JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Wow. Vitamin D deficiency may cause 40% of respiratory deaths in older people

It’s really quite a scandal.

Missing out on the Sunshine Vitamin?

Historians will marvel that societies that were advanced enough to stream reality-tv-shows at 100 million bits per second, were also so backwards that half the population was deficient in Vitamin D — something that costs 6 cents a dose or comes free from the sun. Nearly 60% of older Germans were deficient, and the ESTHER study puts a fine point on how much that matters. Almost 10,000 people were followed for 15 years in Germany, and during that time about half the people who died of respiratory illnesses might not have died if they had enough Vitamin D.

In this German study 44% did not have adequate Vitamin D and about 1 in 6 people have levels so low they are clinically deficient.

Imagine if someone found a drug that stopped nearly half of all influenza deaths?

Right now, the Northern Hemisphere has higher levels of Vitamin D than most months which is quite likely reducing the death rates. The message needs to get out about Vitamin D before the next Northern Winter.

 

Morethan half the population is deficient.

In terms of respiratory diseases, those whose [...]

For 80 years cholesterol experts said ‘eat less fat’. But where was the evidence?

Depressing. A consensus based on nothing much, still lasted three generations

And it’s not dead yet: Groups like the American Heart Association, UCSF Guidelines, VicHealth, etc are all still advising that people avoid saturated fats, and eat whole grains.

For years, people with the kind of high cholesterol linked to their genes, were told they could lower their cholesterol if they stopped eating things like butter, cream, eggs, cheese, chocolate, and even coconut oil.

A new study looked for evidence to justify that advice and couldn’t find any. They are, of course, not the first – even in the 1950s John Yudkin was already warning people about the dangers of sugar. But the vested interests and fat-police leapt into gear, and thus and verily a million low-fat products filled the shelves, most of them with added sugar.

How many people did this consensus kill?

People with high cholesterol should eliminate carbs, not saturated fat, study suggests

“For the past 80 years, people with familial hypercholesterolemia have been told to lower their cholesterol with a low saturated fat diet,” said lead author David Diamond, professor and heart disease researcher at the University of South Florida. “Our study showed that [...]

Climate change bad: causes “longer growing seasons” but blamed for allergies

It’s a disaster: More plants, more crops, more flowers!

Between 1995 and 2011, fewer freeze-free days meant 11 to 27 days added to pollen season for most of the United States, research shows. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which does an annual survey of allergy season, noticed that it’s been growing each year.

It’s a spurious correlation: quick, build a wind farm!

The number of allergy sufferers has grown, research shows. One in 10 Americans struggled with hay fever in 1970, and 3 in 10 did by 2000. Asthma, which can be made worse by exposure to pollen, has become more common too, with higher rates among kids, low-income households and African Americans.

Warming cycles have always happened, and when times are good, plants have to ramp up the competition — it’s in their genes. Allergy cycles, we can bet, probably didn’t happen so often to paleolithic people who didn’t have access to Ventolin-trees or Epipen-plants.

Could it be that what causes asthma is not more pollen, but changes to breastfeeding, pollution, glyconutrients, diets, antihistamines, histamines, Vitamin D, parasites, cleaning, baby wipes, cesarean sections, less farming, less farm dust, less dirt, and adding [...]

Low Fat consensus was wrong: High carb diets increase death rates

How many people have died prematurely because they swapped their fats for carbohydrates?

More fat meant less death (left). More carbs (right) meant the opposite (at least above 60%). (Click to see the full table of Figure 1 results).

New research published in the Lancet shows that low fat diets could increase your risk of death.

Specifically, those who are in the top fifth of carbohydrate-eaters are also about 28% more likely to die than the fifth eating the lowest amount. This is a correlation (only), but the PURE* study was tracking the thing that matters most — all-cause mortality – and they followed the diets of 135,000 people in 18 countries for 5 – 9 years. Loosely, if people avoided high carbohydrate diets, they were less likely to die.

The graph flattens off below “60% carbs” (that’s a percentage of total calories). However, the mortality numbers keep improving for the highest fat intakes which rather skewers 40 years of headlines. I’m guessing that some people who kept carbs below 60% ate more protein instead, which, judging by the “fat” graph, wasn’t as useful.

The McMaster University team announced this quiet bomb, slightly obscured, in a press release [...]

Chocolate is the fountain of youth, eat blocks, live long, be slim

We have found the holy grail and it is chocolate. Lo, “Eating 100 g of chocolate daily linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk”. One hundred grams a day! That’s about a quarter of the average adult woman’s total daily calorie intake. (About one sixth for a man).

So much for the 99% certain consensus that chocolate was junk food.

ScienceDaily:

Eating up to 100 g of chocolate every day is linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk. The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate higher intake was linked to an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25% lower risk of associated death.

They base their findings on almost 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study…

Around one in five (20%) participants said they did not eat any chocolate, but among the others, daily consumption averaged 7 g, with some eating up to 100 g.

Chocolate was associated with younger age… (we want some of that, right?)

Higher levels of consumption were associated with younger age and lower weight (BMI), waist: hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins, diabetes and more regular [...]

Cholesterol — how the web and books are years ahead of “Consensus”

Consensus — slowing real science for decades

There is a surprising amount of interest in the cholesterol story of Matt Ridley’s in The Times and The Australian last week. Surprising to me anyway, because 15 years ago the other benevolent side of cholesterol was pretty clear online. Fifteen years is not a long time in human civilization, but it’s a long time in a human life. And in the case of the war on cholesterol, it’s been running for 40 years. How many people died sooner than they would have, because they followed expert advice?

Finally the official consensus on cholesterol is admitting defeat:

“Any day now, the US government will officially accept the advice to drop cholesterol from its list of “nutrients of concern” altogether. It wants also to “de-emphasise” saturated fat, given “the lack of evidence connecting it with cardiovascular disease”. “

In the late 1990′s it was widely known online (among health zealots) that our livers are mostly in charge of our cholesterol levels, not what’s on our dinner plates. Something like 80% of the cholesterol in our blood came from our own livers, not the food we eat. Way back then, it was [...]