American Medical Association Complicity with Big Tobacco

American Medical Association Complicity with Big Tobacco
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Mainstream medicine’s permissive attitude towards smoking in the face of overwhelming evidence can be an object lesson for contemporary medical collusion with the food industry.

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Back in 1912, when hardly anyone smoked cigarettes, lung cancer was like a museum curiosity—extremely rare. But in the next few decades, it rose dramatically around the world, about fifteen-fold. But they had already nailed it back in 1912. By mid-century, the evidence was considered overwhelming. Says who? Says the tobacco industry’s own research scientists, in an internal memo. We now know that senior scientists and executives within the cigarette industry knew about the cancer risks of smoking at least as early as the 1940s.

But publicly, they said things like, “Sure, there are statistics associating lung cancer and cigarettes. There are statistics associating lung cancer with all sorts of things, but there’s no proof.”

What was the government saying? Smoke Luckies. I mean who wouldn’t want to give their throat a vacation, not a single case of throat irritation, how could your nose and throat be adversely affected? Cigarettes are just as pure as the water you drink.

And if you do get irritated, no problem, your doctor can write you a prescription for cigarettes. This is an ad from the Journal of the American Medical Association. After all, “don’t smoke” is advice hard for patients to swallow. Reminds me of the recent survey of doctors that found the #1 reason doctors don’t prescribe heart-healthy diets was their perception that patients fear being deprived of all the junk they’re eating. After all, Philip Morris reminds us, we want to keep our patients happy; to make a radical change in habit may do harm. You’re a doctor; you don’t want to harm your patients. Even bunnies prefer Philip Morris (when you instill smoke solutions in their eyes).

The tobacco industry gave medical journals big bucks to run ads like these.  Not a problem, though, Philip Morris claims come from completely reliable sources,  based on studies conducted by recognized authorities published in leading medical journals. Even kindly offering to send free packs of cigarettes to doctors, so they can test them out themselves. So, join us at the next AMA convention.

What did the American Medical Association have to say for itself? Like most other medical journals, they accepted tobacco ads. We have yet to see an autopsy with a single lesion that had a Marlboro label on it. No lung tumor has ever been found with a little tag attached that said “Made in the tobacco fields of North Carolina.” Case closed.

In fact, even after the Surgeon General’s report came out, the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, and Congress were still dragging their feet. The government was still subsidizing tobacco—like our tax dollars subsidize the sugar and meat industries today. The AMA actually went on record withholding endorsement of the Surgeon General’s report. Could that have been because they were just handed ten million dollars from the tobacco industry?

Today, the money is coming from big food. The American Academy of Family Physicians has accepted large sums of money from Coca-Cola to fund patient education on obesity prevention. I wonder what that pamphlet is going to say.

Who was the #1 partner listed on Coca-Cola’s website? The American College of Cardiology.

Just as it would have been hazardous to your health to take the medical profession’s advice on your smoking habits in the 1950s, it may be hazardous to your health today to take the medical profession’s advice on your eating habits.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Back in 1912, when hardly anyone smoked cigarettes, lung cancer was like a museum curiosity—extremely rare. But in the next few decades, it rose dramatically around the world, about fifteen-fold. But they had already nailed it back in 1912. By mid-century, the evidence was considered overwhelming. Says who? Says the tobacco industry’s own research scientists, in an internal memo. We now know that senior scientists and executives within the cigarette industry knew about the cancer risks of smoking at least as early as the 1940s.

But publicly, they said things like, “Sure, there are statistics associating lung cancer and cigarettes. There are statistics associating lung cancer with all sorts of things, but there’s no proof.”

What was the government saying? Smoke Luckies. I mean who wouldn’t want to give their throat a vacation, not a single case of throat irritation, how could your nose and throat be adversely affected? Cigarettes are just as pure as the water you drink.

And if you do get irritated, no problem, your doctor can write you a prescription for cigarettes. This is an ad from the Journal of the American Medical Association. After all, “don’t smoke” is advice hard for patients to swallow. Reminds me of the recent survey of doctors that found the #1 reason doctors don’t prescribe heart-healthy diets was their perception that patients fear being deprived of all the junk they’re eating. After all, Philip Morris reminds us, we want to keep our patients happy; to make a radical change in habit may do harm. You’re a doctor; you don’t want to harm your patients. Even bunnies prefer Philip Morris (when you instill smoke solutions in their eyes).

The tobacco industry gave medical journals big bucks to run ads like these.  Not a problem, though, Philip Morris claims come from completely reliable sources,  based on studies conducted by recognized authorities published in leading medical journals. Even kindly offering to send free packs of cigarettes to doctors, so they can test them out themselves. So, join us at the next AMA convention.

