Responses to “Can Your Own Bologna Kill You?”
  1. Tracey says:

    Wow, this cracked me up but OMG it’s one of those things that is so obvious once it’s brought to your attention!

    Keep it up Tom, I really look forward to reading your posts :)

    It just hit me this week; don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

    Thanks, and I look forward to writing the posts, too.

  2. TonyNZ says:

    I have to laugh at your flanking manuever drama. One of the most useful tactics in teaching people difficult concepts such as endocrine control and nanotechnology is to use these types of scenarios, because they can relate (oddly) and they are memorable.

    The main fact is that fat is transported through the bloodstream in liposomes, rather than free in the bloodstream. I guess if you think of lipid molecules as drunks that take buses and sugar molecules are drunks that streak across the motorways until they are arrested by insulin or get crashed into by a liposome bus.

    Of course there’s going to be traffic accidents, and the nutters will say that getting rid of the buses with fix the problem. So let’s just say they stop importing buses, so the local lipids make their own buses ’cause they can’t be arsed travelling to the other end of the known world on foot. There’s still traffic accidents, nutters still blame the buses but it’s more palatable because it’s not being caused by immigrants. Of course the drunken sugar molecules are still wandering around urinating on the footpath, but at least they are not contributing to the bus problem.

    It doesn’t really resolve your issue, but given how people react over similar scenarios in the macroscopic world, you can see how the idea arises.

    Great analogy, Tony. And it got me thinking … when I recall the best teachers I had in school, every one of them used analogies to explain difficult concepts.

    My college physics professor (who held PhDs in both physics and mathematics) was brilliant with them. If you didn’t grasp a concept, he’d explain with a clear, visual analogy. If you still didn’t get it, he’d come up with a completely different analogy. And he’d keep at it until he saw the “aha!” spark in your eyes.

    Little wonder he was the most beloved teacher on our small campus. We all just called him “Doc.” I remember telling a friend of mine, “I swear, Doc could explain physics to a child.”

    He was also a gourmet chef, a movie buff who could name the director for nearly every good film ever released, and he competed in regional square-dancing competitions. How’s that for a colorful individual?

  3. Becca says:

    You cracked me up! I was sitting here eating my bacon and hard boiled eggs smothered in real butter and laughing away.

    You also made a very good point.

    I have just finished re-reading Tabues and had specifically marked the page where he breaks down the fat content of lard, hoping that I can get my fat-phobic in-laws to read it and take note.

    Loved the movie and love your blog. Keep it up!

    My goal in life is to make someone laugh hard enough to pass a slice of bacon through his nose. It may never happen, but it’s worth the effort.

    Thanks for the compliments on the movie and the blog.

  4. D says:

    Tom, your last 2 posts are priceless! I chuckled at the last one (feeding kids sugar), but actually laughed out loud at this one! Had to share it with my husband, too. Thanks for the insight!

    My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it … them … both of them.

  5. Tim says:

    Sorta “self-auto-cannibalism”. It seems logical that our own bodies burn our own stored fat with no ill effects. So eating that same fuel (fat) should be just dandy as well. Have you run this by a bio-chemist or such? Maybe Dr Mike Eades has a take on this.

    I’m waiting for a biochemist to point out the flaws in my analysis. If it is flawed, I’ll be the first to admit it.

    Mike Eades and I became friends during the production of Fat Head. He was beyond generous with his time, sending me detailed technical critiques on the script and the early versions of the film.

    So I’m hesitant to also ask him to comment on blog posts … but if he happens to come across it, I will happily accept his analysis.

  6. ZOMG! I am so blogging this! I had to put my bacon down and LOL.

    Brilliant post!

    You stumped me … what’s ZOMG?

    Don’t let the bacon get cold.

  7. Ellen says:

    Tom, I’m storing this one in the “what to say to people who try to tell you a high fat diet is dangerous” file.. can’t wait to pull it out, and witness the looks of total confusion on the faces of the righteous low fatters.. :)

    If they’re true fat-phobes, they may never diet again.

  8. ethyl d says:

    Absolutely brilliant. And absolutely hilarious.

