Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

PETA wants our kids to get cancer!

Okay, just kidding with that headline. Now and then it’s fun to act like a True Believer vegan and accuse those who don’t agree with me of being horrible, horrible people – you know, the weenie mentality I described in the previous two posts.

Anyway, check out this article from the U.K. Telegraph:

Long term vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations which raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, scientists have found.

No, no, no! Vegetarians don’t die of heart disease or cancer! Just ask them. (Or don’t … there’s a good chance they’ll tell you anyway.)

Populations who have had a primarily vegetarian diet for generations were found to be far more likely to carry DNA which makes them susceptible to inflammation.

Scientists in the US believe that the mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants. But it has the knock-on effect of boosting the production of arachidonic acid, which is known to increase inflammatory disease and cancer. When coupled with a diet high in vegetable oils – such as sunflower oil – the mutated gene quickly turns fatty acids into dangerous arachidonic acid.

So PETA wants you to follow a diet that will give your kids and grandkids cancer. Or something like that.

The finding may help explain previous research which found vegetarian populations are nearly 40 per cent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer than meat eaters, a finding that has puzzled doctors because eating red meat is known to raise the risk.

I see. So eating meat raises your risk of colorectal cancer, but vegetarian populations are nearly 40 percent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer. So that means … uh … uh … something.

Researchers from Cornell University in the US compared hundreds of genomes from a primarily vegetarian population in Pune, India to traditional meat-eating people in Kansas and found there was a significant genetic difference.

“Those whose ancestry derives from vegetarians are more likely to carry genetics that more rapidly metabolise plant fatty acids,” said Tom Brenna, Professor of Human Nutrition at Cornell.

“In such individuals, vegetable oils will be converted to the more pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, increasing the risk for chronic inflammation that is implicated in the development of heart disease, and exacerbates cancer.

Okay, now I’ve got it: if you’re a vegetarian living in India and come from a long line of vegetarians, you need to move to Kansas. I knew there had to be a logical conclusion in there somewhere.

You can read more of the article, but I’d put this one in the “so what?” category … even though it would be fun to wave it in the face of the next vegan zealot who shows up here predicting my demise from colon cancer.

Sunbathing will extend your life and perhaps also kill you

More fun with observational studies … take a look at this article from Shape Magazine: (If you’re in the sun, you may want to put on your sunglasses first.)

You’ve made it a point to regularly choose the shade over the sun (right?!). Well, new research from the Journal of Internal Medicine challenges the whole “avoid the sun like the plague” thing.

According to the study, women who regularly sunbathed had lower mortality rates than those who tried to stay out of the sun. They also had a lower risk of developing heart disease and dying of non-cancer and non-cardiovascular-related causes than the shade seekers.

They were also linked to more boyfriends because of their nice tans.

The researchers, who followed nearly 30,000 Swedish women for 20 years, determined the sun avoiders reduced their lifespan by .6 to 2.1 years.

I wonder if those 30,000 Swedish women got tired of researchers following them around for 20 years. I’m thinking by around year 18, some of them were yelling, “Hey! Piss off and leave me alone! I’m trying to get a tan here!” (I’ll ask Dr. Eenfeldt to translate that into Swedish when I see him on the cruise.)

Researchers even went so far as to conclude that avoiding the sun is just as bad as smoking since nonsmokers who stayed in the shade had a lifespan similar to smokers in the sun-loving group. Cue confusion.

“Hey! Piss off and leave me alone! I’m trying to enjoy a smoke and get a tan! Go follow that pale-skinned lady around for a change!”

Not everyone’s on board with the study’s findings. “They could have dangerous repercussions,” says Stuart Spitalnic, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Brown University School of Medicine. The results may be skewed since women who sunbathe likely come from the upper class, which is a group that tends to be healthier to begin with, he says. “You could then make a case that sunbathing perhaps shortens the life of sunbathers compared to similar people who avoid the sun.”

