How Smoking in 1959 Is Like Eating in 2019

How Smoking in 1959 Is Like Eating in 2019
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Given that diet is the number-one cause of death and disability, nutrition is surely the number-one subject taught in medical school, right? And it’s certainly the number-one issue your doctor talks with you about, right? If only. How can there be such a disconnect between the available evidence and the practice of medicine?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Most deaths in the United States are preventable, and related to nutrition. According to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the Global Burden of Disease study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the number one cause of death in the United States, and the number one cause of disability in this country, is our diet—which has bumped tobacco smoking to number two. Smoking now only kills about a half million Americans every year, whereas our diet now kills hundreds of thousands more.

So, if most death and disability is preventable, and related to nutrition, then obviously, nutrition is the number one thing taught in medical school, right? It’s the number one thing your doctor talks to you about. How could there be such a disconnect between the science, and the practice, of medicine?

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine yourself a smoker back in the 1950s. The average per capita cigarette consumption was about 4,000 cigarettes a year. Think about that. In the 1950s, the average person walking around smoked a half pack a day.

The media was telling you to smoke. Famous athletes agreed. Even Santa Claus cared enough about your throat to want you to smoke. I mean, you want to keep fit, and stay slender; so, you make sure to smoke. And eat lots of hot dogs to keep trim, and lots of sugar to stay slim and trim—a lot less fattening than that apple there. I mean, sheesh. Though apples do “connote goodness and freshness,” reads one internal tobacco industry memo, which brings up many possibilities for making “youth-oriented” cigarettes. They wanted to make apple-flavored cigarettes for kids.

In addition to staying fit and slender, and soothing your throat, “For digestion’s sake,” you smoke. I mean, “No curative power is claimed for [by] Philip Morris—but [hey], an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Better be safe than sorry, and smoke.

Like eating, smoking was a family affair. “Gee, Mommy, you sure enjoy your Marlboro!” “You’re darn tootin’. ” “Just one question, Mom: can you afford not to smoke Marlboros?” In the 1950s, your kids were giving you cigarettes. Even your dog was giving you cigarettes.

“Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.” “No woman ever says no.” They’re “so round, so firm, so fully packed.” After all, John Wayne smoked them (until he got lung cancer and died).

Back then, even the Paleo folks were smoking, and so were the doctors.

Now, this is not to say there wasn’t controversy within the medical profession. Yes, some doctors smoked Camels, but other physicians preferred Luckies. So, there was some disagreement. “Eminent doctors, on high and impartial medical authority, call for Philip Morris.” Even the specialists couldn’t agree which cigarette was better for your throat. So, best to stick to the science. And, more scientists smoke this brand.

This should not be rocket science—but even the rocket scientists had their favorite: for “the man who thinks for himself.”

We know why the AMA may have been sucking up to the tobacco industry, refusing to endorse the Surgeon General’s report on smoking, after they were handed a ten million dollar check from the tobacco industry.

But, why weren’t more individual doctors speaking out? Well, there were a few gallant souls ahead of their time, writing in, as there are today, standing up against industries killing millions. But, why not more? Maybe, it’s because the majority of physicians themselves smoked cigarettes—just like the majority of physicians today continue to eat foods that are contributing to our epidemics of dietary diseases. What was the AMA’s rallying cry back then? Everything in moderation. Extensive scientific studies have proven “smoking in moderation”—oh, that’s fine. Sound familiar?

Eating the Standard American Diet today is like being a smoker back in the 1950s. Most everyone you know eats this way. It’s normal—it’s what they feed people in hospitals, for gosh sake. But, you don’t have to wait until society catches up with the science again.

Sometimes, it takes a whole generation for things to change in medicine. The old guard of smoking physicians and medical school professors die off, and a new generation takes its place. But how many patients need to die in the interim?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to stux via Pixabay

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Most deaths in the United States are preventable, and related to nutrition. According to the most rigorous analysis of risk factors ever published, the Global Burden of Disease study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the number one cause of death in the United States, and the number one cause of disability in this country, is our diet—which has bumped tobacco smoking to number two. Smoking now only kills about a half million Americans every year, whereas our diet now kills hundreds of thousands more.

