The cover story on this week’s issue of TIME Magazine is making waves – and driving sales at the nation’s checkout counters. The article traces the recent history of nutrition science, specifically the 20th-century vogue for health messages about cutting consumption of saturated fat. It does a nice job laying out how those messages were seized upon by food marketers to create today’s grocery aisles thronged with “fat-free” and “low-fat” processed foods.
But ironically, in its effort to rehabilitate the reputation of saturated fat by showing how that food component has been isolated and demonized, the article effectively demonizes carbohydrates, blaming them for the same health conditions once widely linked with saturated fat.
It’s only the latest article in the popular press to do this. But while it makes a compelling read, singling out any one food or food component for blame oversimplifies a field of study marked by complexity and nuance.
As a cancer research and education organization, we should note that AICR’s expert reports and their updates have found no strong links between dietary fat itself –whether saturated or unsaturated – and cancer risk. Instead, it’s the fat we carry on our bodies that is strongly linked to increased risk for eight different cancers. Continue reading
Yesterday the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a pro-vegan advocacy group, issued its own Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention. In drawing up these guidelines, PCRM interpreted scientific evidence previously collected and analyzed in the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund expert report.
We at AICR are always pleased to see our reports on cancer risk’s connection to diet, weight management and physical activity cited as the authoritative resources we know them to be. We pride ourselves on our reports’ scientific rigor, comprehensiveness and – above all – objectivity. Physicians, nurses, registered dietitians, researchers, educators, and policy makers rely on our reports for authoritative and evidence-based guidance.
This is why, on those occasions when any advocacy group cites our reports to advance their message, it is important to clarify the distinctions between what that advocacy group is saying, and what our own independent panel of experts has concluded.
Read the rest of the article on our article here.
An article in this morning’s New York Times Science Section, “An Apple a Day, and Other Myths,” attempts to grapple with the complex nature of diet-cancer science, but leaves the reader with a very misleading impression of the state of the research.
The article quotes a recent talk by epidemiologist, and AICR Expert Panel member Dr. Walter Willett. “Diet and cancer has turned out to be more complex and challenging than any of us expected,” he said. All of us at AICR know this only too well. Unfortunately, the article goes on to equate “complex and challenging” with “does not matter.”
“Make no mistake,” says AICR Director of Research Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD, “this is not a conclusion that accords with an objective and systematic analysis of the available science. If there’s one thing AICR’s research has shown, and continues to show, it’s that when it comes to cancer risk, diet does matter.” Continue reading