What did the American Medical Association have to say for itself? Like most other medical journals, they accepted tobacco ads. We have yet to see an autopsy with a single lesion that had a Marlboro label on it. No lung tumor has ever been found with a little tag attached that said “Made in the tobacco fields of North Carolina.” Case closed.

In fact, even after the Surgeon General’s report came out, the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, and Congress were still dragging their feet. The government was still subsidizing tobacco—like our tax dollars subsidize the sugar and meat industries today. The AMA actually went on record withholding endorsement of the Surgeon General’s report. Could that have been because they were just handed ten million dollars from the tobacco industry?

Today, the money is coming from big food. The American Academy of Family Physicians has accepted large sums of money from Coca-Cola to fund patient education on obesity prevention. I wonder what that pamphlet is going to say.

Who was the #1 partner listed on Coca-Cola’s website? The American College of Cardiology.

Just as it would have been hazardous to your health to take the medical profession’s advice on your smoking habits in the 1950s, it may be hazardous to your health today to take the medical profession’s advice on your eating habits.

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 Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

If the balance of scientific evidence favors plant-based eating, why isn’t the medical profession at the forefront of encouraging people to eat healthier? That’s the question this video tries to answer. Looking back to smoking in the 1950s, you can see how all of society, the government, and the medical profession itself could be in favor of habits that decades of science had already overwhelmingly condemned as harmful.

More on the influence industry can have on food policy:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

81 responses to “American Medical Association Complicity with Big Tobacco

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  1. I am a family physician, in practice since the mid-1980s, and I think the comparisons that Dr. G. makes between tobacco and “big food” are very instructive and appropriate. By “big food”, he means the meat industry, sugar industry, fast food industries, and American agri-business (supported by the USDA) whose big crops (corn, soy) are heavily subsidized by taxpayers, to be fed to farm animals.

    There is a similar analogy to be made with the story of trans-fats. In 1980 as I was entering medical school, I read a study linking hydrogenated oils (trans fats) with heart disease published in 1975 (Thomas, L: Brit. J. Prev. & Social Med; “Mortality from arteriosclerotic disease and consumption of hydrogenated oils and fats” — sorry I don’t have exact reference). I was convinced, and stopped eating anything containing partially hydrogenated oils, including all margarine at that time. So, guess when the first actual policy step was taken to discourage consumption of trans fats? January 1, 2008!!, when the FDA required that trans fat content be listed on all nutrition labels. Of course, they gave the poor food industry a loophole by allowing them to write “Zero Trans Fat” if there was less than 0.5 grams per serving. You had to read the ingredients list, and look for “partially hydrogenated oil”, to know what you were buying. Not until 6/16/15 did the FDA finalize its ruling that trans fats were no longer “GRAS” (generally recognized as safe), and set a 3-year time limit for the food industry to remove ALL trans fat from processed foods.

    I used to wonder why there is such a long lag between the time when definitive scientific studies are published — about the dangers of cigarettes, trans fats, meat and dairy — and when this knowledge becomes common knowledge among physicians and the general public. (It has to become common knowledge before actual policy steps are taken by governments to protect its citizens). I don’t wonder much any more. Like Dr. G. says, just follow the money trail.

    So, I plug along, educating all my patients about whole food, plant-based eating. We haven’t yet reached that “tipping point”, where the majority of people know the true facts. We have to fight against the industries who make huge profits under the current system. Thanks to all of you who are working to get the message out!!




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    1. I wish there were more of you…and there will be eventually. Do you know anywhere to find a list of doctors who advocate whole food plant based eating? My MD is alternative but he leans toward Paleo.




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      1. Rebecca, you may wish to start the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and search their database. It is complete only in that it will list members of ACLM – there may be other physicians in your area that are not members of the College and, as a result, they would not show up in your query. By the way, Dr. Greger appears to be a friend of the ACLM (no surprise) and you will find some of his videos there. Additionally, if you peruse the ABOUT -> BOARD OF ADVISORS you will find the list is comprised of significant physicians involved in the Lifestyle physician movement. http://www.lifestylemedicine.org/Find-a-Lifestyle-Medicine-Practitioner.




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          1. I just found a member in my town! Shock! So I’ve made an appointment to get acquainted and see if it is a good fit for me to change doctors.




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              1. That would be a good idea in larger cities, but we don’t seem to have a vegetarian society here. But thankfully I did find one doctor in our town through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine website.




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        1. Kate, thank you for sending this link. However, I tried it, but the screen said it was under construction. However, I did find someone locally through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and made an appointment to get acquainted in a couple of weeks. There was only one doctor in my city, so I hope he’s a fit for me.




