Sunday, December 10, 2006

 

Trans Fats and Synergies

Awhile back I posted about Randall Fitzgerald's The Hundred Year Lie, wherein he suggests that modern Americans are contracting all kinds of maladies from combinations of synthetic chemicals that are in more or less everything we eat, drink, and otherwise use in our daily lives.

The trans fats mentioned in the previous post are essentially synthetic butter. You'll find them listed as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils on the back of the container. Presumably the partially hydrogenated oils have some benefit over butter (like lower fat) but the trans fats themselves apparantly have bad effects, including lowering "good cholesterol" and raising "bad" cholesterol. Maybe I'd prefer plain old butter. It also occurs to me that this is a verifiable case of a synethic compound that has a harmful effect. Fitzgerald's proposition is that many synthetic chemicals that are inert by themselves interact within the body to produce serious side effects.

That makes logical sense, but it's hard to test because the nature of these synergies precisely defeats the scientific method. If you control for all but the test compound, then by definition you will not see the synergy. If you can't verify something, then you can't very well decide it's worthy of a government reaction--like banning trans fats.

Note: I'm now using the new Google/Blogger beta, and it seems to allow for tagging posts. I'm tagging this one as "trans fats", "junk science", and "books".

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Comments:
Europeans use butter and other full fat foodstuffs and are not any fatter than Americans (quite the opposite in fact), so I think it is better just to go with mostly natural food. Anyways, I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to drinking skim milk after my stint here in Germany.
 
skim milk rocks, whatchu talkin bout willis?!?!?!?!!

sure, it's disconcerting the first time you have it in a bowl of serial. But, if you NEVER have full milk, you will soon forget what it's like.

Nowadays, drinking full milk makes me feel like i'm drinking a milkshake or eggnog... it's disgustingly thick. I'd rather have the fat skimmed off :)


I thought there was scientific a way to test for synergies, otherwise how would they determine that certain prescription drugs should not be mixed? (Well, I suppose with the entire human populace as a guinea pig, there is plenty of empirical data.)

BTW - I just posted to say your 3 tags got merged together into 1 tag. (coughwordpress has had tagging forevercough) :)
 
I can't believe I said "serial" instead of "cereal" earlier.

I am infected by the South Park version of Al Gore, apparantly.
 
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