(Don’t) take your vitamins

Thu 13 Jun 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Read this, “Vitamins: stop taking the pills,” the other day in The Guardian and haven’t been able to get it off my mind. There are years of training, ads, articles, infographics, friends and family voices all saying “Take your vitamins!” and then there is the science:

“In October 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t. Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer.”

Just two studies.

“At least 15 studies have shown that vitamin C doesn’t treat the common cold.”

But how dangerous can it be to just pop a pill? All my life I’ve heard that this is solid, preventative medicine, the one thing I can easily do (er, besides being aware of what I’m eating and doing some exercise) that will keep me healthy and enable me to enjoy a long life?

“In 1996, investigators from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle studied 18,000 people who, because they had been exposed to asbestos, were at increased risk of lung cancer. Again, subjects received vitamin A, beta-carotene, both or neither. Investigators ended the study abruptly when they realised that those who took vitamins and supplements were dying from cancer and heart disease at rates 28% and 17% higher, respectively, than those who didn’t.”

“In 2007, researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined 11,000 men who did or did not take multivitamins. Those who took multivitamins were twice as likely to die from advanced prostate cancer.”

Read the article: “Vitamins: stop taking the pills.” Might be time to chuck the supplements.

• This is an edited extract from Killing Us Softly: The Sense And Nonsense Of Alternative Medicine, by Dr Paul Offit, published on 20 June by Fourth Estate at £13.99. To order a copy for £11.19, including free UK mainland p&p, go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop.

In the USA it is being published by Harper under the title Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

Con or Bust: New Orleans style

Tue 26 Mar 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

I was the lucky winner in the recent Con or Bust fundraiser auction and I have to post this photo because the Care Package from New Orleans is one of the best packages I’ve ever gotten. It was stuffed full of goodies: some of the pralines are already gone gone gone (so rich, so tooth unfriendly, so gone!), and one set of beads has already been overplayed with by Ursula (so the rest might disappear for a bit until she’s more careful).

Everything’s vegetarian, yay!, although not everything scores high on the healthy index: beignets are healthy, right? Time to pull out the old deepfryer! And there’s lots of cajun spice mixes so everything’s going to be spicy for a while. Thank you, Con or Bust, and especially to superdonor Maria!

So, next year, when the Con or Bust auction comes around again, remember: don’t bid for the NOLA Care Package. Ha! In the meantime, if you missed the auction, pick up a Con or Bust T-shirt here.

Con or Bust auction FTW!

What’s for dinner?

Sat 7 Nov 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book Eating Animals is causing a nice ruckus on the Huffington Post — and lots of other places. Nice to see people thinking about their impact on the world. I think it would be a great bookclub pick. For those interested in the numbers, United Poultry Concerns posted a list of the numbers of animals slaughtered for food (US only):

Total number died for food: 8.13 billion (7.67 billion for meat, 458 million for eggs)
Average number killed per American meat-eater: 27.5 (26 for meat, 1.5 for eggs)
Average number consumed per American lifetime: 2,147 (2,028 for meat, 120 for eggs)

Total number died for food: 80 billion
Average number consumed per American meat-eater: 270
Average number consumed per American lifetime: 21,000

Want want

Thu 24 Apr 2008 - Filed under: Uncategorized, | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

lovely food from Terre à Terre in Brighton.

Do they deliver to Massachusetts? How about to Edinburgh, since we’re there in August?

If you are after mung beans and carrot sticks, look away now. Amanda Powley, Terre à Terre’s creative force, does not believe vegetarianism has to mean abstinence. “For me our food is all about indulgence”, she tells me. “It’s not about sacrificing anything, it’s about gaining something.”