Flora: Millions of people are going to die of cancer, diabetes and heart disease if this travesty is not exposed. It should be illegal for medical and governmental agencies and publications to not publish negative peer-reviews, especially when world famous doctors realize that the Atkins diet is dangerous and deadly for so many.
This is a must read for everyone who has children - 1 of every child will get diabetes and heart disease, and if the diet contains the aflatoxins from peanuts or grains, they'll get cancer.
People need to know about this. This is immoral and takes away our freedom of speech.
Colin Campbell's Principals in Practice: Development
and Promotion of Diet and Health Policy
1982 NAS (National Academy of Science Report on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer
The first example I want you to consider is the so-called Diet and Nutrition and Cancer Report that came out from NAS which was the first important connection between diet, nutrition and cancer. I was one of the 13 members of that report, That was said to be the most sought after report that was ever published by the NAS. It really created quite a stir. Prior to that, you may recall my saying that in the 1970s, Senator McGovern's committee concluded that diet had something to do with heart disease and claimed that we should be reducing our fat intake and increasing our fruit and vegetable intake and decreasing meat intake.
Those kind of statements were made in the 70s created an uproar too. But then, about 5 or 6 years later that question came up and people thought, "Well, that may be true for heart disease, but what about cancer?" So this 1982 report was the first report on cancer. The thought was that if in fact it was the same diet that prevented cancer as alleged to prevent heart disease, then we really had something major. In any case, let me just list for you the three key recommendations of the report and then tell you some things about the consequences in the subsequent years after the report to show you how these statements, these scientific evaluations of the evidence, in many ways in my view were quite seriously distorted.
Recommendation 1 - We basically said that we should be reducing the intake of dietary fat from around 38-40%, which was in existence that time on average, to 30% of calories. And we furthermore went on to say in the executive summary that "the scientific data do not provide a strong basis for established fat intake at precisely 30% of total calories. Indeed, the data could be used to justify and even greater reduction."
That was an interesting exercise because prior to that no one had come up with any specific numbers and we were debating quite a lot as to what kind of numbers do we come up with here, what is the level of dietary inteke that is low enough to ensure some benefit to reduce cancer risk. You may recall in some of the previous lectures that we talked about the association with dietary fat with breast cancer that had been demonstrated by comparing different countries. So we said: "OK, let's get down to 30%," and that was fairly widely published! In fact, it was the first recommendation that was actually listed among six.
Recommendation 2 - We emphasized the importance of including fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereal products in the daily diet. More or less a first again, but there was some consensus on that at that point in time, but we, in our 500 page report, concluded that was important; to increase fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereal products. We did also say, however, that these recommendations applied only to foods as sources of nutrients, NOT to dietary supplements of individual nutrients.
In other words, that we had concluded that of the studies and reports that we surveyed and evaluated, that there was a strong link in many cases between food and cancer, for some cancers at least, and the link was tied to the nutrients that these foods contained. So, we discussed in the body of the report a lot of information regarding nutrients and cancer. At the end of the day, when we sat back and looked to determine what we should really be saying, when the basis of the nutrient profiles are different foods, we concluded that clearly we should be recommending fruits and vegetables and whole grain products. In the executive summary, we cautioned against the idea of using nutrients as dietary supplements, as single chemicals (isolated nutrients), if you will.
Recommendation 3 - On another point, this was not in the executive summary so it was not in one of the six referred to before, but it was a fairly bold statement and an important one because there was so much discussed at that time. What I mean is that at that time, there was a lot of interest in the idea that dietary fiber could reduce large bowel cancer, and this was work that had gone on some 10 to 20 years before. And the public sort of knew something about that. But we found that when we looked carefully at the scientific reports that were available at that time, we really concluded that it wasn't a particular fiber fraction that we knew of, or the scientific evidence supported the idea of, that was associated with the reduction in large bowel cancer.
(Dr. Flora - Dr. Linus Pauling had published erroneous reports about vitamin C protecting against cancer. The American Cancer Society gave him $5 million to do a 5 year report on the effectiveness of C against cancer, but only 1 million could be spent on the C report; other items needed to be also tested: among those were laetrile, bran and chlorophyll. Dr. Arthur Robinson, who was Vice President of the Linus Pauling Institute and who later, as Director of the Oregon Institute for Research and Development gave Dr. Ann Wigmore the final report of the 5 year report:
1. Vitamin C did not cure cancer; in fact it caused irreparable damage to a number of womens' intestines similar to aspirin only worse; and it was found that Pauling had falsified documents to prove his case;
2. Bran, which was researched in Canada, was seen to cause intestinal bleeding when it was used as an isolated nutrient instead of as an integral part of the unfractionated (unseparated) whole grain;
3. Chlorophyll juice was the only real food (the other two were single nutrients) that killed the cancer cells. Pauling was ruined. Arthur sued him and won the suit to disclose his 'irregularities'.)
So you have it; these three. Let me say them again.
#1. We were suggesting to reduce fat intake down to 30% (OR LESS) of calories from the usual 38-40%.
#2. We said increase fruits, vegetables, and whole grain cereal products because of the evidence concerning their nutrient contents but we cautioned against taking this information out of context and putting these nutrients into pills and assuming we're gong to get something good out of them.
#3. We also did NOT want dietary fiber, especially in particular types of dietary fiber, associated with a lower risk of colon cancer. (Dr. Flora: Ummm. Bran muffins, oat bran flakes, bran, etc.) Not to say that it didn't exist, but we didn't find evidence that was sufficiently persuasive to make a comment.
