Be Careful What You Read – Comment On An Editorial Conclusion

The skinny on fat by The Telegram is an editorial comment that is based on a study released by the American Institute for Cancer Research. The full report is available at if you want to read it. It is an average read and confirms a lot of what people have been saying about cancer and environmental influences. It contains a really nice break down on the impact of specific environmental influences on specific cancer rates. It is worth checking out.

I do not believe, however, the author of the Telegram editorial article took the time to read anything OTHER than the summary of the report. It wouldn’t normally be a big deal but they drew a conclusion that I wasn’t able to find in the report:

But whatever mysteries remain, the study stresses there’s no question that fat fuels cancer rates, to the point that the AICR believes poor diet causes as much cancer as smoking.

The study does not stress that there is no question that fat fuels cancer rates. The study doesn’t say much about fat at all. It reports a lot of findings about BEING fat, or over-weight as determined by BMI, as it relates to cancer but it doesn’t make any statements about actual fat. There is a very good reason for that – no one eats a diet of just fat.

The cited report is an epidemiological and meta analysis study that correlates dietary factors to the incident rates of various cancers. It is NOT a experiemental study that controls any dietary variables. These types of studies have a good track record in science but cannot be used to draw any causal conclusions as the author of the editorial has done.

I think this is an important point to make for a number of reasons:

  1. It is irresponsible for an author to attribute their claim to another person or group
  2. It is irresponsible to report feelings as facts
  3. Misinformation is rarely helpful because it moves one away from facts

In a more general sense, unprocessed fat is NOT harmful to an individual when consumed in the right combination with other macro-nutrients. Eating fat with high glycemic index carbohydrates will result in greater fat storage but eating it with protein will not. For example, eating a large steak with a salad will result in less fat storage potential than eating a small muffin with butter. The stake may have more fat calories than the muffin and butter combination, but since it and the salad do not contain any carbohydrates that rapidly increase blood sugar, there is a lower chance that the body will go into fat storage mode.

I don’t blame the author for drawing the conclusion that they do because fat = bad is something that has been said so often that it understood to be a fact. However, to attribute this understanding to the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research is just wrong. They haven’t made that claim in their report and it is unlikely that they will ever make this claim. Their conclusion is that being OVERLY fat WILL increase your likelihood for developing certain types of cancers.