Are UK alcohol guidelines reliable and realistic?

Overview In 1995, a report entitled “Sensible Drinking” was published by the UK Department of Health. In this report, the recommended maximum alcohol intakes were controversially raised to 4 units per day for men and 3 units per day for women. This equates to 28 and 21 units per week for men and women respectively…

Mad cows and Englishmen – the British BSE crisis

Title after Noel Coward Overview In 1984, the first case of a new and fatal neurological disease was seen in a British cow on a farm in Sussex. The erratic behaviour and loss of co-ordination of affected cows led to the popular name of “mad cow disease”. Over the next twenty-five years almost 200,000 cases…

Cabbage and cancer

Cabbage makes the news Listed below are three headlines taken from UK media sources: How the humble cabbage can cut cancers BBC news web-site 15/08/2018 Eating kale and broccoli can help prevent colon cancer, study claims The Independent 14/08/2018 Another reason to eat your greens! Compound in kale, cabbage and broccoli protects against bowel cancer…

Fish, fish glorious fish nothing quite like it for???

Title after  At least one oily fish, salmon, is in most lists of superfoods. Fish oil and cod liver oil comprise over 40% of the value of dietary supplement sales in the UK. So what nutritional characteristics of fish are responsible for its very positive health image?  What prompted this post? Two separate sets of…

High blood cholesterol – problem (almost) solved?

“Your cholesterol is a little high”. How many of us have been given this slightly worrying news after a routine blood test? This post aims to help readers put this news into context and decide how to respond to this news. It will also show how mass use of statins has transformed the blood cholesterol…

A third of UK adults ‘underestimate calorie intake’

This headline appeared on the BBC news web-site (19/02/2018) and related headlines appeared in other media outlets (e.g. The Daily Telegraph ). These headlines were prompted by research from the Office of National Statistics ONS which claim that calorie intake measured objectively using a high-tech method (doubly labelled water, DLW) is much higher than the…

“Ultra-processed foods” and cancer risk

Today’s (16/02/2018) newspapers (e.g. The Guardian) and other media (e.g. BBC) carry headlines about eating “ultra-processed foods” being linked to higher cancer risk. These headlines are in response to a paper published in the BMJ  by a group of mainly French scientists. In my opinion this paper and the media coverage it has generated epitomizes what…

Time for an updated and rational UK food fortification policy?

Context Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey consistently shows that many people have recorded intakes of vitamins and minerals that are classified as inadequate i.e. more than two standard deviations below the estimated average requirement. This figure is called the lower reference nutrient intake or LRNI in the UK. There are also many…

Flawed medical advice killed tens of thousands of babies

Back to Sleep campaigns have slashed cot death rates around the world but most of their success can be attributed to undoing the harm caused by earlier incorrect advice. A comparison, by scientists at the University of Virginia, of cot death rates in 15 countries before and after campaigns to reduce front sleeping and other…