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          1. Oh good! I’m glad you found someone. I just tested that website again and it seems to be back up and running. Hopefully it’ll be a good resource for you in the future. Best wishes!




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      2. Thank you. The suggestion to look at ACLM is a great one, and I’m glad you found someone. I plan to switch from my current traditional family medicine practice to doing mostly lifestyle medicine by the end of this year. Wish me luck!




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        1. Dr. Jon: I wish you luck!!! Your patients are so lucky to have you as their doctor. I can tell that from how you answer questions on this forum. I hope the change in your practice works out. We need people like you.




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    2. Thank you for your valiant efforts to educate, it is an uphill battle because it seems to be human nature to discredit and ignore even obvious proof of harm if it doesn’t suit what someone wishes to be true because they enjoy it. We’re all familiar with the “vegan agenda” generalization when factual advice “threatens” an accustomed lifestyle of eating animals.




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    3. I feel the bigger more disturbing problem is you can add anything at all to food and just claim it safe, and it takes 30 years of studies to finally get rid of it. If it isn’t trans fat it is something else, the root of the problem needs to stop.




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      1. Agreed. However, requiring proof of safety is also going to lead to misguided “research”. Something that might be done in another, better World could be to make decision-makers personally [1] accountable of knowingly health-attacking problems. It would combine well with requiring transparency. But that would be a by-default statement of mistrust (which may however be the only way to solve this without educating the masses over and over again).

        [1] If it doesn’t get personal, there is the construct of making a lot of money in a company, siphoning off the profits and let the original company die.




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    4. Someone once came to my school when I was in second grade and gave all of the second graders a speech of why not to eat McDonald’s. One of the reasons was because of hydrogenated oils, and she said that all fast food restaurants had them. From then on, I never ate fast food again. Nobody else in my class took that speech to heart. I wish she would have lectured about veganism or wfpb instead. Maybe I could have avoided my severe acne.




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    5. The good news is that the tipping point for adoption to really gain traction is not the majority, some argue as low as 10%. The sad news is that human nature is such that greed and personal bias hinder adoption. Here’s an interesting article from NPR’s All Things Considered about the long battle to get doctors to always wash their hands http://tiny.cc/xrsfcy (apparently it still continues to today).

      I also remember listening to a radio documentary on the continuing effects of lead in paint. It gave the history of how the scientist who discovered it tried to warn everyone. Not only was he discredited by the paint industry and run out of the profession, but they destroyed him financially and eventually hounded him until he went insane and was institutionalized. (Sorry, I can’t find the citation.)

      There is also the current revelations that Exxon Oil knew for decades about the effects of carbon on the environment and actively worked to counter it, as the cigarette manufacturers did, while at the same time, using the data to determine where climate warming would enable them to access oil in areas previously too cold to access.

      And you needn’t look further than congress on most issues to know why we have laws favoring corporations over people. Fortunately, every time someone adopts a vegan diet and fixes their health problems their friends and family can’t help but notice. Making it more likely that those they tell will seek help if/when they run into trouble themselves.

      Mark G




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      1. Yes, people have found effective treatments for cancer. Our tax payer dollars funded the FDA to destroy them in favor of expensive and ineffective chemo and radiation. AMA and American Cancer Society too.
        John S




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    6. Thanks Doc. I quoted your reply and added it to the comments to my FB entry where I comment on and share the above video. When we reach this tipping point, and society begins to heal itself from the inside out, all those brilliant and hard working folks of the medical industry can shift their focus to other areas and mankind can begin to ADVANCE again. It might not be “easy” but change must happen for things to get better. Every time.




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    7. It is a relief to me to see your post here Doc. My respect for medicine is at an all-time low, but your education of your patients is exactly what is needed and greatly appreciated. Thank You.




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      1. tigger2767: Thank you for your post. I have noticed that more and more people, especially on this site, are experiencing a fair amount of anger and mistrust of doctors in general. It becomes too easy to paint all medical professionals with the same brush. I hate to see generic doctor bashing. The doctors, like Dr. Jon, who participate on this site are examples of the heroes among the medical community. Such people are there, working hard, and the numbers are growing. I think they deserve our acknowledgement, respect and support.