Yes, of course. You can speculate every which way, because it’s an observational study. We don’t know why the Sunbathing Swedish Stewardess—er, Swedish women had longer lifespans. (Sorry, I had a brief flashback to drive-in movies from my high-school days.) Could be they got more vitamin D. Could be that women who are lean and fit are more likely to go sunbathing because they look good in a swimsuit – and also live longer because they’re lean and fit.  Could be the upper-class connection the good doctor mentioned. There’s no way of determining cause and effect.

But I wish doctors and researchers would be consistent in their opinion of observational studies. Because I have a feeling if the sunbathing women died younger, we’d be hearing all about how getting a tan will kill you – an idea the doctor floated even though the sunbathers had longer lifespans.

Finally, a health magazine I like

While sitting in my chiropractor’s waiting room some weeks ago, I thumbed through his magazine collection. Usually the magazines in medical offices just annoy the bejezus out of me. Article after article (placed strategically opposite the ads for Weight Watchers meals and various drugs) proclaiming the wonders of whole grains and low-fat diets, stuff like that.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I began reading articles in a magazine called Experience L!fe. The focus was all on real foods, good sleep, quality exercise, meditation, etc. I wasn’t in the waiting room long enough to read the whole thing, so I asked the receptionist if I could pull out the subscription card and take it with me. Sure, she said.

Here are some article titles from the issue sitting on my desk:

The Cortisol Curve
Rebuild Your Back
How to Measure Your Resting Heart Rate
Resistant Starch for a Healthy Gut

Here’s a bit of advice from the article on cortisol:

A low-carb diet can support weight loss, but it’s not idea for those with disrupted cortisol. In a 2014 clinical trial, subjects with cortisol issues were able to reset their curves by eating low-carb breakfasts, moderate amounts of health carbs in the afternoon, and higher amounts of healthy carbs (think sweet potatoes, not bread of pasta) in the evening.

Endocrinologist Alan Christianson, NMD, author of The Adrenal Reset Diet, directed the trial. He now prescribes carb cycling to his patients who are dealing with any type of cortisol disruption.

Lots of good stuff in the issue – and not one ad for Weight Watchers or Healthy Whole Grains!

Just thought I’d mention it in case any of you still enjoy the feel of an actual magazine in your hands, as I do.  Seems well worth $21 per year.

Serve the food we tell you to serve – or else!

Recommending good magazines, books, blogs and other educational material is one way to change people’s eating habits. Now here’s the government method:

The federal government is taking steps to fine schools that do not comply with first lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service issued a proposed rule Monday to codify parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama.

The regulation would punish schools and state departments with fines for “egregious or persistent disregard” for the lunch rules that imposed sodium and calorie limits and banned white grains.

We are The Anointed. We know what’s best for you. Bow before us and obey.

A West Virginia preschool teacher was threatened with fines for violating the rules by rewarding her students with candy for good behavior in June 2015. The teacher ultimately did not have to pay, but the school had to develop a “corrective action plan” with training on the policies.

I don’t like seeing teachers reward kids with candy. But the proper response is to explain to her why it’s a bad idea … or just explain to your kids why they shouldn’t eat the candy. Or just let your kids eat the candy on rare occasions and serve them real food at home.

The government now seeks to make fines enforceable by regulation. Section 303 of the law requires that the federal government “establish criteria for the imposition of fines” for all the Department of Agriculture’s child food programs.

The fines would be the latest consequence of the healthy eating law that Mrs. Obama lobbied for in 2010. More than 1.4 million students have left the lunch line since the rules went into effect, as students have complained of small portions and unappetizing fare. The standards have been blamed for cafeteria workers losing their jobs, and some kids have even resorted to creating black markets for salt to add flavor.

We The Anointed commanded you to serve kids tasteless, low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie foods. Millions of your rebellious offspring responded by refusing to buy school lunches .. so YOU, YOU WORTHLESS PEONS, responded by trying to break our commandments. We The Anointed do not tolerate peons making their own decisions. You will submit. You will obey. We know what’s best for your children.

