Friday, December 27, 2013

New Location

I'm working on setting up the Fanatic Cook at a new location: I won't be posting here while I'm setting it up, and future posts will reside at the new location. See you there!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

23andMe Suspends Gene Test

This is what you now see when you visit 23andMe's site:

23andMe sells (rather, used to sell until the FDA told them to stop) a $99 test kit that tells you your risk for over a hundred diseases by having you mail back your spit and comparing its DNA with other people's DNA.

The test was never validated for that use, so the FDA, after years of working with 23andMe, told them they "must immediately discontinue marketing the PGS [personal genome service] until such time as it receives FDA marketing authorization."

I have read comments from people defending 23andMe, saying the test is valid, implying that the health risks it returns are accurate, generalizable to diverse populations, and actionable. The FDA says otherwise, that the test has not been validated ("we still do not have any assurance that the firm has analytically or clinically validated the PGS for its intended uses".)

Is 23andMe selling an insufficiently tested, unvalidated product to an unsuspecting public? Yes, they are. Or, they were.

A medical device should be sufficiently validated for its use in assessing risk before it is used as justification for any additional test, any surgery or other intervention, any further expense - to prevent doing more harm1 than good. Health risks associated with a DNA analysis should be communicated by a team of healthcare professionals, who are prepared to advise on a course of action.

Speaking of harm ... See that "I Understand" button at the bottom of their splash screen? Is that there to protect the consumer?
1 Why 23andMe Has The FDA Worried: It Wrongly Told Me I Might Die Young

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chris Voigt Ate Only Potatoes For 60 Days, His Health Improved

Chris Voigt is the Executive Director of the Washington State Potato Commission.

"After the USDA had proposed eliminating the potato or restricting its consumption in various federal feeding and nutrition programs, Chris decided to protest these proposals and ate nothing but potatoes for 60 days. His health improved and he lost weight. His potato only diet attracted a lot of media attention, which helped Congress to intervene and save the potato."
Some of his pre and post numbers:

Pre: 197 lbs
Post: 176 lbs

Pre:214 mg/dl
Mid: 162 mg/dl
Post: 147 mg/dl

Fasting Glucose:
Pre: 104 mg/dl
Post: 94 mg/dl

Monday, December 09, 2013

Low Vitamin D Not A Cause Of Poor Health, New Study Finds

Population studies describe an association between levels of vitamin D and disease ... low vitamin D seems to increase risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other chronic illnesses. But does it? Supplementation with vitamin D, in intervention studies, does not improve health. What's going on? Autier et al. in this recent analysis say that low vitamin D may merely be a marker for ill health:

Vitamin D Status And Ill Health: A Systematic Review, The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, Online 6 December 2013
"We did a systematic search of prospective and intervention studies that assessed the effect of 25(OH)D concentrations on non-skeletal health outcomes in individuals aged 18 years or older. We identified 290 prospective cohort studies (279 on disease occurrence or mortality, and 11 on cancer characteristics or survival), and 172 randomised trials of major health outcomes and of physiological parameters related to disease risk or inflammatory status.

Investigators of most prospective studies reported moderate to strong inverse associations between 25(OH)D concentrations and cardiovascular diseases, serum lipid concentrations, inflammation, glucose metabolism disorders, weight gain, infectious diseases, multiple sclerosis, mood disorders, declining cognitive function, impaired physical functioning, and all-cause mortality. High 25(OH)D concentrations were not associated with a lower risk of cancer, except colorectal cancer.

Results from intervention studies did not show an effect of vitamin D supplementation on disease occurrence, including colorectal cancer. In 34 intervention studies including 2805 individuals with mean 25(OH)D concentration lower than 50 nmol/L at baseline supplementation with 50 μg* per day or more did not show better results. Supplementation in elderly people (mainly women) with 20 μg vitamin D per day seemed to slightly reduce all-cause mortality.

The discrepancy between observational and intervention studies suggests that low 25(OH)D is a marker of ill health. Inflammatory processes involved in disease occurrence and clinical course would reduce 25(OH)D, which would explain why low vitamin D status is reported in a wide range of disorders."
* 50 μg is 50 micrograms or about 2000 IUs

Vitamin D has become a darling in the supplement world. That reputation may not be founded. What's more likely is that low vitamin D levels, rather than being a cause of poor health, are a consequence.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Autier:1
"Ageing and inflammatory processes involved in disease occurrence... reduce vitamin D concentrations, which would explain why vitamin D deficiency is reported in a wide range of disorders."
1 Doubt Cast On Vitamin D's Role Against Disease, BBC, 5 December 2013

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Broiled Tofu

A few slices of tofu, marinated for a couple minutes in a mixture of: tamari, lemon juice, hot mustard, spices (ginger, cumin, coriander, black pepper, onion, garlic, paprika, chipotle).

That's an inexpensive tile we bought from Home Depot for about 60 cents. It worked great, gave the tofu a nice crust. I turned them a few times. It took about 10 minutes total on a low broil setting.

These are great in a sandwich, like a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato), except a TLT. Especially if you use smoked paprika in the marinade.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

"Don't Eat Anything With A Face" Yes Or No? Watch The Debate

Arguing for the motion (Don't eat anything with a face) were:
  • Dr. Neal Barnard - Clinical Researcher, Author, President and Founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
  • Gene Baur - President and Co-Founder of the Farm Sanctuary, Author, Vegan since 1985

Arguing against the motion were:
  • Chris Masterjohn - Nutritional Sciences Researcher, Blogger at The Daily Lipid hosted on his web site Cholesterol-And-Health.Com, and Mother Nature Obeyed hosted by the Weston A. Price Foundation.
  • Joel Salatin - Farmer, Author. His family’s farm, Polyface, was featured in Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore’s Dilemma" and the documentary Food Inc.

Don't Eat Anything With A Face from Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

The Intelligence Squared (IQ2) debates put forward a motion, poll the audience, have the debaters argue the motion, then poll the audience again. The team which succeeds in swaying the most audience members to their position is considered the winner.

Poll prior to debate:
  • For 24%
  • Against 51%
  • Undecided 25% 

Poll after debate:
  • For 45%
  • Against 43%
  • Undecided 12% 

Dr. Neal Barnard and Gene Baur, arguing in favor of not eating animal food, changed the most minds and were declared the winner.

There's a robust comment stream on IQ2's website.
Thank you, Melinda.