Vegetarianism & Health

Low-Fat Diet Helps Fight Breast Cancer   A study of breast cancer patients at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute has found that a low-fat diet improves their chances of avoiding a recurrence. Women in the study who significantly reduced fat in their diet had more than a 20 percent reduction in their rate of recurrence over five years., Of the women who made no change in their diet 12.4 percent saw their cancers return, but of the women assigned to a low-fat diet only 9.8 percent, had recurrences. The study's principal investigator, Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, said the results were dramatic enough to be the equivalent of finding an effective new drug treatment for breast cancer. The results also bring up additional health concerns about popular high-fat diets such as Atkins and South Beach.

As a bonus, women on the low-fat diet also lost weight. It is not clear whether the difference in cancer risk was the result of the reduced dietary fat itself, the lost weight, or other factors. It is known that women in cultures that consume less fat have fewer breast cancers and better recoveries when they do develop them. It should be noted that the fat restrictions were quite rigorous; Dr. Chlebowski described it the diet as being so low in fat that it was about as low as possible without being a vegetarian diet.


China Study Author Online  I’d heard of the China Study itself a few years ago, the book its director wrote about it only recently. Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s credentials as Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Chemistry are so impeccable and his own study and review of the literature on veganism so controlled, measured and accessible, that this has become my go-to book in arguing the scientifically established health benefits of a vegan diet. You can hear Dr. Campbell speak on the science of veganism in free downloads at the Climate Health website. [Thanks, Kathie, for the pointer.]


Simple Step Reduces Childhood Obesity: Reduce Soft Drinks in Schools A recent study in Britain showed modest reduction in childhood obesity in six public schools that did nothing more than educate students about the negative effects of sweetened soft drinks with four special discussions during the school year. A control group of students of the same age who received no such nutritional instruction got fatter, the number of overweight and obese children increasing by 7.6% over the same year. Derrek Yach, head of the World Health Organization's anti-obesity campaign, called the results "promising" considering the small scope of the corrective measures. "We would hope to see larger studies with more intensive interventions," he said. "What happens when you combine this with the removal of [soft drink] vending machines [from schools}?" The soft drink industry has expressed outrage at such socialistic notions and declared the study "flawed." As flawed as the tooth enamel of soft-drink-swilling school children.Perhaps the soft drink industry will form an alliance with the American sugar industry, now in the second year of their war against the World Health Organization (see below). Sort of an Axis of Treacle


What I Learned in School Today This is from the Merck Manual, a reference book we use in Physiology class and not exactly a fringe publication (color emphasis mine). DM is diabetes mellitus:
In white populations, a strong association exists between type I DM diagnosed before age 30 and specific HLA-D phenotypes (HLA-DR3, HLA-DR4, and HLA-DR3/HLA-DR4). One or more genes that convey susceptibility to type I DM are believed to be located near or in the HLA-D locus on chromosome 6. Specific HLA-DQ alleles appear to be more intimately related to risks for or protection from type I DM than HLA-D antigens, and evidence suggests that genetic susceptibility to type I DM is probably polygenic. Only 10 to 12% of newly diagnosed children with type I DM have a first-degree relative with type I DM, and the concordance rate for type I DM in monozygotic twins is <= 50%. Thus, in addition to the genetic background, environmental factors affect the appearance of type I DM. Such environmental factors may be viruses (congenital rubella, mumps, and coxsackie B viruses may incite the development of autoimmune -cell destruction) and exposure to cow's milk rather than maternal milk in infancy (a specific sequence of albumin from cow's milk may cross-react with islet protein). Geography may play a role in exposure, as the incidence of type I DM is particularly high in Finland and Sardinia.

The Atkins DIEt: Diet of Death? We're not going to say we told you so... but we did, didn't we? According to an AP article in the May 28 Knoxville News-Sentinel, the first lawsuit has been filed against the Atkins Diet promoters by Florida businessman Jody Gorran who says the meat-heavy diet almost cost him his life; his LDL cholesterol level, healthy before starting the diet, skyrocketed after he began following the Atkins guidelines and he ultimately had to undergo angioplasty and the insertion of a stent. Mr. Gorran says his lawsuit is not about the measly $15,000 he's seeking; he wants to send a warning to other eager dieters and see to it that caveats about health risks are required on all Atkins products and literature. He is being assisted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. We at VSET are opposed to restricting free speech, but we do think that all products should be prohibited from making inadequately confirmed health claims and that

Obesity is a national crisis and we applaud those who are struggling to attain a healthier weight, but it is important to take time to really study the complex issue of nutrition and not rely on a high-fat fad diet that is focused on fat profits. Forget the shortcuts; cut calories, get more exercise, and be patient. Attend the next VSET Potluck Dinner for some healthy cooking tips, plenty of healthy food to sample, and lots of folks ready to offer advice and moral support. Please come.


