Today's food nonsense


First read the following press report:

The humble cheese stick could be killing your children. Visiting cardiovascular medicine specialist Graham MacGregor, of St George's Hospital Medical School in London, has warned parents that diets high in salt were placing children at risk of heart attacks and strokes later in life. Autopsies on preschool accident victims revealed signs of diseased blood vessels, he said. Professor MacGregor's latest research, published this month in the journal Hypertension, showed a modest reduction in salt intake among children caused significant falls in blood pressure.

A review by Australia's National Heart Foundation found one processed cheese stick provided almost all the salt intake a toddler needed in a day. A pack of instant flavoured noodles contained almost three times a teenager's recommended daily salt needs.

"If you got all the nutritionists together in the world and said let's design a diet that's going to cause strokes and heart attacks later in life, that's exactly what these products seem to be designed to do," Professor MacGregor said. "It's mad how we allow ourselves to be feeding our children something that is going to cause heart attacks and strokes later in life. We know how to prevent strokes and heart attacks yet we seem to be doing our best to cause them."

Professor MacGregor said the battle to prevent heart attacks and strokes needed to begin in childhood. Feeding children salty food suppressed their taste receptors, getting them used to eating foods with high salt levels. "Most of these things are the concentration of sea water," Professor MacGregor said. "Do you really want your children to be eating solid seawater for lunch?"

Heart foundation national nutrition manager Barbara Eden said consumers should compare the sodium content of foods before purchasing. She said low salt foods must contain no more than 120mg of sodium per 100g of product.

Professor MacGregor called on food manufacturers to reduce salt levels in their products by a fifth. He said the salt concentration of most processed foods could be cut by 20 per cent tomorrow without anyone noticing. Prof MacGregor is in Sydney this week to address health professionals and food industry representatives on the need to reduce salt intake.


If however you read the actual abstract of Macgregor's paper, it says only about one tenth of all the assertions above. It reports simply that children who have had their salt intake experimentally suppressed to varying degees show reduced blood pressure during the experiment. And that is no suprise. Studies with mice show the same.

What is NOT shown is ANY long-term effect of such salt reductions. That artificial salt restriction might also DO HARM in various ways is not considered -- which is just negligent, considering that people on salt-restricted diets die younger.

Note also that blood pressure response to salt varies between individuals. Genetic differences make some individuals more responsive to salt level than others. So any policy that treates everybody as the same is Leftist ideology, not medical science.

Note further that in healthy ADULTS, level of salt intake does NOT affect the level of salt in your blood. You just piss out any salt you do not need.

What utter crap the salt phobia is!


This finding is so predictable from a Leftist political agenda -- anything that people enjoy is bad -- that I just cannot be bothered looking up the original paper and pulling it apart. Data-dredging unaccompanied by error-rate correction would be my initial suspicion. Note however the undoubtedly justified caution at the end of the article

Indulging in bacon too frequently may be hazardous to your health, a new study suggests, while taking the skin off your chicken before you cook it might not be so good for you either. Dr Dominique S Michaud of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and her colleagues found that people who ate bacon five times a week or more were nearly 60 per cent more likely to develop bladder cancer, while those who ate skinless chicken this frequently had a 52 per cent greater risk of the disease.

Some meat products contain nitrosamines, which are known to cause bladder cancer, Michaud and her team note in their report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But the studies that have attempted to investigate the meat-bladder cancer link have been small and most have not separated out the effects of different types of meat. To better understand the relationship, Michaud and her team looked at data for 47,422 men and 88,471 women participating in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurse's Health Study, respectively. Participants were followed for up to 22 years, during which time 808 developed bladder cancer. People who ate bacon and other processed meats frequently were also more likely to smoke and to take in more fat and fewer vitamins, the researchers found. They were also less likely to exercise.

The association between the total meat consumption and bladder cancer was not statistically significant. But those who ate bacon five or more times per week were 59 per cent more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who never did. Also, men and women who ate chicken this often were 52 per cent more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who never ate skinless chicken. Compared with skinless chicken, cooked chicken with skin is known to contain a smaller amount of heterocyclic amines, carcinogenic compounds that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures, the researchers note. The researchers suggest that nitrosamines, heterocyclic amines, or both are responsible for the health effects of bacon seen in the current study, but they note that their findings must be confirmed by other research teams before any conclusions can be made.



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