Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WHO "research" showing bacon and red meat cause cancer ‘a farce’, says Australia’s Agriculture Minister (Rightly)

Barnaby makes some reasonable comments but much more could be said.  This is an old scare and in my years as a health blogger I followed each research finding on the question as it came out. Every single study was flaky, mostly being the usual stupid epidemiological nonsense that flew in the face of the basic statistical dictum, "Correlation is not causation".  Even obvious confounds such as social class were not allowed for, and would mostly account for the findings.

And the report  below simply takes all that at face value.  Utter rubbish. 

To make it worse the study is a meta-analysis. And you can't critique those in detail unless you go back over every single thing they did.  And sometimes you need to.  I know of several meta-analyses which were blatantly crooked -- excluding from consideration findings that did not suit the authors' preconceptions, for instance.

And the WHO IS crooked.  It can be bought.  And some environmental organizations have a lot of money.  I will say no more on that.

Meta-analyses can have merit.  The Cochrane studies are a case in point.  But the Cochrane analyses systematically exclude all dubious findings -- often ending up with a very small number of studies being considered as having value.  The study below analysed over 800 studies, making it clear that Cochrane rigor was not applied to the input of the study.  The study can be summarized by an old computer dictum: "Garbage in; Garbage out"

BACON lovers all over the world are reeling from the news that too much processed meat can increase the risk of cancer.  But none will be more surprised by the appetite-killing research than the world’s oldest woman, who credits her longevity on a daily helping of bacon.

116-year-old American Susannah Mushatt Jones, the official Guiness World Record holder, even had bacon on her 116th birthday cake, along with chicken drumsticks — her other favourite food.

The healthy centenarian is a living contradiction to an evaluation of more than 800 studies from several continents linking meat and cancer, that saw the WHO classify processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” — in the same category as cigarettes — and red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Australia’s Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is clearly Team Susannah when it comes to meat consumption, has labelled the link “a farce”.

The outspoken Nationals MP told ABC radio the report was being blown out of proportion.  “I don’t think we should get too exited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer. You’re not,” he said.  “What obviously is part of this is that you should have a balanced diet.”

Mr Joyce knocked back claims that some Australians were consuming a dangerous quantity of processed or red meat.  “A lot of people don’t have bacon every day. If you got everything the WHO says is carcinogenic and took it out of your diet, well you're heading back to a cave,” he said.

“If you were going to avoid everything that has any correlation with cancer then don’t walk outside, don’t walk the streets in Sydney. There’s going to be very little in life that you actually do in the end.”

The agricultural minister also argued encouragement of a vegetarian only diet would “completely change” the agriculture industry.

Meat industry groups have also protested the classification, arguing that cancer is not caused by specific foods but by several factors, Associated Press reports.

The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer findings stated just 50 grams a day — the equivalent of around one sausage or two slices of ham — can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.

Health experts have also weighed in, warning meat eaters not to go overboard heeding warnings.

“This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat,” said Tim Key, an epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK.  “But if you eat lots of it, you may want to think about cutting down.

“You could try having fish for your dinner rather than sausages, or choosing to have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).” Nutritionist Elizabeth Lund from Norfolk in England said obesity and lack of exercise were a far bigger cancer risks.

“Overall, I feel that eating meat once a day combined with plenty of fruit, vegetable and cereal fibre plus exercise and weight control, will allow for a low risk of CRC,” she said, referring to colorectal cancer.

“It should also be noted that some studies have shown that if meat is consumed with vegetables or a high-fibre diet, the risk of CRC is reduced.”


Defeats loom for Qld. ALP

WE are getting down to the wire now. The minority Palaszczuk Government is teetering on the brink.

It faces an embarrassing defeat on the floor of the Parliament over two key election pledges — the end of sandmining on North Stradbroke Island and the proposed 1am lockout for pubs and clubs.

Disgraced Member for Cook Billy Gordon is planning to join the Katters and the LNP in a plot to defeat Labor on both issues.

Cairns-based Gordon believes the proposed lockout does not suit pubs and clubs in far north Queensland. Tourism chiefs in coastal towns and cities agree.

I have some sympathy for Labor’s lockout plans which aimed to combat alcohol-fuelled violence. Teenagers need to be protected from their own excesses.

A defeat on lockouts would be an especially galling for maxillofacial surgeon Anthony Lynham who successfully stood for Parliament for the Labor Party on a platform of curbing drunken violence.

A defeat of lockout laws would undoubtedly leave him feeling betrayed, and perhaps wondering whether Parliamentary duty is worth it.

Defeats in the House will also signal a crumbling of Palaszczuk’s authority.

Palaszczuk is now walking the tightrope.

Under attack for having no plan to fix severe traffic jams and criticised for the chronic bed shortages at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, the ALP is struggling to keep its head above water.

There are no guarantees this Labor Government will survive.


Labor’s job is tougher now Turnbull is PM, Jason Clare admits

Labor frontbencher Jason Clare has conceded the switch from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull made the opposition’s job “harder”, as he insisted the Prime Minister was better than his predecessor because he “speaks in full sentences” and “doesn’t eat raw onions”.

Amid calls for a new bipartisan approach to policies and after the China free trade deal finally passed parliament this week, Mr Clare said the public wanted to strip out some of the so-called “Abbottisation” of Australian politics.

“The switch from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull makes our job harder, no doubt about it, we are the underdog,” Mr Clare said on Sky News’s Australian Agenda program.