Brain-boggling! USDA FORBIDS Mad Cow Testing! Some public interest groups have complained of the lackadaisical and inadequate testing of the nations's cattle supply for signs of Mad Cow disease, restricting tests only to those cows so sick they are unable to stand, despite evidence that seemingly healthy cattle can harbor the deadly prion. Now the USDA is responding by prohibiting Kansas beef producer Creekstone Farms Premium Beef from testing all its cattle for Mad Cow. Creekstone had hoped thereby to regain part of the lucrative Japanese market; the USDA objected that such extensive testing would "unnecessarily" alarm the beef-eating public. Exactly what point of law permits the USDA to restrict voluntary consumer protections is not made clear in the New York Times article (one-time free sign-up required). Quite brain-boggling. Not as brain-boggling as Mad Cow disease, of course.          More on prions: If cows contracted BSE (Mad Cow Disease) from scrapie-infected sheep, why can humans contract BSE from cows but not sheep? Does the Wasting Disease form of BSE in wild Ungulates in the American West pose a threat to meat-eaters? Learn about prion transfer among species in Science Daily.


More Health Nut Nonsense from Those Wackos at the Mayo Clinic. Vegetarianism: better for you, better for the environment, and definitely better for the animals. But the Mayo Clinic only weighs in on the first of those aspects. You know, the Mayo Clinic? No, not the lawn care experts; one of the most respected health care and research institutes on earth. It seems, despite the warnings of the cattle industry, that a vegetarian diet's really good for you. Live and learn. And vice versa.


Lose Weight Without Exercise Through Fruit. Remember the ridiculous grapefruit diet? Well, it really worked after all. And that's not the best part: it also may help control diabetes. Yes, we really expect you to believe us. Even if it is too good to be true. We know that there are some overly credulous vegetarians, eager to believe any good news about fruits and vegetables. But we've got the prestigious Scripps Institute to back us up. We await peer review and replications of the study, of course, but meanwhile it couldn't hurt to up your grapefruit intake.


Meat Strikes Back. We know that meat contributes to cardiovascular disease, making it, according to some authorities, as harmful as smoking, and that commercially produced meat is full of dangerous hormones that can have unexpected effects on our bodies such as gynecomastia in men (see below). And we know the profligate use of antibiotics in meat production is increasing the incidence of resistant strains of disease. But our meat of late poses more immediate and potentially even more dangerous consequences: a major vector of disease and a possible breeding ground for diseases man has never before encountered and against which we may have no defenses.

Kroger's, a grocery chain with a large presence in Knoxville has just recalled beef tainted with listeria, a disease best known for the serious contamination of lakes around North Carolina pig factories. Thousands of civet cats, a gourmet treat in China, are being slaughtered and discarded to try to stop the spread of SARS. There's Anthrax, Hoof-and-Mouth, and Mad Cow (below). And, possibly the most ominous: tens of thousands of chickens in Asian countries are being slaughtered, mostly by suffocation, to try to slow the spread of the Avian Flu, a virus that may, it is feared, be contracted by someone who already has a cold, causing that person, and humanity, a very bad time of it. It is feared the Avian flu virus and the human flu virus may exchange genetic information, producing a form of Avian flu that can be transmitted from person to person. If this happens, we are told, we may want to prepare by reading up on the Spanish influenza outbreak that took millions of lives back in 1918. Don't forget, disease has claimed far more lives than all wars combined.


The Meatrix. Urge your meat-eating friends to take the red pill.The Resistance needs them. Perhaps one of them is the Chosen One. Not specifically a vegetarian site, but nonetheless recommended.

