Sunday, January 27, 2008

Are the nutrition study’s conclusions reasonable?

When a study comes up with a conclusion that seems illogical to you, chances are the researchers feel the same way. For example, in 1990, the long-running Nurses’ Study at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that a high-fat diet raised the risk of colon cancer. But the data showed a link only to diets high in beef. No link was found to diets high in dairy fat. In short, this study was begging for a second study to confirm (or deny) its results. And while we wait for that second and, naturally, third study, you can bet we’re keeping an open mind. The nature of life is that things do change, sometimes in surprising ways. Consider dioxin, a toxic contaminant found in some fish. Consider Olestra, the calorie-free fat substitute that makes some tummies rumble. As you read this page, dioxin’s still a bad actor, but in 2005 researchers at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Western Australia announced that eating foods containing Olestra may speed your body’s elimination of — you guessed it — dioxin. A-maz-ing.

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