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        1. I am always looking for reasons to acknowledge Medicos who have snapped out of their hypnosis and joined the human race. But my patience is wearing thin and I as all of us have lost friends and family members to what I call “created disease”, which is the very thing capitalized upon by the vast majority of the Pharmaceutical-driven industry. The perpetuation of illness by the weakening of the body through the introduction of poisons that merely interfere with some bodily function, successfully fooling most people who have no idea about health because it is actively suppressed by the AMA, of which these “professionals” are all members. Looking out for your brothers and sisters is the first priority. Figuring out how to improve your golf game on Wednesday afternoon and living in a million dollar house falls way down the list. So yes, you have found me out, I am generally a Medico basher, but I recognize a hero when I see one. (I don’t call them doctors yet, as they really don’t heal anyone) One more thing or 2 before I go. My opinion of a person who will look the other way when corruption is abound a field which has claimed the unearned trust of millions to those millions’ deaths merely because they had faith in one or more of these posers. This is, in my opinion, some of the deepest and most damaging corruption, right behind the politicos. I can’t even imagine giving someone chemo drugs, charging them 3,000 to 5,000 dollars or more for them, when they only make the patient worse by destroying the immune system…the very opposite of what they are supposed to do? It makes me so angry I could spit! These huge cancer hospitals need to start serving nutri-bulleted fruits and vegetables instead of murdering the people who trusted them with their lives. Disgusting. Makes me want to vomit. I count myself lucky that I was able to figure this out for myself so that I could help my aging parents and anyone else who will listen get their health issues under control, which is what these criminals should be doing.




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          1. Tigger: I share your frustration — our medical system, as a whole, is a complete disaster. Just a few of my gripes:
            1) Doctors are poorly trained to really address the big health issues. We need training in nutrition, and in public health — especially epidemiology (I did extra training to get a master’s degree in epidemiology, which really helps in being able to read medical articles, and assess for possible bias; but the average MD knows little about epidemiology).
            2) Medical insurance companies: are there only to get wealthy; they are a barrier between patients and doctors, just want to charge patients as much as possible, and pay doctors as little as possible. They vastly drive up the costs of taking care of patients.
            3) The pharmaceutical industry: makes huge profits, spends huge amounts on their drug reps to influence physician prescribing; high costs passed on to patients.
            4) Our non-democratic system of government in the US, where money buys votes and dictates policy, including the FDA’s diet recommendations — although hopefully that is changing a little.

            OK, a little venting. I am sorry for everyone who has to deal with our current system. Thank you for your support.




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        2. I am (proudly) a member of the Kaiser Permanente health foundation, Have been for over 50 years, since I was a little kid. They have some world class doctors, staff and medical professionals there. And they also have some who probably need to be in a different line of work (it’s just like any organization). The biggest things is interviewing your doctors before selecting one; challenging decisions that don’t seem right; asking for a second opinion on big issues; educating yourself and becoming a strong advocate for your own health.




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          1. And, for those who aren’t aware of it, Kaiser has recently come out in favor of a plant based diet! I rather doubt all the doctors are onboard, but over time, as the hold-outs have heart attacks and retire, things will change.




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            1. I think their plant based diet campaign has been out for a few years now. But they have a long way to go for improving their hospital food and understanding what that means in practice. Still, it’s a great beginning. Doctor Greger even have one of his talks to a Kaiser location in Sacramento, which is only s couple hours from me. I didn’t know, so I missed it. :(




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    8. I think there’s two industries as bad as “big food”. One of these industries has been caught many times hiding data on dangers of their wares, and has killed many. Physicians, and all deference to Dr. Greger etc., refuse to challenge their falsified and bought science that is deplorable on the same level as big food. Equally deadly. The result: the death rate for white Americans has gone up for about 15 years without much fanfare according to this study from the National Academy of Science. Not just increasing death rates, but dramatic worsening of health measures. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.full




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      1. Richard, thanks for your comments. I’m confused, though, because you don’t specify which are those “two industries” to which you refer. Are you talking about the pharmaceutical industry? If so, I agree with you — they probably do as much harm as good.

        I don’t think Dr. G. avoids fighting powerful groups, or he wouldn’t have done this video about AMA complicity with Big Tobacco.




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        1. My concern was that Dr. G once said that a product sold by this industry was “relatively safe”. If you look skeptically at the evidence for that category, then a very different picture emergences, one that I fear Dr. G. is loath to take on. And one that is protected by an incredible network of deception and politics. This industry is twice as big as tobacco.

          Once again, kudos for taking on big food. Taking on the AMA or defaming a tobacco industry that doesn’t even worry and operates quite happily under a cloud of unhealthiness, is very different than taking on industries with trillion dollar revenues and massive political power and massive weapons of deception and complicity from an entire health care establishment. Such an industry is capable of falsifying a huge body of science and of engaging in a vast array of deceptive techniques. So when Dr. Greger “blessed” one as seemingly safe, I was slightly disappointed, though I understand fully. This class of drugs has a much higher rate of reported deaths FROM the drug, than from the diseases that they treat.

