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More Americans are dying in the prime of their lives, and ‘excess deaths’ are clustered in Ohio and three other states – Crain’s Cleveland Business

Life expectancy in the United States has fallen for three consecutive years, the result of higher death rates for young and middle-aged adults, and Ohio is one of the primary contributors to the trend.

The Washington Post examines what it calls a "strikingly bleak study," published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that looked at the past six decades of mortality data.

From The Post's article:

Despite spending more on health care than any other country, the United States has seen increasing mortality and falling life expectancy for people age 25 to 64, who should be in the prime of their lives. In contrast, other wealthy nations have generally experienced continued progress in extending longevity. Although earlier research emphasized rising mortality among non-Hispanic whites in the United States, the broad trend detailed in this study cuts across gender, racial and ethnic lines. By age group, the highest relative jump in death rates from 2010 to 2017 29% has been among people age 25 to 34.

The findings, The Post says, "are sure to fuel political debate about causes and potential solutions because the geography of rising death rates overlaps to a significant extent with states and regions that are hotly contested in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election."

The reason: About one-third of the estimated 33,000 "excess deaths" that the study says occurred since 2010 were in four states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana.

"It's supposed to be going down, as it is in other countries," said the lead author of the report, Dr. Steven H. Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. "The fact that that number is climbing, there's something terribly wrong."

The New York Times, in looking at the study, notes that in recent years, researchers examining life expectancy issues have focused on "the plight of white Americans in rural areas who were dying from so-called deaths of despair: drug overdoses, alcoholism and suicide." But the paper says the new study "found that the increased death rates among people in midlife extended to all racial and ethnic groups, and to suburbs and cities. And while suicides, drug overdoses and alcoholism were the main causes, other medical conditions, including heart disease, strokes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also contributed."

Death rates are actually improving among children and older Americans, Woolf tells The Times, "perhaps because they may have more reliable health care Medicaid for many children and Medicare for older people."

The Times notes that Ohio, in addition to being one of the state's with the highest number of "excess deaths," also is one of five states with the greatest relative increases in death rates among young and middle-aged adults. The others in that category are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia.

Of the Ohio/Pennsylvania/Kentucky/Indiana grouping of states with the 33,000 excess deaths, Woolf said, "What's not lost on us is what is going on in those states," he said. "The history of when this health trend started happens to coincide with when these economic shifts began the loss of manufacturing jobs and closure of steel mills and auto plants."

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These Are the Health Questions You Need to Be Asking – Thrive Global

If you feel like you are seeing the word wellness everywhere these days, you are not alone. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness economy is valued at $4.2T and growing at a rate faster than the global economy 6.4 percent annually vs. 3.6 percent. While, in many ways, this is great news more people have access to the resources and information necessary to improve longevity and truly thrive on the other hand, the noise created by this influx is pushing some consumers into analysis paralysis, and preventing them from stepping into the action necessary to create positive change in their lives.

My entire career has been focused on serving others, and working in spa and wellness in my job at Rancho Valencia allows me to share the gift of a healthy lifestyle with others. I still remember my aha moment with wellness years ago I simply started running. Your aha moment can be something as simple as deciding to run two miles a day, practicing meditation, changing one thing in your diet, or any wellness goal that guides you toward better mental and physical health.

When my first aha moment occurred, I felt like I had discovered this magical secret that I wanted to share with the world. The secret is that the steps dont have to be big one change at a time points you in the right direction.

With the boom in the wellness industry has come a corresponding increase in consumer confusion about the right choice for them. Sadly, there is now a term called well-washing, which refers to marketing a product, service, or facility with a wellness orientation when there is no science behind it. Consumers are drawn to these slick marketing ploys without the resources to determine the efficacy or appropriateness of the solution for their unique needs.

There are many conversations happening in our industry about integrity in messaging, but creating educated consumers is equally important. Below are my top tips for determining if a wellness solution is worth pursuing.

