Category Archives: Food and diet

Ditch dairy and wheat

WDDTY loves nothing more than a bandwagon, and if one bogus treatment won’t do there’s bound to be another along any minute.

If your vitamin levels check out but you are still depressed, think twice about dairy and wheat. Nutritionists have discovered morphine-like substances called ‘exorphins’ -derived from the incomplete digestion of proteins in cereal grains and dairy products-which may be a possible cause of depression.

Stop right there. Nutritionists have discovered nothing, other than how to fleece the credulous.

Scientists and dieticians, however, have indeed discovered this, but the devil is in the detail, as we shall see in a moment.

The evidence reveals five distinct exorphins in the pepsin digests of gluten, and eight other exorphins in the pepsin digests of milk.

J Biol Chem, 1979; 254: 2446-9, cutting edge research form the bottom of WDDTY’s clipping drawer there.

Peptides with opioid activity are found in pepsin hydrolysates of wheat gluten and alpha-casein. The opioid activity of these peptides was demonstrated by use of the following bioassays: 1) naloxone-reversible inhibition of adenylate cyclase in homogenates of neuroblastoma X-glioma hybrid cells; 2) naloxone-reversible inhibition of electrically stimulated contractions of the mouse vas deferens; 3) displacement of [3H]dihydromorphine and [3H-Tyr, dAla2]met-enkephalin amide from rat brain membranes. Substances which stimulate adenylate cyclase and increase the contractions of the mouse vas deferens but do not bind to opiate receptors are also isolated from gluten hydrolysates. It is suggested that peptides derived from some food proteins may be of physiological importance.

This paper is by now mainly quoted in the alternative journals, it seems, but the finding is unsurprising.

These foods can also inhibit the takeup of nutrients like B12. Exorphins act like depressants, and it’s now thought that the immune reactions that arise from eating these foods include a number of psychiatric symptoms, even simple ‘brain fog’.

Well done, linking both stories to try to provide support for the Brave Maverick Doctor, Joseph Chandy.

Depression has also been linked to allergies and coeliac disease, where the inner lining of the small intestine (the mucosa) is damaged after eating gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye, oats and barley.”‘ According to a recent review, as many one-third of adult coeliacs suffers from various vitamin deficiencies and neurological changes, including depression.

AmJ Gastroenterol, 1999; 94: 839–43:

Untreated celiac disease can lead to serious behavioral disorders. We describe three adult patients with undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease without particular intestinal signs, causing persistent depressive symptoms in three of the parents of our pediatric patients.

See the important bit? These are coeliac patients.

lranJ Neurol,2012; 11: 59–64:

Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may initially present as one or more neurological signs and/or symptoms. On the other hand, it may be associated with or complicated by neurological manifestations. Neurological presentations are rare in children but as many as 36% of adult patients present with neurological changes. With severe malnutrition after progression of celiac disease, different vitamin deficiencies may develop. Such problems can in turn overlap with previous neurological abnormalities including ataxia, epilepsy, neuropathy, dementia, and cognitive disorders. In this study, we aimed to review the neurological aspects of celiac disease. Early diagnosis and treatment could prevent related disability in patients with celiac disease.

So, not only does this undermine your proposed causal link between vitamin B12 and depression (vitamin deficiencies are very common in coeliac patients due to malabsorption), but they fail to establish any link outside of coeliac disease.

The correct advice is not to arbitrarily cut out gluten, but to see your doctor and find out if you an undiagnosed coeliac. Adult diagnosis is now very common and estimates range from under half a percent to around one percent of the population. Get a TTGA test, not a quack diet, because non-coeliac gluten sensitivity may well not exist.


Wheat intolerance? Processed breads are the real culprit, says researcher

There is no bullshit in the world so self-evidently fatuous that someone won’t assert it. Non-existent “wheat intolerance” caused by bread that has gone through some nebulously-defined “processing”? Sure, why not? Continue reading Wheat intolerance? Processed breads are the real culprit, says researcher

Editorial, Feb 2014: The Third Diabetes

The cover story in the February 2014 issue is “the secret cause of Alzheimer’s”.

The accompanying editorial is particularly nauseating.

Governments of the West have finally woken up to the fact that we have an epidemic of dementia on our hands. The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is growing so quickly (the worldwide incidence is set to treble to 135 million in 35 years), and the death rates are so high (it’s the sixth leading cause of death) that last December, ministers from the G8 leading nations met in London to pledge to coordinate efforts to research a cure.

They haven’t “finally woken up to it”, it’s been a focus of research for decades. And it’s not an “epidemicW” – it’s not infectious and the incidence is as expected given an ageing population and the fact that Alzheimer’s is a disease of old age.

Little has changed, and the world of quackery cannot take credit even for that.

Although the pharmaceutical industry is never slow to investigate new revenue streams, it’s hit such a stalemate with dementia—none of the five drugs on the market have any evidence of doing any real good at all—that it has stopped looking for a magic bullet.

This is meaningless rhetoric. Of course the pharmaceutical industry is always looking for revenue, it is denied the special advantages of the SCAM industry, it is not protected from scrutiny by powerful friends, and drug companies are businesses. So what?

Whether or not they have stopped looking for a “magic bullet” is immaterial. A lot of research is going on, funded by companies and governments, and this has been the case for at least 30 years.

As our cover story this month makes clear, research to date has ignored the elephant in the room. New and largely ignored evidence shows that insulin resistance from a high-sugar diet may be responsible for the toxic plaques that develop in the brain, eventually robbing it of neurons.

OK, so if we follow WDDTY’s “logic” here, the past three decades should have been spent investigating something that’s only recently come to light? You can’t claim something is both new and widely ignored. A new and compelling finding will be investigated with a view to replication, this will take time.

What happens in the brain with Alzheimer’s is essentially what happens to the rest of the body with diabetes. In fact, some researchers are going as far as to call Alzheimer’s ‘type 3 diabetes’.

Indeed they are. And when you say researchers, what you mean is doctors.

This is, in other words, a classic bit of SCAM taunting of the medical world: science has discovered this new thing, science did not discover it before, therefore science is useless and SCAM is brilliant because some SCAMmers claimed, on the basis of absolutely no evidence at all, something similar.

In addition to revelations laying the cause of diabetes at the feet of the processed-food industry, we also offer evidence about those natural herbs and nutriceuticals with solid clinical and laboratory evidence for reversing neural damage that has already begun (page 30).

The problems of HFCS and other high sugar dietary elements are not yours to own. You did not play any part in bringing these to light, the SCAM industry has never played anything but a sideline role in diabetes. True, some quacks have claimed to cure it – without evidence, and to the detriment of their victims – but it’s scientists who have made all the advances.

Your concept of “solid evidence” is, as we know, laughably inaccurate.

The really irritating thing about this is that while medical science is proceeding by slow and painstaking investigation, the world of SCAM is doing precisely what WDDTY accuse “big pharma” of doing: rushing in to make money out of exploiting the afflicted. Science is honest about the lack of effect of drugs; SCAM is completely unfettered by any considerations of honesty, and will claim to “reverse” or “cure” Alzheimer’s based on the most fanciful premises.

We’ll look at the lead article later, but note in advance that it advises detox and chelation, two forms of dangerous refuted nonsense.

Mediterranean diet

One of the more consistent pieces of advice in WDDTY is to follow a “mediterranean dietW”; it’s recommended over 30 times. Wikipedia describes this as “a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy” – in other words an idealised caricature of the actual Mediterranean diet, which varies around the region.

Mediterranean Diet
While there were similarities between the countries, there are also important differences in the food habits of the Mediterranean countries. Neighbouring countries’ food habits are closer than those on opposite sides of the Mediterranean Sea…. There is no single ideal Mediterranean diet.

Noah A. and Truswell A. S. (2001), Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 10:2-9.

There is no single diet that could be called Mediterranean, and there are more similarities between the diets of non-Mediterranean countries bordering Mediterranean countries than between the diets of countries on opposite sides of the Mediterranean, and at least one author concludes that:

[I]t appears that currently there is insufficient material to give a proper definition of what the Mediterranean diet is or was in terms of well-defined chemical compounds or even in terms of foods…. The all-embracing term ‘Mediterranean diet’ should not be used in scientific literature….”

A. Ferro-Luzzi, “The Mediterranean Diet: an attempt to define its present and past composition”, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 43:13-29 (1989)

Needless to say, WDDTY is not scientific literature, and neither are the books, websites and journals beloved of “nutritionists”. These seem to broadly agree that a Mediterranean diet consists of:

  • Fruit, especially tomatoes
  • Vegetables
  • Bread
  • Olive oil as the principal source of fat
  • Dairy products
  • Fish and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Some red meat
  • Some wine

Fat forms 25%-35% of the calorific value, with saturated fats below 8%.

A jaunty nautical type demonstrates the Mediterranean diet WDDTY style, with all toxic elements removed, but falls at the last hurdle because it's canned.
A jaunty nautical type demonstrates the Mediterranean diet WDDTY style, with all toxic elements removed, but falls at the last hurdle because it’s canned.

However, WDDTY has a problem with some of these.

  • It recommends against tomatoes (they are “nightshades”, or solanacaeW), a dozen or so separate mentions of this stricture going right back to the early days and continuing in recent issues.
  • It recommends against wheat, and columnists routinely finger wheat as the first thing to cut out of your diet, well over a hundred times; WDDTY goes way beyond the real incidence of wheat intolerance.
  • It identifies dairy as “cancer food”.
  • It recommends saturated fats, even going so far as to advise “don’t limit saturated fats”.
  • It recommends caution when eating fish, because mercury.
  • Eggs are correctly identified as a common source of food intolerance (one of the three of WDDTY’s “big 7” food allergens that actually appears in the top 8 as defined by the reality-based medical community).
  • It recommends against red meat.

So if you try to follow all of WDDTY’s advice simultaneously, you’ll be left eating mainly spinach.


100 ways to live to 100: Your healthy diet

Part of a series on WDDTY’s “free” advertorial report “100 ways to live to 100

Your healthy diet

1 Customize your diet to match your biochemistry

William Wolcott, the world’s leading authority on metabolic typing and author of The Metabolic Typing Diet (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2000), followed in the footsteps of his mentor, cancer pioneer Dr William Kelley, by exploring how the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the nervous system each regulate a different set of metabolic activities and so different organs and glands.

Most of us are influenced more strongly by one or the other neurological system, according to Kelley’s theory, depending on whether we are ‘sympathetic-dominant’ or ‘parasympathetic-dominant’—so one man’s meat may literally be another man’s poison. A high-protein diet has one effect on a ‘protein’ type, but a totally different effect on a ‘carb’ type. Wolcott discovered that by customizing a person’s diet according to metabolic type, many people with serious illnesses—including cancer—regained their health.

For a detailed test to determine your metabolic type, go to

William Wolcott is claimed to be the world authority on Metabolic Type® and The Metabolic Typing® Diet. Genuine physiological concepts do not have registered trademarks. Nobody is the world authority on Digestion®.

One of the more baffling things about WDDTY is its failure to appreciate that the same issues of commercial conflicts apply to the world of SCAM, as apply to “big pharma”. Merely liking the sound of what someone says does not change whether they have a vested financial interest in it.

The Kelley cranks are a weird lot. Bill Wolcott is an acolyte of Kelley, a former real estate salesman who married Kelley’s ex-wife Suzi and took up Kelley’s mantle; Kelley himself was an orthodontist who developed a version of cancer quackery that forms the basis of the Metabolic Type®  nonsense. He also used prayer and osteopathic manipulation.

Kelley’s most famous patient was Steve McQueenW. As usual in the world of quackery, McQueen’s rapid decline and death was no barrier to continued commercial success. Kelley became paranoid and depressive as a result of his failure to convince the medical community, was divorced by Suzi, lost his dental license, and his health deteriorated. He finally died of a heart attack in 2005.

