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7
IHCAN March 2017

One slice of bacon a day will kill you – they say

“High-dose vitamin D shows benefit in patients with advanced colorectal cancer”.
“Vitamin B12 identified as potential treatment for Parkinson’s”.
“Autism symptoms reduced nearly 50% two years after faecal transplant”.
“Vitamin D regulates 2,000-plus genes, including those linked to cancer and autoimmune disease”.
“Remission of Type 2 diabetes on a weekly basis”.
“Only 12% of Americans considered ‘healthy’”

Headlines and a quote from stories in this issue. For us, a fairly typical month of research news.

Meanwhile, back at the idiot factory, nutritional epidemiologists are grabbing headlines with a claim that eating a single rasher of bacon a day is enough to give you cancer. Oh wait, wasn’t it eggs, last month?

It is surely time that these data-crunchers retired en masse. Unfortunately, they are always looking for headlines: their grants, their jobs, depend on them.

Most of what they do is not real research – it’s a relatively lazy trawl through data. Reporter Nina Teicholz (bestselling author of The Big Fat Surprise) reminds us of two key facts: 1. Most of this data is based on the now discredited system of “dietary recall”, and 2. There is an institutionalised bias towards the promotion of a “plant-based” diet.

Witness the recent controversy of the EAT-Lancet report: after 37 alleged world authorities on nutrition had delivered their opinion that everyone, worldwide, should eat as-vegan-as-possible, journalists revealed weeks later that more than 80% of them (31 out of 37) espoused vegetarian views before joining the project.

At the end of March, the World Health Organization woke up and dropped its endorsement of the EAT-Lancet Commission’s “planetary health” diet.

“A standard diet for the whole planet, regardless of the age, sex, metabolism, general state of health and eating habits of each person, has no scientific justification at all”, said Italy’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gian Lorenzo Cornado, who triggered the WHO to reconsider.

Author of the classic paper, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”, Dr John Ioannidis, professor of medicine, health research, and policy at Stanford University, weighed in with: “There are few exceptions, but the status of epidemiological literature is not at a level to allow us to make these types of very detailed, specific recommendations”. For that reason, the health claims in the EAT-Lancet diet are “science fiction. I can’t call it anything else”.

SIMON MARTIN, EDITOR

Keep up with Simon on Twitter @simoncamedit

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