Thursday, 17 March 2011

Truth will out ... eventually!

PLEASE NOTE: Since sending the below letter I have discovered an error in my original figures, so I am amending this post accordingly. I apologise for any misleading information I have given.

I have this morning responded to Michael Griffin of the Department of Health on the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report on red meat and cancer. I wrote as follows:

As the SACN/Government/WCRFUK health warnings on red meat tell the public that "eating red meat may cause cancer" rather than "eating red meat may cause cancer if you're a smoker or between the ages of 50 and 71, or taller than average, or have/don’t have a family history of cancer" I have also chosen to ignore variables in the 700 (approx.) studies referenced in the SACN report.

After filtering out all studies concerning iron deficiency, iron fortification in flour, iron supplementation in cereal, iron supplementation in babies' formula, iron overload, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, rheumatic disease, tuberculosis, alcoholism, and other studies unrelated to either diet in general, or red meat in particular, and meta-analyses of detailed studies already included, I was left with fewer than sixty.

I then discarded those produced by NDNS (whose data are intrinsically flawed, in that they do not differentiate between fresh farm/butcher meat and that from unknown sources which has then been processed in a factory with numerous additives, then canned or frozen); those produced by WCRFUK (as their data are based wholly on NDNS); Department of Health (again based on NDNS); and SACN (based on NDNS and other unrelated studies).

One major problem with the studies is the Food Frequency Questionnaires used, which ranged from “a 24-hour food recall” through “during the last 12 months” to, in one case, an incredible “during the two years prior to being diagnosed”!

From personal experience of monitoring my own daily nutrition for extended periods (up to six months at a time) over the last four years, and from the accounts of colleagues attempting to do likewise, I believe it is impossible for anyone to accurately recall and estimate precise amounts of any food eaten even the previous day. The only accurate method is to weigh and record every item before it is eaten. This flaw is acknowledged in most studies, using terms such as “limitations”, “estimated”, etc.

This cull left just 21 studies, most of which (but not all) looked at cancer risks and red meat. However, there is one factor common to all the studies that is not taken into account - the fact that they all contained carbohydrates such as grains, starches, and many different sugars, and such ‘foods’ as chocolate bars.

The remaining studies fall into two general categories:

1) Those which showed no association, an inverse association, or were inconsistent in methodology or findings (12)

Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer in Japan: the Miyagi Cohort Study

We found no significant association between total meat consumption and the risk of sub-site of colorectal cancer. In conclusion, our data do not support the hypothesis that meat consumption is a risk factor for colorectal cancer.

Meat consumption in a varied diet marginally influences nonheme iron absorption in normal individuals

No mention of cancer of any type

Nutrition and dietary carcinogens

Relates only to cooking methods of meats

The relationship between the consumption of meat, fat, and coffee and the risk of colon cancer: a prospective study in Japan
Unable to locate full text, but abstract covers only processed meat and coffee

Comparison of risk factors for colon and rectal cancer
” our findings support the hypothesis that some risk factors, including family history, physical activity and possibly height, differ in their association with colon and rectal cancer.”

A cohort study of dietary iron and heme iron intake and risk of colorectal cancer in women
” ... heme iron intake, and iron intake from meat showed no association with colon cancer, rectal, or colorectal cancer”
”The present analysis showed no association between dietary intake of iron, heme iron, iron from meat sources, or non-heme iron and risk of cancer of the colon, rectum, or proximal or distal colon.

Effect of white versus red meat on endogenous N-nitrosation in the human colon and further evidence of a dose response
Conclusion: “Despite the consistent response to meat, there is substantial individual variation in the extent of response. This individual variation remains despite the highly controlled conditions under which studies are carried out.”

Paleolithic nutrition. A consideration of its nature and current implications
Unable to access full text but unlikely to associate red meat with cancer.

Meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk: dose response meta-analysis of epidemiological studies
Unable to access full text, but it appears to only be a meta-analysis of articles already covered.

Red meat, chicken, and fish consumption and risk of colorectal cancer
Data in Table 3 (hazard ratios) do not make sense. Those for fresh red meat do not show the increased risk with increased consumption in either colon or colorectal cancers which those for processed meats do. Interestingly, higher fish consumption shows an increased risk of colon cancer, but I’ve yet to read that Government health warning!

