How Big Food is using our health system as a marketing tool.

By | Big Fat Lies, Conflicts of Interest, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 2 Comments

Nestle, Danone and others like them, use our health system as a tool for flogging cheap and addictive powdered milk products.  Regulators have clamped down on them doing it with baby formula, now it is time to stop them doing it to our elderly.

In the early 1970s Nestle decided to exploit mothers in developing countries.  The plan was to convince breastfeeding mothers that using Nestle formulas was healthier for their children than breastfeeding them.

Nestle had realized that many mothers in Africa, Asia and South America had a strong desire to imitate Western culture.  So they leveraged this by implying that formula was the modern way to feed babies.  Anything else was old fashioned and primitive.

The aggressive marketing was extraordinarily effective. Formula sales took off like a rocket (the market is now worth $25 billion a year) but so did the incidence of childhood diseases in the developing world.  Drinking water was often unsafe and mixing it with milk powder and sugar didn’t do anything to fix that.

Breastfeeding protected children from the vagaries of the local water supply.  It is also free and doesn’t drain critically important money away from families who can least afford to buy formula.  The cost often results in mothers using less powder than required to make the tin stretch further.  So even if the water is clean the child is undernourished.

Nestle’s aggressive marketing led, in 1977, to a worldwide boycott of Nestle’s products.  And as a result, in 1981, the World Health Organization (WHO) created guidelines on the marketing of formula, but to this day there are continual breaches in the developing world and many of the groups who started the boycott continue to fight against Nestle and others.

The message was equally effective with Australian mothers.  Manufacturers provided formula ‘donations’ to Hospital nurseries and in hospital promotions often delivered by healthcare workers. And it worked.  Breastfeeding in Australia fell to record low levels in the 1970s.  In 1972 just one in 20 children was breastfed for 12 months.

In 1992 the Australian government finally implemented a voluntary code (based on the WHO rules developed more than a decade earlier) which severely restricted the way infant formula could be marketed and include a requirement that mother’s be told breast is best in all marketing material.  Promotion cannot occur at all on healthcare facilities and healthcare workers cannot receive any form of inducement to promote the products.  If formula is donated to an institution, it can only be used for children who a doctor has determined requires formula.

The code is voluntary but all the major manufacturers has signed on and breastfeeding rates are now 6-fold what they were in 1972 (although they are still just a third of the WHO recommended level).  Even so, Nestle and others continue to circumvent the ban on marketing by advertising unregulated toddler milks with exactly the same packaging and branding as the infant formulas.

But that is just fiddling at the edges compared to the latest gold mine for medical formula reps – the elderly.

Doctors are rightly concerned that older people not suffer from under-nutrition. They take weight loss among the elderly very seriously and therein lies the opportunity for Nestle and others (such as Danone, the maker of the Fortisip range).  These companies actively markets the use of food supplements for elderly patients, whether they are losing weight or not.  Hospitals and dietitians are encouraged to use things like the Nestle Nutritional Assessment tool to assess the need for supplements. Using that tool it would be almost impossible not to be assessed as requiring supplementation.

These powdered milk concoctions are offered as drinks with (or even instead of) hospital meals and patients are provided with order forms (often by dietitians employed by the hospital) for discounted purchase after they are discharged.  The products themselves are usually just hideously overprice powdered milk, sugar and a multi-vitamin and sometimes a dab of seed oil just for good measure.

The ingredients are very similar to Up&Go except they can have loads more sugar and sometimes a pile of seed oil as well.

Fortisip Vanilla Ready to Drink Sustagen Hospital Powder UP&GO Vanilla Ice Ready to Drink
water, maltodextrin, milk protein, sucrose, vegetable oil (canola oil, sunflower oil), tri potassium citrate, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavour, magnesium chloride, acidity regulator, tri calcium phosphate, carotenoids, choline chloride, calcium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, sodium L-ascorbate, ferrous lactate, zinc sulphate, colour, magnesium hydroxide, nicotinamide, retinyl acetate, copper gluconate, DL-α tocopheryl acetate, sodium selenite, manganese sulphate, calcium D-pantothenate, chromium chloride, D-biotin, cholecalciferol, thiamin hydrochloride, pterolylmonoglutamic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanoccobalamin, sodium molybdate, riboflavin, sodium flouride, potassium iodide, phytomenadione Non Fat Milk Solids (63%), Corn Syrup Solids, Whole Milk Powder, Sugar, Minerals (Magnesium Hydrogen Phosphate, Ferric Pyrophosphate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Manganese Sulphate, Sodium Molybdate, Chromium Trichloride, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (C, E, Niacinamide, A, D3, B6, B1, B2, Folic Acid, K1, B12), Stabiliser (414), Flavour. water, skim milk powder, cane sugar, wheat maltodextrin, soy protein, vegetable oils (sunflower, canola), vegetable fibre, hi-maize™ starch, corn syrup solids, flavours, fructose, oat flour, mineral (calcium), acidity regulator (332), vegetable gums (460, 466, 407), stabiliser (452), salt, vitamins (C, niacin, A, B12, B6, B2, B1, folate).
Sugar: 13.3% Sugar: 45% Sugar: 7.6%
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.8% Polyunsaturated fat: 0.8% Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7%

The sugar in Sustagen had until May 2016, been glucose.  But then Nestle decided to ‘improve the nutritional profile’ by replacing the much of the glucose with cane sugar.  Effectively this means they replaced half the nutritionally harmless glucose with toxic fructose.  Yep, the same fructose that has been nailed as causing Type II diabetes, Obesity, Fatty Liver Disease and probably Alzheimer’s disease (just to name a few of its greatest hits).