So, if most death and disability is preventable, and related to nutrition, then obviously, nutrition is the number one thing taught in medical school, right? It’s the number one thing your doctor talks to you about. How could there be such a disconnect between the science, and the practice, of medicine?

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine yourself a smoker back in the 1950s. The average per capita cigarette consumption was about 4,000 cigarettes a year. Think about that. In the 1950s, the average person walking around smoked a half pack a day.

The media was telling you to smoke. Famous athletes agreed. Even Santa Claus cared enough about your throat to want you to smoke. I mean, you want to keep fit, and stay slender; so, you make sure to smoke. And eat lots of hot dogs to keep trim, and lots of sugar to stay slim and trim—a lot less fattening than that apple there. I mean, sheesh. Though apples do “connote goodness and freshness,” reads one internal tobacco industry memo, which brings up many possibilities for making “youth-oriented” cigarettes. They wanted to make apple-flavored cigarettes for kids.

In addition to staying fit and slender, and soothing your throat, “For digestion’s sake,” you smoke. I mean, “No curative power is claimed for [by] Philip Morris—but [hey], an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Better be safe than sorry, and smoke.

Like eating, smoking was a family affair. “Gee, Mommy, you sure enjoy your Marlboro!” “You’re darn tootin’. ” “Just one question, Mom: can you afford not to smoke Marlboros?” In the 1950s, your kids were giving you cigarettes. Even your dog was giving you cigarettes.

“Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.” “No woman ever says no.” They’re “so round, so firm, so fully packed.” After all, John Wayne smoked them (until he got lung cancer and died).

Back then, even the Paleo folks were smoking, and so were the doctors.

Now, this is not to say there wasn’t controversy within the medical profession. Yes, some doctors smoked Camels, but other physicians preferred Luckies. So, there was some disagreement. “Eminent doctors, on high and impartial medical authority, call for Philip Morris.” Even the specialists couldn’t agree which cigarette was better for your throat. So, best to stick to the science. And, more scientists smoke this brand.

This should not be rocket science—but even the rocket scientists had their favorite: for “the man who thinks for himself.”

We know why the AMA may have been sucking up to the tobacco industry, refusing to endorse the Surgeon General’s report on smoking, after they were handed a ten million dollar check from the tobacco industry.

But, why weren’t more individual doctors speaking out? Well, there were a few gallant souls ahead of their time, writing in, as there are today, standing up against industries killing millions. But, why not more? Maybe, it’s because the majority of physicians themselves smoked cigarettes—just like the majority of physicians today continue to eat foods that are contributing to our epidemics of dietary diseases. What was the AMA’s rallying cry back then? Everything in moderation. Extensive scientific studies have proven “smoking in moderation”—oh, that’s fine. Sound familiar?

Eating the Standard American Diet today is like being a smoker back in the 1950s. Most everyone you know eats this way. It’s normal—it’s what they feed people in hospitals, for gosh sake. But, you don’t have to wait until society catches up with the science again.

Sometimes, it takes a whole generation for things to change in medicine. The old guard of smoking physicians and medical school professors die off, and a new generation takes its place. But how many patients need to die in the interim?

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to stux via Pixabay

Doctor's Note

In this video, I try to answer the question that arises in the minds of pretty much anyone dipping even a single toe into the lifestyle medicine literature: “Wait a second. If this were true, why didn’t my doctor tell me?” If, for example, our number-one killer can be reversed through diet, why isn’t it front-page news and taught to every medical student, broadcast from every mountaintop by medical organizations, and featured in our government dietary guidelines? Still confused? Check out my other videos that address these questions:

For more on the parallels between smoking then and eating today, see:

Is the risk of smoking really comparable to following the Standard American Diet, though? See Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking and Will Cannabis Turn Into Big Tobacco?.

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

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