Look for licensed practitioners

Each country and state has different regulations around wellness practitioners (massage therapists, estheticians, acupuncturists, naturopaths, personal trainers, etc.) When making my own selections, I look for:

Choose the right products

This is one of the most important areas for consumers to educate themselves in. Personal care and skincare are the largest sectors in the wellness industry, and therefore theyre also where most of the noise is. I frequently hear false claims from well-intentioned salespeople who have zero background in the science of the product. I take my responsibility in vetting the products we sell at my own workplace seriously, but I want consumers to have the same ability to make informed decisions.

I will always ask the following questions:

Ideally, the product is free from parabens, which can cause skin inflammation, and contribute to early signs of aging (counterintuitive to most skincare goals), and the most toxic chemicals such as:

Some skincare lines add their active ingredients to a base made by another company, and have little idea what is in that base formula. It is important for the manufacturer to guarantee the entire product is toxic-free.

This question should not catch them off-guard. The best lines are proud of this, are constantly innovating, and will be excited to share.

Testing by both an independent lab and regular internal testing is preferred.

Cold or cool processing is preferred when possible to maintain the efficacy of the active ingredients.

Wildcrafted methods are preferred, for maximum efficacy of the ingredients, but organic is at least acceptable to ensure that no chemicals were used in the manufacturing process. This is also a good question to ask to determine how much they know about the quality, integrity, and sustainability of the entire supply chain.

Ask them to explain to you how the active ingredients address this need and the exact

biomechanism creating the efficacy.


Wellness is all about growth and transformation. We are in our infancy as a formal industry, and there will be growing pains. The above tools should help you navigate your endless wellness resources, but trust your intuition above all. That gut feeling will lead you to your personal wellness aha moment.

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These Are the Health Questions You Need to Be Asking - Thrive Global

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Keeping the Radio City Rockettes on their toes, with help from Westchester – Lohud

A look at the Radio City Rockettes training room with Elaine Winslow-Redmond, Director of Athletic Training and Wellness for the Rockettes, and Dr. Melody Hrubes of Rothman Orthopedic Institute, the Rockettes' new medical director, Nov. 18, 2019 at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. Tania Savayan,

On a Monday afternoon, just days before opening night, Emily King, 22, a Radio City Rockette, dropped by an office at Radio City Music Hall.

King, who is in her second season as one of the famed dancers, came to see Dr. MelodyHrubes, the new medical director for the Rockettes, andElaine Winslow-Redmond,the director of athletic training, for a consultation.

It just provides a lot of security for us as performers," King said. "We know that if anything goes wrong, like they have our back and they are going to provide help where it's necessary.

November 6, 2019: Dress rehearsal for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes.(Photo: Zack Lane, Zack Lane/MSG Photos)

King,who is from Michigan and has a bachelor's degree in Commercial Dance from Pace University,is one of 80Rockettesknown for their signature eye-high kicks and a precisiondance technique that requires both artistry and athleticism.

Hrubes and Winslow-Redmond make surethe Rockettes are in top shape as they ascend the Radio City Music Hall stage multiple times a day to perform the Christmas Spectacular.

Dr. Melody Hrubes of Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, left, the Radio City Rockettes' new medical director, and Elaine Winslow-Redmond, Director of Athletic Training and Wellness for the Rockettes, give Rockette Emily King a pre-screening Nov. 18, 2019 at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

While they range in height from 5-foot-6 to 5-10, the dancers succeed in creating the illusion that they are kicking at the same height through a combination of formation (tallest woman in the center) and technique.

They perform up to 16 times a week and can kick up to 650 times a day. Each 90-minute performance requires 160 kicks in high heels.Theunforgiving routine can put considerable strain on their bodies.

For Hrubes, that means preventing injuries before they happen.

Elaine Winslow-Redmond, Director of Athletic Training and Wellness for the Radio City Rockettes, left, talks about the program as Dr. Melody Hrubes of Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, the Rockettes' new medical director, looks on Nov. 18, 2019 at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

What is so interesting to me about dance is that it's choreographed, so there's a lot of biomechanical and overuse injuries that happen, said Hrubes, who practices with RothmanOrthopedic Institute, which opened a location in Harrison last month and is the official provider of orthopedic services to the Rockettes.

That's why we're so interested in how to prevent that, since they're doing the same thing over and over again.