  9. Ellen Ussery says:

    “My goal in life is to make someone laugh hard enough to pass a slice of bacon through his nose. It may never happen, but it’s worth the effort.”

    It happened. I just did it after reading those lines. But the dog ran over to see what was going on and must have eaten it.

    Each post is even better than the last. This one I am printing out to distribute upon the slightest provocation.

    Now I have to set a new lifetime goal. I would write down “convince the diet dictocrats they’ve been promoting a bogus theory,” but I’m pretty sure the bacon trick was much easier.

  10. Willa Jean says:

    I’d like to have been a mouse in the corner when your Girly Girl got a look at that picture of you!
    I’m not sure about the bacon-snorting, but this was definitely a soda-spitter of a post. You’ve definitely got me hooked on your blog. Thanks!

    Depends on which Girly Girl we’re talking about. My daughters thought it was hilarious. My wife, on the other hand, created it in PhotoShop … although I should probably wonder how she came up with it so quickly.

  11. TonyNZ says:

    I would suspect that the argument a biochemist would present you would be somewhat along the following lines:

    “But when you burn your own fat you do it to the levels of what your body needs. When you consume fat you end up with excess that causes problems. Therefore it is better for your body to produce it’s own fat, becuase it does it to the levels you need”.

    Now lets just say that they haven’t watched or don’t believe that sugar messes with insulin, which in turn corrupts this pathway. You could always point out that you could exchange the word “fat” for “sugar” in that paragraph and it would be (even more) accurate.

    Instead of pointing out every molecule that fits with the above description (for example, cholesterol is vital for health), lets look at the ones that don’t.

    9 of the 20 amino acids (meat, dairy, legumes)
    Unsaturated fatty acids (meat, olive oil, nuts etc.)
    Salt (bacon, corned beef, seasoning)
    Essential metals such as iron and calcium (red meat, milk)
    Vitamins (fruit, vegetables or pills)

    But there’s no carbs in that list (except for some in fruit and legumes) so I must be way off.

    But then the biochemist would have to explain how if someone like Jimmy Moore loses nearly 200 pounds on a high-fat diet, he could possibly be creating an excess. And of course those of us who merely maintain our weights aren’t creating new fat stores.

    If you’re gaining weight, on the other hand, it’s a different story. I do believe there’s some evidence that a diet high in both carbohydrates and fats (unfortunately, a common diet these days) is the worst. You raise insulin, which tells your body to store fat, and provide plenty of fat to store.

  12. Matt Stone says:

    Well, coming from a guy holding a pig’s head on the landing page of my blog, I’d rate this as excellent work. It was very reminiscent of an article I wrote called “Fatzilla” in which God was likened to Ashton Kutcher for His Divine prankster abilities – making fat taste really good while turning around and killing us all. Glad I stumbled across here.

    -Matt

    To read Fatzilla, go to…
    http://www.180degreehealth.com/uploads/Free%20Article/Fatzilla1.pdf

    Good summary of what’s wrong with current dietary theories. You’ll have to rewrite one sentence, though, because now they DO blame global warming on fatty diets … meaty diets, anyway.

  13. Tom:

    Last december I was listening to one of Jimmy Moore’s podcasts, an interview with Dr. Mary C Vernon, and she remarked that “all diets are high-fat diets,” and it promted this bog post:

    http://www.freetheanimal.com/root/2008/12/all-diets-are-high-fat-diets.html

    I concluded:

    “Want a laugh? Next time someone mentions that they’re dieting, ask what method. When they tell you low-fat — so you can congratulate them on their “wisdom” and they can feel like one of the crowd, which other than being oxymoronic, curiously seems important to a lot of people — you can inquisitively inquire that you thought they meant they were trying to loose weight. When they say they are, you can say, oh, then you meant a high-fat diet. Get it? How long do you think you can keep that up?

    When finally you’ve explained, and they’ve understood, you can then ask them how come they’re not afraid of clogging their own arteries with all the fat they intend to be releasing into their own bloodstream.

    Isn’t the age of ignorance grand? Well, at least we can have some fun with it.”

