Saturday, August 22, 2009

ACSH Report

by Rich Kozlovich

I know I said that I was going to do this weekly, but there is just too much information and too much to do, so I archived all the Morning Dispatches and then organized them by category. Since they are organized in this manner I can take one or two issues and highlight them. Unfortunately I have come to realize that I just can’t do it every week. There is just so much great information. I think this stuff is so great I hate “rationing” it, but I don’t see any other way. Having a real job can put a real crimp in real time allocations.

There is one way to get a daily dose of ASCH and that is through their Morning Dispatch. I wish to open this edition of the ACSH Report by quoting Dr. Elizabeth Whelan regarding their fund drive.

“Our message is really striking a nerve,” says ACSH president and founder Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. Dr. Whelan would like to thank the many Morning Dispatch readers who promptly and generously responded to the challenge put forth by an ACSH donor.“Raise $25,000 online this month, and I'll match it dollar for dollar,” the donor told us, “so you can stand up for what we believe in.” If you have not yet participated, please don't wait another day. Your donation today will have double the impact. Click here to donate safely and securely online -- or you can call ACSH, a non-profit dedicated to debunking unscientific claims, toll-free at 1-800-905-2694.
I can only encourage everyone to donate to this fine organization. Good science isn’t easy to come by. Those who are willing and able to take on the junk scientists are even harder to find.

Rhetoric versus Reality - Life Expectancy

A recently released government report concludes that the average life expectancy in the U.S. has reached an all-time high at seventy-eight.

“This certainly flies in the face of all the health scares,” says Dr. Whelan, who once wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “Living Longer and Feeling Worse About it.” One of ACSH’s friends reacted sardonically to the news: “Gosh, what terrible news for the eco-wackos...How can this be happening with all the ‘chemicals’ in the environment?” The good news was conspicuously absent from the New York Times. Gray Lady indeed"

All That Is Natural

A large study sanctioned by the UK’s Food Standards Agency and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that there is no significant nutritional difference between “organic” and conventionally produced food. The research replicates the results of an earlier study by ACSH advisor and Emeritus Professor of Food Toxicology at Rutgers University Dr. Joseph Rosen, who exposed the fallacies of the organic movement’s claim that organic food is more nutritious over a year ago.

“While it’s a meta-analysis and it only looked at nutrition as opposed to the presence of pesticides, it still provides evidence that organic food isn’t any better for you,” says ACSH’s Jeff Stier. “It’s like playing a game of whack-a-mole. It was already proven that people aren’t getting sick from pesticides on food, so the organic crowd claimed their food was more nutritious. Now that that has been disproved, they’re going back to the pesticides thing.”One such organic proponent is Dr. Marion Nestle of New York University, who says, “Organics aren't about nutrients. They are about cleaner and more sustainable production methods,” including “lower levels of pesticides and herbicides, which seems like a good idea.”

“We have no qualms with organic lobbyists who claim there’s more pesticides on foods that aren’t labeled as organic, but our response is: so what?” says Dr. Ross. “There are studies showing that those chemicals are safe at current levels of exposure. However, there are no studies that show a significant advantage associated with eating organic food.”
ACSH staffers are grateful to Dominic Lawson, whose article on the UK’s TimesOnline offers support for his belief that “Organic food is just a tax on the gullible.” Lawson chronicles organic proponents’ recent shift to abusive personal attacks against scientists in light of the UK’s FSA report proving that organic food isn’t any more nutritious than conventionally produced food.

He quotes Dr. Ben Goldacre of the NHS, author of the acclaimed book Bad Science, who says, “In my experience the [comments of the] organic food, anti-vaccine, and homeopathy movements are unusually hateful and generally revolve around bizarre allegations that you covertly represent some financial or corporate interest. I do not, but I do think it reveals something about their own motives that they can only conceive of a person holding a position as a result of financial self-interest.”

He’s not the only one who has observed the deceitful trend. “Dr. Joseph Rosen noticed recent studies once more discrediting the claim that organic food is nutritionally superior,” says Seavey. “He’ll be writing a series of articles on the topic for our HealthFactsAndFears blog in the next few weeks.”

The article concludes by reiterating ACSH’s oft-repeated organic disclaimer: “This just demonstrates the common-sense point that diet, rather than whether food is produced‘organically’ or not, is the key to healthy eating.”

A New York Times blog reviews a farmer’s riposte to a prominent critic of modern agribusiness and its methods:“[Blake] Hurst argues that the ‘reality is messier’ than idealistic, non-farming critics would have it. Much of his argument comes down to: beware the law of unintended agricultural consequences.”

“Organic agriculture is built on the fraudulent claim that chemicals are dangerous,” says ACSH’s Todd Seavey. “So-called sustainable agriculture, more often than not, is actually a conglomeration of primitive methods that sustained us on the brink of starvation -- without using resources efficiently at all -- for millennia. These techniques, like a lot of other unscientific, anti-industrial trends in society, are a virtual war on modern civilization.”
And of course we can’t leave without mentioning the logical conclusion of “organic” living and that is Holistic Medicine.

ACSH staffers were not surprised to see today’s New York Times mention Don Imus’ decision to forego traditional treatment for his stage two prostate cancer:
“Though he was initially advised to begin radiation treatments, he has so far chosen to treat the disease holistically. He has been dutifully ingesting habanero peppers and Japanese soy supplements as part of a regimen partly devised by his wife, a natural foods proponent.”
I am not opposed to people trying anything that they wish to use in order to maintain their lives, after all, the pillars of medicine have been seriously wrong before. What I am really in favor of is anything that works. In words of this loose quote of the fictional character Dr. Noah Praetorius, “I am in favor of using anything that makes sick people well.”

As Dr. Ross points out, he probably isn't harming himself as “Watchful waiting without invasive treatment is often a valid approach for early-stage prostate cancer." But what about his listeners? That is the scary part; what happens to them if they follow his lead? Is Imus and his wife dulusional? I don't know, and for the most part I doubt if we will ever know for sure since most men die before prostate cancer can kill them. That's kind of a sick thought isn't it? It is true though.

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