The Food and Nutrition Service is targeting schools that refuse to comply with Mrs. Obama’s lunch rules and said monetary penalties are a “useful tool” to get noncompliant cafeterias in line.

I’m afraid the federal officials have confused useful tool with useful idiot.

So let’s see … there’s no good scientific evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease or obesity, yet the USDA is mandating low-fat meals in schools.  There’s no good scientific evidence that salt causes health problems — in fact, a study commissioned by the CDC concluded that low-salt diets may be dangerous — but the USDA is mandating low-salt lunches.  Studies show that kids who drink skim milk are no leaner or healthier than kids who drink whole milk, yet the USDA mandates skim milk … but allows sugar in the skim milk, in spite of all the scientific evidence that sugar is bad for kids, from their teeth on down.  And now schools that refuse to comply with USDA commandments will be fined.

Well, at least the people imposing and enforcing all this unscientific nonsense don’t belong to what one reader insists is the “anti-science” party.

But I’ll stop now before I commit a microaggression.

48 Responses to “From The News …”
  1. KidPsych says:

    It’s clear the Brown professor has never been to Sweden. I had the privilege of spending a semester abroad there in my wayward youth. I took a charter down to Crete at the end of the semester, and the plane was packed with people I can confidently say did not belong to any upper class as we know it. Lots of drinking, exasperated flight staff. At one point a drink cart was trying to pass my seat, and another passenger climbed up onto my armrest to let it pass. Swedes of all stripes and classes take charters down south for very reasonable prices.

  2. Tom Welsh says:

    “The finding may help explain previous research which found vegetarian populations are nearly 40 per cent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer than meat eaters, a finding that has puzzled doctors because eating red meat is known to raise the risk”.

    So, the sum up as best I can: not eating meat makes you 40% more likely to die of colorectal cancer, but eating meat raises the risk of getting colorectal cancer”.

    It’s easy to see that journalist had a thorough education in scientific thinking and logic.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I believe the explanation (such as it is) is that long-term vegetarian populations have an extra risk, but within meat-eating populations, the risk is higher for those who eat more meat. Notice I’m not saying the explanation makes much sense.

      • Rick Bauer says:

        In “The Perfect Human Diet”, anthropologists observed that tribes divided by a mountain range experienced different life expectancy rates. The tribe that had access to more meat lived longer than the tribe that also had access to meat…just not as much.

        They had also yet to find any evidence that tribes were complete vegetarians. They found spears and arrows but no hoes and rakes. They did find a bone that belonged to a vegetarian, but determined that it was a cow.

    • Walter Bushell says:

      “The finding may help explain previous research which found vegetarian populations are nearly 40 per cent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer than meat eaters, a finding that has puzzled doctors because eating red meat is known to raise the risk”.

      With logic like that who need enemas?

      But I think the journalist was being faithful to the doctor’s confusion.

  3. Sheena Hunt says:


    “According to the study, women who regularly sunbathed had lower mortality rates than those who tried to stay out of the sun.”

    And there I was, thinking we all had the same risk of mortality.

    Silly me!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      No, no, no. You should conclude that if you don’t smoke and avoid the sun, you’ll live forever.

  4. Desmond says:

    Above, you have a quote that includes: “Scientists in the US believe that…”

    Such phrases seem to come up quite often in articles.

    Now I believe in many things that shape how I live. [Such as that people around me are made in the image and likeness of God, even though empirical evidence seems contrary (applying to myself as well).] However, I don’t pretend these are scientific theories.

    So when I read “scientists believe” it seems to rub me the wrong way. Am I being nit-picky? Or does this indicate that these authors don’t understand the scientific method? It is as if what is important is the scientists’ opinion of their conclusions, rather than the data itself.

    Also, I am really pi$t off that PETA wants my kids to get cancer.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Unfortunately, scientists often seem to express opinions not supported by their own data.

      • Ben Fury says:

        “Scientists often express opinions not supported by their own data.” -Tom Naughton

        That one belongs on Brainy Quote!