    ~~~

    By the way, I screened FH with two more relatives over the weekend and they were so impressed that I gave ‘em the DVD. Now I’ll have to buy another.

    Great post, Richard. I’m adding your site to the blogroll.

    And of course I appreciate the guerilla marketing campaign you’re waging out there.

  14. Tim says:

    For some reason, this resonates with me. As an obese person metabolizes fat, and drops towards a slimmer weight, generally all health markers improve. Blood lipids, blood pressure, blood sugar, on and on, seem to generally get better in all cases. Conventional Wisdom tells us ‘of course, it is because you lost all that evil fat, no wonder you are healthier, it all fits’. But what if it is all that animal fat that the body is burning that is making the person healthy!? Was it really the loss of excess fat, or was it the metabolism of all that animal fat that led to improvements?

    That’s an interesting speculation. I know when I cut the carbs from my diet and consumed significantly more fat (real fats, not Frankenstein vegetable fats), my lipids improved. HDL shot up, triglycerides went down, etc.

    A friend of mine also recently cut carbs and stopped avoiding fat, and his lipids got way better. This is a lean guy who doesn’t need to lose any weight, but his doctor has been after him about his cholesterol for years.

  15. Josh Goguen says:

    I’m still blown away with your thinking on this one. This is on par with hearing a joke and kicking myself for not coming up with it first.

    It’s a great question and when you consider that a healthy weight loss is about 2 pounds a week, that’s a lot of fat going into your system.

    Apparently Dr. Mary Vernon pointed this out some time ago. (You know how sometimes you come up with a bit, then find out Letterman did it in the ’90s?) Richard from Free the Animal wrote about it.

    I’m actually relieved knowing someone of her stature agrees. Since it just occured to me this weekend, I’ve been waiting for some biochemist to write and say, “You, Sir, are an imbecile, and here’s why …”

    I played our radio interview for my wife. As you might imagine, she liked the last question the best. Is there a URL that would take people directly to that show? I found it on iTunes.

    I added your site to my blogroll on tomnaughton.com. Good stuff.

  16. KD says:

    “Maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t see the difference. If you go on the Atkins or Protein Power diet and get most of your calories from fat, why is that more dangerous that consuming your own body fat on a calorie-restricted diet? ”

    How dare you use earth logic when questioning the pamphlets of a registered dietician!!!

    I am certainly in danger of being excommunicated from The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life.

  17. I’m enjoying everyone’s comments almost as much as the post!

    (Oh, and ZOMG is just cybergeek for when OMG is Just. Not. Enough.) ;D

    Sent you linky love. Keep up the hilarious work.

    I enjoy the comments too. There are some very well-informed people hanging around here. I get a little extra education in the process.

  18. gallier2 says:

    Peter at hyperlipid had some interesting points to make about fat/sugar metabolism, which kind of explains why we store energy in that form and not as starches.
    http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/search/label/Fat%20storage%20and%20retrieval
    and a lot other entries.
    In short, fat metabolism does not require a lot vitamins, antioxydants and burns very cleanly. So that we can sustain a long time only on our (buttock) reserve. Glucose metabolism instead is a real mess, it leaks electron which must be neutralized, inducing a higher need for antioxydants, this wears the mitochondria which have to make seppukku more often (apoptosis) and consumes a lot of our reserves. So glucose is good to get swiftly the ATP needed to run away from the lion who’s after you, but if you want to throw away, at the other end of the savannah, the coke bottle the gods sent you, you better have a clean fuel to live on during that journey.

    That makes sense. I’ve read some of Peter’s posts, and I like his clear, well-written logic.

  19. Tom:

    First, thanks for the inclusion on your blogroll. Of course, you’re on mine as well.

    I took the time to blog about your post, compare to mine, and show how you took it a step further with the fat composition:

    http://www.freetheanimal.com/root/2009/04/losing-weight-is-pretty-much-like-eating-lard.html

    Cool … the more people hear about this stuff, the more likely we are to change a few minds. And as always, thanks for recommending the film so highly. Every little bit helps.

