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Tales of Bad Science and Media Bias

Before I begin, please take the 2 minutes and 27 seconds necessary to watch this ABC news report.

I'll get back to that in a bit; but first, I'm sure you heard the news: Eating Animal Fat May Lead to Pancreatic Cancer!!! Oh nos! Yea, already a half dozen emails and a Facebook message or two.

But guess what? This is the same study that was More Stupid Nonsense by Rashmi Sinha, PhD; Amanda J. Cross, PhD; Barry I. Graubard, PhD; Michael F. Leitzmann, MD, DrPH; and Arthur Schatzkin, MD, DrPH, then, and it's simply a lot more accumulated stupid nonsense now.

The bottom line: the aforementioned cretins are frauds and liars. What other conclusion can you reach? I'd love to deconstruct this for you, but, Tom Naughton of Fat Head fame has already done a more than adequate job of exposing the aforementioned frauds and liars.

And what an amazing study this has turned out to be.  So far it has indicated that being overweight in middle age will kill you, a lack of physical activity can increase your odds of breast cancer, red meat will give you colon cancer, alcohol can lead to pancreatic cancer and fruits and vegetables may protect against lung cancer … uh, but only in men. The study also achieved the amazing feat of indicating that dietary fat may lead to breast cancer – but red meat doesn’t.

Considering how many headlines this study has already produced – with more sure to follow – I’m going to suggest you memorize the name:  The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. I’m also going to suggest that when you spot an article that cites this study, you bookmark it, download it, print it, and then use the pages to paper-train a puppy.

There's a lot more, and I won't steal Tom's thunder. Please click on over and see what honesty and logic look like, because you aren't going to get any from the news media. And why would you expect it, when you have so-called "respected" researchers putting out such biased garbage themselves?

Tom covers a lot of ground and establishes five problems very thoroughly, which he summarizes thusly:

What we’re looking at is 1) a survey study with a low response rate that 2) required old people to accurately recall what they’d eaten in the past year (twice), which then provided data that is 3) almost certainly polluted by self-selection and confounding variables, and is 4) being analyzed by researchers who indicated from the beginning that their main concern is dietary fat, all for the purpose of 5) identifying associations, which don’t tell us very much anyway.

Now let's take a look at more of the same, this time from the liars and frauds at ABC: Charles Gibson, Yuji de Nies, and Jon Garcia. Did you watch the video?

Scary stuff, eh? But the errors and plain bullshit here are so egregious as to just defy belief. But it's true. They really lie, mislead, and manipulate that much.

This time, Dr. Eades does the deconstructing. It's a bit long, but I Bleg you to go read it. As a quick overview, however, what did Dr. Eades uncover? Well, lots of stuff, but the most important are:

  1. They over-reported the saturated fat content substantially (88g vs. 187g), and didn't even mention the carbohydrate content:  745 grams. You read that right. How much is that? It's 3.1 cups of sugar — in a single meal.
  2. Remember the fat in the blood sample after the meal? It was indeed fat, and as any decent textbook on metabolism will tell you, that's all those carbs that the body has converted to fat. It is impossible for it to be the fat consumed in the meal.
  3. The pulsating veins was normal physiology having nothing to do with the fat and a whole lot to do with the fact that they consumed 6,000 calories in a single sitting!

As to number two, above, here's the doc:

The blood samples were taken two hours after the meal.  Dietary carbohydrate is absorbed directly into the blood and makes a pass through the liver where it stimulates the production of triglycerides, the fat you see in the blood.  Fat, especially long-chain saturated fat digests very slowly, and doesn’t reach the blood until much later than the two hour mark.  While carbs go directly into the blood, fats take a different route.  The process that breaks down dietary fat into its component fatty acids is a lengthy process as compared to the breakdown of carbs.  Once the fat has broken down, it has to combine with bile salts to make it into a form that is water soluble and can be taken up by the intestinal cells.  Once taken up, unlike carbs, which are sent directly to the bloodstream, fats go into the lymphatic system, a much smaller and more static transport system than the vasculature.  Once in the lymphatics, fats make their way to the thoracic duct, which empties into a large vein in the upper chest.  The lymphatics are small vessels and take a long time to move their contents along since there is no heartbeat pushing them as there is with blood.  As I say, the fat in the blood you see on the video didn’t come from the saturated fat in the diet, although that was definitely the implication.

Well, I suppose that, at least, there are now sound outlets of honest, in-context, scientifically rigorous information to counter all the frauds and liars in high places out there.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

4 Comments

  1. Mike on July 9, 2009 at 17:56

    I hope you wrote a letter to ABC.

  2. John Campbell on July 9, 2009 at 18:36

    Great post Richard – but Mike a letter to ABC would be a teaspoon in the ocean. The general population takes one (superficially) plausible idea – that fat makes you fat and directly clogs your arteries and ignores everything else.

    People are desperate to believe that the media, governments, large corporations, and the scientific mainstream all know what's best for us, and would never lie or ignore the facts. There will come a time when a tipping point is reached and the walls of this edifice of BS begins to crack and fall, but I cannot imagine when. I really believe it is a coping mechanism for the stresses of the modern world – clinging to the herd's ideas for the vast majority. "How wrong can we be if we go along with the tribe?"

    I cannot believe the stubbornness of people to continue to hold onto bankrupt ideas. Homo sapiens are really smarter than this – aren't we? Maybe the modern diet lowers IQ as well – 'wouldn't surprise me.

  3. shel on July 9, 2009 at 23:30

    3.1 cups? good lord. thanks be to the gods that i've been eating a high fat/low carb paleo diet for so long. at 44 i've never felt and looked better, and my veggie friends are pissed.

    …and it's bullshit like this that will perpetuate a failure to thrive in their lives.

  4. Sylvie O on July 10, 2009 at 08:58

    As someone working in the field of science (although not related to nutrition), the only advice I can give is to ALWAYS go back to the original paper. Media have an uncanny ability to twist results and observations and spin all the info according to their own bias.

    This is not to mention some scientists who purposefully leave out some key results that can make all the difference, but unfortunately don't support their original hypothesis.

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