October 22, 2019: The Radio City Rockettes rehearse for the Christmas Spectacular at the St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York City.(Photo: Carl Scheffel, Carl Scheffel/MSG Photos)

A lot of what she sees with the Rockettes also applies to other athletes, said Hrubes, a specialist in sports medicine who has previously worked as a team physician for the United States Soccer Federation and with United States Gymnastics.

A lot of young athletes aren't taught to listen to their bodies;they think that if there's no pain, theres no gain. If I'm hurting, that means I'm just working hard enough, said Hrubes, talking about injury prevention. And actually pain is your body's way of saying something is wrong. So learning the difference between soreness and pain is super valuable because then they could actually learn to listen to their bodies.

Dr. Melody Hrubes of Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, left, the Radio City Rockettes' new medical director, and Elaine Winslow-Redmond, Director of Athletic Training and Wellness for the Rockettes, give Rockette Emily King a pre-screening Nov. 18, 2019 at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

That philosophy dovetailswith what Buchanan resident Winslow-Redmond has sought to do with the Rockettes since 2005.

A former Rockette who performed for 11 seasonsfrom 1994-2005,Winslow-Redmond said she was frustrated when, in her first season,she sought treatment for a shin splint a kind of stress fractureand found doctors who didnt fully understand what she did.

They would say things like, 'There's no hopping in tap dancing.' And I thought to myself, I don't think they understand what I do if they don't think I'm hopping while I'm tap dancing, she said."They didn't understand that I needed to stay in the show. I couldn't like just take a few weeks off.

November 7, 2018: Dress rehearsal for the upcoming Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.(Photo: Carl Scheffel, Carl Scheffel/MSG Photos)

She was eventually helped byan athletic trainerwho taught Winslow-Redmond how to prevent injury through her next 10 seasons. And she learned firsthand how important it is to focus on recovery after a show.

So I had great longevity and I was able to dance injury free for the rest of my seasons, she said.

Winslow-Redmond said she was bothered by the fact that the Rockettes didnt have an in-house trainer or doctor. So, whilecontinuing to dance as a Rockette, Winslow-Redmond, who hasa bachelor's in dance, took advantage of a tuition assistance program available to Rockettes to transition to other careers.

She got masters in physiology and nutrition at Columbia University and eventually became the Rockettes' trainer in 2005.

As part of herthesis, she analyzed five years worth of Rockette injury reports andshowed that the majoritywere preventable overuse injuries.

"Overall the choreography has gotten more difficult," she said. "So as we're challenging the Rockettes and they're rising to a higher level, their injuries are decreasing. Theres been a 78% decrease in injury. So that's the impact.

Her advice for current and aspiring dancers?

They should pair their dance training to incorporate a strength element so that they strengthen the muscles that tend to be weak on dancers.

She also emphasizes recovery. I push hard on recovery because I really understand the impact of many shows in one week," she said. Understanding the level of fatigue that I experienced and being able to teach them the necessary steps on how to recover and that pushing through is not always the way to go.

Rockette Emily King in the athletic training and wellness room at Radio City Music Hall Nov. 18, 2019 in Manhattan.(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

For Rockette Emily King, working with Winslow-Redmond and Hrubeshas been helpful. Just in a preventative sense, the pre-screening is so helpful," she said. "They give us exercises to help prevent injuries that are specific to us, like things that we are susceptible to, which is incredible.

Dr. Hrubes and Winslow-Redmond offered advice for athletes on preventing injury:

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Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy covers women and power for the USA Today Network Northeast. Write to her at

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How To Adapt The Built Environment To The Aging Population – Bisnow

Want to get a jump start on upcoming deals? Meet the major New York City players at one of our upcoming events!

Monumental demographic shifts and growing health crises are set to play a major role in the kinds of housing, healthcare facilities and built environments the country needs.

Bisnow: Miriam Hall

Macro Consultants Senior Partner Nisan Gertz, Montefiore Medicine Chief Academic Officer Gordon Tomaselli and New York Proton Center Chief Medical Officer Charles Simone

By 2030, all baby boomers will beover the age of 65and the U.S. population will be made up of more older people than children for the first time in history.