I can’t see how introducing a confirmed source of chronic disease improves the nutritional profile (and they have refused to respond to my written requests for an explanation), but I can see how it improves the financial profile of Nestle.  Sustagen’s competition all use it.  Fructose is highly addictive, so products that contain it always sell better than products without it.  And since the aim of this game seems to be follow on sales after the patient leaves hospital, an addictive product would be a better choice. Commercially its a no-brainer.

The seed oils in many of these products cause cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s Disease osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (just to name a few of the greatest hits). Seed oils are cheap as chips, so using them instead of milk fat increases the profit margin.  Another commercial no-brainer.

These products are being directly promoted and marketed to patients within our healthcare system, something which would be prohibited if they were infant formula.   Nobody, but especially not a sick elderly person, needs sugar and (often) seed oil, loaded milk powder.  Nestle and their mates were barred from using hospitals as a sales tool for infant formula and its time the same thing happened for this garbage as well.

Why you need to keep seed oils out of your dog’s food.

By | Vegetable Oils | 6 Comments

Human sperm quality has been in a nosedive over the last half century. Now a new study proves exactly the same thing has been happening to dogs. And the likely cause is seed oils in their feed (for humans and dogs).

Last week a very strong study was released that showed consistently plummeting sperm quality in a large controlled dog breeding program. Quality dropped by 2.5% a year from 1988 to 1998 and then 1.2% a year from 2002 through to 2014. The reason for the improvement was that between 1999 and 2001, dogs that were not producing viable sperm were removed from the breeding program. Something you can do with dogs but potential fathers are a bit persnickety about.

These results are very close to those we already have in humans, the other omnivore that shares the diet and the living space of dogs. Similar rates of human sperm quality decline are now being reported in all Western countries (although alarmingly at a decline of 3% a year, Australia is at the high end).

Humans don’t normally eat dog food (well, I don’t), but there is one ingredient both dogs and humans eat now that neither ate before the early 20th century.  And that’s seed oils.

Pick up your favourite packet of dog food and peer closely at the ingredients. Here’s a typical example (from Pedigree, one of the most popular dog foods on sale in Australia):

Cereals &/or cereal by-products, meat & meat by-products (poultry, beef &/or lamb), poultry palatant, beet pulp, salt, minerals, sunflower oil, vitamins, amino acid, antioxidants

The Cereal (husks and small cereal particles left over from milling as well as whole grains as filler) and Meat by-products (lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, fatty tissue, stomachs and intestines) are in dog food precisely because they are hard to sell to humans.

The ‘Palatant’ is flavouring to make it taste like food (and so the owner thinks it smells like food). If it weren’t there a dog wouldn’t eat it.

And Beet pulp is the fibre left over after they extract sugar from sugar beet plants. It makes dog poop firmer and this apparently pleases those who do the scooping.

Aside from the vitamins and minerals, there is only one ingredient in this ‘food’ that also appears in human food. In this brand it is sunflower oil but it often just described as vegetable oil.

These oils are not made from vegetables at all. Rather they come from seeds (like Canola or Rapeseed, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, Rice Bran and Grape). The dead give-away is often that they will make claims about the food containing ‘essential fatty acids’.

Omega-6 fat is the dominant fat in the ‘vegetable oils’ used in every processed food and in most dog foods. And there is ample evidence in both human and animal trials that omega-6 fats degrade sperm quality.

These Omega-6 based seed oils are the fat of choice for the processed food and the pet food industries because they are a lot cheaper than fats from animals and exotic fruits like olives, avocados and coconuts. As a result, human consumption of Omega-6 fats has at least tripled in the last century.  We have no long term data on vegetable oil consumption by dogs. But it is not unreasonable to assume it is similar since, packaged dog food has only really been available since the end of the first World War and only the cheapest possible ingredients are used in most pet food.

While sperm quality is important to dog breeders (and humans who might want kids), I suspect it’s not of much concern to pet owners in general. Sperm quality is however an early warning for a much nastier set of diseases increasingly linked to consumption of these oils. Chief among these is cancer.

In humans we have high quality evidence that people fed these oils are twice as likely to suffer from cancer as people who are not. And there is strong evidence that as the amount of it in our food has accelerated, so too have the numbers of us affected by cancer.

Similarly, in dogs the rates of the most common cancers have tripled since the late sixties. Cancer is at terrifyingly high levels in most pets now, affecting 1 in 4 dogs. And those are just the ones we know about (because they are insured).

Dogs don’t get to choose not to eat seed oils. But their owners can. And surprisingly it is the extremely cheap brands that are often seed oil free. Woolworths Homebrand dry dog food, for example, uses ‘Animal Fat’ rather than seed oils. If you avoid dog foods which include seed oils you’ll give your best friend his best chance at avoiding cancer.

What seed oils are really doing to your body

By | Books, Cookbook, Recipes, Vegetable Oils | 2 Comments

VEGETABLE oils are highly unstable.

When they interact with oxygen, they release neurotoxic, DNA mutating chemicals which are known to cause cancer (at least).

Recent improvements in measurement technology have now thrown a spotlight on the quantity of these chemicals released by normal use. And the results are truly terrifying.

Cheap vegetable oil made from seeds (canola, sunflower, corn, safflower, grapeseed, rice bran and soybean oils) is a new addition to the human diet. Unlike animal fats and oils made from fruit (olive, avocado and coconut oils), they’re very high in polyunsaturated fats and in particular something called an omega-6 fat.

