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Question from Dr. Peter J Williams DC
Dr. Greenfield: I attended April, 2005, IFHI Conference and rec'd certification. Have been reading and practicing the BTD for years... recently retired from active chiropractic practice to teach and administer this work on a permanent basis. I visited an M.D. earlier this week and although he is at this point very curious he keeps asking questions and the latest one is: "...are there any morbidity or mortality rates in the general populace [as it concerns] the btd"? Do you have a good answer for this doctor? I told him to visit the dadamo web site and just start to read the seven research modules as well as Database 1. I further told him that such a question w/o attaching the application of the diet to any diseased state in a clinically controlled research environment, wherein the morbidity factors could be analyzed along with the outcomes, i.e. mortality rates, would be quite difficult, if not impossible. Can you add any insights to this as I keep the communication going with this curious M.D.? Thank you.
It is correct that a clinical trial of this nature would be very difficult to set up properly: to answer the question about morbidity and mortality in connection with the BTD requires some joined up thinking. The Blood Type Diet has not been around for that long in comparitive terms, and it takes many years to do mortality studies of adequate size relating to a specific subject. For a realistic representation of the situation any comprehensive clinical trial specific to the BTD would have to look at diet start date, compliance level (how do you accurately measure that over a period of years?), pre-existing illness and family history, blood group, secretor status and other minor blood groups, as well as other polymorphic data such as dermatoglyphic information etc. Then you would have to wait for people to die of natural or disease causes (i.e. not accidental death, unless you want to prove that one blood group is more accident-prone than another). Morbidity would be similar, but you just wait for those people to get sick, they don't have to die. Another issue that would be difficult to factor into such a trial is this: many people following a particular dietary régime may already have health problems, or concerns due to family history. Actively caring for oneself on a daily basis through selective food choice while rejecting societal pressures to conform to a stereotypical dietary 'norm' is a form of self-empowerment. How do you have a control group that takes account of this influence?
This begs the question "Does blood group in itself influence overall lifespan?" The results are conflicting. A study of Italian physicians showed a higher percentage of those over the age of 75 were blood group O (1), while two other studies showed that type B was associated with a longer lifespan (2), (3). It could be that group B individuals are healthier than their counterparts due to the typical modern diet being reasonably close to the ideal diet for those expressing the B antigen. Alternatively with regard to disease susceptibilities, as they tend to fall between groups A and O in this respect, this could be expected to translate into a higher percentage of group B individuals attaining a more advanced age. Either way, blood groups A and AB don't come off well in the longevity stakes.
Incidentally, the NN subtype of the MNSs blood grouping system may be associated with a slight increase in longevity (especially in women) (4). This could relate to the fact that the presence of the M antigen (absent in NN blood group) increases the incidence and mortality rates of many types of cancer due to a biochemical similarity to the A and TN antigens.
The question itself shows typical reductionist medical thinking: to put it another way, "Does following a specific diet according to one's blood group reduce illness and increase lifespan?" The fact is that the diet forms part of an entire programme that takes a person's individuality into account. It may be part of a comprehensive lifestyle strategy for natural preventive medicine in association with an ND. Patients are treated as individuals, not as a disease classification who should be a suitable candidate for some symptom-suppressive medication with side effects, or just to say: "Follow this diet as it is proven statistically that you will live longer and be healthier".
To see the bigger picture one needs to be able to connect two separate facts: firstly the hundreds of orthodox medical research papers showing physiological and psychological differences between individuals of varying blood groups, the connection between lectins and cell surface carbohydrates, the genetic linkage between ABO and other seemingly unrelated genes; secondly the millions of people who are following the BTD system worldwide because they have their own evidence of improvement in wellbeing. As in all holistic systems, the whole is more than the sum of the parts. It takes a little more than: "in the absence of any controlled clinical study to prove the existence of this concept it cannot exist in the real world."
Relevant studies are already being carried out on a small scale: The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine reported studies on diet and blood group at IfHI 2005, specifically the effect of ABO blood groups and soluble endothelial adhesion factors as a possible cause of atherogenesis. The Institute for Human Individuality is developing further study protocols.
Until the BTD has been around long enough and there are enough people following it to attract research money to design clinical trials that will satisfy the reductionist attitude, those seeking confirmation that the system works will have to use the outcome results of the hundreds of people who claim to have become healthier following this approach. Finally, whether or not a person lives longer or healthier, surely it is the quality of life that is more important?
1. Jorgensen G. [ABO blood groups in physicians of 75 years of age. Further evidence in
favor of little more fitness on the part of subjects with blood group O]. Minerva Med. 1974
2. Dworsky R, Paganini-Hill A, Arthur M, Parker J. Immune responses of healthy humans 83-
104 years of age. J Natl Cancer Inst 1983 Aug;71(2):265-8
3. Shimizu K, Hirose N, Ebihara Y, et. al. Blood type B might imply longevity.
Exp Gerontol. 2004 Oct;39(10):1563-5.
4. Turowska B, Gurda M, Wozniak K. ABO, MN, Kell, Hp and Gm1 markers in elderly
humans. Mater Med Pol. 1991 Jan-Mar;23(1):7-12.
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