CSPI Quackery: Preventing colon cancer (Part 1)

What’s the best food to prevent colon cancer?

In the December edition of Nutrition Action Health Letter, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) spotlights foods that are the “best” and “worst” for “preventing colon cancer.”

In Part 1 of the series, we covered the “best” food. Part 2 covers the “second best” food. Part 3 covers the “worst” foods.

First, there is no magical food that prevent cancer.

Next, an example of the sort of science that CSPI apparently relies on is abracted below:

Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(1):47-69. Colorectal cancer risk and dietary intake of calcium, vitamin D, and dairy products: a meta-analysis of 26,335 cases from 60 observational studies. Huncharek M, Muscat J, Kupelnick B.

In vivo and in vitro studies suggest that dairy products, calcium, and dietary vitamin D inhibits the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate this relationship in observational studies. Data from 60 epidemiological studies enrolling 26,335 CRC cases were pooled using a general variance-based meta-analytic method. Summary relative risk (RR) estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for the highest vs. the lowest intake categories. Sensitivity analyses tested the robustness of these summary effect measures and the statistical heterogeneity. The summary RR for high milk and dairy product intake, respectively, on colon cancer risk was 0.78 (95% CI = 0.67-0.92) and 0.84 (95% CI = 0.75-0.95). Milk intake was unrelated to rectal cancer risk. High calcium intake had a greater protective effect against tumors of the distal colon and rectal cancer vs. proximal colon. The risk reduction associated with calcium was similar for dietary and supplemental sources. Vitamin D was associated with a nonsignificant 6% reduction in CRC risk. Higher consumption of milk/dairy products reduces the risk of colon cancer, and high calcium intake reduces the risk of CRC. Low vitamin D intake in the study populations may limit the ability to detect a protective effect if one exists.

Moving past the study’s total junk science application of meta-analysis, the correlative statistics presented in the abstract are in the statistical noise range and are meaningless.

No one knows what causes colon cancer. No one knows what prevents it.

CSPI has offered its readers a false assurance that consumption calcium-rich foods will somehow magically protect them from cancer.

Earth to Nutrition Action Health Letter readers: About 50,000 people die annually from colon/rectal cancer. Many (most?) (virtually all?) of them were consumers of calcium-rich foods.

If you want to reduce your risk of dying from colon cancer, you need to see your physician — not drink a glass of milk.

Check out JunkScience.com’s False Alarm: The Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1971-2006.

One thought on “CSPI Quackery: Preventing colon cancer (Part 1)”

  1. I would think that any form of dairy, apart from yoghurt, (which will provide some digestive benefits due to the probiotic content) would increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Many of the foods we have in todays day and age are so far from what our ancestors would have eaten around 10,000 years ago, which in an evolutionary sense, is a small period of time. Most forms of dairy for example contain the sugar lactose. Apparently up to 80% of people will not produce enough lactase (enzyme for breaking down lactose) to digest this properly. The only reason we probably produced any lactase was for breast milk.
    Other foods to avoid would be many of the grains, which we have only cultivated for a few thousand years, (evolution of our digestive system probably would take 100’s of thousands of years!) in particular the gluten containing grains which are very difficult to digest. Wheat would be far and away the most popular, and also contains the most gluten. Apart from that, the whole refining process of foods, and all the nasty things many people add to our processed foods is another thing. We often consume all of these foods alomost in isolation, without all the fibre and nutrients that once belonged with it.

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