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Do Statins Cause Motor Neuron Diseases, Such as ALS?

A study report­ed in April 2018 has made the news because it sug­gests that tak­ing a statin drug might increase your risk of get­ting a motor neu­ron dis­ease.  Statin drugs are used to reduce the amount of cho­les­terol in your blood, to pre­vent heart attacks and strokes. Motor neu­ron dis­eases include amy­otroph­ic lat­er­al scle­ro­sis (ALS).  ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease, because that famous base­ball play­er had it. Physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing also had a form of ALS. Motor neu­ron dis­eases are a big deal, but so are heart attacks and strokes. So should you wor­ry about this study? I don’t wor­ry about it, for the fol­low­ing rea­sons:

  • If you eat a healthy diet, you almost cer­tain­ly won’t need pills to low­er your cho­les­terol. So you could avoid even the the­o­ret­i­cal risks of the side effects of the pills.
  • Even if the statins do increase your risk of com­ing down with a motor neu­ron dis­ease, the motor neu­ron dis­eases were rare to start with and are still rare, even though so many peo­ple are tak­ing statins.
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Acne Results from High-Fat, High-Protein Diets

Many peo­ple think that acne is a nat­ur­al result of being a teenag­er. Yet the teenagers in many parts of the world are remark­ably free of acne. The low rate of acne in those pop­u­la­tions is not due to their genes. It is due to their low-fat, heav­i­ly plant-based diet. When peo­ple from those coun­tries grow up in the Unit­ed States, they gen­er­al­ly eat a typ­i­cal Amer­i­can diet which is rich in fat and ani­mal-source foods. As a result, they too tend to get acne in their teenage years.

The rich, fat­ty, Amer­i­can-style diet increas­es your risk of acne. It sup­plies a lot of fat, which can make your skin oily. It also con­tains lots of ani­mal-source foods, which can lead to an over­load of two types of hor­mones: male sex hor­mones (andro­gens) and a growth hor­mone called insulin-like growth fac­tor 1 (IGF-1). These two hor­mones work togeth­er to cause acne. That’s why acne tends to start when chil­dren go through puber­ty.

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The Blood Type Diet Is Nonsense. Everyone Should Eat Plants!

In 1996, a man named “Dr.” Peter J. D’Adamo pub­lished Eat Right For Your Type. This book pro­mot­ed the “blood type diet.” It claimed that your diet should be based on your ABO blood type (type A, B, AB, or O). The ABO sys­tem of blood typ­ing is impor­tant in blood trans­fu­sion. Get­ting a trans­fu­sion of the wrong type of blood can kill you. How­ev­er, there is no sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence that your blood type has any­thing to do with how your body reacts to food. Peo­ple of any blood type thrive on a low-fat, plant-based diet.

The things that D’Adamo says about the nat­ur­al his­to­ry of the dif­fer­ent blood types are wrong. So are the things he says about the effects of blood type on the body. Worst of all, D’Adamo gives par­tic­u­lar­ly bad dietary advice to the peo­ple with the most com­mon blood type. I sus­pect that his book has been so pop­u­lar because he has been telling a lot of peo­ple exact­ly what they want to hear. He has been telling the peo­ple with the most com­mon blood type that they need to eat a lot of fat­ty meat.

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Do I Need Blood Pressure Medication?

What is hypertension?

Rough­ly one out of three adults in the Unit­ed States have hyper­ten­sion (high blood pres­sure). Only half of those with high blood pres­sure have it under con­trol. High blood pres­sure can be a seri­ous prob­lem. It can dam­age your blood ves­sels, par­tic­u­lar­ly in your kid­neys and your brain. Even­tu­al­ly, it can also dam­age the valves in your heart. Preg­nant women are prone to a form of high blood pres­sure called preeclamp­sia, which is dan­ger­ous to the woman and her baby. For these rea­sons, mil­lions of peo­ple are tak­ing med­ica­tions to con­trol their blood pres­sure.

How­ev­er,  med­ica­tion is not nec­es­sar­i­ly the best way to con­trol blood pres­sure. Yes, it can reduce the blood pres­sure. But it does not cure the vas­cu­lar resis­tance that the heart is try­ing to solve by beat­ing so hard. The best way to solve the blood pres­sure prob­lem is to relieve this resis­tance by eat­ing a low-fat veg­an diet.

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Science journal spreads false rumors about vegan diet

As I explain in Where Do Goril­las Get Their Pro­tein?,  a low-fat veg­an diet is good for peo­ple and good for the envi­ron­ment.  How­ev­er, an arti­cle in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences (PNAS) dis­agrees. It claims that veg­an diets would be a dis­as­ter for pub­lic health. Yet the authors are not experts on human nutri­tion or pub­lic health. Instead, they are experts on how to feed live­stock. Their did not base their con­clu­sions on any stud­ies of human nutri­tion. As a result, they give bad dietary advice.

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Is Coconut Oil Good for You?