OK, so those were our recommendations. Obviously these were in agreement with the McGovern committee in the prevention of heart disease; they were virtually almost identical. So it really raised the level of debate substantially in the public. It also raised the level of interest in the scientific community to start doing more research in this area. In fact, this report was not only the most sought after report in the history of the academy at that time, it really was a watershed report in many ways, because it substantially increased the amount of research funding over the next two decades, in the area of diet and cancer.
I should point out that much of that increase was a large increase but still just a pittance compared to the total budget that NAS had. Furthermore, of the money that was being spent by NAS for diet and cancer work, it was primarily directed to the testing of individual nutrient chemicals; SOMETHING WE CAUTIONED AGAINST.
Consequences of those 3 recommendations? They tell us something. And the first one, where we suggested reducing dietary fat (a single nutrient) intake, I certainly had some trouble with that. I think there were a couple of us on the panel who raised some questions about focusing too much on one single nutrient, but nonetheless, we all bought into it and thought that it was a fair recommendation.
And as a result of that report, with all that emphasis on fat, that's when the Harvard Nurses' Study got started. In fact, the Harvard Nurses' Health Study, now more well known than the study I referred to before - the Harvard Nurses' Study - at least the dietary part of it, was largely started on the hypothesis that the reduction in dietary fat was related to lower breast cancer risk.
So, at Harvard, with their 80-90,000 nurses at the time, wanted to follow to see if these women, who work consuming a lower fat intake, did, in fact, have lower breast cancer risk. So that's what that first recommendation led to, I think. It led to a greater consumption of skim milk, which had no added fat. It led to consumption of low fat animal foods.
Second, it led to health claims about nutrient supplements, IN SPITE OF our caution against that and in spite of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hearings and admissions against such claims. In fact, I was the principle witness for the FTC and for the NAS at that time, dealing with these issues and claims.
In any case, from that point onward, there was an explosion in the nutrient health supplement industry and of course now today we see it as a multimillion dollar industry. So our caution against the use of dietary supplements went no place and even as a follow-up with the FTC coming up with some regulations saying: "Hey, you can't make these kinds of claims you want to make, it just doesn't work that way."
I should point out that on the nutrient supplement question, there was so much marketing pressure to get those things out there and to make some money on them, that some of the bigger industries at the time took out a whole page ad in some of the leading magazines, like Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report to advertise the value of these nutrients in terms of preventing cancer, but those ads were really directed toward the use of nutrient supplements, not whole foods. Unfortunately, they also claimed that our report supported their claims and of course it was that misstatement and misrepresentation on their part that caused the hearing with the FTC to be held for the next 3 years.
So, like the dietary fat thing, we focus specifically on fat, the Nurses' Health Study started and as we pointed out before, basically, that taking fat out of the diet just by itself is the main thing to do in regards to diet. It turned out that reducing fat content alone had little to no effect on breast cancer risk.
Incidentally, that finding on dietary fat in the Nurses' Health Study because there was so much interst in the question concerning fat and breast cancer, that finding really put the skids on the idea for some time, on the whole idea that diet had to do with cancer at all.
In fact, that residue is still with us in some of the discussions in the present day. So our recommendation of fat really was misplaced, it wasn't appropriately represented in the public sector. That was our fault for putting so much emphasis on fat in the first place.
Secondly, when we cautioned against the use of nutrient supplements, it didn't seem to work; in fact, what it did do was lead to an explosion in the nutrient supplement industry in spite of what we said and in spite of what the FTC said. As a matter of fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and particularly the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the NIH, obviously took care of the research efforts in regards to diet and cancer, and incidentally was the specific agency that funded our study at NAS.
So, the NCI, after they got our report (that was the official agency that we gave the report to and we obviously had in there this caution about nutrient supplements), decided to really escalate their expenditures, really testing whether or not nutrient supplements might work to prevent cancer. In fact, it led to hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 20 years or so, really struggling to find some evidence that these nutrient supplements can in fact prevent cancer.
As I mentioned before, we now know that after all this work that nutrients don't really work in that way, though in the short run they might produce some bio-chemical effects that would look promising. Nutrient supplements really don't work, and that supports what we said in the beginning. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions of dollars, if not over $1 billion, have been spent in nutrient supplement randomized clinical trials to see if in fact they could be shown to work. (Dr. Flora: "And they all failed.")
Finally, the question concerning dietary fiber. What became of that recommendation? We said we didn't really have evidence to support the dietary fiber connection. Nonetheless, the director of the diet and cancer program at the NCI, who was chiefly responsible for funding our report, he went to the Kellogg company and allowed them (I have to be careful about my words here because there is some dispute on how it happened), with some encouragement from his office, the opportunity of advertising that they had a product to which they had added dietary fiber to reduce colon cancer risk, even though we didn't find any evidence to that!
So Kellogg announced it and they made a big play about their product having dietary fiber in it and it could prevent colon cancer and they were in fact citing our report as evidence. That was really disquieting and quite annoying to many of us who were in the scientific community. It was successful, though, from Kellogg's point-of-view because within the first two weeks of them making that announcement, they increased their market share by 20%. That's worth a lot of money.
So what did we learn from this? We learned that one of the main things is that there's a lot of focus in the marketplace on single nutrient effects, whether its taking out fat alone and hoping to reduce cancer risk on the one hand, or adding back a single nutrient here or there in the form of supplements, or adding back some fiber fraction for which we don't know anything about. All of this focus since our report has largely been concerned with the role of single nutrients as opposed to whole foods and whole food diets...
To be continued...
Peace and Love Be With You,
Dr. Flora van Orden III