Why does the medical establishment sometimes ignore highly efficacious therapies such as plant-based diets for heart disease prevention and treatment?
In his landmark article "Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic Through Pant-Based Nutrition, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn notes how fortunate we are to possess the knowledge of how to prevent, arrest, and selectively reverse this disease. However, he goes on to lament, we are not fortunate in the capacity of our institutions to share this information with the public. He blames ties to industry and politics result in conflicts of interest within our private and governmental health institutions, compromising the accuracy of their public message. This is in total violation of the moral imperative of the medical profession. Now is the time for us to have the courage for legendary work, he concludes, Science must dictate dietary recommendations.
After all, "The fact that a low-fat, fiber-rich vegan diet is likely to reduce risk for most types of cancer, ischemic heart disease and its complications, obesity… diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, gallstones, renal stones, appendicitis, diverticulitis, hiatal hernia, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and possibly the chief metabolic complications of pregnancy—disorders which collectively are responsible for the majority of the deaths and hospitalizations in Western society—should be sufficient to recommend it.
Of course, Those who are only willing to make less striking changes in their lifestyle can be encouraged to reduce their consumption of animal products as much as they can.
In the process of writing this paper on the comparative endocrinological effect of plant versus animal proteins, the researcher himself was overwhelmed by the balance of evidence and disclosed that in “During the course of researching and writing this article, my findings impelled me to become a vegan.” Why don’t more within the scientific and medical community similarly embrace a plant-based diet? Part of the reason may be the Tomato Effect.
Coined in the Journal of the American Medical Association 27 years ago, the Tomato Effect describes the rejection of highly efficacious therapies by the medical establishment because they go against the prevailing conventional wisdom.
Imported from the New World, “By the year 1560, the tomato, was becoming a staple of the continental European diet. At the same time it was actively shunned in North America for literally centuries. The reason… is simple: they were poisonous. Everyone knew they were poisonous, at least everyone in North America.
It was obvious.
Evidently it was not until 1820 when some dude ate a tomato on the steps of some courthouse—and survived, did things finally change. And today, in the United States, tomatoes are a billion dollar crop.
Examples of this "Tomato Effect"—a slavish devotion to orthodoxy, are described in medicine, for example ignoring the successful use of this plant in the treatment of gout for a thousand years before modern medicine quote unquote “discovered” it was the drug colchicine. Aspirin was also ignored for almost 3,000 years of successful use as willow tree bark extract.
But I'd like to extend this analogy into the field of nutrition. For example, thousands of died of scurvy, vitamin C deficiency, for a hundred years after lemon juice was found to cure it, because disease at the time was considered an imbalance of the humors; what role could eating fruit possibly play?
A century later, in the mid-1800’s, humanity came up with the brilliant idea to polish rice from brown to white, causing a epidemic of sudden death from heart attack in Asia. Millions died of beriberi, a vitamin B deficiency that affects the heart muscle, Again the cure was discovered—rice bran, or rice bran tea, yet decades of death before the medical community finally woke up.
Today, there is another epidemic of sudden death from heart attack. It too is caused by diet, and it too has a cure. How long must we wait?...
McCarty ends his paper: “I suspect that the simple injunction, ‘Do not eat animal products’ has the potential to do more for world health than all of the abstruse wisdom in all of the world’s medical libraries.”
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.
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Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on heart disease, as well as the videos on nutrition myths. And don't forget, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!
For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Eating To Extend Our Lifespan, Preventing and Treating Kidney Failure With Diet, Heart Disease: there is a Cure, Is Coconut Oil Bad For You?, Industry Influence on Dietary Guidelines, Treating Breast Pain with Flax Seeds, and Top 10 Most Popular Videos from 2013