Nicholas GonzalezW developed his quack cancer diet from Kelley’s. MSKCC describes both as lacking any credible evidence of efficacy: a clinical trial in 2009 found that patients on the regime died faster and experienced worse quality of life. Like McQueen’s death, this has done nothing to lessen the commercial success of the regime.

It is theoretically possible to accumulate more red flags for quackery, but it is quite challenging.

And this is no. 1, so presumably top of the list in terms of purported value.

2 Check your acid/alkaline balance—but in relation to your metabolic type

A food’s effect on the body depends upon the body’s many homeostatic controls, including the autonomic nervous system, the master controller of metabolism. According to Wolcott, vegetables alkalinize an autonomic-dominant person, but acidify an oxidative dominant type, those whose oxidative or aerobic system (responsible for the ‘long slow burn’ that keeps running in the background) is the controlling force. To maintain a slightly alkaline status, determine and eat for your metabolic type.

The human body has intricate homeostatic mechanisms that maintain bodily pH in the range 7.35-7.45. A blood pH below 7.35 is called acidosisW, and a blood pH over 7.45 is called alkalosisW.

Virtually everything said by nutritionists about pH is nonsense. This is no exception.

As noted above, Wolcott has absolutely no medical qualifications whatsoever. If you fancy trusting your health to a former estate agent who ran off with the wife of the many who taught him the quackery from which he now makes an evidence-free living, you are probably beyond help.

3 Eat organic whole foods and opt for locally grown, seasonal organic produce

Pesticides have been implicated in many illnesses, including infertility, cancer, birth defects, skin irritations and impotence. Organically reared stock fed on grass (what they’re meant to eat), not grains, and organic produce not only contains substantially more of the basic nutrients than intensively farmed varieties, but also up to 10,000 secondary nutrients essential for human health. As organic bacon and sausages may still include nitrates (carcinogens), purchase them from sources that guarantee nitrate-free products.

Over 50 years of nutritional assays have failed to establish that organic produce is nutritionally superior to non-organic. The evidence of pesticide effects is based on much higher exposures than the safe levels in produce, and as a recent WDDTY piece pointed out, these pesticides are much more serious in unregulated sources such as Chinese herbs.

Is whole food better for you? Maybe not.Whole grain products may be short of fibre.

If you are environmentally conscious it may make sense to buy from a local farmer’s market, but even that is open to question.

4 Cook from scratch

Avoid anything processed, canned, fried, preserved or laden with chemicals, processed, refined or in any way interfered with. Vary your diet as much as possible; most allergy specialists claim that allergies are more likely from tins and plastic bottles, which can leach bisphenol A, and avoid water in plastic bottles, which may contain oestrogen mimicking phthalates.

Terms like “laden with chemicals” are emotive but lack any substance. Everything is made of chemicalsW. That is rather the definition of chemicals. Canned and preserved food can be an important source of vitamins during the off-season (which is why canning was invented in the first place). Processed food is a pejorative without a formal definition. It covers everything from KFC to craft-produced ragout in jars at Waitrose.

The correct mix of foods and how they are prepared is strongly dependent on your household budget, not that WDDTY seem to understand or care about anything outside its core demographic of ABC1 women.

5 Eat a ‘power breakfast’

Those who consume a large proportion of their total calorie intake in the morning eat significantly less over the course of the day, which helps to treat or prevent obesity.2 Plus skipping breakfast increases your chances of a heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Reference 2: J Nutr. 2004 Jan;134(1):104-11. The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans. de Castro JM.

The results suggest that low energy density intake during any portion of the day can reduce overall intake, that intake in the morning is particularly satiating and can reduce the total amount ingested for the day, and that intake in the late night lacks satiating value and can result in greater overall daily intake.

Or to put it another way, people who snack in front of the TV at night, eat more.

This one study definitely does not prove a causal link, it is associative only – and as we know, most observational studies are wrong, though there is evidence that skipping meals causes people to overeat at the next meal. Skipping breakfast is probably a bad idea, but stuffing yourself full of carbs at breakfast time may well not make any difference over and above a normal healthy breakfast.

6 Don’t limit saturated fats and don’t ever opt for ‘low-fat’ or hydrogenated foods

The supposedly ‘good fats’—polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils (corn, soy, safflower and the like)—appear to predispose people to cancer, whereas animal fats may be protective, preventing heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer. Two large studies show that regularly consuming more saturated fats leads to less disease progression than following a diet higher in polyunsaturated fats and carbs.3

But avoid trans fats—produced by hydrogenation, when hydrogen added to liquid vegetable oil to make it solid at room temperature—as they’re linked to greater risks of heart disease and stroke.4

Reference 3a: Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1175-84. Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB, Herrington DM.

Reference 3b: J Intern Med. 2005 Aug;258(2):153-65. Dietary fat intake and early mortality patterns–data from The Malmö Diet and Cancer Study. Leosdottir M, Nilsson PM, Nilsson JA, Månsson H, Berglund G.

Reference 4: J Am Coll Nutr. 1996 Aug;15(4):325-39. Dietary trans-monounsaturated fatty acids negatively impact plasma lipids in humans: critical review of the evidence. Khosla P, Hayes KC.

A rather more sensible approach is to eat less fat. The three studies’ findings:

  1. In postmenopausal women with relatively low total fat intake, a greater saturated fat intake is associated with less progression of coronary atherosclerosis, whereas carbohydrate intake is associated with a greater progression.

  2. With the exception of cancer mortality for women, individuals receiving more than 30% of their total daily energy from fat and more than 10% from saturated fat, did not have increased mortality.

  3. Preliminary evidence suggests that at least part of [trans fats’] impact on lipoproteins reflects increased serum cholesteryl ester transfer protein activity, i.e., increased transfer of cholesteryl esters from HDL to LDL. Since the adverse effects of t-FA on human plasma lipids may be confined to specific isomers, future studies delineating their effects are warranted.

So a source which applies only to post-menopausal women is asserted to be general, a source that finds no increase in cancer except for women is portrayed as saying that saturated fats prevent cancer (pretty much the opposite of the actual finding, which finds an increase in women but not much of one), and a technical preliminary finding that is spun because WDDTY love the idea of the “good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol” debate that they use as a stick with which to beat statins.