Haem, not protein or inorganic iron, is responsible for endogenous intestinal N-nitrosation arising from red meat
Studies involved 11 males and 17 females, but “Only male diets were analysed” for NOC and haem.

Iron and colorectal cancer risk in the lpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene cancer prevention study
” Comparing the highest to the lowest quartiles, there was an inverse association between serum ferritin and colorectal cancer risk and a suggestion of an inverse association between dietary iron and colorectal cancer risk. In addition, serum ferritin, serum iron and transferrin saturation were all inversely associated with colon cancer risk specifically whereas serum unsaturated iron binding capacity was positively associated with colon cancer risk. In summary, we found a significant inverse association between several serum iron indices and colon cancer risk.”
” We found no correlation between dietary iron (or intake of meat) and iron stores”

2) Those showing some association between meat and colorectal cancer (9)

Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer
Results: 1667 out of 148,610 participants (1.12%) developed colorectal cancer

Heme and chlorophyll intake and risk of colorectal cancer in the Netherlands cohort study
Results: 1535 out of 120,852 participants (1.27%) developed colorectal cancer

Red meat consumption and risk of cancers of the proximal colon, distal colon and rectum:
Result: 733 out of 61,433 participants (1.19%) developed colorectal cancer

Iron intake and the risk of colorectal cancer
Result: 156 out of 11,317 participants (1.34%) developed colorectal cancer

A prospective study of red and processed meat intake in relation to cancer risk
Result: 53,396 out of 494,036 participants (10.8%) developed a cancer of some type.

PLEASE NOTE: the section which follows has been amended as there was a mathematical error in the original.

Cancer incidence in British vegetarians.Conclusion: The incidence of some cancers may be lower in fish eaters and vegetarians than in meat eaters.

Meat, fish, and colorectal cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into cancer and nutrition
There was no significant increased risk of colorectal cancer with high intake of red or processed meat in the presence of high intake or fish or fibre.

Cancer incidence in vegetarians: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition
Conclusions: The overall cancer incidence rates of both the vegetarians and the nonvegetarians in this study are low compared with national rates. Within the study, the incidence of all cancers combined was lower among vegetarians than among meat eaters, but the incidence of colorectal cancer was higher in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Red and processed meat causes cancer ... again???

The Iron and Health report is now out, and it makes very interesting reading - very interesting indeed.

Table A47 [pp 348-351] lists all the 'red meat' in the survey - and remember, this is what the health warning is based on. Here are the entries for beef:

Beef burger and onion fried not 100% meat 60% beef
Beef burger and onion grilled 77% beef
Beef burger economy fried 60% beef
Beef burger economy grilled 60% beef
Beef burgers economy frozen raw 60% beef
Beef burgers in gravy canned 40% beef
Beef burgers low-fat fried 80% beef
Beef burgers with onion frozen raw 77% beef
Beef casserole ready meal in gravy and veg 22% beef
Beef chicken and pork satay 22% pork, 22% beef
Beef cobbler with baked beans and carrots retail 12% beef
Beef curry as served with rice retail 6% beef
Beef curry frozen/chilled ready meal no rice 24% beef
Beef curry no rice retail 11% beef
Beef curry with rice ready meal retail 12% beef
Beef enchilladas ready meal retail 21% beef
Beef hot pot with pots ready meal retail 24% beef
Beef in red wine sauce with mashed potato retail 22% beef
Beef minced in gravy canned 75% beef
Beef minced pie filling canned 75% beef
Beef minced reformed pie filling + onion canned 75% beef
Beef oriental with rice retail 10% beefBeef stew and dumplings frozen or chilled ready meal 10% beef
Beef stewed made w canned stewing steak + pulses 12% beef
Beef stewing reformed pie filling canned 75% beef
Beef wellington 31% beef

Can you see home-roast sirloin on the list? Or a nice, juicy rump steak? Or even a home-made burger?

No, neither can I! I was going to write at length, but frankly, my time is more valuable to me than wasting it on such rubbish.

However, I have asked the Department for Health why there's no REAL meat included in the survey. I won't be holding my breath, and I suggest you don't either.

I'm off to have myself a nice, juicy fillet steak with a small side salad!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Response from Dr Prentice's office...

"Dr Prentice is not available for comment and I would have referred you to DH Press Office but I see that you have already cc'd them in."

Remind me again, who exactly is paying her and her Committee??

Sunday, 20 February 2011

New red and processed meat warning??