Super Size Me. In this amusing but frightening documentary our hero looks into the face of Death, who turns out to be a clown with bushy red hair. The director sets out to eat for a full month only at McDonald's across the nation, and discovers America's soft underbelly. And his own mortality. VSET is     hoping to see this one as a group. Cinema 8


Forget the Bowl of Total; Eat the Four Bowls of Vegetables. Or, Take Two Broccoli Florets and Call Me in the Morning. Nutritionists aver that there are no more vitamins in food to be discovered. Maybe not, but there seem to be undiscovered health benefits aplenty to be found in vegetables and fruits. Perhaps we need a new word for some factors of certain foods that seem able to heal the afflicted. How about "Nutrimedicines?" A few examples follow. Check out the links, just in case my headlines might be the tiniest bit imprecise.
Orange Peels Lower Cholesterol Better Than Drugs. Well, compounds in orange and tangerine peels do. See article.
Brocolli Stops Herpes. Early studies using human and monkey cells indicate cruciferous vegetables may be useful in controlling both genital and oral herpes. See article.
Salsa Slays Salmonella.
Cilantro, one of the main flavorings of salsa, has been found to be twice as effective as the most commonly used pharmaceutical treatment in destroying the deadly Salmonella bacteria. See article.
Grapefruit Helps Control Diabetes and Obesity. See our earlier article further down this page, under the heading, "Lose Weight Without Exercise through Fruit."


Farm Subsidy Pyramid Upside Down  Always vigilant in protecting the health of Big Agribusiness if not the health of American consumers, the USDA has turned its own pyramid on its head. In the Bizarro world of the USDA the foods they urge us to eat the least of get by far the biggest subsidies, the wealthiest farm corporations get most of the aid, and payments are most generous when profits are highest. These are your tax dolllars at work, enriching Agribusiness CEO's who have in recent years enjoyed dramatiac cuts in their own taxes. The Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy Database details who is getting your hard-earned tax dollars, and provides some insights as to how Farm Subsidies may actually be helping to drive family farms out of business. Also see a related NY Times article.

Save Garden Burger (Thereby Saving Your VSET Webperson) It seems Gardenburger is going through a period of financial upheaval. They make the tastiest meat analogues available in your supermarket, and the best veggie dinners anywhere. Even if you cook everything from scratch, please be kind to those vegetarians who don't (like Yours Truly) and buy lots of their products during this difficult time. Not only will your support help keep your Cooking Challenged colleagues fed (and in the fold), the dinners also make great transition food for those trying to change over. So buy lots of Gardenburger stuff, especially their yummy dinners. Don't send me back to eating only lasagna! Even if you don't happen to care for meat analogues, this might be a good time to convert your dog to vegetarianism.

Bi-Lo entrées are available at Ingle's and Bi-Lo. Bi-Lo also has those truly yummy complete dinners (even the side dishes are good). And those are on sale right now!

Bi-Lo is also, as far as I know, the only grocery chain in Knoxville that gives a discount for bringing your own grocery bag. I just use my Food Co-op bag in place of the store's carry basket. And a cloth bag won't rip on you while you're fishing for your door keys.

See many other meatless microwave meals in your market in our Lazy Vegetarian section.

 Mad Cow Quarantine Section

There's so much news about the relatively new threat of Mad Cow Disease lately we're giving it its own section. Breaking stories on the disease will still appear first under News and Events, then take their place in this section. We acknowledge that the old, familiar dangers of beef-eating like cloggegd arteries still kill far more people, but MCD is especially distrubing in that it is incurable, the death it brings is especially horrible, and it is a new type of disease to most of us, a real-life Andromeda Strain, the agent impossible to kill, all but impossible to destroy. Except that in the movie the government agents were working heroically to save human life, not food industry profits.


A Good Time to Go Veggie: First Case of Mad Cow in US. In the few days since Mad Cow Disease was discovered in the United States, our meat exports have dropped 90%. The USDA has a solution, though; loyal Americans are being urged to eat more beef. Check out that Atkins diet! You can do your part to help save the meat industry's profits. Of course, it's sobering that even the Japanese are refusing to eat American beef, and they eat the often deadly fugu fish! Read what Sea Shepherd's Captain Watson has to say (Mad Cowboy Howard Lyman is on their board). More on the subject from Compassion Over Killing.
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It is pretty certain that some of the mad cow currently in the news entered our food supply: it was ground up and mixed with the flesh of about 20 other cows to make 10,000 pounds of hamburger, which was then shipped to several states. Recent reports on Mad Cow Disease, or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), have stated that, nonetheless, the danger to meat-eaters is low as the infectious agent, the prion, is found only in the brain and spinal tissue. This is not true; prions have been found in the muscle tissue of cattle, hamsters and humans, and, at higher levels, in the lymph glands of calves. Whether humans can be infected by these concentrations, lower than in the brain, is not certain, though currently thought unlikely.

