Going in Circles, Precautionary Style

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by [email protected], Feb 15, 2005.

  1. February 14, 2005

    Going in Circles, Precautionary Style

    By Jeff Stier, Esq.

    Back when Jaws was scaring us on the big screen in the 1970s, Americans
    were being warned of a more subtle danger. On television and in the
    papers, we were told that saturated fats, the type found in some meat
    and dairy products and in some processed foods, were on the verge of
    causing an epidemic of heart disease.

    Though our knowledge about the risks associated with saturated fats was
    limited and information about alternatives even less developed, the
    country took action. In the years since, saturated fats -- which are
    tasty, stable, and solid at room temperature (a characteristic that
    makes them valuable for food processing) -- have been replaced with the
    only alternative that served the same function. You may have heard of
    it, since it's been in the news lately: trans-fat. This big change in
    the way we ate came to us thanks to food police and their favorite
    weapon, the precautionary principle.


    The principle, sometimes benignly known as "better safe than sorry,"
    states that "when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or
    the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some
    cause and effect relationships are not fully established
    scientifically." An unstated corollary is "Precaution should be taken
    regardless of the risk of any precautionary action." That is, trying
    too hard to err on the safe side can lead to doing something less
    safe. This explains why Michael Crichton wrote in State of Fear: "The
    'precautionary principle,' properly applied, forbids the precautionary
    principle. It is self-contradictory."


    As a result of the campaign against saturated fats, manufacturers
    switched to trans-fats, and those of us who wanted to be healthier
    switched from butter to margarine. Yet now, with only the weakest
    case against trans-fats, it too is put on the no-no list. In fact,
    the chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of
    Public Health, Dr. Walter Willet (who, in an unfortunate irony, holds a
    professorship named after ACSH co-founder Dr. Fredrick Stare), told
    the New York Times, "When I was a physician in the 1980s, that's what I
    was telling people to do [switch from saturated fats to trans-fats],
    and unfortunately we were often sending them to their graves
    prematurely."


    This is a result of rushing to lower a perceived threat before
    accurately gauging the effects of such a change. In this case, people
    rushed to replace saturated fat with trans-fat, before we really
    understood what effects such a substitution might have. All those
    consumers who made the switch and sacrificed butter for margarine are
    now being told that the effort may have done more harm than good.


    In reality, they probably did no harm, but they did no good, despite
    their best intentions. They would have been better off listening to
    more scientifically well-established health advice, like that found in
    ACSH's New Year's Resolutions. (But at least when these people had
    their lives altered by the precautionary principle, they were only
    mildly affected. Not everyone is so lucky. Witness the millions of
    victims of malaria since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring inspired
    governments to ban DDT "just in case".)


    In spite of doomsayers' warnings, there's no substantial body of
    evidence that trans-fats have killed anyone. In fact, for multiple
    and complex reasons, over the period when trans-fats came into common
    use, rates of deaths from heart disease have actually dropped. The
    evidence on trans-fats doesn't seem to justify the rush to purge every
    ounce of it at any cost. Once again, those who applied the
    precautionary principle by telling us to eat margarine instead of
    butter -- "just to be safe" --might now be sorry.


    Jeff Stier, Esq., is an associate director of the American Council on
    Science and Health.




    This information was found online at:
    http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.504/news_detail.asp
     
    Tags:


  2. John Que

    John Que Guest

    <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > February 14, 2005
    >

    <snip>
    > As a result of the campaign against saturated fats, manufacturers
    > switched to trans-fats, and those of us who wanted to be healthier
    > switched from butter to margarine. Yet now, with only the weakest
    > case against trans-fats, it too is put on the no-no list. In fact,
    > the chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of
    > Public Health, Dr. Walter Willet (who, in an unfortunate irony, holds a
    > professorship named after ACSH co-founder Dr. Fredrick Stare), told
    > the New York Times, "When I was a physician in the 1980s, that's what I
    > was telling people to do [switch from saturated fats to trans-fats],
    > and unfortunately we were often sending them to their graves
    > prematurely."


    Many opposed the recommendation of margarine
    and were called food faddists and fools for their efforts.
    And by the way as I recall Willet is dead and
    should therefore be referred to in the past tense.
    What was Stare's position on margarine?


    >
    >
    > This is a result of rushing to lower a perceived threat before
    > accurately gauging the effects of such a change. In this case, people
    > rushed to replace saturated fat with trans-fat, before we really
    > understood what effects such a substitution might have. All those
    > consumers who made the switch and sacrificed butter for margarine are
    > now being told that the effort may have done more harm than good.
    >
    >
    > In reality, they probably did no harm, but they did no good, despite
    > their best intentions. They would have been better off listening to
    > more scientifically well-established health advice, like that found in
    > ACSH's New Year's Resolutions. (But at least when these people had
    > their lives altered by the precautionary principle, they were only
    > mildly affected. Not everyone is so lucky. Witness the millions of
    > victims of malaria since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring inspired
    > governments to ban DDT "just in case".)