In other words, this is agenda-driven and often counterfactual spin. You should not eat unlimited saturated fat as they claim.

7 Don’t count calories

Keep your weight steady with index diet (or When compared diets, the GI diet was the best of all for losing weight.5 The diet ranks carbs according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Carbs with a low GI score produce only small fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, whereas high-GI foods cause a sudden sugar rush. Avoid processed foods and ‘white stuff’—white bread, white sugar and white rice—as well as fried foods and potatoes in favour of low-GI meats, fish, pulses (beans) and most vegetables.

Reference 5: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD005105. Low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load diets for overweight and obesity. Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, Baur L.

This study does not claim that GI is the best diet, only that it was more effective than the other diets tested. It refers primarily to obese people undergoing treatment for obesity. It acknowledges that further work is required to establish whether there is a long term benefit.

However, the low-GI diet is rational and not in the least bit alternative. It was first proposed over 30 years ago in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and is a mainstay of the advice offered by dieticians. There is no doubt that nutritionists like those who write and advertise in WDDTY follow a range of fad diets of variable implausibility so if this represents the first steps in a move away from advertising fad diets and towards evidence-based advice, it’s good. Admittedly the blanket prohibition on “white stuff” is not a good start; dieticians tend to look at the overall diet not just howl “teh processed!” at things they find ideologically unacceptable.

8 Don’t drink the water

Our entire water supply contains some 350 toxic chemicals plus industrial waste, disease-carrying microorganisms, chlorine and fluoride, some 100 pharmaceutical Pregnant women usual heavily chlorinated water double their risk of giving birth to a child with serious defects.6 Consider installing a reverse osmosis water filter with an added carbon filter, which will remove everything. But as this includes minerals too, be sure to supplement.

This message was brought to you by our sponsors…

There is no credible evidence of a general requirement to filter domestic mains water in this way, and WDDTY’s advice to use bottled water is diametrically opposite to their advice re buying local produce – transporting bottled water is an incredibly wasteful business because whatever WDDTY claim, the water delivered to your tap by your water company is clean, safe and environmentally sustainable. It almost certainly contains no significant levels of the “toxic chemicals” WDDTY assert, though this is hard to verify because as always the appeal to “toxins” lacks any actual definition of what toxins and at what level.

Water itself is toxic, in excess. It’s also a chemical. So arguably, yes, your tap water contains dangerous levels of deadly dihydrogen monoxide.

9 Get your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio right

Avoid an imbalance between the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), as these fats regulate the major bodily functions, and deficiencies are behind many degenerative diseases. The optimal ratio is 1 to 1,7 but the modern Western diet’s usual ratio is around 1 to 20 in favour of omega-6 EFAs from vegetable oils (like safflower, sunflower and corn oils). As a general rule, increase your intake of omega-3s (like eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA) and reduce your omega-6s (like gamma-linolenic acid). Opt for fish oils and foodgrade flaxseed (or linseed) oil, which is 60 per cent omega-3.

This claim was covered in our discussion of the December 2013 issue’s nonsensical article on arthritis. It’s not well supported.

10 Eat fish with caution

Most are now tainted by industrial waste and high levels of mercury, including ‘farmed’ fish, which have been fed inappropriately with grains. Avoid swordfish, tuna and other deep-water fish, as these are likely to have more mercury than smaller varieties of fish from shallower waters. Rotating your protein sources will help to minimize your exposure to specific chemicals.

WDDTY is turning into an Eddie Izzard skit on the Daily Mail. Fish is good, but it gives you cancer. The reference to “specific chemicals” is amusingly ironic, since it’s unspecific and everything we eat is made of chemicals by definition.

How about: eat a balanced diet? Would that cover it? I’m sure doctors don’t tell you that, at least not unless you actually ask them.

100 ways to live to 100

2014-01 vol 24 no 10 January 2014The January 2014 issue of WDDTY features a “free report” which is also available from the website provided you sign up for a lifetime of spam and (obviously) sales pitches to subscribe, just in case reason prevails and it vanishes from the shops.

The content is a mixed bag. Some of it is warmed-over copy from previous issues, some of it is mere statements of WDDTY’s ideology, some of it is thinly-disguised sales pitches for their advertisers and other stakeholders.

Of the 100 recommendations, not one represents an honest treatment of an intervention proven to increase longevity, but that’s not a huge surprise because virtually nothing can be unambiguously proven to increase longevity other than a balanced diet and moderate exercise. These don’t sell product.

We think of this article as “100 ways to sell product to gullible people”. But you can make up your own mind because over the next few days we’ll run through each of the sections and analyse how sound the advice is.

We might run a sweepstake on which section comes closest to being rational, and which has the highest taurean faeces quotient.

You can get a feel for it from this introduction:

Included in this recipe for longevity is our best advice for cleaning up your home and environment. The typical house contains a toxic soup of organic chemical compounds, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), combustion gases and other pollutants; in fact, indoor air often contains levels of hazardous chemicals five to 10 times higher than outdoor air does.

This is sourced to a study, Environ Res. 1987 Aug;43(2):290-307. The TEAM (Total Exposure Assessment Methodology) Study: personal exposures to toxic substances in air, drinking water, and breath of 400 residents of New Jersey, North Carolina, and North Dakota. Wallace LA, Pellizzari ED, Hartwell TD, Sparacino C, Whitmore R, Sheldon L, Zelon H, Perritt R., which notes:

Some activities (smoking, visiting dry cleaners or service stations) and occupations (chemical, paint, and plastics plants) were associated with significantly elevated exposures and breath levels for certain toxic chemicals. Homes with smokers had significantly increased benzene and styrene levels in indoor air. Residence near major point sources did not affect exposure.

Smoking indoors pollutes your house with VOCs. You heard it here first, folks!

