Today the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an editorial that attacks the science behind the U.S. Dietary Guidelines report. It’s a surprising development for several reasons: the BMJ is a prestigious journal, yet the piece contains several basic factual errors, and it arrives just as meat and sugar industry lobbyists are seeking ways to derail the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which government officials are now in the process of writing. The Guidelines have the potential to help prevent thousands of cancer and other chronic diseases.
The piece, written by a journalist who last year published a book called The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in the American Diet, claims the report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) “does not take into account all the relevant scientific evidence” and is marked by an “overall lack of sound and proper methods.” It goes on to list several specific studies that weren’t included, and to question the inclusion of observational evidence that does not meet what it considers “established” methods of analysis.
Within hours, the article’s misleading statements earned this swift and spirited rebuke on the website The Verge. That post addresses the BMJ article’s errors in great detail, and we at AICR encourage you to read it. Continue reading
Food industry lobbyists are exerting pressure on Congress to weaken the soon-to-be-released 2015 USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If they succeed, the Guidelines will put politics before sound science, and fail to provide useable guidance for Americans that could help prevent thousands of cancers every year.
In two new appropriations bills now under consideration by Congress, language has been added that would:
- Subject the Dietary Guidelines to an arbitrary standard of evidence that doesn’t align with accepted scientific practice observed by other government entities like the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institutes of Medicine, as well as the World Health Organization.
- Not allow the Dietary Guidelines to make recommendations on issues closely related to food and nutrition. This would mean, for example, that the clear and convincing evidence about the impact of obesity and inactivity on cancer and other chronic diseases would not be considered.
- Prevent the Dietary Guidelines from:
- proposing public health ideas to help Americans decrease our national intake of sodium, saturated fat and added sugars
- encouraging Americans to increase our physical activity, and
- providing practical guidance to families about healthy eating and living
These changes would represent a huge step backward in national health policy, and – crucially, from AICR’s perspective – mean that much of the evidence showing how people can lower their cancer risk would be effectively ignored, including the latest AICR research on the clear and convincing link between obesity and ten of the most common forms of cancer. Continue reading
Half of cancers – one of every two cases – can be prevented and so often it’s about applying what we already know. That was the simple but powerful message at the first Cancer Prevention Summit held by the New York State Department I attended last week. The overarching message of the Summit was simple: 50% of cancers can be prevented and in New York State, where approximately 35,000 people die from cancer each year, primary cancer prevention is an urgent public health priority.
Experts spoke about vaccinating against HPV and preventing tobacco use, two major causes of cancers. What fewer people may know is there are concrete things that we can do to reduce our risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating well can prevent approximately one of three of the most common cancers.
Summit highlights included:
Shift the discussion to the notion that “cancer is preventable.” Begin to focus effort and awareness on risk reduction through modifiable lifestyle habits. This includes eating a predominantly plant-based diet, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, using sunscreen, participating in cancer screening, and avoiding tobacco use and heavy alcohol. Continue reading