The past twelve months produced a bumper crop of health scares, according to physicians and scientists with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). In a new roundup, ACSH describes the genesis of 10 of the most outrageous ones, and explains why they are scares with little or no basis in scientific fact.
“Food and nutrition are always prime targets for outlandish pronouncements,” stated Dr. Ruth Kava, ACSH nutrition director. This year the false food-related scares included:
• Trans fatty acids are major causes of heart disease
• High fructose corn syrup triggers obesity
• Benzene in soft drinks causes cancer
• Mercury-laden tuna threatens the health of women and babies
• Nitrosamines in bacon cause bladder cancer
• Grilled chicken contains dangerous levels of carcinogens
• Meat packaging process puts consumers at risk
Chemophobia is also a recurrent theme in this year’s scares, according to ACSH president Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. She noted, “What better way to garner consumers’ attention than to assert that the widely used Teflon coating for cookware contains a carcinogenic chemical. But it’s not true. Nor should consumers be afraid of chemicals in cosmetics, which have been repeatedly targeted by self-styled consumer advocacy groups.”
The cult of “natural” hormones is based on the false dichotomy between synthetic and naturally-occurring products. According to Dr. Gilbert Ross, ACSH medical director, “The supposed superior safety of so-called ‘bioidentical hormones’ is a myth, and possibly a dangerous one, if women abandon the use of physician-prescribed hormone treatments in favor of unproven ‘alternatives’.”
Many of these unfounded health claims are old ones -- refurbished with new alarms but no sounder than they were in the past. Each scare only distracts people from the real, proven health risks that they should attend to and the rational solutions -- such as not smoking, maintaining appropriate body weight, and getting necessary vaccinations.
The American Council on Science and Health is a public health, consumer-education consortium of over 350 scientists and physicians, experts who serve on ACSH's scientific advisory panel. ACSH publishes reports on issues pertaining to the environment, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco and helps the public deal with the real health risks productively.
See ACSH’s full report “The Top Ten Unfounded Health Scares of 2006” -- and ACSH’s rational resolutions to help “Make Health a Priority in 2007.”
The American Council on Science and Health is an independent, non-profit consumer education organization concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment and health. For more information visit http://www.acsh.org or http://HealthFactsandFears.com