  5. Paul Miller says:

    Thanks for your insight Tom; it is always entertaining and informative. The Cornell study implies that human DNA has at least some vegetarians/vegans in our human descendants but actual science (bone collagen chemical analysis on samples from archeological dig sites) says otherwise, according to Professor Mike Richards of the Max Planck Institute who says “I’ve measured thousands and thousands of human bone samples from all over the world yet we have failed to find any vegetarian”.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Perhaps their bones dried up and blew away?

    • Walter Bushell says:

      We have few descendants in archeological dig sights, unless perhaps archeologists are digging in contemporary graveyards?!

      And the remains we dig up are unlikely to be our ancestors. Most genetic lines die out in time.

  6. I’m confused.

    I’m picturing myself as a science reporter (I know, 98% oxymoron quotient), and I’m writing about sun exposure and cancer. Let’s see, who should I go to for an authoritative quote?

    I know! — “an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine…”!

    Because you’re always reading about how someone spends an afternoon in the garden with short sleeves, then has to be rushed to the ER because they developed an emergency case of cancer.

    Actually, I really am confused, because I thought it was a rule that if you say anything about tanning, you have to get an authoritative quote from a dermatologist — the medical industry’s equivalent to CSPI (motto: “colon cancer, schmolon cancer, at least you didn’t have to have a small patch of skin cancer cut off your cheek!”).

    I can’t imagine that the skin docs took a pass on this?


  7. Rick Bauer says:

    I’d ask Steve Jobs what he thinks about vegans and cancer…but he’s dead.

    I’d ask Linda McCartney about vegetarians and breast cancer…but she’s dead.

    I’d ask Davey Jones about vegetarians and heart disease…but he’s dead.

    And I wonder….if schools don’t follow Michelle’s dictatorial school lunch program…who pays the fine? Oh yeah…THE TAXPAYERS!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Or it comes out of the school’s budget, leaving fewer dollars for actual education. Brilliant solution.

    • Bret says:

      Rick, you could ask John McDougall, but he’s an insufferably arrogant curmudgeon who’s always in a terrible mood when not everyone in the room is kissing his butt.

      Not as intense a dissuasion as your examples, but still enough that I’d never consider his diet protocol for an instant.

      • Rick Bauer says:

        I know the argument…vegan gets cancer or heart disease, it is an underlying issue not related to diet.

        When meat eater gets cancer or heart disease, it is because of the meat…

        Vegan logic.

        • gollum says:

          (Lisa presents some vegan argument)
          .. tumble ..
          “Lisa’s brain must be malfunctioning from not eating enough meat!”

          The irony when this is what actually can happen. Not sure whether it helps with vegan arguments.

      • Mike T says:

        Best description of the impression that McDougall has left on me anytime he is in front of a less than reverential audience. Same can also be said about Campbell.

  8. Glenn says:

    Interesting you would report the tanning study. I just read about it on Dr. Malcom Kendrick’s site last night. Even though it’s an observational study, he seemed to think it was on the right track. Although there may actually be an increase in skin cancer, there would possibly be a marked decrease in other cancers, so the payoff may be worth it. For years now I’ve suspected that it’s the chemicals people are putting on their bodies to avoid cancer that are causing the cancer… I recall the days before there was a big push for everyone to apply sun screen, and I don’t recall the percentage of skin cancer being higher than it is now. I mentioned my suspicions to my dermatologist, and she almost agreed. Almost. She said she didn’t really care for all the fancy sun screens, but insisted one should cover up with zinc oxide, or something of that sort, that isn’t filled with chemicals we don’t really know what they do. At any rate, I enjoy your blogs, and I feel (ooh, emotion) that you’re pretty spot on. Everything I read here is what I’ve been doing for years, but I just can’t seem to get the wife to participate. And she’s the one with a few health issues. Nothing serious, yet, but if I can’t sway her to “right thinking” I’m afraid she’ll follow her parents’ health outcomes. High BP, diabetes, heart disease, and a few other things. The kids, too. They’re all terrified of all the fat I consume, but my BF % is much lower than any of theirs. I do lift heavy 3 to 4 times a week so I incorporate some carbs, but if I’m not careful I see the BF % start to go up. Sorry if this is over long. I mean to leave a reply now and then, but don’t get around to it often, so when I do it gushes forth. Keep up the good work.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I have a suspicion that the rise in skin cancer we saw decades ago is partly related to the crap oils in our diets. Fats are, after all, a major component in skin. After switching from chemically extracted “vegetable” oils to real fats, I noticed I no longer burn as easily as I once did. In fact, I’ll get tan instead of burned unless I really overdo it.

