ACSH Morning Dispatch: Common Knowledge

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-- Quote to Note: "We have to create a healthy food culture in the hospital." --Joanne Shearer, food and nutrition team leader at Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D.

-- After news that students leave college less knowledgeable than when they entered, ACSH staffers shouldn't have been surprised that today's news followed a theme of "common" wisdom. The Wall Street Journal informed readers today that about eight million people die from cancer each year. The World Health Organization predicts that figure to rise by 50% to 12 million in 2030, making cancer the world's largest single killer disease.

ACSH staffers said they believe this rise can be attributed to three factors: competing causes of death are decreasing in numbers, people are living longer lives, and cigarettes are spreading. Besides that third reason, the increase in cancer deaths is not necessarily a bad thing, ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava said. Cancer will kill more people because it is a disease of older people, and people are living longer thanks to medical technology. A smaller proportion of people are dying of heart disease and other diseases, and the world's population as a whole will certainly increase by 2030.

-- Under the misleading headline "Hospital Food That Won't Make You Sick," the Wall Street Journal wrote about new standards for patients' meals. While ACSH staffers are not endorsing that patients eat "over-sweetened fruit from cans where it had been sitting for a year," we're amused and saddened when we heard that more than 100 hospitals around the country signed a pledge -- sponsored by an activist group -- to promise to serve more "organic, locally produced food, as well as food produced and distributed by environmentally friendly, sustainable methods such as using no pesticides or hormones." These hospitals are pandering to the "common wisdom," Dr. Kava said, even though eating organic does not translate into healthfulness.

Corrie Driebusch is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health (,