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Cancel Culture Hits Medical Journals

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | January 27, 2020

Much scientific research is now conducted by tribes. Some tribes think certain foods are good for us. Eggs, fat, coffee, dairy, whatever. Other tribes insist their own research shows the opposite.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has just published a shocking account of how the ‘eat red meat sparingly’ tribe tried to make research by a rival tribe disappear.

Last fall, a collection of systematic reviews were published by a prominent journal, the Annals of Internal Medicine (see here, here, here, here, and here). Online publication happened on October 1st, prior to the material appearing in the printed journal in mid-November.

After carefully reviewing scientific evidence concerning meat consumption, the PhDs and medical doctors involved formulated a clinical guideline, aka a nutritional recommendation, which was published at the same time. This was intended to help practicing doctors provide appropriate advice to their patients.

The short version is that most of these researchers (11 votes to 3), believe no reliable evidence justifies telling adults to eat less red meat and less processed meat. As this commentary explains, nutritional research is typically “shaky.” Studies that identify a link between meat consumption and a particular disease usually show tiny increases in risk.

The Annals had taken into account the feedback of peer reviewers both pro and con, and had made its call. To quote editor-in-chief Christine Laine, “the public should know we don’t have great information on diet.”

The JAMA article tells us that, as the Annals was preparing to publish this material online, the anti-meat tribe began mobilizing. An estimated 2,000 vitriolic e-mails flooded into Laine’s inbox during a half-hour period.

Members of an organization called the True Health Initiative contacted her at least twice. They complained about the wording of a press release the journal was circulating about the upcoming research. They also urged her to “preemptively retract publication of these papers” for “the sake of public understanding and public health” (read their letter here).

How did these people react when their outrageous attempts to suppress scientific results failed? Did they start behaving like grownups? Hardly. Instead, they complained to an agency of the US government, the Federal Trade Commission. You can read about that here in their own words.

The anti-meat tribe thinks a government body tasked with ensuring marketplace competition and fair business practices should be second-guessing medical journals. Arguing that the journal’s press release amounted to misleading advertising, their petition asked the Trade Commission to:

permanently prohibit [the Annals of Internal Medicine] from disseminating, or causing the dissemination of the advertisement at issue and require [the journal] to issue a public retraction and corrective statement regarding the advertisement. [bold added]

When that went nowhere, did these people finally start behaving in a civilized manner? I’m afraid not. Their next stop was the Philadelphia district attorney’s office. You know, the prosecutors and detectives tasked with keeping citizens safe from criminals. (The Annals offices are in Philadelphia.)

In their own press release, the anti-meat tribe said the Annals should be investigated for “potential reckless endangerment.” The journal, they insisted, had distributed “dangerous and misleading information.”

The entity that turned first to the Trade Commission and then to the criminal justice system calls itself the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. It’s unofficial motto is: if you can’t persuade people to do what you want, find a third party who’ll compel them to do so. Just kidding. It actually sees itself as leading a “revolution” – based on the idea that plant-based diets “can prevent and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.”

This is a lobby group, an activist organization. According to its own website, only 12,000 of its 175,000 members (7%) are actually physicians.

Welcome to the polarized world of medical publishing. This is how the scientific community now behaves.

To be continued…

January 27, 2020 - Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science |

9 Comments »

  1. Turns out the red-meat-is-good-for-you faction was being sponsored by the beef industry. The red-meat-is-bad-for-you gang that tried to prevent them from publishing was serving other corporate sponsors. What have I always said? Any scientist worth his salt can produce the results that he knows his paymasters expect of him. An old but sound bit of advice is, don’t believe everything you read in the papers. Including scientific journals.

    Like

    Comment by traducteur | January 27, 2020 | Reply

    • Good thing we have traditional knowledge to check against.

      Like

      Comment by aletho | January 27, 2020 | Reply

  2. In my second hand research over the last decade, I find the work of Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. T Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and Dr. Michael Gregor to be based on the most sound science. I recommend starting with Campbell’s book “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” and then his “The China Study.” None of these docs require complete abstention from meat or dairy, but that the healthiest diet keeps animal products below 5% of calories consumed with the majority of calories coming from whole plant foods, especially calorie rich starches like rice, potatoes, corn, beans with B12 supplemented.

    The kings and queens that ate a lot of animal products suffered health effects – the less well off peasants that at modest amount of animal products suffered less dietary disease. “Traditional diet” has been ahistorically mythologized in many cases.

    In my view, a better example of cancel culture in medicine is the firing of a Dr. Allan Josephson heading a pediatric hospital at University of Louisville for participating in a panel cautioning about allowing children to undergo gender transition.

    I understand you will not agree, Aletho, but I appreciate your site all the same!