  20. I love your posts, Tom!

    By the way, I’d love to see the satire you could concoct out of this nonsense:

    http://reality.ohio.newintellectuals.org/?p=361

    Yegads … this ranks up right up there with the “eating meat causes global warming” stuff they were promoting recently.

    The environmental movement has been largely taken over by anti-human, vegetarian whack-jobs, which is a real shame. They’ve cried wolf so many times, people who do in fact care about the environment (myself included) are now prone to dismiss anything they say. They’ve turned their own cause into a joke. Even the founder of Greenpeace quit the organization because too many nuts had taken over.

    If you get a chance, watch Penn & Teller’s “Bull@#$%” episode about environmentalists. They had a staffer attend a rally and get hundreds of people to sign a petition to ban “dihydroxide” … otherwise known as H2O, or water. Even the supposed expert for one of the environmental groups signed it.

  21. Dihydrogen monoxide. Yes, it’s absurd. I am familiar with Patrick Moore. I have a great deal of respect for the man. You are both right — far too many of the environmentalist talking points are non-issues. Beyond that, some of them are even bad for the planet.

    It’s becoming quite clear that the environmental movement is a religion. This article makes it quite clear where they are headed with respect to reducing CO2 emissions. It’s not just industry that is the problem, it’s humans.

    It IS sad, because there are rational environmentalist concerns as you mention. Unfortunately, otherwise rational people are now prone to lumping these rational concerns as a package deal with the irrational ones — and thus rejecting the idea out of hand that there are any environmental problems at all. I do hope over time that rationality will win out.

    I quite detest Earth Day. I’m always relieved when it’s over so the preaching and propaganda will just stop, or at least resume to a more minimal level.

    Here’s an indication of how much things have changed: the Environmental Protection Agency was proposed by a presidential candidate named Richard Nixon. His administration then created the EPA after he became president. Until the wackos and renegade Marxists got involved, environmentalism had a good name and enjoyed bipartisan support.

  22. TonyNZ says:

    Gallier2, your comment about oxidative stress caused by carbohydrate metabolism was news to me, though I should point out the problems associated with such oxidative stress. The three that come to mind are cancer, infertility and plaque formation, three things on the rise.

    And it is true what you say about the Green politics. The green party here has a former member of the communist party as well as policies for the following:

    Abolition of school uniforms, as they remove freedom of expression in children, which should be nurtured. (One of their major policy areas is children, which seems to be all rights, no responsibility).

    Organic agricultural biofuel as well as vast reduction in dairy and meat farming, which I won’t start ranting on now because I can go for hours.

    As well as the fact that all of their environmental policies seem to be based on a stick, rather than a carrot. i.e. abolition of cars and agriculture rather than improving them.

    I am an environmentalist. I have done postgraduate study into environmental pollution and am currently doing study on sustainable agricultural practices. I would never vote for the green party because they have no concept of self responsibility and their good policies (like subsidies for home insulation) get hidden behind walls of rubbish. Oh, and their leader fell for dihydrogen monoxide and presented the information to parliament pressing for urgent action. Damn right that was funny.

    The thing about this sort of research is that it doesn’t help anyone. Sure, the fit people that walk and cycle feel superior to those that don’t, but really, there are no solutions and it doesn’t lead to any constructive benefit.

  23. Randy says:

    Tom,

    You know you’ve got it all wrong! Don’t you know that animals that hibernate all winter, living off their fat stores, wake up in the spring, stand up, and then drop dead from heart attacks!

    I guess it’s only a matter of time before they start taking statins.

  24. gallier2 says:

    @TonyNZ

    There is even more to the link between cancer and carb-metabolism. Look-up for the 1930 Nobel prize in medecine. It was known since then, that cancer cells can only metabolize glucose and nothing else; That’s because their respiratory chain in the mitochondria is broken. This hypothese, the so called Warburg-hypothese was recently (re)confirmed in different ways, and had been discovered and rediscovered since then. But, the development of the combat gas/nuke treatements (look it up, chemotherapy drugs are derived from chemical warfare agents/radiation therapy) after WWII, obliterated any cheaper alternative treatments (Warburg, Vit-D, and others).