A recent study found that when seed oils containing these fats are heated at a normal cooking temperature (of 180 degrees celsius), they create highly toxic chemicals known to be involved in cancer causation.,

And each time the oil was re-used the concentration increased massively. The study showed that by the fifth day of oil re-use, it had five times the concentration of these chemicals that it had on the first (which was already alarmingly high).

But worse than that, the researchers also made the point that all they could measure was the amount of these chemicals left in the oil. Since they are highly volatile, they are constantly escaping into the air around us when the food is being cooked.

According to another recent study, it is likely that this volatility explains the stubbornly high rates of lung cancer among women in Asian countries (where smoking is rare among women, but wok frying with Canola oil is a daily task).

Those toxic molecules are dangerous because they are interact destructively with our DNA. This significantly increases the chances that cancer will develop.

These seed oils are now a core component of our food supply and Australians are sicker now than at any time in our history.

We are almost four times as likely to have thyroid cancer than just three short decades ago. We are more than three times as likely to have liver cancer. We are twice as likely to have melanoma, Motor Neuron Disease, kidney or anal cancer.

Men are more than twice as likely to have prostate cancer and 60 per cent more likely to have testicular cancer. Women are 43 per cent more likely to have breast cancer. And children are paying even more dearly.

A child is 6 times as likely to suffer from leukaemia than at the start of the 20th century. And they are more than four times as likely to suffer from a life threatening allergic reaction than they were just 20 years ago.

The chronic disease tsunami is upon us.

Every day there are thousands of teenagers standing over vats of frying canola oil for eight hour shifts at every fast food restaurant in this country. Every day, there are people cooking with high temperature seed oils in woks and frying pans. And every day there are industrial quantities of heated seed oil being poured into commercial baked and frozen foods.

A century ago, exactly none of these fats were added to our food supply.

Every day 312 new cancer sufferers are diagnosed in Australia. That this is allowed to continue when the science is so clear on the likely cause, is not merely a shame or an embarrassment. It is an outrage and a tragedy.

It is reasonably safe to assume all the fat in processed food comes from seed oils. The good news is that this only applies to food made by others (and usually shoved into a packet with a picture of real food on the front).

Nobody can stop you making and eating real food. All you need is a little know-how.

Also published on news.com.au


Eat Real Food Cookbook Launch Offer

Cookbook bundle540Get the new Eat Real Food Cookbook OR the Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook OR BOTH for 25% OFF.

Just Enter the discount code ERFCB25 at checkout

Both books are of course signed by David

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Offer ends 31 December 2016

Why we need to eat real food

By | Books, Cookbook, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 6 Comments

It turns out that avoiding Type II Diabetes, Obesity and Fatty Liver is the easy bit.

Sugar is very bad news. It destroys (in this order), our teeth, our gut, our liver, our ligaments, our pancreas, our kidneys our blood vessels, our heart and eventually our brain. The science on all of this is now so uncontroversial, that many countries (including the UK) are implementing sugar taxes to help pay for the accelerating damage. But sugar is the lesser of the two dietary evils that have infiltrated our food supply. The other is vegetable oil. And it makes the consequences of sugar consumption look like a mild case of the sniffles. This stuff doesn’t just destroy our lives, it takes out the next generation as well.

Twelve years ago I removed sugar from my diet. I didn’t change anything else. Yep, I still ate meat pies (just without sauce). I still drank beer. And I still didn’t exercise anywhere near enough. I did it because I was obese and the evidence told me that the reason was my sugar consumption. So I stopped eating sugar. It changed my life permanently. I lost 40 kilograms and regained a passion for participating in the lives of my six kids, something that up until then was fading as fast as my weight grew.

Then, a few years into my sugar free life, I discovered something that made it immeasurably harder. Sugar isn’t the only thing that’s been added to our diet in large quantities by the food industry. The other is oils extracted from seeds (usually described as ‘healthy’ vegetable oil).  It isn’t the occasional splash of oil you add to your salad or fry your steak in.  It’s the industrial quantities of the stuff added to your bread, your biscuits, your frozen meals, your sauces and dressings and everything you buy in a restaurant or your favourite take-away.

Cheap vegetable oil made from seeds (canola, sunflower, corn, safflower, grapeseed, rice bran and soybean oils) is a new addition to the human diet. Unlike animal fats and oils made from fruit (olive, avocado and coconut oils), they’re very high in polyunsaturated fats and in particular something called an omega-6 fat.

When omega-6 fats are heated (in a deep fryer or in the human body) they produce highly toxic molecules. Those end-products are dangerous because they are incorporated into every cell in our body and interact destructively with our DNA. This significantly increases the chances that cancer will develop.  But that’s by no means the least of it. Because of their neurotoxic capabilities, these molecules are likely to be heavily involved in motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. They’re also implicated in chronic inflammation, the massive recent increase in allergies, stroke and heart disease. And, less predictably, they probably lie behind the sudden mass decline in male fertility and the massive increases in childhood cancers, Down syndrome and Autism.

Australians are sicker now than at any time in our history and it is getting worse unbelievably quickly.  We are almost four times as likely to have thyroid cancer than just three short decades ago.  We are more than three times as likely to have Liver Cancer.  We are twice as likely to have Melanoma, Motor Neuron Disease, Kidney or Anal cancer.