So we're pretty much safe, right? After all, who eats brains? Actually, plenty of folks here in the Appalachians; as a lad I enjoyed many a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and brains. But, aside from us poor mountaineers, nobody eats those body parts, right? Well, did you ever eat a hot dog?

However, hot dogs and other mystery meats are not the only danger. According to Donald G. McNEIL Jr., writing in the New York Times, any part of the carcass can become contaminated. "...it is possible for brain tissue to be driven into or splattered on muscles in a slaughterhouse. Animals are usually killed with a blow from a hand-held jackhammer that slams a piston into the skull. The last few beats of the animal's heart can circulate the tissue. Also, sawing a carcass in half can splatter spinal cord tissue around, as can the use of high-pressure jets that strip meat from bone." Yummy.

But, truth to tell, your odds of contracting the human form of BSE, CJD, are slim, even from a diet heavy on meat and light on veggies. You're far, far more likely to die from heart disease, colon cancer or diabetes. And you'll probably just gain all that weight you lost on the Atkins diet right back. Some authorities have compared the dangers of meat eating, even before BSE, with that of smoking. Smoking helps people lose weight, too.

Or... IS IT the first case??. In humans BSE is called variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or vCJD. The addition of the word "variant" is to distinguish this form of this terrible affliction from far more common forms. One of the more familiar varieties is thought to be genetic in origin, but hundreds of cases appear each year for no known reason. This last form is, therefore, called sporadic CJD. Now researchers at University College of London have discovered that the same prion (pree-on) that causes vCJD in humans and a certain strain of mice can, instead, cause the sporadic form in a different strain of mice. Can it be that the sporadic form of CJD that kills hundreds in our nation each year is ALSO caused by eating beef and, possibly, other meats? Could be. Dr. Michael Greger discusses this chilling possiblity on the website of the Organic Consumers Association.

Americans Already Getting Mad Cow Disease? More Evidence. Author and researcher Janet Skarbek has discovered another in a growing roster of clusters of Creuzfeld-Jakob Disease, the incurable disease known as Mad Cow Disease in cattle. The form of CJD thus far known to affect and kill humans in the US has been dismissed by authorities as a rare, spontaneous anomaly that "just happens" in one person in a million (see earlier article, above). So why has Ms. Skarbek discovered eight fatalities from CJD, so far, in a population of 124,121, all of whom ate at the same racetrack? Are the CDC and USDA more concerned in protecting us, or the meat industry? Read this article in the March 28 New York Times (one-time free registration is required) and decide for yourself.


Creutzfeldt-Jakob Diet Effective in Losing Weight, Beef Industry Study Says
John Mayer (API)

Scientists at Cattlemens’ Publicity and Research (CPR), a beef industry think tank associated with Dealers, Entrepreneurs, Advertisers and Distributors of Cattle, Organized Worldwide (DEADCOW), announced that a diet heavy in beef derived mainly from cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes called mad cow disease, can be even more effective in losing weight than the popular meat-heavy Atkins diet.

“Beef that has been sidelined from the slaughtering process by BSE is perfectly safe,” says CPR spokesperson Dr. Adolph Obitus. “I’m afraid the irresponsible liberal media has contributed to an unreasonable fear of mad cow disease. The public is in no danger since the contagious brain and spinal chord tissue is not intended for human consumption. In the unlikely event a consumer might ingest the prion that causes the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, that condition takes years to incubate, by which time the consumer might very well have died from other causes.

“And, worst case scenario, should one contract CJD, they would, on the plus side, find weight loss remarkably easy. There would be some undesirable side effects, as there is in gastric bypass surgery, primarily some loss of brain tissue. But science has discovered we only use ten percent of our brain capacity, anyway. We in the beef industry count on the American public to use even less than that. In our culture excess brain capacity can be a liability; just look at the last presidential election.

“The vegetarians and animal rights advocates - most of whom are pagan animal worshippers - who are stirring up this fear of mad cow disease are the very people who should be encouraging the utilization of downed cattle,” Dr. Obitus added. “They seek to portray the meat harvesting process as unpleasant, so, logically, they should encourage the consumption of animals that have died of natural causes. And disease is a part of nature.”

A CPR press release urges all Americans to upsize their beef portions during this time of crisis. To do less, CPR says, is to play into the hands of vegetarian activists and animal rights zealots, many of whom, it claims, may have links to Osama Bin Laden.

[Kidding, just kidding. Don’t sue me, Cattlemen; this is satire, a legally protected form of free speech. At least until Patriot Act II. JM]