Re: Re question on labelling genetically modified foods

From: Elizabeth Childs (
Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 13:47:42 MST

> > My wonderful life extension doctor recommends eating organic. His
> > are outlined in his book, "Renewal: The Anti-Aging Program," by Dr.
> > Smith. There are many pages of references for anyone who wants to check
> > the cites themselves.
> I haven't read the book. However, much of anti-aging "science" is working
> at the margins. If they don't make distinctions of relative risks
> (tobacco >> alcohol >> pesticides >> herbicides, etc.) and lump them
> all together they are oversimplifying and trying to sell books without
> giving you a balanced presentation of the data.

His book is for people who are very serious about life extension, and he
advocates a very rigorous program (although he doesn't get into calorie

To reach a lay audience, a doctor must simplify his case, and he has to make
some hard decisions about which things to include and which things to leave
out. Since Smith's core audience is the serious life extensionist, he
doesn't even bother with tobacco, presumably because if you've gotten to his
book you don't need to be told that it's dangerous. He does cover the
toxicity of alcohol in some detail.

I think his book, while generally good, could stand a little more balance,
as he tends to pick one side and argue for it rather than weighing all of
the evidence in turn. But I don't think his motive is to sell books; the
easy way to do that is to advocate a program that doesn't require a lot of
lifestyle changes and promote questionable herbs a la Gary Null, who says
that everyone should take licorice without mentioning that it raises blood
pressure and cortisol levels.

Smith's book has 53 pages of citations. I very much doubt that anything
Null or Andrew Weill or the like has written is so thoroughly documented.
(The number of citations, of course, doesn't prove that he's right, but it
does show he at least agrees to the ground rules of scientific argument and
has done some significant research to back up his claims.)

(I'm sure I'm biased, as I know Dr. Smith and I'm very impressed with him.
I can't begin to imagine him cynically plotting to distort evidence to sell

> For people who can afford it, going organic is perfectly fine. However
> the probable benefits are probably slightly below taking one-a-day
> vitamins.

Those of us who already take dozens of exotic pills every day may have
different risk/reward ratios than do people who don't worry about their

Note that those at risk for certain illnesses may also get greater benefits
by going organic; women who have endometriosis or have it in their family
may want to avoid dioxins, for example. Preliminary studies show that
dioxins may be the cause of endometriosis, though it's far from proven.

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