In health news today: This.
Um. What? Or, more to the point: WHAT?
The past two years (and, without cease, the past six weeks) have been a constant ping-pong match between Western and Eastern medicine, from pills and tests on one end to homeopathy and “eating sunshine with my eyes” (I’m not making that up) on the other. While I can (and will) fill a book about the differences between these two approaches to caring for the human body, nothing is quite so fascinating as the antipathy they feel toward one another. Friends and family are often counseling, “You take the best of each one and choose what’s best for you.” But they work in contrast so much that it’s often hard to strike a balance. Western practitioners sneer at the unproven nature of Eastern methods (though without millions of dollars for research, it’s kind of hard to prove that half this shit works, and I’ve never seen Pfizer pony up a chunk of change for the “Eating Sunshine With Your Eyes” double-blind study) and claim that just because they’ve been around forever doesn’t automatically imply their superiority. On the other side, Eastern folks laugh that Western medicine as we know it has only existed for a comparative blink of an eye, we’re becoming immune to diseases by overloading on antibiotics that create resistance and actually create more diseases, and we’re all addicted to prescription drugs in the first place because doctors and hospitals are nothing more than shills to the pharmaceutical industry anyway.
But the one place all of these people agree — the one sliver of the Venn Diagram shared by the most hardcore conservative, drug-loving doctor and the most PBS-tote-carrying, acupuncture-works-for-the-shaman-on-mountaintops-so-why-not-us-ing, here-have-some-spirulina-prescribing nutritionist — is that you can only be truly healthy by doing two things: eating well and exercising.Until, apparently, today.Headline in today’s New York Times:
Study Finds Low-Fat Diet Won’t Stop Cancer or Heart Disease
Wendy’s to America: “Fuck you, we’re ditching the salads.”First sentence:
“The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet keeps women from getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet had no effect.”
Cancer to America: “You thought you could make me go away by eating Cheerios? Dudes? Seriously? I’m CANCER.”Most discouraging sentiment:
“For decades, many scientists have been saying, and many members of the public have been believing, that what you eat — the composition of the diet — determines how likely you are to get a chronic disease. But it has been hard to prove. Studies of dietary fiber and colon cancer failed to find that fiber was protective. Studies of vitamins thought to protect against cancer failed to show an effect.”
So, don’t bother.Best redundancy:
“…women who were randomly assigned to follow a low-fat diet ate significantly less fat over the next eight years.”
A $400 million study, and all it did was prove that women who ate less fat as part of their diets ate less fat as part of their diets.Best “screw you, we were right all along” to anyone who isn’t a doctor:
“‘These studies are revolutionary,’ said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. ‘They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy.'”
Dr. Hirsch owns stock in Merck.Best reason to put down that wheat germ and meet me at In ‘N’ Out:
“And, confounding many popular notions about fat in the diet, the different diets did not make much difference in anyone’s weight.”
What? WHAT? Next week: we find out what really causes cancer. It’s EXERCISE.And, best overall sentence:
“And the studies were so large and so expensive that they are ‘the Rolls Royce of studies,’ said Dr. Michael Thun, who directs epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society.”
Vroom vroom. That was the sound of my nutritionist driving himself off a high cliff in the Rolls Royce he’ll now never afford to buy.I am perhaps overreacting slightly. This study was designed to examine one very specific hypothesis (women + low fat diet = cancer prevention). And it’s possible there will be another study tomorrow (“the Bentley of studies,” they’ll call that one) that will undo the findings of THIS study. But I’m at a sensitive time regarding diet and its effect on the body, as the research as to whether diet really fixes what I have, restores the “gut flora” to its proper balance, and stops bleeding where THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY BLOOD is…a matter of tremendous controversy in the medical community. But it’s working for me better than six different medications did (or, more probably, in combination with those medications), so I have to keep doing it. But to see that the food we eat is clinically disproven in making any difference? Well, that is disheartening. What makes you live forever, then? Peaceful walks on the beach? Calling your mother every day? Easy listening music?For the love of god, I hope it’s easy listening music.