Good God, I feel like I'm Alice in Wonderland, finding out exactly how far the rabbit hole really goes....
I've often heard several different PSA's on various radio stations, advocating a "PLANT-BASED DIET" as the key to preventing cancer.
Inspired by ruminations and reading I did for my last post, I decided to delve a little further. The most memorable PSA I can recall having heard multiple times, is one done by Anthony Hopkins. I guess it's most memorable because whenever I heard it, I'd always chuckle at the thought of Hannibal Lecter telling people to eat a vegetarian diet...
Anyhow, you can listen for yourself to the PSA I'm talking about here, as well as read/listen/watch to a few other PSA's dedicated to pushing vegetarian "plant-based" diets as the key to preventing cancer.
While I don't have the time to check any and all references (I suppose I could, but than, I think I already know how this is going to turn out...), I read the Diet and Cancer Research page on the Cancer Project website.
When I got to the concluding sentence of the introductory paragraph (which is usually where a thesis statement placed in an exposition written to convince the reader of some position,) was this:
Overall, these studies showed significant reductions in cancer risk among those who avoided meat. 4
Ok....so I check the citation: Barnard ND, Nicholson A, Howard JL. The medical costs attributable to meat consumption. Prev Med 1995;24:646-55.
I than googled: Prev Med 1995;24:646-55
Where I find this: Dietary Risk Factors for the Incidence and Recurrence of Colorectal Adenomatous Polyps: A Case-Control Study
Under the METHODS, we get this:
Our study sample included patients having colonoscopy at three colonoscopy practices in New York City between April 1986 and March 1988. In total, 2988 patients were evaluated. Of these, 2443 (81.8%) were eligible for our study (patients had to be between 35 and 84 years of age; reside in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut; speak English or Spanish; and have colonoscopy to at least the splenic flexure). The colonoscopists completed data sheets indicating the reason for colonoscopy and the clinical findings at the time of colonoscopy. The study pathologist reviewed slides of all suspected neoplastic lesions.
All eligible participants received a letter signed by their colonoscopist introducing the study. A trained interviewer then contacted and interviewed participants by telephone. Alternatively, the questionnaire was mailed for self-completion and was followed by a telephone interview to resolve any remaining questions. An earlier study indicated that the results obtained for dietary factors were similar for both interview methods .
The interview itself consisted of a general questionnaire that focused on demographic characteristics, medical history, lifestyle, family history, and other topics. The dietary interview consisted of the Block food frequency questionnaire and specified food intake for a period 3 to 5 years before the colonoscopy .
Ultimately, 1956 dietary questionnaires were completed (80.1% of eligible patients). Of these, 71% were conducted by telephone, and 29% were returned by mail.
Here we go again....a fucking self-reporting questionnaire to determine colorectal cancer patient's diet to try and assess the dietary causes for cancer!
But no, I didn't stop there. This report mentioned the actual Block food frequency questionnaire...which of course, I promptly googled to see if I could find the questionnaire online.
Care to guess what I found?
My my, doesn't this online page look familiar?!
I note without a trace of irony, that in fact, the title of that segment of the Block Food Questionnaire is FAT SCREENER.
Yet look at these options:
Margarine, butter or mayo on bread or potatoes
Margarine, butter or oil in cooking
Put aside all of the problems associated with self-selection, sample size and all the other statistical-related reasons for skepticism pointed out by Tom Haughton in my last post...and consider this: the "conclusions" that have become conventional wisdom because the likes of Hannibal Lecter taking to the airwaves to spread the word that A PLANT BASED DIET is the key to avoiding cancer, the actual questionnaire they use to get these results to reach their conclusions makes no differentiation between animal-based butter and plant-based margarine.
But it gets worse.
I clicked on the ABOUT US link from the company responsible for this completely idiotic questionnaire, and find that there are two High Priests in the Church of Secular Science...ooops, I meant "Doctors," and a COO (a Marketing and IT guy) responsible for the creation of this questionnaire...
Dr. Gladys Block (Ph.D, Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins), Senior Scientist. Dr. Block is professor of Public Health Nutrition and Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley. She continues to provide expertise and leadership in the development and analysis of NutritionQuest's dietary and physical activity instruments.
Torin Block, Chief Operating Officer, is the Manager of NutritionQuest. He has 11 years of experience in the development and analysis of dietary questionnaires. He is responsible for the design and development of the NutritionQuest Data-on-Demand system, including the development of electronic questionnaires, analysis algorithms and data management systems.
Clifford H. Block (Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology, Yale), Chief Behavioral Scientist. He has been the architect of many large-scale programs in health social marketing, education, and the application of new technologies. He directs NutritionQuest’s innovations in education and health behavior change, such as our emailed dietary intervention program.
An epidemeologist, a Marketing executive and a Chief Behavioral Scientist specializing in health social marketing.
You figure with all of that expertise, experience, certifications like PhD's (Piled Higher and Deeper has never been a more apropos description than here!), they would actually understand something as basic as THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MARGARINE AND BUTTER!!!
Of course, I think they know damn well what the difference is. This deliberate deception is certainly no accident.
So, remember that the next time you do your grocery shopping, don't forget your plant-based high fructose corn syrup, your plant-based soybean oil margarine, your plant based, fortified ceral and your plant-based soymilk and your plant-based potato chips fried in plant-based cottonseed oil...you wouldn't want to get cancer!