Is More Research Really Needed?

Stop the presses!  Amazing news from researchers!

The British Journal of Cancer recently published a report funded by Cancer Research UK .  The report says that 40% of cancers arise from lifestyle factors including poor diet and obesity.  Specifically: not enough fibre, not enough vegetables, too much meat and too much alcohol.

In 1966, full of the joys of discovering good health and vitality through macrobiotic diet, my girl friend and I visited the macrobiotic bookshop in New York.  Irma Paul, the owner, sat behind the counter looking morose, not at all the happy image of macrobiotic (Greek for ‘long life’ or ‘big life’) that I expected.  She allowed us to look at the books but said that we could not purchase anything.  Her reason? The American Medical Association had recently urged the FBI to bust the bookshop for selling illegal books.  The FBI took the books away and went over them with expert advisors from the AMA.  The result?  The bookshop closed a few days later and the books were taken away, condemned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and burned.   Reader’s Digest later ran a cover story calling macrobiotics ‘The Hippie Diet That’s Killing Our Kids”

What was the evil message that brought such a fate?  Kiddie porn? Bomb-making instructions?  No, much worse as far as the AMA was concerned: these books contained statements that too much meat, not enough fibre, not enough vegetables and too much meat and alcohol could lead to cancer.   Exactly what the Britich Journal of Cancer article now states.

At the time the medical orthodoxy was that cancer was in the genes or just bad luck.   Prof Max Parkin, a Cancer Research epidemiologist, commented on the new report: “Many people believe cancer is down to fate or ‘in the genes’ …it’s clear that 40% of cancers are caused by things we have the power to change.”     I wonder where ‘many people’ got that wacky idea?  Perhaps from listening to all the medical experts who told them for decades they couldn’t do anything to prevent cancer.

In the 1950s American magazines ran ads extolling the preference of doctors for Camel brand cigarettes.  Oh dear.  I wonder how many people took up smoking because of these role models?  And died?

In the 50s Wilhelm Reich talked about the ‘Emotional Plague’ – a disease that parents gave to their children by beating them and abusing them, passing on sick behaviour from one generation to the next.  He argued for sexual liberation and advocated condom use and economic independence for women.  Several tons of his books were burned by the FDA and he died in prison in 1956.  Now it’s illegal to beat kids, women are liberated and child abuse condemned.

So two pioneers of sensible thinking went to their graves bitter and disillusioned and didn’t live to see their ideas become accepted in the mainstream. What about me?  After discovering that the FBI, the AMA and the FDA were hysterically alarmed about macrobiotics, I figured it was at least as powerful as I had thought.  I went to the newly-opened Paradox macrobiotic restaurant  that evening and decided then and there that my future would lay in bringing awareness of the joys of healthy eating to as many people as possible.   It fulfilled my do-goodism and my revolutionary instincts.

What about the authorities? The same governments that burned books and chucked their authors in jail now support education in sex and condom use and urge their citizens to eat more vegetables and wholegrains and to cut down on meat and booze.

Can you imagine any MPs or doctors nowadays plugging cigarettes or urging people to eat junk food and beat their kids?