Meanwhile, Americans life expectancy has dropped in the last few years suicides, drug use, alcoholism and chronic health problems have edged up the death rate of people in middle age.It is now crucial that developers, healthcare providers and communities as a whole think about how to best build, develop and innovate to prepare for the future, panelists said at Bisnows New York Healthcare and Life Sciences Summit last week.

The greatest success story of the 20th century was longevity today you are going to live to 80 or 90 years old, said Terry Fulmer, who is the president of The John A. Hartford Foundation in New York, a philanthropic organization aimed at improving the care of older adults.What we have not done is figure out how to take care of people in their older years [We need to] focus on aging, focus on older adults what they are going to need and where they are going to need to live.

Bisnow: Miriam Hall

McKinsey & Co. Partner Dr. Daniel Moskovic and The John A. Hartford Foundation President Terry Fulmer

Rapidadvances in technology have had a major impact on how healthcare is provided, along with where medical facilities are built and designed. Procedures and treatment are now increasingly delivered in ambulatory and outpatient centers, rather than hospitals, and people want caredelivered in a retail-like environment.

Now, panelists said, it is imperative to push forward with new ways to support older people, particularly as they increasingly want to stay home.

Older people of tomorrow want to stay home; they will not go to a nursing home, they don't want to go to a continuing care community, Fulmer said, adding there is exciting work going on in developing things like apps, avatars and robotics to supportpeople in their homes.We're thinking about all the different ways that we can address loneliness [and] think about social isolation.

The issue of housing seniors is already on the minds of some developers, who see it as an obvious business opportunity.Related, best known for pricey condominiums like15 Hudson Yards, said last year it is planning to spend $3Bby2023 building luxury apartments aimed at the countrysaging population.

The projects are slated for Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington. The buildings, with between 150 and 250 units, will have space set aside for people with illnesses like Alzheimers and amenities like spas and restaurants.

Meanwhile, Maplewood Senior Living and Omega Healthcare Investors are developing a senior living community on 93rd Street and Second Avenue. Welltower and Hines are building a senior housing building at 139 East 56th St.

Bisnow: Miriam Hall

Turner Construction Co. Construction Executive Richard Lanzarone, Jeffrey Berman Architects' Jeffrey Berman and Simone Healthcare Development President Guy Leibler

This problem is a much bigger problem than I think people really appreciate, McKinsey & Co. partner Dr. Daniel Moskovicsaid at the event.

He pointed out there are about 25 million adults in the U.S. who are over the age of 75, and a third of them live alone. That is leading to social isolation, mental health issues and greater healthcare burdens, he said.

We are seeing a lot of experimentation happening in real estate, Moskovic said. So I there is going to be a lot of opportunity for folks on the infrastructure side to deliver concepts, but I think providers are going to have to make difficult decisions in terms of which concepts they want to implement based on the objectives that they are solving.

Attracting capital to healthcare development, the medical office leasing market and the citys fast-developing life sciences sector were alldiscussed at the event.

Bisnow: Miriam Hall

Jeffrey Berman Architects' Jeffrey Berman, Simone Healthcare Development President Guy Leibler, William Macklowe Co. CEO Billy Macklowe, Talisen Construction Business Unit Director Christopher Norris and Gil-Bar Industries Sales Engineer-Health Care Jack Conway

Pushing forward with technology to better provide patient care, as well as design and construction of facilities, were also subjects of discussion. And while the nations aging population is something we need to prepare for, collectively, some pointed to the urgent need to work to improve health and well-being across the entire population.

Just this week, the Journal of the American Medical Association released a grim study showing that mortality rate of young and middle-aged Americans has increased over the last 10years. Death rates of people aged between 25 and 34 jumped 29% between 2010and 2017, the Washington Post reports.

Bisnow: Miriam Hall

Blue Sky Real Estate Services & Development President Philip Silverman

Montefiore Medicine Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Gordon Tomaselli agreed that it is important to find ways to help older people live at home and improve their later years.

However, hesaid it is also enormously important to find ways to prevent diseases and improve the health of people throughout their lives.

We have a storm cloud on the horizon, and that storm cloud on the horizon is the fact that we have a population that has the prospect that [it] will not live as long as this generation, he said.

He pointed to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and health issues that have to do with the built environment.

The way we build cities and we make them friendly for people to walk and to exercise is going to be critically important if we want to continue to realize the gains in the healthspan not the lifespan but the healthspan of this population, he said.

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The playful pair who pricked the grim respectability of postwar British culture – The Guardian

In 1960, four young men met in a London cafe and so began Beyond the Fringe and a revolution that would change the face of British culture. One of this satirical gang of four was Jonathan Miller, who looked like a kinaesthetic Anglepoise lamp, as it was said, in continual motion and spoke as if ideas gushed from him like water from a bottomless reservoir. Astonishingly profuse, giddyingly versatile and connective, endlessly restless and firing on all synapses, Miller was a neurologist who became all at the same time, like a magic trick performed in plain sight a comedian, a theatre and opera director, a presenter of a landmark TV series about the body, a public intellectual, a famous feuder and a man who had a bewilderingly eloquent and informed opinion on just about anything.

For decades, the two men were at the heart of British cultural life, both as theoreticians and practitioners

In 1962, a young man arrived in the UK from Australia, and irreverently, joyously, hilariously set about demolishing the walls between high and low art. The Observer TV columns that made him famous were essays of comic genius that treated all genres with equal seriousness and equal mockery. People who didnt even own a TV bought the paper to read the high-wire weekly performance. Clive James was a TV critic who was also a TV star, a literary reviewer who was at the same time a poet and novelist, practising what he mocked, thin-skinned about being mocked right back.

For decades, the two men were at the heart of British cultural life, both as theoreticians and practitioners. And now, within days of each other, they are both gone.

It may be hard for a young person today to understand how astonishingly new, fresh, radical, destabilising and glorious their achievements were then. They burst onto a dreary postwar society of austerity and grim respectability, of strict hierarchies, of Norman Wisdom and wet Sunday afternoons, of knowing ones place and keeping to it.

For both, not keeping to ones place was the point, overturning the rules was the point, puncturing pomposity, skewering pretension, mocking revered establishments, demolishing old certainties, exuberantly and loudly speaking about things that had previously been whispered or not mentioned at all. The old ways were dying. The world was for the young.

Miller once called himself an informaliser; he brought jukeboxes into opera productions and Wittgenstein into standup comedy. He turned his fierce, pliant, democratic intelligence on all manner of subjects: imitating a sat-upon sofa, directing Alice in Wonderland, talking about Shakespeare to schoolchildren, arguing with Jehovahs Witnesses who came to his door.

And James described himself as a premature post-modernist, insisting like the US film critic Pauline Kael that the creative impulse could flourish in every arena, in gameshows as well as classical music, soap operas as well as classical ones. In his (nearly 900-page long) collection of essays, Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, he gives us his maverick A-Z of 20th-century culture that leaps nimbly between figures such as Louis Armstrong, Sigmund Freud, Terry Gilliam, Coco Chanel

TS Eliot wrote about the music hall, but he didnt get up on stage. George Orwell praised the art of seaside postcards, but he didnt paint any himself. Miller and James collapsed boundaries not just between high and low culture, but between theory and practice. They were fearless in this, sometimes unwise, and of course they made mistakes and made themselves vulnerable and ridiculous. James the TV critic would probably have slated James the TV star. Miller was constantly lampooned in Private Eye as a garrulous pseud: Dr Jonathan pouring out his convoluted verbosity. He himself was always regretful about giving up his career in medicine and ambivalent about some of his work. (Looking back, he said: You think, what on earth was all that about?)

James had a late flowering during his time of slow dying, though Millers last years of frailty were silent ones

One unintended consequence of this demolition of borders and reconfiguration of the cultural landscape was that professions that had traditionally been working class were now invaded by the middle classes: boys from public schools could become standup comedians. (This mobility does not seem seemed to work the other way round, although in the 16th century Thomas Wolsey, the son of a butcher, could became an archbishop and cardinal.) Actors come from Eton now.