    I read recently that cancer cells in a lab setting will reproduce rapidly when given glucose, but can’t thrive on ketones … yet another reason to get most of your fuel from fat.

  25. David says:

    I remember being exposed to this concept on Richard’s site (Free the Animal) awhile back, but it was great to see it again with your own unique twist. Love it. You’re a great writer, and by the way, Fat Head was brilliant!

    Oh, and thanks again for the helpful comments on Dr. Eades’ site about the whole “low-carb and thin people” thing.

    I appreciate the compliments on the film and the post. It’s been 20 years since I’ve written strictly for print — I was focused on standup comedy, then theater, then the film — and I’m happy to know people enjoy the blog.

    On the low-carb and thin topic, my wife has been lifting weights with me this year, and she’s gone from 117 to 125 — all extra muscle, adding to her curve appeal. So even for someone whose body resists storing fat, the low-carb diet doesn’t appear to prevent a healthy weight gain.

  26. Scott says:

    I cannot remember a time when I was laughing so hard, yet so full of anger at the same time.

    Truly enlightening in the most hilarious way possible. I had a lengthy discussion with a dietician friend, and she 100% agreed with you. She is angry as well, because she feels like her entire industry and 6 years of school have just been a complete waste.

    Further, she evaluated my diet and discovered I get nearly 50% of my calories from fat, I eat steak, eggs, cheese, nuts, olive oil and drink whole milk daily, and I’m 6’3″, weigh 185lbs and am nearly single digit in body fat %. I eat 3400 calories per day and am highy active. I eat no grains and get all my carbs from veggies, fruit, and dairy.

    I’m sending this to every person I know and even some I don’t.

    Keep up the incredible work! I’m so glad I found this site, and BTW, I play your movie in the waiting room of my Physical Therapy clinic.

    Believe me, I get angry about it too. That’s one of the questions the books on comedy writing suggest you ask yourself: what makes me angry?

    Considering I’ve sat in waiting rooms and watched one pharmaceutical commercial after another being played on the closed-circuit TV, I’m delighted you’re showing Fat Head instead.

  27. I did a whole run down on an anecdote regarding treating cancer with a high fat diet, here:

    http://www.freetheanimal.com/root/2008/04/will-the-blogos.html

    Also, there’s something else, and it makes perfect sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Chemo is a war of attrition where you hope to kill off the cancer before you kill the host. But it’s a 1-1 deal: chemo kills both cancer and healthy cells about equally.

    Turns out, however, that health cells in a fasted state (like a very hungry animal that needs to be at its best) are far more resistant to the ravages of chemo and they have achieved in vitro kill ratios of upwards of 30-1 on human cells. They’ve also tested it on rats with good results.

    http://www.freetheanimal.com/root/2008/04/counterintuitiv.html

    Great stuff, Richard. Thanks for digging it up.

    My dad quit smoking 15 years ago, and like many ex-smokers, he became a fiend for sweets and carbs and put on quite a few pounds. He’s now had two surgeries and two rounds of chemo for colon cancer. He also has Alzheimer’s at age 74, which I attribute partly to eating all that sugar — Alzheimer’s is now called “Type III diabetes” by some doctors — and partly to being on Lipitor for 20+ years. Cholesterol protects the brain.

    The smoking was his own choice and therefore his own fault, but I believe bad medical advice or at least lack of good advice led to his current sorry condition.

  28. David says:

    Richard’s post here is ironic, as I was just informing a friend of mine about ketogenic diets and cancer earlier today. Her husband has cancer, and someone else told her to put him on an all raw, vegetarian type diet. She was intrigued about the ketosis idea, but skeptical. Of course, she’s been hanging around the wrong crowd– one of her “health professional” friends had just told her to stop eating product containing coconut oil because it had too much saturated fat.