          I think Dr. Greger would get crushed if he really took such an industry to task on any of it’s high revenue products. And you are correct, there are reasons not to mention names. Unfortunately, the health care impairment from this industry may vastly outweigh the dangers of drinking falsified pomegranate juice. They may, by falsifying the science, not just cause increased death, but they probably detract from safer and more often more effective interventions, including many that Dr. G. speaks about; from strawberries for esophegael cancer to plant based diet for a variety of chronic diseases. If it weren’t for this industry, we might see much more budgeting to get much better information on a wide variety of food based interventions. I’m sure this is easy to agree with. However, the products of this industry are so often-and in what I suspect will ultimately prove to be in vast proportion-found to be incredibly deadly; but only perhaps in the distant future, though obfuscation can last decades as the tobacco videos have shown.

          I suspect that the vast majority of this industry’s products never solve the basic questions of “do these products improve health and mortality more than they create harmful effects including death from unintended consequences”. I suspect that if they did, the answer might be no in the vast majority of cases. And that the entire medical community depends upon, and uses the falsified science of this industry for it’s entire existance, explains why the largest demographic in the U.S. has experienced nearly 2 decades of declining mortality and worsening health [Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century ]

          Dr. G. cannot, and I suspect will not, take that industry on. I would not urge him to do so either. I’m just sad that no one will address this noxious industry. I suspect that this industry by direct and by a “replacement effect” is by far the number one cause of death in the U.S.




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    9. At yesterday’s appt my a1c was 5.1 and BP was 116/72. I told my doc I’m eating vegan-ish. She said, “I could never do that because I like steak.” Funny, I thought the appt was about me, not her. Keep up the great work!




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  2. Smoke! smoke! smoke! that cigarette sung by Tex Williams 1947 sounds like they really did know tobacco was dangerous.
    Glad I never smoked. Sad to have known so many that did and the price they paid for that privilege .




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    1. Th experts knew, the public was blissfully ignorant. I was a smoker off and on for 40 years. Worst addiction every known to mankind. I’ve only been stopped for 2 years, with the help of drugs and a vaporizer. I have to remain constantly vigilant for addict mind tricks. I will never be safe from temptation.




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      1. I agree, quitting smoking was much harder than even getting off the narcotics I took for severe arthritis, fibromyalgia and multiple back issues for years…until changing my diet changed everything! Despite all the objections to vaping, I could have never quit without it, and immediately felt the benefits, so though I don’t think it is harmless, the harm is much less than smoking judging by the return of improved health, immunity and breathing! The ONLY real solution is never starting, it has insidious hooks for too many! Finally, four years after quitting, cigarettes are as disgusting to me as they are to a nonsmoker, so stand strong!




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        1. Alan Carr Book ” Stop smoking now” is a must read for anyone who has an addiction problem . He addresses other addictions not just tobacco. I read all 670 pages for a friend who was having a hard time reading due to eyesight problems.It,s easy reading since he also has a sense of humor.




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  3. Early settlers in the US were cultivating lots of tobacco (very early 1600s) so why did it take until the 1920 to make the link to disease? Was it far less common? didn’t smoke much? or didn’t keep medical records on cause of death?




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    1. I would guess the latter. I don’t even think people started doing autopsies until the late 1800’s at earliest. Desecration of corpses was considered very bad practice. As a matter of fact, I just saw a doc or historical drama about the first doctor to insist that autopsies were nessesary. I think he was British.




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    2. Perhaps they did know about the effects of tobacco on the lungs, as King James VI of Scotland (= King James I of England) wrote in 1604:

      “A custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the
      braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof,
      neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.”




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    3. A bit of all of it I would guess, but interesting that in China, where men smoke more than they ever did here and yet their lung cancer rates are lower. Perhaps all the chemicals and additives the US is so fond of incorporating has exacerbated the problems inherent in cigarettes.




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      1. I expect that humans have been inhaling considerable amounts of smoke on a regular basis for a long, long time. Huts filled with wood smoke.




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      2. I would be suspicious of the published disease rates. It would reflect badly on the ‘Party’ if too many people were dying of disease. Don’t think for a minute that industry in China are less likely to adulterate products. Do the words poisoned pet food ring a bell?




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    4. Tobacco was largely smoked in pipes, pipes needed matches, (which were for much of that time expensive – if even invented yet,) or an already prepared fire. So tobacco was a treat in ones life not an addiction until prerolles and high mechanization of crop harvesting shows up with the combustion engine. With the increase in pocket money, (what we now call disposable income,) and the invention of the printing press came “suggestion selling” and the rest of tobacco story from here on into the future is the battle between ones right to participate in an act that all know is harmful to ones health or choosing not to.