Miller and James were in the public eye as young men, middle-aged men, old men. James had a late flowering during his time of slow dying, although Millers last years of frailty were silent ones. They remained men of their time, whichever time that was and of course, they were men. It is hard to imagine a woman being allowed such longevity, or being accepted as both hilarious and serious.

James had strange views about women (Cultural Amnesia performs its own act of selective forgetting, including only a handful of women in its 100 entries) and cranky ones about climate change. But the public largely forgave him, while Germaine Greer who arrived in the UK at about the same time as James and who changed the world and how we live in it more profoundly than he or Miller has not been treated so tolerantly. Women are not so easily excused when they behave foolishly or make mistakes; usually, they are not excused at all.

It is easy to say that there will never be their like again how could there be? Like Brigitte Bardot, they were products of the society that they set about revolutionising. Now we are living in the age they helped to make, where a monolithic culture has been kicked over and a postmodern one has taken its place: one where Sam Mendes can direct Shakespeare one month and James Bond the next; where Stephen Fry is a comedian and a public intellectual; where young people watch Love Island and read WG Sebald; where irony runs through our discourse, sincerity is suspect and truth up for grabs.

For decades, Miller and James seemed unquenchable and unstoppable. It is strange to think that they both were stopped at the same time, two worlds ending. As James once wrote: I could go on, except I cant.

Nicci Gerrard is an author

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Are dietary studies influenced by religious beliefs? | State –

ROCHESTER, Minn. If you are a doctor and devout person of faith, and if your religion says vegetarianism is the diet endorsed by the Bible, can you be expected to study the science of food and health without bias?

Its an emerging question for the communities waging battle over methodological weaknesses in the dietary sciences, one highlighted by a recent, widely reported Mayo Clinic clinician-authored paper on the association between diet and prostate cancer.

The publication, a Journal of the American Osteopathic Association study by the Mayo oncology and hematology fellow Dr. John Shin and four Mayo Clinic Scottsdale colleagues, reviewed 47 studies dating back 11 years. It rendered a timely, vegan-friendly conclusion that diets high in dairy products may be associated with increased prostate cancer risk, and diets high in plant-based foods may be associated with decreased prostate cancer risk. The study was reported in new outlets across the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

For those who heard the news and came away with new reasons to swear off animal foods, a valuable piece of context went missing, however. Shin, like thousands of other clinicians across the country, is Seventh-Day Adventist. Sermon-hosting sites offer links to the physicians religious lectures and he serves as a speaker in the Adventist Medical Evangelical Network (AMEN), an independent organization with the goal of uniting the church to restore Christs ministry of healing to the world, hastening His return.

Why should a nutrition researchers faith tradition matter? Because an Adventist ministry of healing includes the promotion of a plant-based diet. In response to a recent Forum News Service question asking if Adventism seeks to move the public towards a plant-based diet in keeping with religious beliefs about the foods that promote health, Shin responded in the affirmative.

Yes, he replied, because the original diet given to man in the garden of Eden as described in the Bible was a plant-based diet, Seventh-day Adventists believe that this is the ideal diet for maintaining and restoring health. Shin added that the purpose of the AMEN organization is to inspire Christian medical professionals to incorporate whole person care into their practices, and he disputed that its mission is to bring about dietary change.

Questionable science

Like much of the research that now informs the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the 47 studies the Shin paper analyzes to impugn dairy are of a methodologically weak form of science known as nutritional epidemiology, so-called case-control and cohort studies that contain no information about cause and effect. The studies were of varying size and quality, moreover, and their findings were all over the place. Most showed no effect, protective or harmful, for any foods in relation to prostate cancer.

Given these results, how did the Mayo group come to their dairy-cautioning, plant-promoting conclusions? By citing the plentiful number of studies with no finding, alongside the few studies showing plants were good and dairy was bad, all as part of the same trend. Shin says this step was justified because the vast majority of papers with findings, outnumbered though by null findings, showed plants to be protective and dairy harmful, a pattern favoring his vegan-friendly findings on foods and cancer.