Late­ly, food fad­dists have been claim­ing that coconut oil is a health food. They claim that it will help you lose weight. In real­i­ty, coconut oil is as fat­ten­ing as any oth­er fat. Some peo­ple even claim that coconut oil can cure Alzheimer’s dis­ease. In real­i­ty, coconut oil can pro­mote ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, which is an impor­tant cause of vas­cu­lar demen­tia. Also, fats of any kind tend to make your body less sen­si­tive to insulin. For this rea­son, eat­ing coconut oil would prob­a­bly make type 2 dia­betes worse. Coconut oil could even make Alzheimer’s dis­ease worse. Alzheimer’s dis­ease seems to be relat­ed to insulin resis­tance in the brain.

So why are peo­ple pro­mot­ing coconut oil for brain health? They know that coconut oil is part of a diet for chil­dren with epilep­sy. How­ev­er, they do not under­stand why this diet is used.

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What Does Ketosis Mean?

Today, many peo­ple on the Inter­net are urg­ing peo­ple to eat a “keto” diet. A keto diet is so high in fat and so low in car­bo­hy­drates that it caus­es peo­ple to go into a state of keto­sis. Keto­sis means that “ketone bod­ies” have built up in the blood­stream. Ketone bod­ies are chem­i­cals that are pro­duced by an alter­na­tive method of burn­ing fat. Keto­sis does not mean that you are los­ing weight. It real­ly just means that your liv­er is turn­ing a lot of pro­tein and oth­er non­car­bo­hy­drates to sug­ar. No human soci­ety has ever eat­en a keto­genic diet. So the long-term safe­ty of keto­genic diets is ques­tion­able.

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Dietary Protein, Not Sugar, Promotes the Growth of Cancer

Some researchers in Bel­gium just did an inter­est­ing study about how yeast cells use sug­ar. This study helps to explain why yeast cells mul­ti­ply rapid­ly when they have plen­ty of sug­ar. The results of their study could also explain why some can­cer cells also mul­ti­ply rapid­ly. How­ev­er, this study does not mean that sug­ars and starch­es in the diet are a prob­lem. In fact, high-car­bo­hy­drate diets actu­al­ly help to pro­tect against many can­cers. Rather, the study explains why can­cer cells with abnor­mal sug­ar metab­o­lism might behave like yeast cells.

Many Cancer Cells Have an Abnormal Metabolism

Since the 1920s, sci­en­tists have known that many can­cer cells don’t use oxy­gen to burn sug­ar, even when plen­ty of oxy­gen is avail­able. By the 1950s, it was clear that tumors that are most like­ly to use anaer­o­bic (no-oxy­gen) metab­o­lism tend to be the most aggres­sive. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the reporters who have been cov­er­ing this study for the pop­u­lar press do not under­stand what the study is about or what its results real­ly mean.

Many of the reporters have false­ly con­clud­ed that the study shows that some­thing in sug­ar is some­how caus­ing can­cer. As a result, they are urg­ing peo­ple to avoid eat­ing car­bo­hy­drates. But if peo­ple fol­low that advice, they would actu­al­ly increase their risk of ear­ly death. If peo­ple avoid car­bo­hy­drates, they will end up eat­ing more fat and more ani­mal pro­tein. High-fat diets increase your risk of heart attacks. Also, diets that are high in ani­mal pro­tein increase your risk of dying of can­cer.

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Jane Brody’s Misleading Attack on What the Health

New York Times colum­nist Jane E. Brody wrote a sil­ly attack on the doc­u­men­tary What the Health. Germany’s Iron Chan­cel­lor Otto von Bis­mar­ck sup­pos­ed­ly once quipped, “Nev­er believe any­thing in pol­i­tics until it has been offi­cial­ly denied.” Since the New York Times is regard­ed as the “News­pa­per of Record” in the Unit­ed States, we could amend this say­ing to “Nev­er believe any­thing in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics until it has been offi­cial­ly denied in the New York Times.”

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The Inuit (“Eskimo”) Diet Causes Rapid Aging, Early Death

Since the 1970s, there has been a lot of hype about the diet of the Inu­it, who were indige­nous peo­ple in Green­land as well as north­ern Cana­da and Alas­ka.  (The Inu­it were often called Eski­mos, but that name is con­sid­ered offen­sive. The cor­rect name is Inu­it. The sin­gu­lar form of the word is Inuk.) The Inu­it had man­aged to sur­vive in a hos­tile envi­ron­ment: one that was frozen and cov­ered in snow for many months out of the year. As a result, the Inuit’s tra­di­tion­al diet for most of the year con­sist­ed of meat and fish, often eat­en raw. Since the 1970s, many food fad­dists have been claim­ing that the Inuit’s diet some­how mag­i­cal­ly pro­tect­ed the Inu­it against coro­nary artery dis­ease. The goal of this pro­pa­gan­da is to encour­age peo­ple to eat meat and fish and to take fish oil cap­sules but to shun car­bo­hy­drates. Yet even the ear­li­est out­side observers of the Inu­it noticed some­thing odd about them. The young Inu­it seemed hale and hearty, but the Inu­it seemed to age quick­ly, and there were prac­ti­cal­ly no Inu­it old­er than 60 years. Stud­ies of mum­mi­fied and skele­tal remains of Inu­it who had died before the arrival of the Euro­peans con­firmed that the tra­di­tion­al Inu­it diet caused ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis and osteo­poro­sis.

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