Our reviews differ from reviews on the same topics written by other content providers. We evaluate the significance of results in the context of other data and clinical implications and describe the benefits and potential risks for the short and the long term (frequently ignored).

For example, we explain that a substance that statistically lowers cholesterol by 15% provides a minor improvement that is unlikely to influence life expectancy and is rarely better than eating a few more vegetables or walking more every day. A 15% reduction in total cholesterol is easily achievable by eating less for several days.

We explain that a treatment that may prevent oxidation that could lead to heart disease may increase the survival of cancer cells. Many substances that make us feel better for the short term can have undesirable long term consequences (from mood-changing drugs to cholesterol lowering agents to huge, gooey, melting chocolate ice cream sundaes).

Example – Studies of fiber and colon cancer

In April 2000, the New England J of Medicine (NEJM) published two studies that evaluated the role of fiber in colon cancer. According to reports published by news media (readily available from many web sites and their archives), many writers simply repeated the study’s conclusions, that a high fiber diet does not prevent colon cancer.

We carefully read the studies and the commentaries in the same issue of the NEJM and as well as other relevant publications. We evaluated the results differently. Rather than concluding that a low fat/high fiber diet does not prevent cancer (as almost everyone else did), we concluded that the studies were poorly designed. Key variables were not measured. There was (as it is common in these cases) substantial subject variability. The data reported did not allow an accurate assessment of the issues involved. We proposed that the most important factors to prevent colon cancer (as well as many other cancers) are the calories eaten, the types of fats eaten, and how those fats were eaten– not just the amount of fiber in the diet.

We suggest that people eat far more natural foods low in processed fat. These foods contain cell membranes and fiber. However, it is not the fiber alone or the low processed fat that prevents cancer. Cancer prevention is a combination of many factors, including avoiding processed fat, avoiding oxidized fat (i.e., from cooking), eating a balance of essential fats, particularly w3s (but too many could increase cancer risk by increasing DNA changes), avoiding alcohol, eating few calories (but eating adequate amounts of nutrients), exercising (needed to burn off calories because people need to eat many calories to get enough nutrients from natural foods), zero smoking, more fiber, and many other factors. These factors interact with each other and they are not exchangeable. Eating more fiber does not compensate for eating more calories or smoking.

The subjects in the studies reported by the NEJM varied considerable in their compliance with our guidelines. Although the experimental and control groups were similar on average, the individual differences (not reported) were probably substantial. We stated that the researchers should have measured more biochemical parameters, including key variables such as levels of essential fats and oxidized fats, and that the researchers should have reported individual data.

We also noticed that the low fat high fiber diet had no substantial impact on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cholesterol levels. Very few reviewers noticed these findings and their implication, namely that a diet low in fat and high in fiber does not appear to prevent CVD or lower cholesterol levels. Although the number of subjects with CVD was small and comparisons may not be statistically valid for disease rates, comparisons are valid for cholesterol levels. If the low fat/high fiber diets had an effect on cholesterol independent of weight loss (subject’s weight did not change), researchers would have found that the cholesterol levels in the experimental group declined substantially. Dr. Siguel and other researchers have shown huge declines in total cholesterol when people follow a diet high in essential fats. Thus, national policy and nutrition guidelines should be revised with regard to the effects of fiber and low fat diets on CVD and cholesterol. We propose that “health claims” and current Food and Drug Administration policies on these matters also need to be changed. Instead of encouraging low fat diets deprived of essential fats (i.e., high carbohydrate foods), and food rich in fiber, nutrition policy should encourage eating natural foods, low calorie foods high in essential fats.

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