    It seems incredible to me that the Warburg hypothesis, which has been around for nearing a century, hasn’t been more widely applied. How could something that makes so much sense not be more aggressively pursued and researched? But you suggest it to people, and they look at you like you’ve got three eyes or something. But this isn’t even the worst thing. Given our culture’s nutritional climate, I can understand that people might have some (misguided but honest) reservations about a high-fat diet for treating cancer. But the real shame is that no one seems to even be taking the tiniest step in that direction — in other words, no one seems even remotely concerned with even limiting sugar, at the very least. I have some friends whose 7 year old daughter died of cancer a couple years ago, and I remember how they were searching SO hard for a “cure,” yet all the while would feed her candy, cinnamon rolls, etc. And out of all the doctors and all the hospitals they visited, NOBODY said anything. Nobody said, “Don’t do that.” It’s a terrible shame.

    That is a shame indeed. And coconut oil, if I remember correctly, actually has anti-cancer properties. If you search the Weston A. Price site, you’ll probably find an article or two.

  29. TonyNZ says:

    The thing about cellular biology is that there is a huge importance in partitioning between lipid and aqueous environments. The major source of partitioning between these environments are membranes, made of lipids (including cholesterol) and membrane bound proteins.

    Many of the metabolic enzymes are bound to membranes, and enzyme turnover is high. That is, enzymes are constantly broken down under normal conditions. Their synthesis is promoted under the right conditions. This is how the body makes sure it has the right amount of enzymes.

    Under fasting, all of the glucose metabolising enzymes would be degraded. Presumably the body would be metaboilising fat stores so there would still be a level of fat metabolising enzymes present.

    Therefore the “fasted state” would be a state in which the glucose metabolising enzymes are not present. This affects the type and rate of compound uptake into the cell. Of course cancer cells would not have the same chemistry, and gives a point of difference for partitioning in the body, resulting in higher efficacy for particular drugs that exploit this. Where I would see this working is in non-electrolytic aqueous solutes (e.g. glucose and mustard agents), so the cancer cells take up the mustard agent preferentially. Mustard gases act pretty indescriminately once inside a nucleus so I should suspect it is uptake that is affected.

    So I would be interested to know the case/control diets for this study, whether they had a control diet. Furthermore it would be interesting to see whether similar results would be seen in a diet where calories come from fat.

    So would carbohydrate restriction produce a similar environment, then? Reducing the activity of glucose-metabolizing enzymes, etc?

  30. TonyNZ says:

    That’s my hypothesis, Tom. It would need testing and analysis from someone more qualified than myself, but I’m sure there would be some effect. You likely wouldn’t get 100% carb reduction from diet alone without serious dietary smashing, though how this compares with say, 20g of carb a day (a figure I’ve seen thrown about here) I wouldn’t know without knowing the levels that are produced via gluconeogenisis etc. The problem with my hypothesis is that it is largely one-dimensional at this stage, though given the current standard of dietary research, the fact that it doesn’t write its conclusion before doing the research must place it on at least a par score.

    It would seem there would be precedent for such a test given the early respect for the Warburg hypothesis, though the general reluctance of funding for anything going against low fat dogma, it may be a while before we see it.

    Nonetheless, it would seem that there is strong evidence of cancer restriction from carb restriction. I don’t think it can CURE cancer, though anything that halts its spread and increases the efficacy of anticancer should get investigated. It would be a relatively cheap trial to run at that, given the compliance costs of pharmaceuticals these days. While it may be unpalatable, I should think that the FDA should be much more inclined towards less paperwork for diet changes than experimental drugs.

    Cool idea. But it’s hard to get funding in the U.S. for a study that won’t eventually sell something … drugs, whole-grains foods, etc. The FDA approves pharmaceutical research, but the drug companies pay for it.

    They’re more or less in bed with each other. The guy who’s being mentioned as the probable next FDA commissioner is a big proponent of statins and has received quite a few research grants from big pharma.

    One of the big cereal makers (can’t remember which offhand) paid for a lot of the research into the supposed wonders of lowfat diets. They just funneled it through the universities in the form of grants. Then the studies get “Harvard Study” stamped on them, instead of “General Mills-funded study.”

    I’m not sure who would pay for a study that proves eliminating sugar and starch could slow down cancer.

    Love to see it done, though.

