Willett vs. Soda, Wall Street vs. Flu, Blood vs. Pressure, plus Fat, Meat

Forwarded from my friend, Flint. The Goldman-Sachs H1N1 story almost made my head explode.

These guys are great debunkers. . . They are all about science and health, but NOT myth. They are refreshing to say the least.

November 6th, 2009

Willett vs. Soda, Wall Street vs. Flu, Blood vs. Pressure, plus Fat, Meat
By Curtis Porter

Friday Twitter Reminder
ACSH's Jeff Stier has been hinting all morning that special things lie in store for those who follow him on Twitter this weekend. He won't say what exactly because of his mysterious nature, but he does say that he “all but guarantees a first look at some ACSH media hits.”

Willett: There Is No Greater Evil Than Soda Pop
The soda industry had no luck at California's joint hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes and the Senate Health Committee, called to explore the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity. According to a Reuters report , “in today's landmark hearings called by State Senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and Elaine Kontominas Alquist (D-San Jose), representatives from the soda industry failed to acquit themselves of a growing body of research implicating sugar-sweetened beverages as the leading culprit in the obesity epidemic.”

This revelation follows on the heels of several proposals to tax soda either to reduce obesity or, more candidly, simply to boost government revenue. “Sentence first -- verdict afterwards,” says the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland , and the trial of the Knave of Hearts has justly remained the literary standard for injustice since the book's publication in 1869.

“They claim that they have now determined that soda is the leading culprit of the obesity epidemic,” says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “On the basis of what? Calories are calories. How many really obese people do you see drinking sugared soda, as opposed to diet soda? But there needs to be a villain, and soda has been targeted.”

“These people offer no solutions for all of those obese people who don't drink full-calorie soda,” adds Stier. “I hate to say this, but I think part of the problem is that people think diet soda is unhealthy. This is especially true of the whole 'organic' crowd. They think artificial sweeteners are dangerous , and they would rather gain a few pounds than expose themselves to 'harmful chemicals.'”

The award for most melodramatic condemnation of soda goes to Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard , who said, “Coca-Cola, like other sodas, causes enormous suffering and premature death by increasing the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, gout, and cavities.” Have no fear, good people, for you too can be rid of your enormous suffering and premature death if you just pay more money for soda.

Preferential Treatment for the Rich? In America?
There is a public outcry in response to the news that large Wall Street companies such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have acquired H1N1 flu vaccine for their high-risk employees.

“What's wrong with a company being pro-active?” asks Stier. “They're only administering it to people who would be on the high priority list anyway. Why should they wait for the vaccine to be distributed when they can go straight to the manufacturer?”

“This raises questions about the efficacy of heavy-handed government intervention in healthcare,” says Dr. Whelan. “If distribution was up to private enterprise, it would work out much better.”

If It Worked Correctly, It Wouldn't Be “Alternative”
“Stiff Nights,” a supplement containing an ingredient similar to Viagra and marketed for “sexual enhancement,” is being targeted by the FDA for dangerously lowering blood pressure . It was declared illegal in an FDA statement.

“When you buy dietary supplements, whatever their stated purpose, you have no idea what's in them,” says Dr. Whelan. “People need to understand that these things are not regulated. There's no telling how many other supplements there are out there with dangerous ingredients.”

“Not only can you not be sure if they actually contain what they claim to, you also don't know what contaminants are in them,” says Stier. “The irony is that the very people taking alternative treatments are the ones afraid of putting 'dangerous chemicals' from real medications in their bodies. If they had any understanding of science, and they actually thought these things worked, they would realize that these products must have biologically active ingredients in them. If it works, there must be something 'scientific' going on with it, and you can have to little or too much in terms of dosage.”

It's Bad. But How Bad?
The American Institute for Cancer Research declared yesterday that obesity causes more than 100,000 cancer cases in the U.S. each year.

“A study like this is, by its nature, highly speculative,” says Stier. “But we don't deny that obesity is a major health risk factor. As a matter of fact, we have a peer-reviewed publication discussing the health effects of obesity . And for more context on the major causes of death, we could point people to our Riskometer .”

The Masque of the Red Meat
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology that men who eat a lot of red and processed meats may be at increased risk for prostate cancer . However, Reuters admits, “Because studies over the years have come to different conclusions, experts generally consider the evidence linking red and processed meats to the disease to be limited and inconclusive.”

“This is complete junk,” says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “The alleged increased risk -- based on dietary recall -- is not epidemiologically important or significant. Nor is their 'one third increase' of aggressive cancers.”

“We have to give some credit to the reporter for not breathlessly saying meat causes cancer,” says Stier. “They mention that the evidence is far from conclusive.”

“This is a perennial story,” adds Dr. Whelan. “It usually comes out in the summer, just in time to scare people before their barbeque. It's a completely hypothetical risk factor, and this article makes it clear that the evidence is conflicting. People should not be concerned about eating processed or red meat.”

For more information, see ACSH's report on the role of beef in the American diet.
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Huummm. I laughed out loud. Sounds all good to me. Nature will find a way.