Tags: the weekly transfusion 1.3
Welcome to The Weekly Transfusion, 1.3 for the week of March 31, 2009.
I've slowly been coming around to the notion that it is not enough to simply shrug off ad hominem attacks on the links between blood groups, diet and health. Yes it is nice to combat ignorance with patience and understanding. But there are often other motivational factors at work besides simple ignorance. The food and diet industry is big business. Many pet theories and systems abound: For example, it would be unlikely that many vegans would be comfortable with my suggestions for blood type O, or that many low-carbers would be all that happy with those for blood type A. Add to that the fact that my naturopathic training often sets off alarms in skeptical circles and professions in direct competition for you nutritional eyes and dollars.
There is also the challenge to the dominant nutrition paradigms which is inherent in any personalized approach. If your company makes vitamin E, soy flakes or whole wheat bread you will not be all that happy to find out that I don't recommend your product for everyone.
Yet there is still a voice in my head which says, 'Why adopt a path of confrontation?' I mean wouldn't it be better to just try to stay above the fray? In reality it would. However, almost all media nowadays is pure spin, and because it is digital, it persists indefinitely. True, the path of enlightened patience such as that of a Gandhi would be most desirable. But these are different times. As Ho Chi Minh put it, had Gandhi been in French Indochina rather than in British India he would have ascended to heaven long before he eventually did.
Consequently I'm perceiving a change in my attitude towards those whose only goal is to disparage. I have no interest in becoming prosecutorial and finding de novo fault in others; we certainly don't need any more of that. Hopefully I'll also have the courage to change my own opinions when shown to be misguided or incorrect. However, I will now actively address and debate misrepresentations of my work and writings --hopefully in an even-handed manner that educates while it redresses.
Meat intake and mortality
Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality. During 10 years of follow-up, there were 47,976 male deaths and 23,276 female deaths. In general, those in the highest quintile of red meat intake tended to consume a slightly lower amount of white meat but a higher amount of processed meat compared with those in the lowest quintile. Subjects who consumed more red meat tended to be married, more likely of non-Hispanic white ethnicity, more likely a current smoker, have a higher body mass index, and have a higher daily intake of energy, total fat, and saturated fat, and they tended to have lower education and physical activity levels and lower fruit, vegetable, fiber, and vitamin supplement intakes
No rational person would debate that when making generalized assertions about a heterogeneous population as a whole, diets very high in red meat and processed meats are not very healthy. However this behavior often comes with its own baggage. The fact that the study participants exhibited unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, lack of physical activity, and maintaining a higher body mass index pretty much mix things up, since all of these are known to cause chronic disease. Another confounder is the sad fact that people who eat lots of processed meats just don't take as good care of themselves as those who avoid them. We could probably draw similar conclusions about heavy meat eaters and fatalities from automobile accidents, since people who avoid processed red meat probably buckle also their seat beats more frequently as well.
More tellingly, this study failed to look at individual markers of variation. Blood group A subjects would have been expected to have the typical negative reactions to red meat, since most biomarkers 'down-side associated' with red meat consumption/malabsorption (von Willebrand Factor, E selectin, intestinal alkaline phosphatase, blood viscosity) are associated with type A. Scan at the literature for the last 50 years and you'll see that virtually every study that looked at coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease or myocardial infarct show a prevalence of type A.
Also a similar specificity of resuts would probably have occurred had the looked at secretor status as gene also has a major effect on intestinal alkaline phosphatase levels. Allowing for individual variation, use of grass-fed meats, non-inclusion of subjects who used processed meats, and a look towards the composition of the 'whole diet' would have probably yielded quite different results.
Vegetarians have fewer cancers but higher risk of colorectal cancer
The overall cancer incidence rates of both the vegetarians and the nonvegetarians in this study are low compared with national rates. Within the study, the incidence of all cancers combined was lower among vegetarians than among meat eaters, but the incidence of colorectal cancer was higher in vegetarians than in meat eaters.
Compared with meat eaters in the cohort, and after adjusting for age, sex and smoking status, the vegetarians in the cohort showed an 11 per cent lower incidence rate of all cancers. However, vegetarians showed a 39 per cent higher incidence rate compared with meat eaters, which almost seemed counterintuitive. However I have noticed that colon cancer does seem to have its fair share of vegetarians, especially those who are type O.
Theodor Hahn is credited as being the first of the pioneers of the naturopathic/ water cure movement to integrate vegetarian dietetic principles. He was convinced that a meat-free diet would prolong life. In fact he was so convinced of the value of a vegetarian diet that he spent a great deal of his professional life writing books and pamphlets on the subject and was the editor of a magazine called The Vegetarian. He died of colon cancer at the age of 59. One of my most vociferous critics in years past was a type O vegetarian naturopath who recently also passed away from colon cancer in his early 50's.
Perhaps they would have died at an even younger age had they not been vegetarian. Ultimately there is no answer, but it is ironic that the people responsible for integrating vegetarian diets into naturopathic medicine died so young of colon cancer.
I doubt that it is anything in the meat that would offer vegetarians any chance of avoiding colon cancer. More likely their vegetarian diet was rich in plant and legume lectins which were just not right for their type. Many lectins can have hyper-proliferative effects on the intestinal tract, especially the lectin from peanuts [link 1], [link 2] which is not a good food choice for type Os.
The Science Thing: CBO says less than 50% of all medical care is based on adequate evidence.
Drugs and medical devices must be certified as safe and effective before they can be marketed, but with limited exceptions the regulatory process for approving those products does not evaluate them relative to alternatives. Meanwhile, medical procedures—which account for a much larger share of total health care spending—can be in widespread use without a systematic review of their impact. Appraisals of the current situation vary widely, but some experts believe that less than half of all medical care is based on adequate evidence about its effectiveness—a gap that may never close entirely but that remains troubling.
So, the pot does call the kettle black or as they say in Hungary 'Bagoly mondja verébnek, hogy nagyfejű ("The owl tells the sparrow that it has a big head.") Many conventional medical authorities and skeptics are quick to brand alternative health practices 'unproven' or 'unscientific'? Yet the dirty little secret is contained right in the statements of Douglas W. Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Not that anyone on alternative medicine, should crow. All right, maybe we can crow a little. However, the record in Alternative, Integrative and Complementary medicine (all monikers I detest, even though I'm responsible for one of them) is even worse. Efforts are now underway to close down the NIH Office of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Frankly, I think this is a good idea. The avowed purpose of the office from the start was to 'prove' alternative medicine. You can't really be non-subjective if you set out to 'prove' something. Add to that the fact that they study some of the strangest stuff you could imagine - due to the fact that, like any bureaucracy, pride of place goes to those with the sharpest elbows.
Why most published research findings are false.
Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.
And the author doesn't even discuss the most common reason you need to be careful in evaluating science information. Someone, somewhere most likely stands to make a buck out of the result (your humble author included).
William Hogarth had a great quote along similar lines:
The problem with the ancients was that they tried to make medicine an art and failed. The problem with the moderns is that they tried to make it a business and succeeded.