    Like

    Comment by 4justice | January 28, 2020 | Reply

    • The “China study” ignored the fact that the populations they found with no Western diseases had no refined sugars in their diet. Instead they chose to attribute the phenomenon to the somewhat lower fat consumption.

      Traditional Chinese cuisine carefully includes saturated fats in every dish. Nothing in excess.

      Western diseases have appeared among these populations upon introduction of sugar and refined carbs.

      The propaganda produced over the past half century pushing soy and corn based diets has been torrential.

      Like

      Comment by aletho | January 28, 2020 | Reply

      • The China study showed that among those eating a traditional Chinese diet which, as you say, excludes sugar and corn syrup, those who ate the least animal products had the lowest risk for disease. Dr. John McDougall claims to have eliminated the need for treatment of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol through his low fat whole food plant based diet (no animal products and no oil, but some sugar and salt are allowed) in thousands of patients. The more hard core at True North (Dr. Goldhamer) do not allow salt or sugar, Dr. Esselstyn demonstrated reversal of arterial congestion via a whole food plant based diet. I don’t remember his opinion on small amounts of sugar and salt (as in make your oatmeal edible with a sprinkle, not drinking 40 oz sodas) but he was adamant about no oil. Also the low fat whole plant food diet has the best record for long term maintained weight loss, which is correlated with disease risk reduction for most (but not all) people.

        What I think I have pieced together is that a fatty diet (more than 10-15% of calories from fat) leaves the blood less able to tolerate a sugar spike which creates a cascade of effects with the endocrine system and perhaps facilitates atherosclerosis but that a low fat diet leaves the blood in a state to better overcome a sugar spike. The best solution is to avoid sugar spikes (by eating sugar in its natural state with fiber such as in phytonutrient packed whole fruit) and avoid animal products and all processed foods (oil is not a whole food.) I do not think the evidence supports avoiding carbohydrates. A man lived for an entire year on potatoes losing more than 100 lbs and improving his health. And while the subjects of the China Study may have been moderate in their animal products, they were not moderate in their use of rice as a calorie source relative to their other sources of calories. People like Lustig can lead to the problem of people thinking that rice and potatoes and quinoa are “bad for you” and that fruit should be limited because these foods get converted into glucose. I think the opposite is true. But sure, ditch the Crisco, protein powder, sugar, soda, fruit juice, corn syrup. Eat real food that you know what went into it rather than prepared foods that may contain all manner of lab ingredients. (Those who eat a raw fruit and vegetable diet are very healthy – it is just a hard diet to live on for most people – but they demonstrate that fruit is not the problem.)

        Again, you may not agree, but this is what I have pieced together after looking into this topic for over a decade. I do not think fermented forms of soy or tofu have been shown to be a problem, but I believe textured vegetable protein and all protein powders are terrible. Real whole foods, mostly plants, seem to be most consistent with health and weight management. That said, the book “Whole” by Campbell helps to explain why the complexity of the the human body and the variability of factors involved in diet mean we will always need to have humility in the face of fully understanding diet.

        In any case, whether you find my views compelling or not, they are sent with the best intentions. I am wishing you the best in health for my own selfish reasons – I want your brave truth telling presence on the web to be around as long as possible. You are a treasure.

        Like

        Comment by 4justice | January 28, 2020 | Reply

  3. any recommendations regarding tofu?

    Like

    Comment by 5 dancing shlomos | January 28, 2020 | Reply

    • As far as I am aware tofu has been eaten for thousands of years. I would say that beats any study.

      Like

      Comment by aletho | January 28, 2020 | Reply

    • In my opinion, the research seems to indicate it is healthy. Some disagree, but seem less concerned about fermented soy as found in tamari and tempeh. I would stay away from textured vegetable protein or soy protein powder. Soy lecithin is in almost everything and probably bad (I should look into that more). Soy oil is a large part of “vegetable oils” and you should avoid all oils, imo, but particularly corn and soy oils for their bad omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Soy is a genetically modified crop, so be sure to avoid GMO’s and the glyphosate based Round Up product by only buying organic (which means avoiding tofu in most restaurants.) Dr. Michael Greger’s website Nutrition Facts includes a lot of videos about research on tofu. Greger is biased against consuming animal products for ethical reasons, but I still think his videos are largely reliable. He has one video about how beer is much more likely than tofu to contribute to “man boobs” as some fear the estrogen like compounds in soy will feminize men, but I do not think the evidence supports this. But if someone has good evidence against organic tofu as a healthy food for all people or even just males, I would be interested to see it.

      Like

      Comment by 4justice | January 28, 2020 | Reply

      • thanks both.
        i’ve eaten tofu for years.
        never paid attention to food critics
        or what is the trend but was curious
        from comments.

        Like

        Comment by 5 dancing shlomos | January 28, 2020 | Reply


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