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  4. Dear Dr. Greger I would like to know your assessment on this question:
    What is better for the health ,
    1. stop eating meat fish and dairy but also not eating enough dark green leafy stuff and B12 and Omega 3
    or 2. Get enough of the nutrition my body needs but also eat meat fish and dairy from time to time in small amounts (like 2 out of 7 days) ?
    So to compress it “Is the wrong stuff more worse than the good stuff is good ?”




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    1. That seems to me like asking whether it’s “worse” to stab yourself in the left arm or shoot yourself in the right. They are both harmful but in different ways, and I don’t think there is going to be a singular, reliable answer. I don’t think that’s possible. Too many unknowns, and many unknowables.




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      1. I agree, but unfortunately due to human nature, we need to start somewhere in getting people to at least move in a better direction because otherwise they just totally ignore the idea. Everyone hates me for trying to encourage them to pay attention to nutrition instead of waiting to get sick and taking pills because THAT is so much easier! I do get it, it took a crisis to get my attention and make big changes, but until the good doctors used the internet to disseminate the truth, there was nowhere to get factual info! There was just so much static and conflicting information people turn off to all of it! Even when people see the dramatic changes changing my diet has made, I get a “pat on the back” but no one wants to consider such “radical” change for themselves! I can only imagine what the good doctors have to go through! I can’t make people change, but I will continue to spread the truth because it could have spared me so much suffering had I known earlier.




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      2. The point is, that I do of course know, what would be the best food for me , at least from the nutrition point. But I do also want to live and enjoy life and everything it offers to me. In terms of evolution and history humans did always eat meat (they eat just everything , thats the reason why they spread all over the world long before globalization) so I cant imagine that basically every piece of meat makes you sick. I think the problem ist the abundance of cheap meat and junk food, so that people cant compensate the negative sites. My ancestors in Russia had a farm with chicks pigs and cows and everything, but meat was a rare food though. The whole summer they ate just what the garden had to offer and in the winter the pig was sloughtered and they had way more meat than vegetables (They had no Diseases of affluence). So I think it is way more important to eat enough of the healthy stuff than eating less of the “bad” stuff … the study about mortality showed that vegetarians and vegans died at the same age and for the same reasons as meat eaters just because they missed a few important sources of B12 and Omega 3 fats. But for this assessment I would like to know what Dr. Greger has to say :P




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        1. Nemonekto: Your question was problematic, but your clarification here was helpful. If you are trying to figure out how much meat you could have in your diet and not affect your health, you might use the traditional Okinawan’s as an example. The traditional Okinawans were one of the healthiest and longest lived populations. They traditionally ate about 1 percent fish, less than 1 percent all other meat (including poultry), less than 1 percent eggs, and less than 1 percent dairy. If you added it all up, that would be about 3-4% animal products based on calories, which is a very small amount. (You can review these numbers from the NutritionFacts video on Okinawa if you want to verify.)
          .
          So, no, a single bite of meat say once a week will not likely kill you. The question is how much. You can use the Okinawans as a guide. You can also get more information about Dr. Greger’s perspective on this matter by reading the 2nd part of Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die. For example, Dr. Greger discusses when it might be OK health-wise to eat bacon. (The answer is, “never” from an ethical perspective, but if you don’t care about ethics, then the book’s answer will help you get a sense of Dr. Greger’s answer to your question.)
          .
          But there are some important considerations to make before you go down the path of including animal products in your diet. First, eating animal products tends for most people to be a slippery slope – where they end up eating a lot more than 3 percent of their *calories* in animal products. (Calories: remember, animal products tend to be very calorie-dense, which means that volume-wise, you would have less than 3% animal products.)
          .
          Also, keep in mind that while some people can get away with 3-4% animal products, other people report that their health problems did not clear up until they went 100% animal-free (and sometimes also oil-free).
          .
          Finally, your comment about wanting to enjoy life is telling. The exciting news is that you can fully enjoy your food even without any animal products. First, your tastes change when you start to eat healthy–so that you end up loving the food you are eating, even if the meals are meat-free. Second, you can find plant based dishes which you love and eat those.
          .
          I hope that helps to answer your question.




