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New studies "prove" drinking causes 61 diseases and aspartame causes cancer

Two recent studies came out that are worth noting for the same reason: how bad they are.

Last month’s study links even small quantities of alcohol (a minimum of one drink a week was termed “regular” drinking, which it isn’t) to 61 diseases, including 33 that had never been linked to alcohol before.

Before you start teetotalling (and far be it from us to discourage that), consider a few things.

First, literally tens of billions of people have been drinking hundreds of billions of ounces of alcohol every year for centuries, and alcohol being one of the most carefully studied topics in all of epidemiology. So how is it that every single study on alcohol consumption has missed 33 diseases? It’s possible that one or two or three might have been overlooked until now…but 33?

Second, here is a quote from the article:

There was evidence for a dose-dependent causal effect on the identified alcohol-related diseases collectively, with every four drinks per day associated with a 14% higher risk of established alcohol-related diseases, 6% higher risk of diseases not previously known to be alcohol-related, and over two-fold higher risk of liver cirrhosis and gout.

So you dramatically increase alcohol intake from maybe (let’s say) one drink a day to five drinks a day (a level considered “heavy alcohol use”)…and yet somehow the risk of these previously unknown linked diseases rises only 6%? There is virtually nothing – nothing – in epidemiology that is as non-dose dependent as quintupling the determinant/independent variable in the exposed group and observing only a 6% increase in incidence, the dependent variable.

And how is it that cirrhosis, which we know to be either highly dose-dependent or have a threshold effect that kicks in a high dose, rises only twofold when you increase alcohol consumption fivefold?

Third, here is a map of the world by alcohol consumption, wher darker hues indicate more consumption:


Surely, if alcohol were that bad for us, the correlation between drinking and life expectancy would not go in pretty much the exact opposite direction than one would expect. Obviously, many factors determine life expectancy by country, but alcohol consumption does not appear to be one of the stronger ones, to put it mildly.

I myself don’t really drink, except for the plum wine on Japan Airlines, which is amazing (largely because it’s mostly sugar), so I don’t personally have an agenda, but we are sticking with the Quizzify recommendation that alcohol in small quantities is perfectly fine for most people.

Even as you patrol your own health, you still have to enjoy life, and if reasonable quantities of alcohol are part of that enjoyment, far be it from us to object.


Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Sugar Twin) and Cancer

Here’s another study that is a total head-scratcher, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) announcement that aspartame, which is even more widely used than Splenda, “might possibly” cause cancer in people who eat/drink a lot of it. Needless to say, the news media ran with the WHO’s version of clickbait.

There are four reasons to ignore this study.

First, it isn’t a study. It is a “consensus” of 25 experts, rather than a controlled or observational study. One is reminded of the recent quote on proving 2020 election fraud: “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence.”

By contrast, the FDA, which reviews the evidence of artificial sweeteners carefully (so careully that they revoked aspartame’s initial approval in 1979, pending further review, before re-approving it in 1981) concludes is that it is safe.

Second, as with alcohol, there should be no shortage of datapoints for an observational study. Aspartame has been consumed by billions of people over the 40+ years it’s been on the market, with many of those people consuming it more than 100 times a year, which would qualify as “a lot of it.” Surely, without a doubt, if it raised cancer risk by more than one iota, someone would have revealed that by now with an observational study.

Third, as with the alcohol study, one would expect some macro level confirmation of this hypothesis given how many people are consuming it. Suppose, as with most carcinogens, there is a lengthy gestation period between exposure to the carcinogen and getting cancer. Let’s call it 20 or 30 years. (If gestation is much longer than that, well, the odds are you’d die of something else first.)

If that were the case, rates of new cancer cases would have started ticking up in 2000 or 2010. Instead, new cancer cases have declined this century.

Of course, as with the correlation between alcohol and life expectancy, there are plenty of other factors at work, like less smoking. But given the pervasiveness of aspartame and the fact that it has a specific start date (1974, with massive uptake starting in 1981), there should at least be some wiggle in the line that can be attributed.

Finally, some perspective is called for. Whatever people would use instead of aspartame could very well be worse. Sugar is one example. It may not cause cancer but there are plenty of things it does cause.

And don’t get us started on Splenda. If you’ll pardon our use of technical epidemiological jargon, that stuff’ll getcha.


Where Quizzify comes in

In sharp contrast to these "studies," Quizzify teaches employees that it is OK to enjoy their lives (just maybe without Splenda). Our quiz material doesn't dictate diets or try to get people to eliminate everything that could conceivably be bad for them (sugar, salt, saturated fat, processed food), in which case they will eliminate nothing.

Largely, our wellness-focused quizzes highlight the hazards and myriad hidden sources of added sugar. Of those four "bad" foods, added sugar is the only one proven to raise risk for most people in the quantities we typically consume.

Even employees who know that and want to be "good" often have no idea where hidden sugars are lurking. And as you can see from this blog post, the manufacturers prey on their ignorance.

Without Quizzify, the manufacturers win.

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