“No federal party has lost a federal election from government and returned to government in one term in 85 years.

“But I suspect that because Malcolm Turnbull is different to Tony Abbott, better than Tony Abbott in many respects — he speaks in full sentences, doesn’t eat raw onions — he is going to make us a better opposition and in turn will make us a better government.”

Mr Clare, who is the opposition’s communications spokesman, said he wasn’t concerned by Bill Shorten’s low popularity levels despite the latest Newspoll showing the Opposition Leader is on 19 per cent as preferred prime minister compared to Mr Turnbull’s 57 per cent.

“You often see the best of people in government; it’s when they’re in positions of power that you see what people are really worth. “Tony Abbott’s a good example of that. He was a very effective opposition leader, he was a less than impressive prime minister.”

Mr Clare said both Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten should be “rewarded” for working together on the China FTA and suggested the opposition and government collaborate on changes to superannuation tax concessions next.

“If the parties retreat into their corners then both will be punished for it,” Mr Clare said.

“What we’re seeing here is a prime minister in Malcolm Turnbull who is popular by virtue of the fact that he has replaced somebody that was incredibly unpopular. He’s been rewarded for removing a very unpopular prime minister. And a bit like a sort of a reality TV star, a Kim Kardashian or a Paris Hilton, he’s popular for doing nothing, nothing yet.”


Newspoll: True measure of Labor’s fall as Coalition surges on PM’s gains

Malcolm Turnbull’s massive lead as the preferred PM grew further, while Bill Shorten fell to his worst result of 17 per cent

Bill Shorten’s standing with voters has tumbled to his lowest level as Malcolm Turnbull’s support hits new highs and the Coalition enjoys its strongest lead in two-party terms in almost two years.

The latest Newspoll, taken exclusively for The Australian, reveals the Coalition leads Labor by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in two-party terms, having regained its lead after the parties were deadlocked at 50-50 a fortnight ago.

Mr Turnbull’s massive lead as the preferred prime minister grew further, with his support leaping to 63 per cent while Mr Shorten fell to his worst result of 17 per cent.

The Coalition’s primary vote rose two points to 45 per cent over the past fortnight to be at its highest since November 2013 and almost back at the 45.6 per cent achieved in its 2013 election victory. It is up six points since Mr Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister last month.

Labor’s primary vote is 10 points lower than the government at 35 per cent. After falling four points, it has been steady at this level for the three Newspolls since Mr Turnbull won the leadership, despite an Ipsos/Fairfax poll last week saying it had fallen to a historic low of 30 per cent.

Newspoll shows weaker support for the Greens, which fell one point to 11 per cent, while other minor parties and independents also fell one point to 9 per cent.

Despite Labor’s personal ­attacks on the Prime Minister ­investing his fortune in the Cayman Islands, the Coalition and Mr Turnbull have emerged with a surge in support after the first fortnight of parliament with the new ministry in place.

The poll of 1606 voters shows Mr Turnbull’s support as better prime minister jumped six points to a six-year high of 63 per cent and is 26 points higher than Mr Abbott’s final result.

Mr Shorten’s 17 per cent is down two points in the past fortnight and he has suffered a 24-point plunge since the change of Liberal leader.

It is the lowest result for any opposition leader since Mr Turnbull posted support of 14 per cent in November 2009 in the days before he was replaced by Mr Abbott.

Newspoll also reveals a 67-point gap has opened between the net satisfaction ratings for the leaders, with Mr Turnbull enjoying a rare positive score of 35 points while Mr Shorten’s ranking has slumped to minus 32 points.

Satisfaction with Mr Turnbull’s performance as Prime Minister rose eight points to 58 per cent while dissatisfaction with his ­performance fell two points to 23 per cent.

Both figures are the best for any prime minister since 2009.

Mr Turnbull’s net satisfaction rating (the difference between those who are satisfied and those who are dissatisfied with his performance) improved from 25 to 35 points and is the best figure for a leader since October 2009. Satisfaction with Mr Shorten’s performance as Opposition Leader fell two points to his record low of 26 per cent as his dissatisfaction level climbed five points to 58 per cent. His net satisfaction rating deteriorated from minus 25 to minus 32 points.

During the past fortnight, Labor and the Coalition struck a deal to pass the China-Australia free-trade agreement before the end of the year after months of arguing about labour market protections.

The government’s major policy announcement since the last poll was the release of its response to the financial system inquiry by David Murray, where it vowed to give people more choice about their superannuation arrangements and cut credit card surcharges.

Labor’s political strategy to combat Mr Turnbull’s political honeymoon was a concerted attack that his money was invested in the Cayman Islands to paint the Turnbull-led Liberals as weaker than Labor on corporate tax avoidance.

Labor frontbencher and former silk Mark Dreyfus asked questions to Mr Turnbull using the phrases “notorious tax haven” and “profit shifting and tax evasion” and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said the Prime Minister’s investments were beyond the hopes of “ordinary people” and he was “extraordinarily out of touch”.

The opposition dropped the attacks after facing criticism, but ALP strategists insisted it had worked as a long-term strategy.

Mr Turnbull told parliament he had worked hard and had a lot of luck but he fully paid tax in Australia and had used offshore arrangements to avoid conflicts of interest. “If the honourable member wants to go around wearing a sandwich board saying ‘Malcolm Turnbull’s got a lot of money’, feel free — I think people know that,” he said.


No comments: