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September 2004 issue of Dr. Michael Greger's Monthly Newsletter


CONTENTS (online at )

I. Latest Updates in Human Nutrition
    A. Full-Fat Salad Dressings Healthier than Fat-Free
    B. Prostate Cancer and Milk
    C. Reversing Arteriosclerosis with Pomegranate Juice
    D. Vegan Children: A Recent Review
    E. Vegetarian Athletes: A Recent Review
    F. Endometriosis and Diet

II. Live Paratuberculosis Bacteria Found in U.S. Milk
III. USDA Food Pyramid Comments-We only have two days left!
IV. Grassroots Animal Rights Conference workshop proposals
V. Update on Mad Cow Disease
VI. Personal Update-The Atkins legal threat



A. Full-Fat Salad Dressings Healthier than Fat-Free

There is a misconception in the vegetarian movement that all fat is 
bad for you. In reality, there are good fats (those found in nuts), 
bad fats (saturated animal fat), great fats (omega-3's found in flax 
seeds) and killer fats (trans fats found in both animal fat and 
hydrogenated oils used in processed foods). Although experiments on 
nonhuman animals show conflicting results (as usual), the human data 
is quite good. For example in the Harvard Nurse's Study, after 
following over 75,000 women for a decade, those that put oil and 
vinegar dressing on their daily salad had less than half the cardiac 
mortality compared to those who, for instance, used fat-free 
dressings. They cut their risk of dying from a fatal heart attack in 
half with Italian dressing! Those that used dairy or egg-based creamy 
dressings, of course, had zero benefit.[1]

Canola oil-based salad dressings are an important source of omega-3 
fatty acids in this country. For example, one tablespoon of Annie's 
Goddess Dressing contains about 25% of your daily recommended omega-3 
intake--add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds or a handful of walnuts 
to your salad and you're basically set for the day.

The Harvard researchers are concerned about people switching over to 
fat-free dressings. They conclude their report with the sentence "Our 
findings suggest that a reduction in consumption of foods such as 
oil-based salad dressings... may increase the risk of fatal ischemic 
heart disease."[2]

Eating a source of fat with your salad greens (or any vegetable for 
that matter), also helps the absorption of critical nutrients. Your 
intestines require the presence of fat to absorb carotenoid 
phytonutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. A new study published 
in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 
found that fat is essential.[3]

Researchers at the University of Iowa gave people nice salads 
containing spinach, romaine lettuce, grated carrots and cherry 
tomatoes. With the dark green leafy spinach in there, the salad was 
just packed with cancer-fighting antioxidant carotenoids, but it's 
not what you eat, it's what you absorb. And the researchers found 
that "Essentially no absorption of carotenoids was observed when 
salads with fat-free salad dressings were consumed." So be sure to 
include some source of fat at your meals. The healthiest sources of 
fat, of course, are from unrefined whole foods. So by adding nuts and 
seeds or avocado to your meal you not only get all their nutritional 
benefit, but you enhance your absorption of other nutrients in the 
rest of the meal.

Don't be a fatphobe :)


B. Prostate Cancer and Milk

Prostate cancer is now the single most common cancer among men in the 
United States and is on the rise in almost every country in the world 
as they adopt a more meat and dairy centered diet.[4] Does drinking 
cow milk really increase a man's risk for developing this killer 
cancer, though? Yes, according to a meta-analysis of 11 independent 
studies published this summer. Milk-drinking men seem to have about a 
70% greater chance of developing cancer of the prostate. In fact the 
case against milk is so strong and consistent that even if 50 new 
studies came out all failing to show any link between milk and 
prostate cancer, the balance of evidence would still indict milk as a 
significant cancer risk factor.[5]

Although the butterfat in dairy may play a role, the researchers 
blame the hormones in milk as the likely culprit. "Because commercial 
milk is mainly produced by pregnant cows in developed countries," the 
researchers claim, "it contains considerable amounts of estrogen." 
Combined with other growth hormones in the milk designed to make a 
calf gain 100 pounds in 50 days,[6] cow milk may promote the growth 
of hormone-sensitive cancers.

Milk is for babies.


C. Reversing Arteriosclerosis with Pomegranate Juice

Folk medicine has been extolling the medicinal qualities of 
pomegranates for thousands of years. Modern science has been a bit 
slow catching up, but with the fruit's intense ruby red color, it 
should come as no surprise it has topped the antioxidant charts, 
blowing blueberries right out of the water. But Israeli researchers 
have just permanently placed pomegranates on the map with a landmark 
study published this summer in the journal Clinical Nutrition.[7]

The researchers took a group of people coming into a vascular surgery 
clinic with severe carotid artery blockage--the arteries in their 
neck providing blood flow to their brain were 70-90% obstructed. Half 
of the patients were then instructed to drink a little less than a 
quarter cup of pomegranate juice every day for a year.

At the end of the year, the arteriosclerotic plaques in the arteries 
of those who did nothing predictably worsened, thickening 9%, closing 
their arteries off even further. But in the pomegranate juice group, 
after just 3 months the plaques in their arteries shrank 13%. By 9 
months the plaque was down 26%. And after one year of drinking less 
than a quarter cup of pomegranate juice a day, the arteriosclerotic 
lesions were 35% reversed. The investigators attribute the 
anti-arteriosclerotic properties of pomegranates to the antioxidant 
polyphenols (which I talk about in my new Stopping Cancer DVD).

So should we start forking out $4 a bottle for that "Pom Wonderful" 
juice that started popping up in grocery stores? Well, you can get 
cheaper (and organic!) pomegranate juice in your natural food store, 
but the whole fruit is always preferable to juice--you get the 
additional benefits of the fiber and other nutrition discarded during 
processing. Expect to start seeing pomegranates in your local produce 
section as the growing season peaks around October.


D. Vegan Children: A Recent Review

Vegan babies are sprouting up all over. The medical journal 
Pediatrics in Review recently took on the topic in an article 
entitled "Vegan Diets in Infants, Children and Adolescents." Out of 
the Children's National Medical Center in D.C., the assessment noted: 
"Multiple experts have concluded independently that vegan diets can 
be followed safely by infants and children without compromise of 
nutrition or growth and with some notable health benefits."[8]

The health benefits of raising children vegan are particularly 
pronounced now in the context of our childhood obesity epidemic. Ever 
since the landmark autopsy reports on soldiers who died in the Korean 
War[9] and the Vietnam War,[10] we have known that young adults can 
have advanced coronary artery disease. Now we're finding fatty 
cholesterol buildup in the arteries of children as young as 2 years 
old.[11] No wonder Dr. Benjamin Spock, the most esteemed pediatrician 
of all time, recommended that all children be raised vegan in the 
latest edition of his world-famous Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 
the best-selling book in American history (second only to the 

This new review of pediatric vegan nutrition is in line with the 
position of the largest organization of nutrition professionals in 
the world, the American Dietetic Association, who declared 
"Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are 
appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during 
pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence."[13]

What is meant by well-planned, though? Vitamin B12 of course, which 
is especially critical during infancy, and attention paid to adequate 
energy, protein and mineral intake. For details, read Feeding Vegan 
Kids at by Reed Mengels, the 
nutrition advisor for the Vegetarian Resource Group.

"Of course it takes time and thought to feed vegan children," writes 
Dr. Mengels, "Shouldn't feeding of any child require time and 


E. Vegetarian Athletes: A Recent Review

The July/August issue of the journal Nutrition had a review on the 
"Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes." The last 
comprehensive review of athletic performance and vegetarianism was 
over 5 years ago.[14] Not much has changed.

There still hasn't been a single well-controlled long-term study on 
the effects of vegetarian or vegan diets on athletes, but the best 
science we have so far suggests that there are no consistent 
differences in strength, fitness, or performance between vegetarian 
and nonvegetarian athletes. Vegetarian athletes seem to perform just 
as well as their flesh-eating counterparts.[15]

The review addressed the role of creatine. Creatine is a compound 
found in your muscles that your body produces to facilitate quick 
bursts of energy. People who eat the muscles of 
others--meat-eaters--tend to build up higher levels of creatine than 
vegetarians. While this has not been shown to offer a competitive 
advantage, there is some evidence that massive creatine 
supplementation may offer additional benefit for vegetarian athletes 
who may have lower baseline levels.[16,17] The level of creatine 
supplementation typically used, however, is the equivalent of eating 
about 10 pounds of meat a day,[18] the safety of which has not been 
established.[19] The review concludes that "the most prudent 
conclusion is that more data on the long-term safety profile are 
needed before creatine supplementation can be endorsed for athletes, 
vegetarians, or others."[20]


F. Endometriosis and Diet

Up to 50% of menstruating women have endometriosis,[21] a condition 
that can result in excruciating chronic pain and infertility. The 
only cure is radical surgery. And no one even knows exactly what 
causes it, or even clearly what the risk factors are.[22] A new study 
just published, though, offers some insight into the development of 
this disease.