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          1. Thea: I guess it helped a little bit.
            In reference to your last comment: Even if you are right and there are vegan dishes that tastes at least as good as meaty dishes, they will be at last a different type of “good taste”. Meat and fish is just a whole different world of taste and consistancy and as a pure vegan you live and die without experiencing this world. If you have ethical concerns about killing animal it might overweight this disadvantage …. me personally dont need to know what human flesh tastes like if that means, that a human has to be killed, so I can understand the attidude of ethical vegans in terms of animals, but for me its just a natural thing to kill and eat other species than human.

            UCBAlum: That problem is, that there are no studies (as far as I know) that compare same types of people that eat animal product in different amounts (starting from 100% vegan -> vegetarien -> meat once a week -> meat every second day and at last “western lifestyle” meat every day.) You cannot even compare the western diet with the okinawa diet, with the mediterranien diet or with the “Eskimo diet” without considering the different types of lifes the people have. For example there is a village in italy called “the village of 100 year olds ” , the people do eat very much healthy stuff but also meat. So are they so healthy because of their diet or because of the good genes or because they life in a three generation household with less stress and a happier life ? Would they live even longer without meat ? You cant really prove it with study participants from a whole different culture and society.




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            1. True.

              However, the study of US and Canadian members of the 7th Day Adventist Church comes a little bit close. All study participants were North Americans and all were church goers. They were analysed by diet (and other factors) and grouped into 5 dietary patterns. Overall people who ate fish but no meat, dairy or egg had the lowest mortality. However, if you looked only at males (table 4) , strict vegetarians (called “vegans” here) had the lowest mortality of all groups (male and female). Significantly lower than semi vegetarians. I am not sure why results for women were different but I suspect that post menopausal status and hormone replacement use may have been confounding factors.
              rchinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1710093

              Of course, this does not “prove” anything … but I personally find it highly suggestive.

              It helps though that I now find the idea of eating animal products repulsive. I did not adopt a strict vegetarian diet until my 50s and it was surprisingly easy and quick to lose the taste for animal foods. Why not just try for a month and see what happens?




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            2. I agree that the number of variables involved complicates nutritional research, but that can be mitigated by studying the differences among otherwise similar populations. I believe the studies you mention in theory actually do exist in practice. I think at least one of the Seventh Day Adventist health studies, for example, looks ad differences between vegans, vegetarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, pescatarians (I forget the actual word for this), and meat-eaters. There may be other studies too.

              Also – econometrics is a powerful tool that helps narrow down the likelihood of causal relationships where confounding factors exist. and it is particularly useful when data is collected over time. It allows you to quantify some of the questions/concerns you raise.




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          2. Yes! The flavors of food change when you start losing the accumulated toxicity attendant to the chronic consumption of meat and processed foods. I have found that most of the difficulty with withdraw from the toxins is mental after a certain point. You think about sitting in front of the TV and “automatically” want some sort of munchies. But after a few times of succumbing to this urge, I found the flavor of these munchies to be not what I had anticipated it to be and terrible is the flavor because you are yourself, not a doped up eating machine.




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        2. I understand. I don’t know what he’d say but I know what the research he features says, and the conclusions he draws from it, and that is that all things equal, the extent to which we consume meat and dairy is the extent to which we open ourselves up to disease. One strong theme throughout his videos and blog is that no amount of animal product consumption is “safe”. Yes, maybe disease X doesn’t kick in until you eat chicken more than once a month, but disease Y may. One of the primary points of all his work in aggregate, in my view, is that no amount of animal product consumption is safe, and this is not necessarily inconsistent with ancestors eating a bit of meat and not getting sick. There could be many reasons for this: They died younger, health statistics are unavailable or less reliable, the meat is different now, our lives are different now, etc. I think the answer is that you expose yourself to risk when you eat any animal products, the risk rises as the amount you eat rises, and it is very difficult to quantify the risk in such a broad, general way.




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    2. Sorry to sound like an existentialist jerk here but I think Dr. G does a pretty good job of laying out the consequences of various habits to the best of his knowledge at the moment. Though it might be useful to micromanage how to mitigate doing things that are harmful, given the complicated variability in people and their situations those questions sound pretty complicated re. trying to give definitive answers to. I think we just have to make our own decisions about what risk is acceptable and thank Dr. G for making those decisions just a little more quantifiable.




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  5. The research implicating meat with chronic disease is so compelling; it really frustrates me that our government favors “Big Meat” over “the little people”. Just the Seventh Day Adventist studies alone should give anyone pause for thought. The latest study included almost 100,000 people. Non-vegetarian Adventists have about an 85 percent higher risk of developing colon cancer than their vegetarian counterparts. Heart disease is also strongly associated with meat intake. “When it comes to heart attacks, blood lipids, diabetes and high blood pressure, vegetarians have the clear advantage and vegans fare even better.” https://news.adventist.org/en/all-commentaries/commentary/go/-/adventist-health-studies-indicate-a-long-healthy-life-is-no-accident/




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    1. Good points. I wish we could change the priorities so that elementary schools present actual evidence-based nutrition from day 1. Who decides what is taught in our schools?