Men are more than twice as likely to have prostate cancer and 60% more likely to have testicular cancer.  Women are 43% more likely to have breast cancer.  And children are paying even more dearly.  A child is 6 times as likely to suffer from leukemia than at the start of the 20th century. And they more than four times as likely to suffer from a life threatening allergic reaction than they were just 20 years ago.  Sperm counts halved in the 50 years (to 1990). Pregnancies are three times as likely to be affected by Down syndrome over the same period and a child is twice as likely to be autistic.  The chronic disease tsunami is upon us.

These unbelievably cheap sources of fat are even more deadly than sugar and have now infiltrated everything on the supermarket shelves. If I avoided the 99% fat free but high sugar mayo, I was jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. The full fat version had no sugar but was made using sunflower oil.

A century ago, exactly none of these fats were added to our food supply. Now unless you made it yourself, it is reasonably safe to assume all the fat in your food comes from a seed. Avoiding these fats is several orders of magnitude harder than avoiding sugar. Our food supply is stuffed with two ingredients that are more likely than not to cause a slow, lingering and painful death. The good news is that this only applies to food made by others (and usually shoved into a packet with a picture of real food on the front). Nobody can stop you making and eating real food. All you need is a little know-how. And that’s what the Eat Real Food Cookbook is all about.

It’s an odd sort of a cookbook. It explains the science and gives you an easy guide to navigating the supermarket and your local eatery. It’s not the kind of cookbook you’d give to your best friend for her to put on her coffee table (and that neither of you having any intention of reading). It doesn’t show you how to cook flash cakes that look like Darth Vader. And it most certainly doesn’t show you how to make a salad in a jar.

My wife, Lizzie, and our six kids have been living off the recipes and tips in the book for the better part of the last decade. Don’t let the beautiful photography fool you. This is an intensely practical book designed to solve an intensely practical problem. How to create high quality food – simply, inexpensively quickly and every day – that’s completely free of the twin evils of fructose (the dangerous part of sugar) and seed oils (the man-made fats recently added to our food supply).


Eat Real Food Cookbook Launch Offer

Cookbook bundle540Get the new Eat Real Food Cookbook OR the Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook OR BOTH for 25% OFF.

Just Enter the discount code ERFCB25 at checkout

Both books are of course signed by David

Buy Now

Offer ends 31 August 2016

The Rise and Rise of Assisted Reproduction – Stealing our Future – Part 5

By | Vegetable Oils | No Comments

Assisted Reproduction

40 is the new 21.  Half a century ago, the average kid was done with school by 15, married and settled into their first house by their early twenties and producing their own kids shortly thereafter.  Now if you have had your first child by 30 you are doing well.  But when it comes to fertility we are constrained by biology.  21 is still the new 21.  And it’s a pretty good age to have kids (from a purely biochemical perspective).

Human reproductive systems work best when they are young.

fert

A woman is born with the last egg she will release before menopause.  This makes that egg one of the oldest lived cells in the human body (at the time it is released) and as such, one of the cells most likely to accumulate damage to its DNA.  Two of the body’s defense mechanisms against this sort of damage are infertility and miscarriage.  As a woman’s age increases, her chances of becoming pregnant decline rapidly and her chances of having a miscarriage increase dramatically.

A similar defence mechanism is at work in men.  As a man ages the quality of the sperm he produces drops significantly.  Men over 40 have three times the DNA damage and consequently are less than half as likely to conceive (when compared to younger men).

We can accelerate the rates of DNA damage with oxidative stress.  And vegetable oil consumption is a powerful driver of that.  Vegetable oils made from seeds and legumes (Sunflower, Canola, Rice Bran, Grapeseed, Soybean, Peanut and Cottonseed) are very high in a type of fat (omega-6 polyunsaturated fat) which drives oxidation in the human body.

That oxidation destroys sperm quality and causes massive damage to sperm DNA. But our defences will normally kick in and the defective sperm are killed off.  If those defenses fail (or are circumvented), sperm with damaged DNA can get through.

As parental age and vegetable oil consumption increases and fertility decreases, couples are increasingly seeking help with conception.  This involves the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).  In particular, the use of ICSI, the method used to address male infertility, has exploded.

icsi640

ICSI injects one sperm directly into an egg and so overcomes low sperm count and poor motility (movement and speed) problems.  In other words, it works around the very things which the body is using to eliminate sperm which are less likely to produce healthy babies.

Of course ICSI doctors only select sperm which look healthy but at the moment there are no reliable tests for the type of damage to sperm DNA caused by oxidative stress. So when we deliberately circumvent our failsafe systems, the chances of childhood diseases (attributable to DNA damage) increase considerably.

One recent large study in Sweden demonstrated that the risk of Autism in ICSI births was up to 4.6 times as high (and mental retardation 2.3 times as high) as with an unassisted pregnancy.  Similarly, a large Norwegian study published in February 2016 revealed there is a 67% increased risk for childhood leukemia in ART children. And a 2014 study showed there was 33% increase in schizophrenia in ART conceived children.

These studies are all from Scandinavia, because, unlike Australia, Northern Europeans keep high quality long term statistics on birth outcomes from ART.  The exception here is Western Australia, the only state with a statutory register of ART treatments and outcomes.  And even accounting for the relatively small size of their datasets, the same patterns are emerging.  The risk of serious birth defects in ART children is approximately double that in unassisted conceptions.

Horrifically, in treating the obvious symptom of oxidation – declining fertility – with technology, we are end-running our body’s attempts to stop the suffering that sperm oxidation can cause.