Studying hundreds of women with confirmed endometriosis, Italian 
researchers found that those eating just one daily serving of meat 
(beef or pork--poultry was not studied) seemed to double their risk 
of developing endometriosis. Eating fresh fruit, on the other hand, 
seemed to drop their risk 20% and eating just a single serving of 
green vegetables every day may cut your risk of developing 
endometriosis in half!

So to help prevent this painful condition, women may want to eat more 
greens and less beings.


II. Live Paratuberculosis Bacteria Found in U.S. Milk

There has been a media blackout in this country about one of the most 
important nutrition stories of the year, the recent finding of live 
paratuberculosis bacteria in retail milk purchased from stores in 
Wisconsin, California and Minnesota, proving that the organism can 
indeed survive pasteurization.[23]

In the view of Dr. Hermon-Taylor, leading paraTB researcher and 
Chairman of the Department of Surgery at St. George's Medical School 
in London, "There is overwhelming evidence that we are sitting on a 
public health disaster of tragic proportions."[24]

Although thousands die from food poisoning every year in the United 
States, most sufferers only experience acute self-limited episodes. 
Up to 15% of those that contract Salmonella, however, go on to get 
serious joint inflammation that can last for years. An estimated 
100,000 to 200,000 people suffer from arthritis arising directly from 
food borne infections each year in the United States.[25]

One of the most feared long-term complications of food poisoning, 
however, is Guillain-Barre syndrome, in which infection with 
Campylobacter, a bacteria infecting up to 90% of Thanksgiving turkeys 
every year in the United States, can lead to one being paralyzed for 
months on a ventilator.[26]

Some scientists now fear, though, that an even more serious disease 
may be infecting our food supply. The United States has the highest 
incidence of Crohn's disease in the world, a devastating lifelong 
gastrointestinal condition.[27] The United States also has the 
highest incidence on the planet of a similar disease in cattle called 
Johne's disease.[28] We know that Johne's disease is caused by a 
bacteria called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, and more and more 
evidence is accumulating that human Crohn's disease may be caused by 
this bacteria as well.[29]

Drinking milk from cows infected with Johne's disease is how people 
are exposed to paratuberculosis.[30] Although these bacteria are 
found free-floating in milk, their transmission may be facilitated by 
their presence inside pus cells.[31] This is a particular problem in 
the United States, as we have the highest permitted upper limit of 
milk pus cell concentration in the world--almost twice the 
international standard of allowable pus cells (750,000/ml vs. 
400,000/ml)[32] By US federal law, Grade A milk is allowed to have 
over a drop of pus per glass of milk.[33]

Despite research showing that by hiding in fat droplets, pus cells, 
and fecal clumps in milk[34] paraTB might be able to endure 
temperatures much higher than currently used in pasteurization,[35] 
the FDA and the USDA have continued to deny this pathogen could 
survive pasteurization. Now that the bacteria has been found growing 
in pasteurized milk taken right from supermarket shelves here in the 
U.S., their position is no longer tenable.

Why haven't we heard about this is the press? In an editorial 
entitled "Media and Censorship," the editor-in-chief of the Cleveland 
Free Times wrote: "The dairy lobby is notoriously powerful inside the 
Washington DC beltway. And a tax on dairy farmers helps the dairy 
industry spread its advertising dollars around generously (most 
notably the 'Got Milk?' ad campaign), to the point where the 
wholesomeness of milk goes virtually unquestioned in the media. How 
else can it be explained that the possible link between a bacterium 
in milk and Crohn's disease is virtually unknown in the United 
States, despite front-page coverage in England and other places 
around the world?"[36]

The dairy industry knows what kind of time bomb they're sitting 
on.[37] An article in Milk Science International entitled "Is 
Mycobacterium paratuberculosis a possible agent in Crohn's Disease?" 
warns that "the present state of knowledge is... potentially 
catastrophic for the dairy industry..."[38]

Every few hours, another child in this country is diagnosed with 
Crohn's disease and may be condemned to a life of chronic 
suffering.[39] The balance of evidence strongly suggests a causative 
link between Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in milk and Crohn's 
disease.[40] This public health issue has been at the periphery of 
the dairy industry's agenda for years, a nagging concern on the back 
burner.[41] Now that live paraTB bacteria have been found in retail 
milk here in the U.S., we need to move this issue to the front burner 
and we need to turn up the heat.