    No matter it was killing off many bird species and the levels
    were rising in fat numerous marine animals. Moreover,
    the mosquitoes were developing a tolerance in some
    places as I recall. Moreover DDT was used in the
    3rd world decades after it was banned in the
    1st world nations. DDT is a bandaid.
    Drain the swamps, mosquito netting,
    further treatment develop are also needed.

    Anyway, Lyndon La Rouche will be pleased with the ACSH positon :)

    <snip>
    >
    >
    >
    > Jeff Stier, Esq., is an associate director of the American Council on
    > Science and Health.
    >
    >
    >
    >
     
  3. montygram

    montygram Guest

    The problem with "trans fats" has nothing to do with the trans part of
    it. These oils are highly refined, with no antioxidants, and the
    unsaturated double bonds are ready to blow - that is, do a tremendous
    amount of free radical damage to human tissues.

    Keys screwed up the first big study taht blamed "saturated fat" and
    cholesterol, and since then the domestic oil industry has expoited the
    opportunity to the extreme. Only Japan was studied beyond the West,
    but if the many Asian countries that used plenty of coconut oil, or the
    many African nations that use palm kernel oil, were studied, the
    results would have to be reversed! The results of data gathering on
    cancer, heart disease, etc., but the WHO, which you can access online
    demonstrates the healthy benefits of saturated fatty acids (not
    "saturated fat," which to most people means "red meat"). In
    biochemical studies, only oxidized cholesterol has been shown to be a
    problem to the body. I've have been packing my body with saturated
    fatty acids (dark chocolate, butter, coconut products) and non-oxidized
    cholesterol (boiled eggs and shellfish, along with full fat dairy) for
    a few years now, and the differences are amazing (I was a vegan for 14
    years or so). The unsaturated fatty acids are the dangerous ones, and
    depending upon the antioxidant cover of the particular food, you could
    really be playing with fire. High quality oil is rich in antioxidants
    (squalene) but refined oilive oil should be avoided totally.

    Also, I think Willett is alive and well. Can you provide a link to te
    contrary?
     
  4. John Que

    John Que Guest

    "montygram" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > The problem with "trans fats" has nothing to do with the trans part of
    > it. These oils are highly refined, with no antioxidants, and the
    > unsaturated double bonds are ready to blow - that is, do a tremendous
    > amount of free radical damage to human tissues.


    I not sure that it has nothing to do with it. But I'll agree that
    trans fats are stripped of antioxidants. I agree oxidized cholesterol
    is a nasty chemical. And I agree the saturated fat are more stable so
    I don't avoid them like the plague. But I am still sparing with them.
    I never cook with butter and I avoid products with powdered milk
    due oxysterols.

    Perhaps you can further bend my mind around on this topic.
    I start to review the topic.

    >
    > Keys screwed up the first big study taht blamed "saturated fat" and
    > cholesterol, and since then the domestic oil industry has expoited the
    > opportunity to the extreme. Only Japan was studied beyond the West,
    > but if the many Asian countries that used plenty of coconut oil, or the
    > many African nations that use palm kernel oil, were studied, the
    > results would have to be reversed! The results of data gathering on
    > cancer, heart disease, etc., but the WHO, which you can access online
    > demonstrates the healthy benefits of saturated fatty acids (not
    > "saturated fat," which to most people means "red meat"). In
    > biochemical studies, only oxidized cholesterol has been shown to be a
    > problem to the body. I've have been packing my body with saturated
    > fatty acids (dark chocolate, butter, coconut products) and non-oxidized
    > cholesterol (boiled eggs and shellfish, along with full fat dairy) for
    > a few years now, and the differences are amazing (I was a vegan for 14
    > years or so). The unsaturated fatty acids are the dangerous ones, and
    > depending upon the antioxidant cover of the particular food, you could
    > really be playing with fire. High quality oil is rich in antioxidants
    > (squalene) but refined oilive oil should be avoided totally.
    >
    > Also, I think Willett is alive and well. Can you provide a link to te
    > contrary?


    He seems to be alive.
    >
     
  5. montygram

    montygram Guest

    Biochemist Ray Peat has done best to eplain this and other health/diet
    issues for me, but I have a decent science background, and have taught
    medical ethics and the history of science at the college level. Bruce
    Fife's "Saturated fat may save your life" is a good place to start for
    those with little biochemistry background. It's not perfect, but it
    will give you plenty to think about. Just ask yourself an obvious
    question, how can peoples live on massive amounts of highly saturated
    fats (90%) or more, with hardly any "chornic disease," when our
    "experts" tell us that lard is a "saturated fat," and it is only 39%?
    The differences have to do with antioxidants, oxidized cholesterol,
    certain forms of iron, etc., not the saturated fatty acids, which are
    nothing but healthy.
     
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