Today's headlines give a dire warning that Britons MUST eat only 70g of red and processed meat per day otherwise they MAY get stomach cancer.

Now why I am so sceptical that I have immediately written to Dr Anne Prentice of MRC [Dr Susan Jebb's boss!] who is Chairman of The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), the body issuing the warning.

"Dear Dr Prentice,

I would be most grateful if you would kindly provide me with a list of the studies upon which your committee has based the latest warning, headlined today.

In February 2009 I made the same request to the World Cancer Research Fund when the same warning was given. I was provided with a link to 1,028 studies, but I was unable to find any that were relevant.

I would also be very interested to know the reasons for combining, say, grass-fed beef with foods such as the beef in a typical fast-food curry. "

I'm sceptical because we heard almost identical warnings exactly two years ago, in February 2009 - only that time the headline was "Red meat causes cancer"!

This is what I did then, and these were my findings.

Then I discovered that red meat, particularly beef, is a healthy food.

This is why I'm so sceptical of the latest warning, and I can't wait to get a response to my email, because only if there is genuine research proving the direct correlation between the sort of red meat that I eat - grass-fed beef, Welsh lamb, Cheshire pork and Lancashire chicken - only then will I hold up my hands and say "Sorry, you're right - I'll become a vegetarian ... again ... even if it does make me fatter and sicker, and more likely to die earlier!"

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Diet cards

I've developed an idea mooted by a P2T member some time ago - sorry I don't remember who it was to credit them, though.

For my 2011 restart I have produced a set of 'diet cards' which is based on a low carb diet with added "safe starches" as defined by The Perfect Health Diet, as I need to watch my protein intake, and increase my carbs a little. This is what they look like:

I'm re-starting at 171.4lb with 2,000 calories, comprising:
200 calories (50g) carbs
280 calories (70g) protein
1520 calories (168g) fat

My daily breakfast is bacon and two eggs, fried in ghee, so for the other meals I will choose:
two protein cards
two safe starches cards (white rice, potatoes, tapioca)
two carbohydrate cards (green salad, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)

There will be about 50g fats included in most of the meats, so I need to choose as many of the fats cards as necessary to make up the right daily amount.

I've no idea how this will work, but I need something to get me back on track!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Data for the last six months

On the Pig 2 Twig forum we have been 'hibernating' since September with a weekly weigh-in, so this is the data for this period.

Earlier today [below] I thought the stalling problems had been solved, but the correlation has vanished with these data!

The purple lines are identical and signify the weekly weights. The red lines correspond with the side labels.

Any comments or observations gratefully received.


Yesterday I realised that I was the same weight as on 27 January this year. That's seven weeks with little change apart from an annoying 2lb up/down/up/down, which is guaranteed to depress.

Over that period I've tried all ways of cracking it - reducing calories, increasing fat, increasing protein, reducing protein, and in desperation decided I would embark on an anti-Candida diet - once I've got used to the idea of no dairy!

I've been keeping a daily record of my eating using Spark People, together with a record of my weight on the pig 2 twig forum but neither has produced any logical reasons for my virtual stall so far.

However, when I tried averages for the last four and a half months, a picture has begun to emerge which I thought I'd share. Remember though, this is totally unscientific, on a sample of one!

I have deliberately used large units to demonstrate quite small changes - for instance the weight range is only 10lb and the carbs are between 10g and 20g.

All nutrients and total calories with weight

It's obvious from this that food affects weight, but how? The 'experts' tell us that it's all to do with calories in v calories out.

total calories and weight

Hmmm... that's not very conclusive, is it? So, is it that evil stuff fat? After all, most of what I eat is saturated which in some eyes makes it the devil's food.

fat and weight

Again, it's not a perfect match. If it was so evil surely it would be more obvious?

protein and weight

It's claimed by some that too much protein is the culprit, but once again the graphs don't fit too well.

carbs and weight

The carbs graph is the nearest to a perfect match, but it's still hard to believe that 20g of carbs a day instead of 10g is to blame totally.

I find it quite surprising that the time between cause and effect on all the graphs is so long. We normally assume that what we eat today affects our weight tomorrow, but it just does not seem to be the case, which means that short-term trials of a few weeks or months aren't very accurate.

Thanks for reading this, and I'd be really interested in any comments or observations you may have.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog reflect the author’s point of view.
Material copyrighted by other authors is quoted under a claim of "fair use.".

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