      • Rick Bauer says:

        Bodybuilders I knew in the 80s (including myself) tanned using BABY OIL in order to make the sun more intense. Nobody I know, myself included, has skin cancer.

        • susan says:

          Just today I was telling my daughter that back in the late sixties my sister and I would slather on the baby oil, with added iodine, and lay on the beach to try and get that all important suntan. Needless to say, we did get a few sunburns. We are in our sixties now with no sign of skin cancer. Not yet anyway. Somewhere along the way as teens we heard that adding iodine to the baby oil would help us tan faster, but I don’t remember that it really helped.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        The non bur I have seen mentioned in various places several times and in my own experience. Figures, poly oils are unsaturated and hence unstable. When hit by a photon, what could possibly go wrong?? Oxidation, free radicals and all kinds of mutagenic chemicals is my understanding.

        Not to mention the toxins in sunscreen which until very recently was a negative, in that it allowed people to stay in the sun while blocking the Vitamin D rays and passing the destructive UV radiation.

        Methinks, that the health advice from the oily, is designed to create health problems, just like the “criminal justice” system purpose is to ruin as many lives as possible. Gotta keep those prisons filled after all.

  9. Tanny O'Haley says:

    Our friend Dr. Malcolm Kendrick says sunbathing is good for you too.

    • Walter Bushell says:

      Didn’t *we* know that for years if not decades?

      I remember a map of prostate cancer vs. latitude and there was a remarkable decline in southern latitudes.

      • Walter Bushell says:
        UV, latitude, and spatial trends in prostate cancer mortality: all sunlight is not the same (United States).
        Schwartz GG1, Hanchette CL.
        Author information


        Our analyses confirm and extend our findings that the geographic distribution of prostate cancer mortality is the inverse of that of UV radiation. This effect is strongest in counties north of 40 degrees N latitude, where vitamin D synthesis is limited to non-winter months. These findings add additional support for the hypothesis that vitamin D insufficiency increases risk for prostate cancer.

        Seem to be research for several cancers.

        There is empirical evidence that the government is trying to kill us by bad advice. Just like it’s cheaper to deliver lead to poor areas in the water than from policeman’s guns.

  10. Glenn says:

    Hmm, that seems reasonable, and I’ve never really considered the vegetable oil angle. Looking back to when the government started pushing the “healthy” diet was just about the same time the sun screens were becoming popular, as well. At least that’s what I recall. I’ve never been one to use sun screen, and never had problems tanning. On the same note, I never bought into the food pyramid, either. I like my meat, eggs, and dairy too much, along with real vegetables and fruits. Grains have always given me bad heartburn, so I’ve never eaten them much. But, since I’m a true believer in my theory, I’m sure it’s all connected… 🙂

    • Tom Naughton says:

      It’s only a suspicion, of course. The timeline fits, but that’s a mere correlation. What got me thinking about it was my own experience. Give up the crap oils, switch to natural fats, and my skin can handle the sun now.

      • Ed says:

        I think you’re right about diet and possibly other toxic products that we use being the primary cause of skin cancers.

        I know several old timers who have spent fifty or sixty years working out in the Arizona desert sun. Their skin looks like wrinkled leather, but they’re strong, healthy and NO skin cancer.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        You’re being too kind to industrial seed oils and insulting to crap. >;][

        Just think of the problems Vegans could avoid if they ate their own, it
        would eliminate (or greatly reduce) the B-12 problem and since Vegans
        don’t think humans are animals, it would be Vegan Kosher, so to speak.