Unfortunately, there are strong financial incentives to keep doing so.  The Australian ART market is worth $400 million dollars a year and is generating strong and growing profits.  Which is surprising given ART doesn’t work that well for most of its customers.  More than 72% of fresh cycles for women under 30 (and 98.8% for women over 44) will not result in a live birth.  Combine the accelerating profits from ‘treatment’ with the profits to be had from using cheap vegetable oils in our food and we are caught in a pincer movement of market forces working against a solution to the disease epidemics we now face.

The ART industry’s response to those statistics, and the increasing risks our children face, is that schoolgirls should be told to freeze their eggs when they are young.  But I reckon if we’re going to be telling schoolchildren (of both genders) how to manage their fertility then how about we start with – Don’t Smoke, Don’t Eat Vegetable Oil and don’t delay having children (once you decide you want them).

 

Photo by Ⅿeagan. Distributed under the Creative Commons License.

This is the final part of a five part series.  To see Part One click here.

Get all the studies mentioned in this series here

 

Down Syndrome and Autism – Stealing our Future – Part 4

By | Vegetable Oils | 7 Comments

Part 4 – The Male Biological Clock

In Part Three of this series I showed how the rapid increase in our consumption of vegetable oils lies behind the explosive growth in childhood cancers during the last century.  In this part I look at the other genetic diseases of childhood which research indicates are caused by eating foods containing those oils.

Sperm membranes need to be made from polyunsaturated fats to do their job well.  This means they are also highly susceptible to damage from oxidation.  The solution is to make them in huge numbers and kill off any that are damaged. Normally that works well enough, but occasionally a sperm with damaged DNA will escape the cleanup process and go on to fertilize an egg.

There are three known ways we can significantly increase the risk of damaged sperm getting through.  We can use the sperm production system beyond its best-before date, we can significantly increase oxidative stress on the system and we can bypass the defences using reproductive technology.

Sperm from blokes that are too old

DNA damage accumulates with time.  The older a man is, the more damage to his reproductive DNA will have accumulated.  He can continue to produce semen until his last gasp, but the quality of the sperm contained in it declines dramatically after his 35th birthday.

The amount of DNA damage in sperm of men aged 36–57 is three times that of men under 35.  A man more than 40 years of age is much less than half as likely to conceive as a man under 40.

Childhood diseases related to DNA damage are significantly increased in line with the age of the father.  These diseases include childhood cancers, Down Syndrome, Schizophrenia and Autism.  This is the reason why the age of sperm donors is limited to 40 years in in both the UK and the US and 45 in Australia.

There is now a strong trend towards older fathers.  By 2010 the median married Australian father was 34 years old (30 for an unmarried father) and had increased by 3 years since 1990 alone.

That trend is undoubtedly driving part of the growth in the diseases, but it alone cannot account for the rapid recent acceleration.

Sperm damaged by Oxidative Stress

We can significantly increase DNA damage by ramping up oxidation in the body.  Smoking is a well-studied source of increased oxidation. But the research is now telling us that oxidation of the polyunsaturated fats we eat (in the form of Vegetable Oils) are a much more significant concern.   When these fats inevitably become part of the cell membrane of sperm, they provoke a state of oxidative stress at least as bad as that observed in smokers.

Only 13% of Adult Australians smoke but all of us eat Vegetable oils (whether we know it or not). Vegetable oils are the cheap oils extracted from seeds and legumes which now make up almost all of the fat in processed food.  They include Canola (Rapeseed), Sunflower, Cottonseed, Grapeseed, Rice Bran, Peanut and Soybean oils.  We are consuming more of them now than we have ever consumed before in the entire history of humans on this planet.

PUFAsm

The oxidative damage caused by consuming vegetable oils is random in its effect.  It is not just the genes involved in childhood cancers which suffer harm.  Damage can, and does, occur throughout the entire DNA carried by the sperm.

The most common genetic abnormality in infants is Down Syndrome. And the occurrence of Down Syndrome have been steadily rising in line with our consumption of vegetable oils. In just the two decades between 1985 and 2004, the percentage of Down Syndrome affected pregnancies doubled in the UK.  In Western Australia (the only Australian state which keeps reliable data) the rate over a similar period almost tripled.

down640

Down syndrome births, stillbirths, and terminations of pregnancy (TOP) per 1000 births in Western Australia 1980–2004.

The next most common genetic abnormality in infants is Autism (a group of developmental diseases associated with damage to over 100 genes).  Autism rates in the UK have increased ten-fold since the 1950s and similar increases have occurred in the US.  In the US the rate of autism spectrum disorders more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 alone.  There is no reliable Australian data on this, but researchers estimate that Australian rates are similar.

autism

While it is likely that changes in the definition of autistic disorders are partly responsible for some of this growth, detailed analysis of the data has revealed that the increase is, regardless, very real and very large.  We aren’t just getting better at diagnosing autism, there is a lot more of it to diagnose.

Childhood cancers, Down Syndrome and Autism are the diseases which affect the most children (and therefore the ones for which we have the best data), but the trends are starting to become visible for all similar genetic diseases (and there are very many of them).

We are in the midst of a massive acceleration of diseases driven by oxidative DNA damage (and to a lesser extent by age-related mutations).  It is getting worse day by day and it has truly appalling consequences for everybody who is affected.

But there is a glimmer of hope.  We can turn these horrible trends around.  We just need to do three things, don’t smoke, don’t eat vegetable oils and don’t delay childbearing.

There is just one other thing we need to do.  Be very careful about circumventing our body’s attempt to destroy defective sperm.  That is the subject of the next part in this series.