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  6. In the Southern states around the turn of the Century, where prejudice against blacks was endemic, privately run conveyances, like buses and trains, did not require separate seating for blacks and whites, because it was unprofitable — too many seats were left empty. However, these same conveyances did have separate seating for smokers and non-smokers. So evidently, there were not that many smokers to make separate seating for them unprofitable.




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  7. I have a book of essays published around the 1880s or so in which one doctor states, “it is never a good idea to inhale particulat ematter into the lungs.” This book is called The Robber Barons Revisited.




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  8. These images of authority, like the friendly pipe-smoking doctor in the ads, are something that I grew up with and have subtly affected my choices all the way to the present day. A true healer empowers with knowledge. Medicine is a sacred calling. We have forgotten that in this profit-driven society. But hope springs eternal!




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      1. I remember visiting a small town GP as a kid ( 14-15?)…he was smoking during the visit…coughing badly…and he tells me not to start smoking. He died I think of lung cancer.

        I did end up smoking for 16 years….and also liked to burn incense which is probably about as bad. Apparently people have problems learning from one another?




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        1. I never could stand the cigarette stench, but did get a date with the Nicotine Monkey for two complete addictions. The second time quitting was so bad that I promised myself that’d I’d never quit a 3rd time.

          SO I can never mess with that Addiction again (and won’t). But then a good cigar on rarest of occasion, well that’s akin to the 3 or 4 burgers I may eat-IN A Year now. 8-D




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    1. I remember my doctor giving me a penicillin shot for a cold, a probably unnecessary tonsilectomy, Stilbestrol to my mom, and other stuff that didn’t help and may have harmed. He was undoubtedly a product of his time.




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      1. “More than a million coronary revascularizations, involving either CABG or angioplasty with or without stenting, are performed in the U.S. each year to fix blocked arteries that supply blood to the heart.”

        – aren’t they all?




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  9. With regard to smoking and not really the general theme of this video, I think that the “current” decline in the use of tobacco cigarettes may actually be offset by an increase in nicotine addiction via patches and vaporizors. They are the least noxious ways (to others) of satisfying that ridiculously addictive nicotine monkey.




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  10. Thank you for blowing the lid off the BS being pushed around in the name of medical science. Its a sad day when the institution of science is so evidently corrupt with money… but I guess this is old news!

    Even more reason to stay vigilant and educate ourselves with legit science. Of which, this is the best outlet! =^]




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  11. Great video. This is in line with Dr. G’s speaking tour this last year. Now I can simply send my friends this link rather than trying to explain the similar paradigm to today’s conflict with the medical industry’s denial of the known and proven harm that animal protein, refined carbs, and added oils do to health. I was surprised to hear that the ACC is partnered with Coke. Dr. Kim Williams who is the president of the ACC, himself eats and promotes a WFPB diet. Wonder, what’s up with that?!




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  12. I once heard a geneticist say that the genetic damage caused by smoking cigarettes has been traced forward for three generations. My mom started smoking in adolescence, a time period when genes are sensitive, and died of lung cancer at 60. I had my first bout with a rare, fortunately slow-growing cancer at age 38. The following year, I gave birth to a daughter with a chromosomal deletion. As I scurried from the room in which my mom was dying to the intensive care unit in which my newborn, after 12 hours of open heart surgery, was struggling to survive, I gasped at the sign on the door: Duke’s pediatric intensive care unit, brought to you by Big Tobacco. https://eatandbeatcancer.com/2014/02/01/anti-cancer-diet-and-then-there-was-smoking/




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    1. Yes, but ………
      I’ve been a family doctor for almost 30 years. My patients for the most part are not “dumb”; they are confused, and don’t know who to trust. They look to me for guidance, and I know that some of my advice has been wrong — because I have also been confused by the propaganda to which you refer.




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      1. I think the problem is systemic with big business and industries controlling, leading and manipulating not only US congress but also the media, science, education and health. The “Truth” is not the objective real truth, but a “Truth” to maximize profit for Big Business. Examples: “Secret” genetically modified livestock & agricultural products; meat, dairy & egg industries getting billions of government subsidies; denial of global warming, etc…




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  13. You can add the cell phone and wireless industry to that list. The medical profession is not keeping up on the actual research in this area and is instead accepting the spin. A good site, run by UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s Dr. Joel Moskowitz: http://www.saferemr.org




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