For background on this critical issue, please read my article at and for updates on 
this evolving crisis, go to


III. USDA Food Pyramid Comments--We only have two days left!

The reason I needed to get the September issue out early is because 
we only have two days left to mail in our comments to the USDA.

The USDA is for the first time updating their 12 year old Food Guide 
Pyramid and is accepting public comments up until August 27th.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is urging it's members to 
write in and tell the USDA to stuff the pyramid with beef, 
complaining that young children simply don't eat enough meat.[42] 
Similarly, Poultry Times and the American Meat Institute are ensuring 
meat-friendly comments continue to flow in during these final days. 
The Atkins Corporation even has an action alert featured prominently 
on their website to encourage people to write in and urge the USDA to 
base the pyramid around meat. We definitely need to add our voices to 
the mix.

The USDA is not accepting emailed comments. We actually have to mail 
them a letter postdated no later than this Friday, August 27th. Maybe 
you want to encourage the USDA to emphasize healthier plant-based 
sources of protein such as beans and nuts in their "meat" group? Or 
maybe you'd rather them change the "Milk" group to the "Calcium" 
group and feature leafy green vegetables, the healthiest source of 
the mineral? This is our chance to have our voices heard!

Letters need to be mailed to:

The Food Guide Pyramid Reassessment Team
USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
3101 Park Center Drive Room #1034
Alexandria, VA 22302


IV. Grassroots Animal Rights Conference workshop proposals

I'm very excited to be involved in the planning of the very first 
Grassroots Animal Rights Conference, which will be taking place Feb 
18-21, 2005 at NYU in New York City. Its guiding principle is to 
empower, organize and motivate the grassroots by promoting discussion 
and skill sharing workshops at an affordable, accessible, and 
inclusive conference. Please check us out at and get involved.

We are now accepting proposals for activities to take place during 
the conference (workshops, plenaries, protests, etc). Anyone can 
submit a proposal for any activity, including sessions/events that 
you would like to facilitate or speak at, or activities you would 
like to see run by others (e.g. speakers you would like to hear at 
the conference). Workshop proposals can be submitted directly online 


V. Update on Mad Cow Disease

In May, the findings of the British tonsil and appendix survey I've 
been telling everyone about for years were finally published. Years 
before the symptoms of the human form of mad cow disease 
start--terrifying hallucinations, dementia, psychosis--the deadly 
prions can be detected building up inside the body. So British 
researchers got the brilliant idea to just go through the thousands 
of tonsils and appendixes that were taken out of people during 
routine surgery to see how many people were infected and awaiting 
what Britain's Health Secretary called the "worst form of death" 

Based on the results, thousands of young people in Britain alone seem 
destined to die in the coming years from mad cow disease.[43] Worst 
case scenario? A half a million people dead.[44] Or at least that's 
what we thought up until last month.

Up until now, every single known human death from mad cow disease has 
been in people with a relatively uncommon genetic makeup. Most 
estimates as to how many people would eventually succumb have been 
based on the fact that only a minority of the population even seemed 
susceptible. But I and others have been warning that those with the 
rarer genetic makeup may just be falling sick earlier than the rest 
of us. And in August 2004, autopsy results were published showing mad 
cow infection in an individual with the majority genetic makeup 
common to most of the general population. This opens up the 
possibility of 30 million more human carriers of mad cow disease in 
Britain alone.[45]


VI. Personal Update--The Atkins legal threat

A huge thank you to everyone who offered to help me find legal 
representation to fend off the attempts by the Atkins Corporation to 
intimidate me for speaking up about their "nightmare of a diet" (as 
the American Dietetic Association calls it) on my website

None other than the one and only Steven Wise stepped forward to help 
me fend off threats from Atkins, Inc. Author of such classics as 
"Rattling the Cage" and "Drawing the Line," he has a wealth of 
experience defending activists from frivolous corporate defamation 
lawsuits and is even taking time off from his vacation to take on the 

So if the Atkins Corporation is stupid enough to put their diet on 
trial I have but three presidential words for them: BRING  IT  ON! We 
all remember the McLibel trial, right? Dubbed "the biggest corporate 
PR disaster in history",[46] McDonald's Corporation spent up to $15 
million in an attempt to silence London Greenpeace activists from 
handing out pamphlets documenting McDonald's corporate abuses. 
McLibel became the longest running trial in English history, forcing 
McDonalds executives onto the stand, generating 60,000 pages of 
testimony, and providing a forum for activists to bring out the truth 
behind the golden arches.

