When it comes to health and medical information, it matters just as much who’s saying it as what they say.
Did you know, for instance, that high-fat diets could cause lung cancer? No? Well, it’s a new line being taken by . . . the tobacco industry. It was first put forward by William Simmons of the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company at a congress in New Orleans last year. He has interpreted several studies’ findings to conclude that obesity and diets high in fat increase the risk of cancer 'not only in the lung but at many other sites in the body'. Certainly, he may have a point about certain cancers, but it seems to be stretching things to suggest this includes lung cancer.
And his view is, of course, at variance with scores of other studies, one of the most recent of which found no association whatsoever between diet and lung cancer.
But the researchers of the study did point out that smokers tend to choose diets that are low in fruit and vegetables, and high in fatty foods.
And the primary cause of lung cancer? Over 80 per cent are caused by (wait for it) tobacco, says the research team, based at Oxford University. So put that in your pipe, Mr Simmons, but don’t smoke it.
(Source: The Lancet, 2003; 361: 257).