Arthritis: it’s not old age, it’s inflammation

Arthritis patients: Fertile prey for quacks.
Like any sufferer from a painful chronic condition, arthritis patients are fertile prey for quacks. Here WDDTY engages in its signature combination of legitimate new research, prehistoric papers beloved of cranks, and uncritical acceptance of practitioners with an agenda and a business to promote, to synthesise a claim that is not actually supported by the sources they cite.

“Doctors have long assumed that osteoarthritis is largely caused by traumatic injury or ‘wear and tear’, but new research suggests that the disease may actually be driven by low-grade inflammation”

Except that doctors are quite clear on the plausibility of autoimmune disorders as a contributor to osteoarthritis, the contribution of one factor does not contradict the contribution of other factors, and the cited studies acknowledge limitations that WDDTY airily waves aside.

The pièce de résistance is representing mainstream research on the side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as “proof” of the quack diagnosis of “leaky gut syndrome“.

Continue reading Arthritis: it’s not old age, it’s inflammation

Is dairy ‘cancer food’?

Is dairy ‘cancer food’?
Is dairy ‘cancer food’? asks WDDTY rhetorically in its “special report” by an unnamed writer.

Based on the opinions of a “cancer expert” who is not an oncologist, is no longer GMC registered and sells supplements, a notorious crank with a history of misleading claims, and arm-waving appeals to “every expert” which are not backed up by evidence of consensus of expert opinion, a favourite bogeyman of “nutritionists” is asserted to be a cause of cancer.

Where sources are cited, they fail to back the text supposedly based on them. For example, a source that states a risk from high but not low-fat dairy intake is stated as evidence that dairy per se increases risk.

2013-11_15Is dairy ‘cancer food’?

Author not identified

“In my view, anyone with cancer should give up dairy completely,” says Dr Patrick Kingsley, British cancer expert and author of The New Medicine. From Tokyo to Arizona, every expert who focused on cancer and nutrition repeated the same mantra: Give up dairy.

Patrick Kingsley is not an oncologist. he is not GMC registered. He is a proponent of his self-originated “new medicine” and a vendor of alternative treatments. Support for his claims to expertise and the validity of his treatments comes primarily in the form of books authored by himself. He appears to have no peer-reviewed publications indexed by PubMed.

Searches of common databases and information resources reveals no consensus n favour of dairy exclusion among dieticians or oncologists. The primary search term linking cancer and dairy is a study finding slightly elevated risk of prostate cancer associated with dairy consumption, which acknowledges that it cannot unpick the effects of dairy from the role of calcium in vitamin D metabolism (see below).

British scientist Jane Plant was 42 years old when she first noticed a lump in her breast; six years later, the disease had spread to her lymph system and she was left with a lump “the size of half a boiled egg” protruding from her neck. Plant’s situation, deemed terminal, rapidly turned around when she decided to cut out dairy.

Within days the malignant lump on her neck began to shrink and, within six weeks, it had vanished completely. That was 25 years ago—it hasn’t returned since.

The idea of a metastatic malignancy that was cured in weeks by simply excluding dairy from the diet, is implausible. No sources are provided for the claim.

Jane Plant is a geologist and geochemist, not a medical scientist.

New evidence From Kaiser Permanente research division, which tracked nearly two thousand breast cancer survivors for up to 12 years, shows that women who continue eating dairy after their  breast cancer has
been diagnosed are 49 per cent more likely to die from their cancer (and significantly more likely to die from any cause) than women who cut such foods from their diet.1

Reference 1: J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 May 1;105(9):616-23. High- and low-fat dairy intake, recurrence, and mortality after breast cancer diagnosis. Kroenke CH, Kwan ML, Sweeney C, Castillo A, Caan BJ.

BACKGROUND: Dietary fat in dairy is a source of estrogenic hormones and may be related to worse breast cancer survival. We evaluated associations between high- and low-fat dairy intake, recurrence, and mortality after breast cancer diagnosis.

RESULTS: In multivariable-adjusted analyses, overall dairy intake was unrelated to breast cancer-specific outcomes, although it was positively related to overall mortality. Low-fat dairy intake was unrelated to recurrence or survival. However, high-fat dairy intake was positively associated with outcomes. 

CONCLUSIONS: Intake of high-fat dairy, but not low-fat dairy, was related to a higher risk of mortality after breast cancer diagnosis (emphasis added)

The claim that cancer outcomes are significantly worse in women who consume dairy products is specifically refuted by this study. It finds, however, an association between high fat dairy (i.e. more of the oestrogenic hormones in dairy fat) and mortality.

This would be a good reason to switch to lower fat dairy products and a terrible reason to exclude dairy, especially for post-menopausal women at risk of osteoporosis.

“There is now consistent and substantial evidence that the higher the milk consumption of a country, the greater their breast and prostate cancer risk,” says British nutritionist and author Patrick Holford.

Patrick Holford qualified as a psychologist, has no legitimate qualifications in diet, is a vendor of supplements, an HIV-AIDS denialist and promotes quack ideas such as hair analysis.

According to 2008 figures, the incidence of breast cancer for women in China was 21.6 for every 100,000 people, while in America the rate is 76, in the UK it’s 89.1 and in France—a country famous for its love affair
with butter and cream—it’s 99.7.2 These differences cannot be reduced to genetics, as migrational studies reveal that when Chinese and Japanese people move to the West, their rates of breast (and prostate) cancer go up.

This is an example of the post hoc fallacy. There is no proven causal relationship.

Reference 2:

Compare this with a list of countries by milk consumption. Fourth highest milk consumption per capita is India. India has well below average breast cancer incidence. While a link is possible, it is not supported by these figures.

Adulterated milk

But the problem may have more to do with the state of today’s store-bought milk, and our obsession with ‘low-fat’ rather than with dairy per se. For instance, when scientists look for the link between dairy and prostate cancer, they find that the risk is higher only with low-fat milk, which delivers too high levels of calcium and strips out the protective anticancer effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA),a powerful anticarcinogen.3

Reference 3: Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 May;81(5):1147-54. Dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intakes and prostate cancer risk in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Epidemiologic Follow-up Study cohort. Tseng M, Breslow RA, Graubard BI, Ziegler RG.

CONCLUSIONS: Dairy consumption may increase prostate cancer risk through a calcium-related pathway. Calcium and low-fat milk have been promoted to reduce risk of osteoporosis and colon cancer. Therefore, the mechanisms by which dairy and calcium might increase prostate cancer risk should be clarified and confirmed. (emphasis added)

This finding is inconsistent with the breast cancer finding, and is stated by the authors to be a weak finding (“may increase risk”) which requires further analysis to unpick the different factors involved, including the roles of calcium and vitamin D.

Why milk might feed cancer

CLA also protects against the most cancer accelerator: insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1. The hormone naturally circulates in our blood and, like cortisol, progesterone and oestrogen, it’s necessary—it’s in mother’s milk to ensure the baby grows, and levels of IGF-1 rise in puberty to stimulate the growth of breasts. As we grow older, levels naturally drop off. That is, unless you’re a dairy lover.

This appears to be addressed by reference 1: it is related to fat content not dairy per se.

“We certainly know that people who consume a lot of dairy products will have higher levels of IGF-1,” says Patrick Holford.

“It simply does what it’s meant to do—stimulate growth. It also stops overgrowing cells from committing suicide, a process called ‘apoptosis’.”

Besides breast cancer, elevated IGF-1 levels have been linked to increased risks of colorectal, breast, pancreatic, lung, prostate, renal, ovarian and endometrial cancer.4 In fact, men with the highest IGF-1 levels quadruple their risk of prostate cancer 5

Reference 4: Recent Pat Anticancer Drug Discov. 2012;7:14–30. Insulin-like Growth Factor: Current Concepts and New Developments in Cancer Therapy Erin R. King, MD, MPH and Kwong-Kwok Wong, PhD

A somewhat puzzling source as it is reviewing patent reports related to IGF-1.

Reference 5: Science. 1998 Jan 23;279(5350):563-6. Plasma insulin-like growth factor-I and prostate cancer risk: a prospective study. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, Gann PH, Ma J, Wilkinson P, Hennekens CH, Pollak M.

“Identification of plasma IGF-I as a predictor of prostate cancer risk may have implications for risk reduction and treatment” – the source mentions dairy only once, as a citation to Am. J. Epidemiol. (2007) 166 (11): 1270-1279. Calcium, Dairy Foods, and Risk of Incident and Fatal Prostate Cancer The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, Park et. al. which states: “Although the authors cannot definitively rule out a weak association for aggressive prostate cancer, their findings do not provide strong support for the hypothesis that calcium and dairy foods increase prostate cancer risk.”

A search for each of the cancer types listed plus dairy, taking the first obvious peer-reviewed study for each:

  • Colorectal cancer: “Milk intake was related to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer” – J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Jul 7;96(13):1015-22. Dairy foods, calcium, and colorectal cancer: a pooled analysis of 10 cohort studies.
  • Breast cancer : As above, a risk associated with high but not low-fat dairy produce
  • Pancreatic cancer: “Total meat, red meat, and dairy products were not related to risk” – Am. J. Epidemiol. (2003) 157 (12): 1115-1125. Dietary Meat, Dairy Products, Fat, and Cholesterol and Pancreatic Cancer Risk in a Prospective Study Michaud et. al.
  • Lung cancer: No obvious significant studies, but dairy farmers have lower lung cancer incidence.
  • Prostate cancer: As above, weak evidence of increased risk, uncertain at this stage whether it is dairy specific or related to calcium / vitamin D link
  • Ovarian cancer: “Overall, no associations were observed for intakes of specific dairy foods or calcium and ovarian cancer risk” – Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Feb;15(2):364-72. – Dairy products and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Genkinger et. al.
  • Endometrial cancer: “Total dairy intake was not significantly associated with risk of preinvasive endometrial cancer. [W]e observed a marginally significant overall association between dairy intake and endometrial cancer” – Int J Cancer. 2012 Jun 1;130(11):2664-71. Milk, dairy intake and risk of endometrial cancer: a 26-year follow-up. Ganmaa et. al.

So the boldly asserted claim of a strong link with numerous specific cancers, not backed by references to sources, is contradicted where sources address the question directly.

However, the claim that dairy increases risks of these cancers is stated as fact (again without sources) by  Vegan International Voice for Animals, and contradicted with allusions to sources but no specific references by The Dairy Council, whose summaries are in line with the studies listed above.

In general, claims that milk is a significant and substantial risk factor for cancers are linked primarily to sites with an ideological commitment to reduced dairy consumption or other alternative diet and health claims.

But what about bones? 

We’ve been repeatedly told that drinking milk builds strong bones, yet clinical research tells a different story. One study, which followed more than 72,000 women for 18 years, showed no protective effect of increased pasteurized milk consumption on fracture risk.

The source of this figure is Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77:504–511. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women Diane Feskanich, Walter C Willett, and Graham A Colditz. This refers to post-menopausal women; as it notes: “A review of the literature concluded that there is no clear benefit of higher milk or dairy food intake on bone mass or fracture risk in women > 50 y of age but that a benefit is seen in women < 30 (37)”

The WDDTY article appears to be using the bait-and-switch tactic of conflating two cohorts (pre- and post-menopausal women)with different risk and benefit profiles.

Could eating your greens provide better protection?

A report from the US Nurses’ Health Study found that those eating a serving of lettuce or other green leafy vegetables every day cut the risk of hip fracture in half compared with eating only one serving a week.6

Reference 6: Am J Clin Nutr, 1999; 69: 74–9 Vitamin K intake and hip fractures in women: a prospective study. Feskanich D, Weber P, Willett WC, Rockett H, Booth SL, Colditz GA.

CONCLUSIONS: Low intakes of vitamin K may increase the risk of hip fracture in women. The data support the suggestion for a reassessment of the vitamin K requirements that are based on bone health and blood coagulation.

This applies to post-menopausal women, for whom dairy is not found to be protective.

A much later and wider-ranging study is Health Technol Assess. 2009 Sep;13(45):iii-xi, 1-134. Vitamin K to prevent fractures in older women: systematic review and economic evaluation. Stevenson M, Lloyd-Jones M, Papaioannou D.:

CONCLUSIONS: There is currently large uncertainty over whether vitamin K1 is more cost-effective than alendronate; further research is required. It is unlikely that the present prescribing policy (i.e. alendronate as first-line treatment) would be altered.

This suggests that sources may have been selected to serve an agenda rather than on the basis of the best and most current research.

Dark leafy greens not only provide calcium, but are also a potent source of vitamin K, which helps in calcium regulation and bone formation. There’s another benefit to choosing non-dairy foods. “Eating nuts, seeds and greens gives you the right balance of calcium and magnesium, but you don’t get that balance in dairy products,” says Holford. For those considering switching to soy milk, you might be interested to hear how it is made. According to Dr Al Sears, a physician with extensive experience in natural healthcare, it involves “washing the beans in alkaline or boiling them in a petroleum-based solvent; bleaching, deodorizing and pumping them full of additives; heat-blasting and crushing them into flakes; and then mixing them with water to make ‘milk’.”

This rather transparent dig at soya milk is no doubt entirely unrelated to the fact that in the US soya is routinely sourced from GM crops. Surely it would be entirely out of character to attack an entire food source on the basis of an instinctive dislike for genetically modified crops.

Thankfully there is a plethora of options available for the non-dairy consumer today, ranging almond milk to raw truffle chocolate.

Thankfully there is no credible evidence that any such thing is required, as fake milk products tend to be an acquired taste.

What Doctors Don't Tell You
Why don’t doctors tell you that cutting out dairy will prevent or cure cancer?

Because there’s no good evidence it will.

Older but not healthier

Older but not healthier
Older but not healthier: Ignore the government’s advice about to what eat if you want live to a ripe old age is an article in the November 2013 issue of WDDTY.

It is written by Robert Verkerk, founder of the Alliance for Natural health, a supplement industry pressure group based in the UK.

It advises readers to ignore government advice on nutrition and take instead the advice of a pressure group. Is this a sound approach?

Older but not healthier: 

Ignore the government’s advice about to what eat if you want live to a ripe old age

Robert Verkerk, founder, ANH Europe

National statistics give us a clue of our predicted lifespan on this planet. Most men and women in the UK are expected to live more than 80 years, but relatively few make it beyond 90. That may be better than we were doing 50 years ago, but recent statistics suggest lifespans might be shortening again.

This is true, and is indeed thought to be mainly due to the effects of diet and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Some contend that those who grew up during and shortly after the war, with rationing, have better health as a result.

But mortality statistics show us just one side of the coin. Possibly the more relevant issue is how long we remain healthy and disease-free. As a society more of us are living longer, but with chronic illness.

This is true up to a point: chronic illnesses such as arthritis are age-related and not really preventable at present, whereas type II diabetes is largely caused by lifestyle. The best advice is to eat healthily and exercise moderately. Give or take the occasional fancy bit of dressing-up, this has been the advice for a long time.

Heart disease and diabetes, two of the big killers, are now developing among children, and few of us make it to 70 without cancer, heart disease, diabetes or dementia. This raises the question: How much control do we have over our destiny?

These are two disjoint statements. Childhood obesity is a significant problem, but is separate from the question of, say, cancer, where it’s widely recognised that improved early diagnosis is a significant driver for increased diagnosis. This is not universally thought to be a good thing: Margaret McCartney’s The Patient Paradox details some of the issues with screening for cancer.

The evidence suggests that while it may be more difficult to dramatically alter our lifespan, we can easily reduce our risk of disease and improve our quality of life. Although Big Pharma and modern medicine have yet to come up with a silver bullet that helps us prevent disease to any significant degree, the science is clear on one factor: our choice of diet and lifestyle is the single strongest determinant—genetics apart—of the health quality we experience during our lives.

Let’s unpack that.

  • The evidence suggests that while it may be more difficult to dramatically alter our lifespan, we can easily reduce our risk of disease and improve our quality of life

Yes, we can reduce risks of some diseases and improve quality of life, mainly by eating less and exercising more. But “easily” is a questionable claim, and still the greatest determinant is income. So you could just as well say that we can “easily” reduce our risk of disease and improve our quality of life by becoming richer.

  • Although Big Pharma and modern medicine have yet to come up with a silver bullet that helps us prevent disease to any significant degree

This is rubbish. Leaving aside the subtext of demonising “Big Pharma”, the elimination and prevention of infectious disease, the ability to treat bacterial and other acquired infections, and improved survival from trauma, have all had a major impact on life expectancy. Nobody has died of smallpox, or even contracted it, since the 1970s. The last large poliomyelitis outbreaks in the West were half a century ago. Vaccines have done vastly more to prevent disease than diet ever has or can.

  •  the science is clear on one factor: our choice of diet and lifestyle is the single strongest determinant—genetics apart—of the health quality we experience during our lives

Debatable. The WHO lists three main determinants of health:

  • the social and economic environment,
  • the physical environment, and
  • the person’s individual characteristics and behaviours

The order in which these are placed is a judgement call, but health outcomes are very strongly correlated with income both within and across populations. Put simply, the rich can afford better choices more easily than the poor, and that is directly relevant to this article.

Given the wealth of evidence on this point, you’d think that governments would be bending over backwards to ensure we make the best possible choices to help reduce the future burden on our already overtaxed healthcare system, but they simply pay lip service to the notion. And sometimes their advice is in conflict with the latest scientific views.

They do. And if the advice sometimes lags the latest scientific views, that is because the latest scientific views are not necessarily the consensus scientific views. Most early findings are wrong, constantly following the early findings is a recipe for constantly see-sawing between potentially contradictory poles.

So government advice tends to be small-c conservative. Following the consensus, not the bleeding edge, is prudent.

Guidance on nutrition, for example, can be found in the form of the ‘eatwell plate’ on the NHS Choices website. But nearly 60 per cent of the food recommended—from starchy carbs, milk and dairy to “foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar”—is unnecessary to health and largely responsible for the current type 2 diabetes and obesity epidemics.

The eatwell plate is designed by dieticians (the trained and regulated health professionals) not nutritionists (who are unregulated and often untrained, and may believe in copromancy). It’s not intended to be the minimum or optimum for health, it’s designed to be an achievable goal that improves on the unhealthy choices that might otherwise be the default.

It is not the be-all and end-all of advice on diet, it is a reasonable, pragmatic guide. And it’s not presented as anything else. There is no real evidence that the composition of the eatwell plate is responsible for the prevalence of diabetes; the small segment for sugary junk is there because people actually like it and want to eat it, so it proposes a maximum that such foods should form as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

In other words, you are letting the best (specifically, your narrow vision of “best”) be the enemy of the good.

Yet the industries that make these foods are by far the dominant ones in the food industry, with the ‘Big 10’— Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Danone, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods), General Mills and Associated British Foods, amidst a sea of 1.5 billion food producers worldwide—controlling around 70 per cent of our food choices.

This packs two fallacies into one: appeal to motives and poisoning the well.  These companies are indeed large and influential, something of which ANH are plainly jealous (see below) but there’s no evidence that their influence guides the health advice produced by the NHS.

It is true that in the matter of promoting abject nonsense in sciencey-sounding language, the likes of Danone acknowledge no master. But since precisely the same rhetoric is used by the supplement industry, as represented by ANH, this is a bit of a pot and kettle situation.

These companies exert their influence in many ways, but lobbying and advertising are two of the most important. They also function under several guises: as themselves through their trade associations; or sometimes via third parties, ranging from celebrities to ‘patient groups’ that supposedly represent the interests of those suffering from a wide range of diseases or conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Bait and switch. They do indeed exert influence, and this is felt in policies. Try to introduce a rule limiting portion sizes of fizzy drinks, and you’ll get an astroturf campaign by return.

But there’s no credible evidence that they use pernicious influence to skew advice given by Alzheimer’s’ patient groups and the like.

The use of celebrity endorsements is of course a staple of the promotion of quackery, too, as we saw with the recent “homeopathy works for me” campaign which aims to use pictures of flowers and butterflies painted onto the bodies of female celebrities, as an alternative to all that tiresome evidence that homeopaths can’t provide.

Most scientists and skeptics would be more than happy to see celebrity endorsement removed from the field of health advice.

There are undoubtedly many behind-closed-doors meetings that few of us ever get to hear about, while the more public interactions are between the large trade associations and both unelected and elected representatives of government—officials and MPs and MEPs, respectively.

Yes, for example the meetings that Prince Charles has had, where he lobbied for alternatives to medicine. And we know that his meetings affected the material published by the NHS, because someone inside the NHS blew the whistle. There’s no evidence that the bogeymen listed above have been doing the same in respect of dietary advice.

One simple rule applies in lobbying: the influence exerted is directly proportional to the size of the company represented. That’s why in the food and natural-health areas, Europe-wide associations like the Association of the European Self-Medication Industry (AESGP), FoodDrinkEurope, the International Life Sciences Institute and Food Supplement Europe, which represent both Big Pharma and Big Food, wield the lion’s share of influence. Smaller associations and groups such as the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (UEAPME), ourselves (Alliance for Natural Health Europe) and the European Benefyt Foundation need to work very hard to even be heard.

So ANH are jealous of the influence of larger lobbies and want the same ability to push their agenda. The alternative – reducing lobbying activity – does not seem to be suggested. Why would it be bad for all special interest groups to be excluded, rather than for the special interest groups you like to get a larger slice of the action? This is not explained.

Many who become aware of this reality feel disempowered. But there are two simple things we can do.

First, we can reduce our dependence on products made by these companies. Put simply, that means avoiding processed foods whenever you can. The size and might of these corporations is maintained only if we support them via our wallets.

Fine if you have adequate disposable income. But WDDTY’s core demographic will already be avoiding “processed foods”. Note, though, that “processed food” is a bit like “toxin”, a word that sounds bad and is easy to pin on the things you don’t like, but meaningless in practice. Bread is a “processed food”. Flour is a “processed food”. It’s hard to see how anything other than uncured meat, raw milk and eggs, and fruit, would qualify as being anything other than “processed foods”.

There’s good evidence that processing can be entirely desirable. Pasteurisation of milk is controversial only with extremists. Preservatives mean that meat is much less likely to contain bacteria such as e.coli or salmonella. Obviously these are entirely natural but most people regard them as undesirable nonetheless.

So without needing to write letters to your MP or bearing a placard in an anti-globalization rally, you can make different choices over the way you feed yourself and your loved ones. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to ‘go local’, or choose wisely when you are doing your weekly shop. Try to buy organic fruit and vegetables as much as you can.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but for urban dwellers there is not much in the way of local produce to be had, and evidence of the superiority of organic produce is sadly lacking.

You can subscribe to an organic-box scheme and have your weekly supply of organic fruit, veg and other produce delivered to your door. And for those of a non-vegetarian persuasion, you can buy locally sourced meats at your local butcher.

Or, you know, don’t. If you’re on a limited income you are almost certainly better off buying fresh fruit and vegetables from your local supermarket, than spending the equivalent sum on a reduced quantity of the more expensive organic produce you recommend.

While you may pay a premium for such foods, many find the net cost is no higher mainly because wastage is reduced and the many temptations in supermarket aisles are avoided.

This is simply wishful thinking. Organic produce is more expensive, and organic produce from farmers’ markets is generally more expensive than the equivalent organic produce from supermarkets.

For those yet to experience the pleasure of becoming independent of the Big Ten, you have almost nothing to lose and so much to gain—not least of all, a healthy long life.

Translation: buy produce from our members not their members, it will make you live longer (terms and conditions apply, value of investments may go down as well as up, objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear, we reserve the right to substitute opinion for evidence as we see fit).

What Doctors Don't Tell You
Why don’t doctors tell you that eating organic food will make you live longer?

Because there’s no real evidence it does.

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