 

Get all the studies mentioned in this series here

Childhood Cancer – Stealing our Future – Part 3

By | Vegetable Oils | 3 Comments

Part Three – Childhood cancer

We are massively overconsuming Omega-6 fats. This is largely because we eat too much ‘vegetable oil.’  The dangerous varieties of vegetable oil don’t come from vegetables.  They are the oils extracted from seeds like Canola, Rice-Bran, Grapeseed, Sunflower and Almonds or legumes like peanuts and soybeans.  And we are eating too much of them (usually without even being aware of it) because these incredibly cheap oils dominate the 21st century food supply.

If you purchase anything to eat outside the home, almost all the fat components will be these oils. The mayo on your takeaway sandwich will be made from sunflower oil (as will the margarine).  Anything fried will have been cooked in cottonseed or canola oil (no matter how flash the joint you purchased it from).  All the breads and pastries will have been made using seed oils and so will all the dressings, dips and sauces.

In Part One of this series I showed how rampant oxidation caused by the omega-6 fats in these oils destroys male fertility by lowering sperm count and quality.  And in Part Two I showed how the same process also significantly increases risk of testicular cancer.

Make no mistake, we are in the midst of an unprecedented decline in our ability to reproduce and that decline is driven by the profits from cheap vegetable oil laced foods.

PUFAsm

The oxidative stress caused by the Omega-6 fats doesn’t simply disrupt the fertilizing capabilities of sperm, it also attacks the integrity of the DNA carried by the sperm.  Normally a cell which is so damaged that its DNA is fragmented by oxidation will not function at all.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with sperm.  Human sperm retain the capacity for fertilization even when their DNA are severely damaged.

We know this for certain because of studies done in men who smoke. And even though those studies have shown smokers are much less fertile than non-smokers, they are not always infertile.

The sperm of those smokers who remain fertile have DNA that has been damaged by oxidative stress (caused by the inhalation of chemicals which promote oxidation).  And because DNA-damaged sperm are still able to create viable embryos, the consequences can be cataclysmic.  We have known since at least 1997 that the children of fathers who smoke heavily are four to five times as likely to develop childhood cancers.

The studies also clearly show that omega-6 fat consumption is at least as powerful a source of oxidation as smoking.  Given that, we should expect childhood cancer to be increasing in societies (like Australia) where vegetable oil consumption is at its highest level ever (and increasing).

Childhood cancers are defined as those diagnosed before the child turns 15.  Together, leukaemia (blood cell cancers), brain tumours and lymphomas account for more than two thirds of all childhood cancers, but leukaemia is by far the most common.

One in 500 Australian children will develop cancer.  That’s 2 new cases every day.  Two children every day!  Three Australian kids die from cancer every week.  It is a devastating blight upon our community and it is getting much worse very quickly.

With most cancers we only have reliable statistics on incidence (new cases every year) going back to the early eighties in Australia and only slightly earlier in the UK and the US.  But sadly, because until the early 1960s, leukaemia was a certain death sentence, mortality statistics are a reasonable proxy.  And those go all the way back to 1911.  It is not a pretty picture.

leuk graphsm

Children in the UK are now 6 times more likely to suffer from leukaemia as children just one hundred years ago.  Modern Australian statistics show identical trends.  And while smoking undoubtedly played its part in pushing that rate up in the middle of the century, the rapid reduction in smoking rates has done little to slow the rapid growth.

The genetic damage that lies behind most childhood cancer is caused by oxidation of sperm DNA.  As oxidation fuel increases (in the form of vegetable oil in our food), then so too will the rate of childhood cancers. For as long as that oxidation fuel supply increases, we can expect to see the rate of those cancers continue to climb dramatically.

The good news is that at an individual level the science suggests it is very easy to change these outcomes.  Men produce a completely new set of mature sperm every 90 days.  This means that we can massively reduce the chances of genetic damage in our children by simply abstaining from vegetable oils (and smoking) for 3 months before we get anyone pregnant.

Unfortunately, it is not just genes implicated in cancer which are being affected.  In the next part I will be looking other types of oxidation induced genetic damage in offspring.

 

Infographic from The Kids’ Cancer Project

Testicular Cancer – Stealing our Future – Part 2

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Part Two – Testicular cancer is exploding

In Part One of this series I looked at male fertility.  Men exposed to Western diets are becoming dramatically less fertile.  And the cause is the rapid increases in our consumption of vegetable oils made from seeds.

Vegetable oil made from seeds (Canola, Rapeseed, Sunflower, Corn, Safflower, Grapeseed, Rice Bran and Soybean for example) – seed oils – are a relatively new addition to the human diet.  Unlike oils made from fruit (Olive, Avocado and Coconut) and animal fats, they are very high in something called an Omega-6 fat.

They are also incredibly cheap to make, which is why you will find them in just about every food on the supermarket shelf and in every deep fryer in the land. Because of this, we are currently consuming 10 times as much as we actually need.

PUFAsm

Consuming up to 10 times too much of a substance that plays a critical role in the construction of sperm is having a massive and continuing effect on our ability to produce them.  But that is just the beginning of the damage being wrought by these substances.

The fats in vegetable oils are highly volatile.  They react quickly with oxygen and they do so even more rapidly when the temperature is high (in a human body for example). When that happens our body enters a state called oxidative stress.  And oxidative stress is a known cause of damage to our DNA that results in cancer.

We can massively increase our risk of cancer by introducing any substance which damages DNA.  Smokers for example, have 10 times the rate of lung cancer because they inhale a cloud of compounds which can produce DNA damage in the lining of the lung.   And the compounds produced by oxidised vegetable oils damage cellular DNA in a similar fashion.  Eating those fats is like smoking but the damage is transmitted to every part of the body, not just the lung.

