This is becoming humorous. Earlier this week the media was full of stories about the Harvard study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which purported to show a link between meat consumption and early mortality. The gleeful dancing of the vegan lipophobes was evident everywhere. One of their leading gurus, Dr Dean Ornish, was moved to write an editorial which opened with this statement: “Is meat bad for you? In a word, yes.” (http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/archinternmed.2012.174).
The story had prominent exposure in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/dean-ornish-red-meat-heart-disease_n_1339964.html) where Dr Ornish is the medical editor. Even though the study is deeply flawed and proves exactly nothing, it is being heralded everywhere as if it were proof of the second coming.
So, it was interesting to find another similar study reported in the Huffington Post earlier today. Featured on the front page was this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/15/white-rice-increases-type-2-diabetes_n_1347972.html.
This article originating in the UK edition, cites a study which linked white rice consumption to type 2 diabetes. Even though it uses basically the same methodology as the meat study, it doesn’t have all of its flaws and it found a stronger association. Not only that, but it found a dose-response relationship, something missing from the meat study until the statistics were manipulated. The white rices paper was a meta-analysis of a number of individual studies, all but one of which found some degree of association. Since it is a meta-analysis, it is arguably better quality evidence than what one would find from a single observational study. So, on balance, from a scientific perspective, the evidence for the white rice link to diabetes, although still observational, is stronger than that which links meat to mortality.
To further add to the irony, the study in question was produced by the same Harvard researchers that produced the meat study. It is published in the British Medical Journal (http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1454).
Naturally, the comments section at HuffPo is full of disbelief from the folks who subscribe to the ideology that meat is the root of all evil and no plant food could possibly do harm.
Although the white rice article was featured on the front page of the US edition this morning, it has entirely disappeared now. It can still be found in the UK edition. I guess it had slipped through before Ornish got out of bed.
I suppose it would be futile to expect another accompanying Ornish editorial which says: “Is white rice bad for you? In a word, yes.”
Sound of crickets …