• An Embarrassment of Riches

    So, I talked (via email) with Zachary Blount who wrote the E. coli genetic study paper.  He was gracious enough to answer some questions and I need to write that up.  He also pointed me to three other papers regarding the Lenski lab and some related bacterial studies.

    Then I get a facebook post from a sister-in-law (I have 4) asking me to translate an article about epigenetics, high fructose corn syrup, and autism into English for her.  So I skimmed that paper, hit a couple of reference papers and have many, many questions… so I’d like to explore that in the near future.

    There’s a big problem with human studies.  There’s just no way to control the variables.  I think it’s almost impossible to say X is the cause of Y for almost any human, food related issue.  For example, blaming high fructose corn syrup for a bunch of problems makes no sense to me.  Table sugar is 50% fructose and 50% sucrose.  HFCS is 55% fructose and 45% sucrose.  It’s seems almost impossible that the 5% difference is enough to cause all the problems that are laid at the feet of HFCS.  The paper in question pretty much blames part of the rise in autism on HFCS.  Really?

    I’m not convinced.  Especially when one of the factors that is used to blame HFCS is the opposite of what was found by a study used in the works cited.  It’s very odd.

    Look, I’m not an expert in food science, or much of anything really.  But I can read these papers pretty well and I have no problem writing the authors and asking questions.

    That all being said, I just don’t see how anyone can say with anything approaching statistical certainty that any food can cause any problem in people.  I drink lots of cola (too much cola and I’m trying to cut back, I really am… I’m not 19 anymore).  But my wife drinks a single cola that has HFCS in it and has stomach cramps.  Is there a genetic factor that causes her to have problems with fructose?  There may be… on the other hand, it may be her just thinking that HFCS causes her to become ill.  I doubt we’ll ever really know.

    BTW: I have very good (but anecdotal evidence) that the mind can cause illness.  I was working for a college and had all kinds of problems with my boss.  I started getting sicker and sicker.  Finally, I was diagnosed with Chron’s disease.  Now, that’s pretty bloody serious.  Finally, one day, the alarm went off and I sat at the edge of my bed holding a 9mm pistol and wondering if it would be better to never have to go to work again.  I quit.  Since that day, I have never had a single instance of anything that would be symptomatic of Chron’s.

    Who knows?  Humans, unlike rats are not bred to be identical.  We can’t conduct long term feeding studies on humans (someone sneaks a cheeseburger and the whole thing is suspect).  We can’t do a lot of things with humans, which is why animal studies are so important.

    I think I’m babbling now. It’s late and I’ve got a lot of reading and writing to do this weekend.  Stay tuned.

    Category: Science


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat