Leading Causes Of Death Graphic – There’s Something Missing

Just saw this:


Two things:

1. I would be happy to see us talk more about our leading causes of death, and how to prevent them. Even postpone them.

2. There’s something missing from this graph. You know what it is, right? The third leading cause of death isn’t respiratory disorders, it’s something else. That something else has been credibly argued to be the leading cause of death in this county, topping heart disease and cancer. About that something else, Dr. T. Colin Campbell said:

“How is it possible that this cause of death not even be listed on a government website as a leading cause of death? Such publicity would be bad for the disease business — and if the US government cares about one thing here, it’s the economic interests of the medical establishment, one of the leading donors to political candidates, parties, and political action committees.”

Answer in the comments.

Meat Science Journal Indicts Its Own Product, Links Meat To Cancer

I was reading this article, Why Doctors Blame Steve Jobs For His Death to Cancer (And Why They’re Wrong!). The author, Simon Hammett, said:

On the other hand we know that meat consumption (particularly processed meats) increases the risk of various cancers (32, 33, 34). It’s something that the meat industry is abundantly aware of and probably why an article was published in the American Meat Science Association Journal in 2011 titled: Red meat and colon cancer: Should we become vegetarians, or can we make meat safer (35)? It is also why the World Health Organisation has just categorised red and processed meats as carcinogens that cause cancer (36).

The meat industry is abundantly aware? They acknowledge it? I thought they refuted it, or at least obfuscated, tried to change the subject, e.g. “it’s not the meat, it’s the soda, it’s lack of exercise.”

Meat Science is a leading journal in its field. It focuses on meat’s “composition, nutritional value, wholesomeness and consumer acceptability.” (What does wholesome mean?)

I had to look up that reference no. 35:
Red Meat And Colon Cancer: Should We Become Vegetarians, Or Can We Make Meat Safer, Meat Science, 2011

The author, Denis Corpet, and his team looked at all the epidemiological and experimental studies that had been published (which already suffer publication bias, that is, some studies which found meat harmful never saw the light of day) and found they “consistently” and “clearly” showed that red and processed meat were significantly associated with colorectal cancer.

Corpet’s own studies in animals:

We thus have demonstrated in animal studies that red meat and processed meat can promote colon carcinogenesis.

His own words, his own exclamation point:

Let us assume that one hundred people in France are told each day they have colorectal cancer. The excess risk associated with a daily steak, +25%, would now translate to an extra 25 people each day with cancer, which is not acceptable!

I had to let this next part sink in, not that’s it’s true (I think it is) but where it’s coming from:

Our experimental studies in rats suggest the effect is not due to confounding factors, but comes from true toxic factor(s) in red and processed meat.

He went ahead and listed those toxic factors. (Numbers are mine.):

Pro-cancer factors in red meat might be 1. excess fat, 2. excess protein, 3. excess iron, or 4. heat-induced mutagens. These factors may also act in processed meat, plus salt and nitrite added during the curing process:
1. Dietary fat increases bile acids secretion inside the gut, and they act as aggressive surfactants for the mucosa thus increasing cell loss and proliferation. In addition, fatty diets favor obesity which in turn increases insulin resistance and associated changes in blood values (high glucose, free fatty acids, insulin and IGF1): these circulating factors increase proliferation and decrease apoptosis (= cell suicide) of precancerous cells, thus promoting tumor growth.
2. Excess protein is fermented in the large bowel yielding amines, phenols and H2S [hydrogen sulfide] that are toxic to the mucosa.
3. Iron induces production of genotoxic free radicals in the colonic stream and endogenous N-nitrosated compounds such as carcinogenic N-nitrosamines.
4. Cooking meat at a high temperature or on an open flame (e.g., grilling, frying or barbecuing) produces heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are potent carcinogens.

There is likely a synergistic effect, that is, the combined affect of these substances is greater than the sum of their separate effects. (Add exposure to smoke and you have a recipe for colon cancer.)

Articles like this do not promote meat-eating, they condemn it.

It looks like the meat industry is fighting back. This next article was published after the one I just wrote about, after we were told that the link between meat and cancer was consistent and its mechanisms clear (and “true”), but:

The Role Of Red And Processed Meat In Colorectal Cancer Development: A Perspective, Meat Science, August 2014

Epidemiological and mechanistic data on associations between red and processed meat intake and CRC [colorectal cancer] are inconsistent and underlying mechanisms are unclear.

Inconsistent and unclear! They used his exact words! Doubt is their product.

And this. They’ll say it’s not the meat, it’s our poor diets overall. (No, it’s the meat.)

Modifying meat composition via animal feeding and breeding, improving meat processing by alternative methods such as adding phytochemicals and improving our diets in general are strategies that need to be followed up.

What Would You Do?
Say you owned a business, something that employed a lot of people, something millions of people used, something that people felt they could not live without. Something that made you rich. (Can you think of an example? Smartphones? Facebook? Cigarettes?) Then you find out your product harms people, may actually be killing people. What would you do?

Blue Apron Charges $35/Meal, Middle America Spends $5/Meal

I just saw that the meal kit delivery service called Blue Apron is going public. This is a good time to revisit this post from last November, which demonstrates how meal kit delivery services are, as Mark Bittman said, “for the upper middle class.”


The median household income in the US was $57,616 in September 2016. Half of households had income above that, half below.

That’s income for a family, not one person. It’s middle America: not poor, not rich. It varies by geographic area and by race but it’s a good workable number. Let’s work with it.

How much of that income do Americans spend on food? The USDA says about 9.8%, which includes money spent on food away from home:

The share of income spent on total food began to flatten in 2000, as inflation-adjusted incomes for many Americans have stagnated or fallen over the last decade or so. In 2014, Americans spent 5.5 percent of their disposable personal incomes on food at home and 4.3 percent on food away from home.

Americans earning a median income spend about $5,646/year, or $470/month, or $118/week on food. If there are 21 meals in a week, that’s about $5.62 per meal for the household. Of course, you can play with those meal numbers. Still, that’s the ballpark. That is middle America.

How do the new meal kit delivery services compare?

One of the services, Blue Apron, charges $69.92 for just 2 meals for a family of 4. That’s about $35/meal. Compare that to the $5.62/meal I just calculated. Another, Purple Carrot, charges $74 for 2 meals for a family of 4. (Purple Carrot was the business Mark Bittman left his job as a New York Times columnist to join. At the time he said it was “aimed for upper middle class families.” He was correct.

When you hear or read about these services, know that they are for the privileged, not for the “masses” as Civil Eats claimed.

How much do you spend on food?

Statement From President Barack Obama On The Paris Climate Agreement



“A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children.

“It was steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made that achievement possible. It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well. And what made that leadership and ambition possible was America’s private innovation and public investment in growing industries like wind and solar — industries that created some of the fastest new streams of good-paying jobs in recent years, and contributed to the longest streak of job creation in our history.

“Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future. And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

Is The Mediterranean Diet Really Healthful?

I was thinking about the big Mediterranean diet study that often gets cited to defend that way of eating. It’s nicknamed PREDIMED, short for “Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea.”

Here it is:

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet, New England Journal of Medicine, 25 February 2013

Just a refresher … there were 3 groups, about 2500 people in each group. One Mediterranean diet group ate a liter of olive oil a week, one Med. group ate 30 grams of nuts a day, and one group was a control.

The thing I was thinking… 179 people assigned to eat the Mediterranean diet (96 in oil group, 83 in nut group) experienced a “major cardiovascular event” in the ~4.8 years of the study. According to the authors, all 179 had “no cardiovascular disease at enrollment.”

Imagine having no cardiovascular disease, being put on a special diet that was designed expressly to prevent heart attack, and experiencing a heart attack less than 4.8 years later? Dr. Esselstyn took people with advanced coronary artery disease, put them on a low-fat, plant-based diet, and 12 years later they had no more cardiac events! Why isn’t a low-fat, plant-based diet the preferred diet?

Also, there was no difference among the groups for “death from any cause.” (There were 118 in the oil group, 116 in the nut group, and 114 in the control group who died “from any cause.”) The Mediterranean diet didn’t keep people from dying any more than the control group.

I do not believe in the Mediterranean diet. I don’t even know what it is. By the way, PREDIMED was sponsored by oil and nut groups.

Stay Away From These Exercises

This is a continuation of my post on Callanetics, a popular exercise program from the 1980s. …

You wouldn’t think, to see her contort her body in her exercise videos, that Callan Pinckney had a bad back. She did. From birth:

She was born with spinal curvatures, one hip higher than the other and severely turned-in feet. She was forced to wear leg braces for seven years.

When she wrote Callanetics For Your Back, she was consulting not just research (at a time before the internet) but personal experience. She knew what could cause injuries, spasms, and chronic pain.

These could:

Hamstring stretches. Pinckney says, “many people – even those who are classified as fit – have tight hamstring muscles.” This stretches can injure those muscles as well as the lower back, especially if done with locked knees, as below, or bouncing:

Splits, lunges, deep knee bends. Can injure knees and groin.

Back bends, the cobra position in yoga, and this one, the “swimmer.” Any arching or hyperextending the back can cause injuries:

Shoulder stands, bicycling with legs in air, plough in yoga. Can you guess what you’re injuring here? (“The position crunches the more fragile vertebrae of the neck.”) Even neck rolls, when you drop the head back, can do this.

Waist circles and waist bends. Can injure lower back. A safer way to do this is to support your back by placing that lower arm on your hip, and by tipping the pelvis up, i.e. the pelvic wave.

Sit-ups. Very bad for lower back. See Callan’s video in my previous post for how to do this safely. (Lower back should be on the ground.)

Leg lifts, done lying on back or side, even seated. Injures lower back. Note her arched back in this diagram:

Leg thrusts, to back or side. Injures lower back. Again, note her arched back in this diagram. Callan’s “exercises for the hips and behind” are a LOT more effective, I can attest.

These “stay away” positions can damage muscles, nerves, discs, tendons, and ligaments. Some damage can be life-long, especially if you keep reinjuring yourself.

Something else she talks about is losing your balance. I don’t hear this much. Tilting your head back or bending over or swinging your arms and legs vigorously can increase the risk of a fall. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s fall. No falling.

“Callanetics For Your Back” is a great book. Pinckney had a real passion for and commitment to her work. She was one-of-a-kind.


This is my photo. There are some diagrams inside that I hope to take photos of for a subsequent post.

A few weeks ago I picked up this book from our bookcase:

Callanetics For Your Back, Callan Pinckney, 1988

I wasn’t having back pain. I was just curious what she had to say. I’d done some of the back exercises over the years but not much more.

Callanetics was popular in the mid-1980s. It is a series of exercises that could, according to its developer Callan Pinckney, make you look “10 years younger in 10 hours.” This book of exercises for the back was published a few after her introductory book. It was a bestseller then and the exercises, based on the “pelvic wave,” continue to be recommended for back pain sufferers.

Callanetics is unique:

It is a system of exercise involving frequent repetition of small muscular movements and squeezes, designed to improve muscle tone. The programme was developed by Pinckney from classical ballet exercises, to help ease a back problem that she was born with.

The theory of callanetics is that the surface muscles of the body are supported by deeper muscles, but popular exercise programmes often exercise only the surface muscles. According to callanetics, deeper muscles are best exercised using small but precise movements. Exercising the deeper muscles also leads to improved posture, which may result in the appearance of weight loss even if very little weight was lost.

She’s not kidding when she says “small movements.” For some exercises, she brings her thumb and forefinger almost together and says, “one sixteenth of an inch!”

Here’s Pinckney demonstrating her stomach exercise, which she is keen to say, “This is not a sit up!” Sit-up use (and abuse) the back. Notice here that the lower back is always on the floor, always in repose, not arched: