Filed Under: Big Fat Lies Food Scares

Interpret Health Studies With A Healthy Perspective

Confused about the weekly emergence of yet another new study about what causes cancer, or heart disease, or diabetes, or obesity? Ever notice that all the experts reliably contradict each other with each and every new finding? The Chicago Tribune has picked up on this scientific head-spinning as it relates to caffeine research, and the paper has some practical advice for consumers:

Every day, we sip a steady stream of health news about something we could eat or drink and how it will help save us from Health Nightmare X—or help cause it. Avoid refined sugar. Take fish oil pills. Drink coffee. Don’t.
So here’s the good news, according to experts who study disease and risk: You can pretty much ignore almost all of these health bulletins, with a few exceptions:
Exercise, eat a balanced diet, don’t be fat, drink only in moderation and, whatever you do, don’t smoke.

Imagine that – common sense as science. Sure, we grant that a daily consumption of 182 pounds of French fries will have some negative health effects. Or that eating 108 pieces of sushi roll every single day for life may, eventually, put you at risk of mercury toxicity.
But is any of this realistic? Rather than criminalizing substances as innocuous as salt or coffee, perhaps “the experts” would do more good by preaching moderation in all things.
No one ever got fat from one cheeseburger, and no one ever got healthy from eating one salad, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the health pages. Consumers would be better served by a reminder that it’s the dose—not the flavor-of-the-week health scare—that makes the poison.

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