When it comes to food scares, take a deep breath and wait for the truth to settle

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Amy was one of Dr. Judy’s small animal clients. She had a cat named Digger, a large, yellow, short-haired, tom. He should have been neutered, but Amy feared this would alter his personality — not just his anatomy.Dr. Judy reminded her that allowing a tomcat to freely run and propagate would only worsen the excess cat population. Amy, however, never took this advice to heart. Instead, whenever she brought Digger in for a checkup, she was focused on the latest food health scare.The last time I heard from her, the World Health Organization (WHO) had just reported that Roundup might cause cancer. That news was all it took to set her off on a new rant.On Facebook she wrote, “I am only going to purchase organic food. My family’s meat consumption is going to be limited to three ounces of meat four times a week and then mostly fish. Vegetables are only going to be purchased from local sources.”I felt sorry for her husband, Larry. He told me, “The days of having a good steak appear to be over.”Consumers like Amy seem to obtain much of their allegedly “scientific” information from sources that are focused on twisting any hint of fact into scary “news” reports. Why not? It sells newspapers and TV time and draws attention to activists and their agendas.Many of you may be familiar with the WHO. On their website, WHO shares international health concerns and, in most cases, worthy programs to address them. Once in a while, however, they lose perspective.WHO recently reported that persons who eat red meat may increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. While I don’t dispute the possibility of an increase, several facts make me skeptical. An 18% increase sounds significant, but keep in mind that the risk of developing colorectal cancer is relatively low to begin with. An 18% increase would raise the incidence of colorectal cancer from 4.75% to 5.5% — far lower than the cancer risk associated with smoking.WHO has listed 936 items that may cause cancer. So, is there anything that we are in contact with that can’t cause cancer? In contrast, I offer you another report to contemplate: a well-documented research study in Kenya that evaluates childhood nutrition and consumption of red meat. In controlled trials of four different diets provided over a two-year period to students in 12 school systems, children who received four ounces of red meat per day gained 12 IQ points, increased muscle mass and were more active on the playground than their classmates who were on balanced vegetarian diets. So much misinformation is being bandied about that there is no wonder consumers like Amy, who are conscientious in providing for their families, are confused and spend more than necessary to purchase supposedly nutritious food that is usually little different than commodity-sourced foods that meet USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and FDA purity standards.The next time you read about a food scare, take a deep breath and pause. Once the initial scare tactics in the press play out, the straight facts gradually appear. Here are examples of food scares that have proven to be false:a)     Butter is bad for your health.b)    Fat leads to obesity and high blood cholesterol.c)     Sugary carbohydrates are better for you than fats.d)    Eggs contain high levels of cholesterol, therefore, are bad for you.And if you’re a baby boomer or older, you may remember back when cranberries were declared unsafe because of strontium-90. That scare nearly ruined the cranberry industry. We now know that cranberries are loaded with antioxidants, making them a very healthy food choice.And we know that butter is much healthier for you than margarine and actually contains a substance that prevents cancer. A high blood cholesterol level is actually caused by an individual’s genetics, often combined with a high carbohydrate intake. Medical experts now recognize that eggs, which are loaded with amino acids, protein and beta-carotene, are a very healthy food to consume.So sit back, relax and take a deep breath, Miss Amy. You might want to use those books by the “foodies” for doorstops!last_img read more