The verdict was devastating for McDonald's. The judge ruled that they 
"exploit children" and workers, produce "misleading" advertising, and 
are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to animals. You can order the 
upcoming McLibel documentary, which one reviewer called "an often 
hilarious expose of big business arrogance," on DVD at

Hopefully we can expose the truth behind the Atkins Corporation and 
their diet in the same way the London activists exposed McDonalds. 
But I need your help.

Even with Steven Wise's generously discounted rate, the legal fees 
are starting to mount. There are so many wonderful worthy causes out 
there (the Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Education Center, for example, 
at has just recently fallen on hard times), so 
I feel a bit uncomfortable asking for help. In fact there are other 
activists that need legal funds too, like SarahJane Blum who was 
arrested for the courageous open rescue of unspeakably tortured ducks 
from a foie gras factory farm (donate to help her fight at

But if you believe in my work, if you want to help support me in 
exposing the reality behind the Atkins Diet, please consider donating 
to the "Michael Greger Legal Fund" by going to my homepage at and clicking the donate link at the bottom. Or 
send a check to me at 185 South St #6, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

Thank you for considering helping me draw this line in the sand, to 
help me stand up against this corporate bully and expose the truth 
behind the low carb lies.


(Full text of specific articles available by emailing
1 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69(1999):890
2 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69(1999):890
3 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80(2004):396
4 European Journal of Cancer 37(2001):S4
5 Nutrition and Cancer 48(2004):22
6 NorthEast DairyBusiness August 2002:24
7 Clinical Nutrition 23(2004):423
8 Pediatrics in Review 25(2004):172
9 Journal of the American Medical Association 158(1955):912
10 Journal of the American Medical Association 216(1971):118
11 New England Journal of Medicine 4 June 1998
12 Spock B, Parker S. Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. New York, 
NY:Pocket Books, 1998
13 Journal of the American Dietetic Association 97(1997):1317
14 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 70(1999):532S
15 Nutrition 20(2004):696
16 European Journal of Applied Physiology 82(2000):321
17 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 35(2003):1946
18 Sports Medicine 18(1994):268
19 Journal of the American Dietetic Association 99(1999):593
20 Nutrition 20(2004):696
21 American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 129(1977):245
22 Postgraduate Medicine 107(2000)
23 Cheese Reporter 19 August 2004
24 Chemist & Druggist 2000 Jan 29:11.
25 USDA: APHIS: ORACBA. Revue scientifique et technique 
(International Office of Epizootics) 1997 Aug;16(2):337-41
26 Cornell Cooperative Extension Food and Nutrition 1998 Nov/Dec
27 American Journal of Surgery 145(1983):546
28 PARA. MAP in the United Kingdom. 1999.
30 Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis 5(1996):353
31 European Commission: Directorate -- General Health & Consumer 
Protection; Directorate B -- Scientific Health Opinions; Unit B3. 
SANCO/B3/R16/2000. Adopted 2000 Mar 21:49
32 Smith KL, Hogan JS. Milk quality -- a worldwide perspective. 
Annual Proceedings of the National Mastitis Council; 1998; St. Louis, 
33 Assuming a billion lymphocytes/ml as a reasonable defining 
concentration of pus, regulations per [Heeschen WH. Codex regulations 
and food safety. Bulletin of the International Dairy Federation 
1997;319:24], a standard 20 drops/ml, and a "glass" as 500 cc, Grade 
A milk may have more than seven drops of pus per glass.
34 USAHA. Report of the USAHA Committee on Food Safety; 1998 Oct 5; 
Minneapolis, Minnesota
35 Grant IR, Ball HJ, Rowe MT. A novel staining technique for 
assessing clumping and viability of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis 
cells during pasteurization. Proceedings of the International 
Colloquium on Paratuberculosis 5(1996)
36 Project Censored. PARA Newsletter 2000 Jul:2
37 Wisconsin Agriculturist 1997 Dec.]
38 Milk Science International 1997;52:311-6
39 Wisconsin Agriculturist July 1998
40 European Commission: Directorate -- General Health & Consumer 
Protection; Directorate B -- Scientific Health Opinions; Unit B3. 
SANCO/B3/R16/2000. Adopted 2000 Mar 21:4
41 Wisconsin Agriculturist December 1997
42 National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
43 Journal of Pathology 21 May 2004
44 Daily Mail (London) 21 May 2004
45 Lancet 13 August 2004
46 Guardian 28 March 2002


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