        According to Norman O Brown, several populations save theirs and call
        it the “second harvest”.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I’ll avoid that harvest.

          • Walter Bushell says:

            So would I, but neither us is Vegan. I’m concerned for their health, even though their chosen diet is a source of great human misery. This misery was pointed out in _Big Fat Surprise_– Nina Teicholz, BTW. Thus it’s not just my opinion. Come to think of it I don’t think Denise Minger would object to that statement. And _The Vegetarian Myth_ is basically all about that too.

  11. Marcie says:

    I’m married to the military and it’s been curious watching the dietary recommendations change the way they are serving food. The skim milk dispenser is labeled green-“go ahead and consume as much as you like.” The 1% is labeled yellow-“caution!” But the milk is right next to the soda fountain in the serving line, thus offering their patrons multiple options for healthy breakfast beverages.

    I just drink water with my cheese and bacon omelette, thanks. Maybe a little bacon on the side, too.

    I’ve always speculated that sun burning is a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Interesting that the professor tried to attribute it to class differences. Has he ever been to Sweden? It’s so dark in the winter there that the locals try to soak up as much sun as they can when the weather allows. Also you don’t really see class differences there like you see in the States, except maybe with regard to displaced immigrants vs. Swedish natives.

    Thanks for the interesting read.

  12. Bret says:

    If public schools weren’t bad enough to begin with, they are 10 times worse when the feds get involved. Schools get addicted to federal funding, and then the stage is set for top-down control & punitive repercussions. It’s a big mess.

    Washington, DC, should have absolutely ZERO say in what happens in a state or local school. And on the flip side, schools should not get a penny of federal funding.

    But try telling that to the voters. Just like in health care, people have a white-knuckled death grip on the idea that every level of government needs to be heavily involved.

  13. Rick Bauer says:

    I recall that way back in kindergarten (1969-70) my teacher, Mrs. Mason, taught us how to make home made butter. We churned it, added salt and so forth and we were rewarded for our hard work with crackers and butter. It was the highlight of our year. That was Mrs. Mason’s last year, teaching. She retired at the end of the school year.

    No doubt that is she were alive today, the government would have sent the thought police into her room, maced her in front of us kids (if not us kids as well), thrown her to the ground, handcuffed her before hauling her off to jail for feeding us kids a heart healthy snack (crackers) with artery-clogging saturated fat (butter).

  14. Ulfric Douglas says:

    Someone (you folk) pays academic muppets to do studies to find there is a significant genetic difference between folk in India and folk in Kansas.
    What seems important is how eating dangerous new veg oils increases the dodgy spider-acid stuff… what about ghee?

  15. stuart spitalnic says:

    comment on:
    “But I wish doctors and researchers would be consistent in their opinion of observational studies. Because I have a feeling if the sunbathing women died younger, we’d be hearing all about how getting a tan will kill you – an idea the doctor floated even though the sunbathers had longer lifespans”

    I am the doctor quoted in the referenced article. My solution, left out of the article, is that studies like these (sunbathing-life expectancy) should never be done, and if done, should be used as hypothesis generating, and never publicly trumpeted as proven fact.

    The notion that women who live longer than average may actually be having their lives shortened by sunbathing is explained by what is called the “healthy-worker effect.” Lets say you have 2 groups – a lower class, unhealthy group that usually lives to 60 and a healthy upper class who usually lives to 75. It is conceivable that the healthy group, if they sunbathe, only live to 70 – still longer than average but also shorter than it would have been.

    I wouldn’t rail against those who offer conflicting interpretations of studies. Complaints should be directed towards those who waste time and (often public) money on crappy studies and on media outlets that sensationalize findings that would be interesting if true, but almost never are.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I’m with you on that, and it doesn’t surprise me that your statement about the worthlessness of these studies was left out. Thanks for clarifying.

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