An interesting article was posted on Linked In yesterday which ties in directly to one of my recent blogs about “evaluating research“.
The headline in the Daily News reads: Vegetarian Diet Raises the Risk of Heart Disease and Cancer. Wow, pretty scary, right? Especially to those of us who follow a whole food, plant based diet!
Not to worry. Once again the media has taken a thread of truth and woven a huge blanket of preposterous misinformation around it. Dr. David Katz posted a blog about this topic on his LinkedIn page called “Vegetarianism: Nutrition Science Meets Media Nonsense“. Dr. Katz claims that the Daily News article takes hyperbolic headlines to a new, absurd, stupefying level. Since the article was released on April 1, Dr. Katz speculated that the article was tailor-made for April Fools day.
He goes on to report that the study does NOT report that vegetarianism increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, or any other bad outcome. Nothing of the sort. Not even close. The study (to which he posts a link) compared the genetic markers of 234 primarily vegetarian Indians to 311 Americans with typical diets, and found that the Indians had a higher frequency of genetic mutations that make them good at producing the fats that their diet doesn’t provide.
For example, vegetarians are better at converting plant-based Omega-3 fat, notably one called ALA, into long-chain Omega-3s such as EPA and DHA (think fish oil). So how did such concerning headlines emanate from this? The researchers found that for the people who had adapted to a vegetarian diet, the imbalances of the modern (American) diet might be especially harmful….. which may explain why ethnic Indians are more prone to Type 2 diabetes when they transition to a diet of burgers, fries and soda.
In other words, as Dr. Katz points out,the study shows that the typical American diet may be especially bad for traditional vegetarians who have adapted to thrive on their native diet. The study only looked at gene frequencies – not heart disease, not cancer, and not death. Despite the insane headlines, the study had nothing to do with death or disease, but was only a study of gene patterns.
There should be a law against journalists twisting the truth such as this with outrageous headlines. It really is a form of false advertising. A whole food, plant based diet has been scientifically proven to be the only diet which can prevent, halt and reverse disease. Hopefully THAT will be the focus of future headlines.
Tip of the day: Assume anything your hear or read is false until you investigate the facts.