Healthy sperm need to be flexible (for speedy tail flicking) and so have much higher levels of the ‘bendy’ polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils than the average human cell membrane.  So sperm cells (and the cells that make them, called germ cells) are awash with fats from the vegetable oils we consume.

If any organ in the body were to be affected most dramatically by the massive increases in our consumption of vegetable oil, it is likely to be the Testes.   Given that you would expect to see the rates of testicular cancer rising just as fast as male fertility has been falling.  And you would not be disappointed.

Testicular cancer1sm

Oversupply of omega-6 from vegetable oil in the Testes causes a cascading chain of oxidative stress which ultimately ends in random destruction of our sperm and germ cell DNA.  In most cases this results in the death of the sperm and germ cells (hence the massive declines in sperm counts discussed in part One).  But every now and then just the wrong mutation happens and cancer develops (usually in the germ cells).

The Australian incidence (number of new cases per year) of testicular cancer (the most common cancer in men under 50) has quintupled since 1952.   A man alive in Australia today is 5 times (!!) as likely to have testicular cancer as that same man in 1952.  Similar rates of increase hold in the US and the UK.  If genetics was the only cause of testicular cancer, we would expect the rate to be exactly the same.  The fact that it isn’t, tells us an environmental factor is at work and the science set out above, tells us that environmental factor is vegetable oils from seeds.

Because of a decided preference for non-animal fat sources, Israeli Jews have close to one of the highest rates consumption of vegetable oil in the world (about 12% of calories).  The science says this is why they are at the bleeding edge of the decline in male fertility.  It is also likely to be why the incidence of testicular cancer among Israeli Jews is climbing as fast as it is in health conscious (and equally infertile), vegetable oil soaked Australia.

Because it is often diagnosed early and the treatment (usually removal of a testicle) is highly effective, testicular cancer is one of the most survivable cancers (98% of men are free from it 5 years after diagnosis).  And if sperm never left the male body, that would be the end of this series.  But they don’t so this isn’t.

Vegetable oils are destroying male fertility and driving supercharged increases in testicular cancer but sadly the trail of destruction does not end there.  Some damaged sperm do make it all the way and they are capable of creating an embryo.  In the next instalment I look at the disease cascades from those damaged sperm.

Photo courtesy of 2006 advertisement of the British Heart Foundation

How vegetable oils are stealing our future – Part 1 – Male Fertility

By | Vegetable Oils | 6 Comments

Part One – Male fertility is plummeting

Around one in six Australian couples meet the World Health Organisation definition of infertility (unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sex).  And in about half of those cases it is because the male is infertile. This is the first in a series of articles examining how seed oils affect our reproductive organs (and the disastrous potential consequences for our children).

A sperm count is an old fashioned, but still highly reliable way of measuring a man’s ability to produce children.  Anything over 100 million sperm cells per ml is considered a premium vintage and anything under 15 million means the man is very unlikely to reproduce.  The only trouble is that men with high octane semen are getting harder and harder to find.

In 1992 researchers from the University of Copenhagen published a study of sperm quality trends over the preceding half century.  After reviewing 61 trials, the scientists came to the shocking conclusion that average sperm count had halved in just 50 years (from 113 million in 1940 to 66 million in 1990).

An even more comprehensive analysis of almost 27,000 French men published in 2005 confirmed the trend is continuing.  In that study average sperm counts dropped from 74 million in 1989 to 50 million in 2005 (a rate of 1.9% a year).  If that rate of decline continues, there will be no French men capable of making babies by 2072.

French sperm count sm

 

Similar numbers and rates of decline are now being reported in all Western countries (although alarmingly at a decline of 3% a year, Australia is at the high end).   But in one country, the sperm count disaster makes the French look pretty damn virile.

Sperm banks in Israel are reporting that there is an alarming drop in sperm quality amongst Jewish inhabitants. Those that would have rejected about a third of applicants in the 1990s (because of low sperm count) are now turning away 80 to 90%.  With a measured rate of sperm count decline approximately twice that of any other Western country, experts are predicting that by 2030, average Jewish Israeli sperm counts will drop to a level where reproduction is likely to be impossible.

There are as many theories about why this is happening as there are scientists researching the problem.  Perhaps it is the increased levels of oestrogen in the diet, perhaps it is exposure to pesticides or perhaps it is the use of BPA plastics.  But only one has produced convincing evidence of causation – dietary omega-6 fat consumption.  And that evidence goes a lot further than noticing that Israel is the highest consumer of omega-6 fats in the world.

Omega-6 fat is the dominant fat in the ‘vegetable oils’ used in every processed food.  These oils are not made from vegetables at all.  Rather they come from seeds (like Canola or Rapeseed, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, Rice Bran and Grape).

Unlike other kinds of fat, humans cannot make Omega-6 oils.  We need them to properly run our immune system and (just like Omega-3 fats) must get them from plants that we eat.  Fortunately, we don’t need much and we are more than capable of getting everything we need from normal unprocessed food.

Less fortunately (a lot less fortunately), Omega-6 based seed oils are the fat of choice for the processed food industry (because they are a lot cheaper than fats from animals and exotic fruits like olives, avocados and coconuts), so Western consumption of Omega-6 fats has at least tripled in the last century.  And as a consequence, the ratio of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3 fats has soared from about 3:1 to 26:1.