  31. Allan (Chem101nz) says:

    Hi Tom

    I’m sure there are other websites to visit on the ‘net, but right now I seem to be glued to yours! I have just gone through a one-man 14 month battle with the NZ drug agencies, Pharmac and Medsafe, over the supply of Levothyroxine… so I’m hesitant to jump down their throat too quickly regarding ‘statins’ – at least until their wounds have healed. I won, they lost – sh*t happens. :-)

    The statin battle will be huge. The included link is commentary from our New Zealand Medical Journal http://www.nzmj.com/journal/119-1236/2033/ I read it with total frustration and much hair pulling, then I read the “Potential conflicts of interest” near the bottom of the page… and everything fell into place. The only fair commentary can be found in paragraphs 2 and 3, under the heading, “Pharmac’s Failures”.

    Again, thanks for your spirited commentaries. You provide much inspiration.
    Allan Campbell
    p.s. isn’t it time your show went on the road? I can almost guarantee packed houses in NZ! :-D

    I’ve thought about the lecture circuit; sounds like fun. Still waiting to see what kind of coverage we get for the film world-wide before making that plunge. Then, of course, I’ll have to figure out how to get started.

  32. Chemistry Hub…

    [...] It seems logical that our own bodies burn our own stored fat with no ill effects. So eating that same fuel (fat) should be just dandy as well. Have you run this by a bio-chemist or such? Maybe Dr Mike Eades has a take on this. … [...]…

    I found out from Richard at Free The Animal that Dr. Mary Vernon had explained the same concept some time ago — all diets are high-fat diets once you start burning your own fat.

  33. Jen Gosnell says:

    I just stumbled across your archive after following one of Dr. Eades’ recent tweets here.

    Brilliant!! This post is the most enlightening thing I’ve read all day. The comments are fascinating as well. I’ll be rereading it all… and I intend to bring the article to the attention of several of my health-minded friends.

    Keep up the good work! :-)

    Thank you.

  34. Mike says:

    Hi love the blog, can’t wait to get the film. Richard – love Freetheanimal as well, that’s how i got here. Need to work out how I got there so I can thank them as well. I have cancer and have come across some research into ketogenic diets:

    http://charm.cs.uiuc.edu/users/jyelon/lowcarb.med/topic8.html

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1662484,00.html

    http://www.frauenklinik.uni-wuerzburg.de/forschung/ketogenic_english.htm

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17313687

    http://www.crossfit.com/cf-journal/seyfriedInterview.pdf

    It’s only a little but it’s a start.

    Keep it coming guys
    Mike

  35. Diogenes says:

    “I already knew that humans and pigs share a lot of the same DNA. (Some would argue this is more true for men than women.)”

    –what kind of misandric, man hating insult is this?

    I put it in the category known as “humor.”

  36. Diogenes says:

    riiight, bashing men is “humor.” Is bashing women “humor”?

    here’s my “humor”:

    “I already knew that humans and cows share a lot of the same DNA. (Some would argue this is more true for women than for men)”

    there, that’s my “humor.”

    As someone who spent years on the standup circuit — doing a totally clean act, by the way — I learned that it’s impossible to do humor without somebody getting his or her nose out of joint. That’s because some people LOVE getting their noses out of joint.

    If the “men are pigs” line (which launched Tim Allen’s career) offends you, you are too easily offended. I have a theory about the easily-offended types: it’s how they make themselves feel superior and important. If you prefer to be offended by that line, be my guest, but it’s your problem, not mine.

  37. Name says:

    As far as I know, there are two pathways to build fats.
    Under the dreadful influence of insulin, lipocytes take fatty acids from the bloodstream.
    If there are not enough of them there is an alternative process to generate them (from
    glucose). This process yields saturated C18, C20 or whatever, pretty close to bacon.
    And yes, it makes no sense our body should build a deadly fat?!
    I heard eggheads can analyze what was eaten from body fat.
    I wouldn’t know how the body preserves unsaturated fatty acids in
    storage. Unsaturated fats are, well, unsaturated, and spoil
    easily on the shelf.

  38. Diogenes says:

    [If the “men are pigs” line (which launched Tim Allen’s career) offends you, you are too easily offended.]

    It offends me because it is a sex bias. You don’t make similar jokes bashing girls. You only pick on guys. Tim Allen doesn’t have any line saying “women are cows.” It’s a misandric double standard. Bashing women offends people but not bashing men.

    No, I don’t bash women because I’m not one. And guess what? You don’t see white comics making fun of blacks, but you see black comics making fun of blacks. Jewish comics can tell Jewish jokes. Female comics can make jokes about PMS. Get the picture? Double-standard, really? Jesus, you’re a moron … it’s called picking on your own kind, a standard in comedy.

    Bill Cosby — clean and nice as they get — said that every joke has a target. To whiny-ass, self-righteous people, that would be “every joke has a victim … egads! No one must EVER be offended!!”

    What exactly are you hoping to achieve with this running whine of yours? Do you really think you’re going to finally come up with the magic words to convince me the line was offensive? Dream on. All you’re doing is convincing me that you are a seriously thin-skinned weanie. A real man, a secure man, would either laugh if he found the line funny, or ignore it if he didn’t. You’re starting to remind me of the California legislators who responded to being called “girly men” by Arnold Schwarzennegger by running out and calling a press conference to complain that their feelings were hurt … thus proving themselves girly men.

    Grow a funny bone, or grow a pair, but quit acting like such a whiny-ass, crybaby little girl.

    There, was that an appropriately balanced slam on females for you?

  39. Diogenes says:

    so I need to be a black, a woman, or a Jew to offend them? Why do so many women bash men? On TV shows, movies, women bash men all the time, but not the other way around. Women don’t “pick” on their own kind, they bash men all the time.

    “ladies first.” Women, and men, say this all the time. There’s no “men first.”

    I didn’t say no one must be offended, I pointed out the misandric sex bias that only men can be offended.

    Should a ‘real’ woman find a misogynistic joke funny as well?

    Comedians are aware of the power (real or perceived) totem pole. You can insult people higher than you on the pole, but not lower, or you risk a hostile audience. It’s why blacks can make jokes about whites, but a white comic who makes jokes about blacks will be booed off the stage.

    Male comics make jokes about their wives and girlfriends all the time, by the way. I used to have a bit about my girlfriend insisting her fat friends are just “big boned.”

    Regardless, your original complaint is ridiculous. Apparently, you took offense because I compared men to pigs (oh, horrors!), then explained that it offended you only because it indicated a bias against men. This means 1) you believe I’m biased against my own gender, and 2) you wouldn’t have been offended if I’d called women fat cows. That’s stupid. A joke is offensive or it isn’t. Insulting other groups equally doesn’t magically make it non-offensive.

    By your logic, Billy Crystal, Woody Allen, and a gazillion other Jewish comedians who make fun of Jewish traits are offensive, but wouldn’t be offensive if they also made jokes about Catholics.

    So once again, you really need to get over it. If a line suggesting men are prone to piggish behavior offends you, you’re the one with the problem.

  40. Hey Tom,

    Do you have the study abstract for the composition on human body fat on hand? I’m attempting to show in a nutrition class that my diet is (unexpected) nearly identical in terms of fatty acid composition to storage percentages and I can’t find the paper you came across.

    Best,
    Skyler

    I’ll see if I can dig it up.

  41. Mark Jacobs says:

    This is great! Thanks so much for making a technical subject very entertaining to read! I came across your movie Fat Head on Netflix a little over a month ago and enjoyed it very much.

    I never knew the politics and “junk science” behind he USDA food triangle and am glad I watched Fat Head. I have since been reading anything I can find about a proper diet of fat and protein.

    I started the low/no carb high fat & protein diet on March 10th. 2012 and have dropped 20 pounds and feel better than I have in years. I thank you again for your efforts and entertaining style of writing.

    That’s a great start. Keep it up.

  42. Don in Arkansas says:

    I’m a few years behind in reading this post but it sure makes sense to me. Wait! Logic and Sense is banned by our government. That explains a lot.

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