Earlier this year, however, a team of Canadian researchers conducting a more rigorous statistical method found dairy to be without effect as often as harmful in relation to prostate cancer. The diagnosed rates of prostate cancer within the US during the period studied, moreover, are widely recognized to be inaccurate thanks to the overdiagnosis of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings. When it comes to diet and prostate cancer, in other words, the room for investigator bias to affect an outcome is high.

Visions from God

Adventist dietary beliefs derive from the writings of Ellen White, its mid-19th century co-founder and spiritual prophet.

She would go into trances and receive what she called visions from God, says Ronald L. Numbers, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin and expert on the history of Adventism. Numbers says White began to describe visions on diet and health, leading her to become a vegetarian distinguishing between clean and unclean meat according to the Levitical laws.

Among the hundreds of passages concerning diet which are attributed to White are several that look decidedly vegan or vegetarian. These include meat eating deranges the system, beclouds the intellect, and blunts the moral sensibilities, and, people everywhere should be taught how to cook without milk and eggs, so far as possible, and, grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. Numbers says Adventists have a diversity of views about the dietary positions of Ellen White.

But Adventist scholars have taken credit for over 100 years of moving food practices away from animal foods and toward plants. Whites contemporaries were early cereal pioneers in Battle Creek, Mich., and their products were instrumental in diverting Americans from bacon and eggs towards carbohydrate-laden breakfasts of today, changes believed to have contributed to the skyrocketing global burden of Type 2 diabetes and secondary illnesses of heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimers and some forms of cancer.

Contemporary Adventism has figured in over 300 health outcome studies of its communities, often conducted with NIH funding and in partnership with researchers from Harvard School of Public Health. Though studies of church-going populations have characteristics that limit their usefulness, this sustained appeal within the medical literature to the benefits of Adventist so-called lifestyle medicine is cited widely, including by the so-called Blue Zones longevity initiative adopted in cities like Albert Lea, Minn.

In perhaps the most direct position of influence on the direction of dietary policies today, Joan Sabate, an acknowledged Adventist and professor at the SDA-affiliated Loma Linda University School of Public Health, currently sits on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee of the USDA.

Shin says Adventists focus on health because we believe that when the body is healthy, the mind is better able to comprehend spiritual truths, thus enhancing ones relationship with God. He adds that the teetoling, tobacco- and caffeine-avoiding faith also promotes exercise, adequate sleep and spending time with family. But while exercise, sleep, and family time is largely uncontested in medicine, a rigorous debate exits over the wisdom of the advice to avoid animal foods.

Should being Adventist while studying nutrition require a disclaimer?

The real issue for me is that Seventh-Day Adventists began their religion as a health religion, so they are compromised in making broad decisions about societys health

The real issue for me is that Seventh-Day Adventists began their religion as a health religion, so they are compromised in making broad decisions about societys health, says Belinda Fettke, an Australian who blogs on the subject of Adventism and health. We should be asking them how best to do a vegetarian or vegan diet, because they understand it. But they shouldnt be telling the world that animal fats and protein are dangerous, which is what they do ... I dont think Ive ever come across a religion thats so involved in a health message, and I think thats a concern.

Shin counters that all researchers approach their work with a bias, its just that his is visible.

My Seventh-day Adventist faith provides me with the predisposition to believe that plant-based foods are healthful, and therefore I have an interest in conducting research to show whether or not this is true, he says. In this sense, my ability to maintain my objectivity in conducting diet-related research would be no more compromised than any other dietary researcher, the only difference being that my predispositions can be more readily traced to my religion.

He says he believes requiring a disclosure would imply that someone of that faith is somehow less qualified or trustworthy to conduct the research in question. It would be a form of discrimination.

When asked if a devout Adventist could make a dietary recommendation contrary to the faith, the historian Ronald Numbers is skeptical. That would be difficult, he says.

If you even found that eating pork contributed to health, you would be in a bad quandary ... I assume that the nutritional studies that show Adventists live longer, healthier lives are reasonably accurate. But then of course, studies of Mormonism show they live longer lives. And theyre not vegetarian.

So, should Adventists be asked disclose their faith when conducting nutrition studies?

That is an incredibly interesting question, he says.

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Are dietary studies influenced by religious beliefs? | State -

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