PUFAsm

We’ve known for some time that in experimental animals, high omega-6 fat consumption lowers sperm count and significantly impairs the quality of those that remain.  But a 2009 study in humans has taken that research one step further.

In that study, 82 infertile men were compared with 78 (proven) fertile men.  Detailed profiles of the fatty acid makeup of each man’s semen were prepared.  The results were unequivocal.  Infertile men had a significantly higher ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3  (15 to 1 versus 6 to 1 in fertile men).  And critically, the higher the omega-6, the lower the sperm count.   The amount and ratio of Omega-6 also dramatically and negatively affected the other two primary measures of sperm quality, the motility (ability to move) and morphology (the shape).

It is likely that the reason for the sperm cell destruction relates to rampant oxidation caused by the overconsumption of omega-6 fats.  Unfortunately, that kind of oxidation damage leads to the wholesale DNA destruction that can result in cancer.  That direct effect on testicular cancer rates is the subject of the next instalment in this series.

 

Get all the studies and articles mentioned in this series here.

 

Photo by Mobilus In Mobili. Distributed under the Creative Commons License.

How to get lung cancer from a frypan

By | Vegetable Oils | 10 Comments

Vegetable oils are highly unstable. When they interact with oxygen, they release neurotoxic, DNA mutating chemicals which are known to cause cancer (at least). Recent improvements in measurement technology have now thrown a spotlight on the quantity of these chemicals released by normal use. And the results are truly terrifying.

Vegetable oil made from seeds (Canola, Sunflower, Corn, Safflower, Grapeseed, Rice Bran and Soybean for example) -seed oils – are a relatively new addition to the human diet.  Unlike oils made from fruit (Olive, Avocado and Coconut) and animal fats, they are very high in something called an Omega-6 fat.

They are also incredibly cheap to make, which is why you will find them in just about every food on the supermarket shelf and in every deep fryer in the land.

These Omega-6 fats are known to cause oxidative stress in humans.  Oxidative stress occurs when the reactions between these fats and oxygen overwhelm our anti-oxidant defences and a chain reaction gets under way.

That chain reaction results in the production of some highly toxic chemicals which include MDA (Malondialdehyde) and 4-HNE (4-hydroxy-2-nonenal).  They are dangerous because they interact destructively with our DNA and cause cancer.

But that is, by no means the least of it. Because of their neurotoxic capabilities, they are likely to be heavily involved in Alzheimer’s disease, MND, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.  They are also implicated in chronic inflammation, stroke and heart disease.

While the MDA and 4-HNE we make ourselves (from consuming too much Omega-6) is devastating enough, it is now becoming abundantly clear that we can make them even more dangerous than they already are.  All we need to do is heat them before we eat them.

A study released late last year found that when oils containing Omega-6 fats are heated at a normal cooking temperature (of 180⁰C), they create significant quantities of MDA and 4-HNE (amongst other highly toxic chemicals).  And each time the oil was re-used the concentration increased massively.  The study showed that by the fifth day of oil re-use it had 5 times the concentration of these chemicals that it had on the first (which was already alarmingly high).

These premade cancer bombs are directly ingested every time we eat a food which was cooked in those oils (for example, anything fried in seed oils) or which used heated seed oils in the recipe (for example baked goods).   They are even lurking in products which are sold cold but were made using heated seed oils (like margarines).

But worse than that, the researchers also made the point that all they could measure was the amount of these chemicals left in the oil. Since they are highly volatile, they are constantly escaping into the air around us when the food is being cooked and even when it is being eaten.  It is likely that this explains the stubbornly high rates of lung cancer among women in Asian countries (where smoking is rare among women, but wok frying with Canola oil is a daily task).

According to a 2014 report from the WHO (World Health Organisation), more than forty three thousand Australians died from cancer in 2012. And despite huge advances in treatment, it is now the single biggest cause of death in Australia.

The report reveals that in the nine years the report covers, cancer diagnosis in Australia increased by an alarming 14 per cent. In 2003, 274 Australians per day were diagnosed. In 2012, it was 312 people. Per Day! Worse than that, the authors of the report expect that number to almost double in the next twenty years.

In countries exposed to the Western Diet for most of the last five decades (such as Australia), the number of new cases of Multiple Sclerosis recorded per year (after adjusting for population increases) has quadrupled and the numbers of people with the other diseases associated with these lethal chemicals has also been pushing steadily higher.

Prevention is clearly the key to changing a future full of untimely death from horrible chronic disease. Unfortunately those charged with advising us are blind to the real cause of these lethal epidemics.

Worse that that they are frequently the people responsible for us consuming the oils in the first place. McDonald’s for example switched from frying in Beef Fat to Canola oil in 2004 after incessant pressure from the Heart Foundation. And KFC followed suit in 2012

Every day there are thousands of teenagers standing over vats of frying canola oil for 8 hour shifts at every fast food restaurant in this country.  Every day, there are people cooking with high temperature seed oils in woks (seasoned with seed oil). And every day there are industrial quantities of heated seed oil being poured into commercial baked and frozen foods.

And that is set against background of terrifying increases in cancer incidence in this country.  Today’s 312 new cancer sufferers are not theoretical.  They are your neighbour, your sister, the kid next door.

That this is allowed to continue when the science is so clear, is not merely a shame or an embarrassment.  It is an outrage and a tragedy.

You can’t stop the food processors putting these carcinogens in your food and you can’t stop the Heart Foundation and the Cancer Council encouraging them to do so, but you sure can stop that food being put in you.  Isn’t it time you did?

 

Photo courtesy of 2006 advertisement of the British Heart Foundation

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