Monday, April 26, 2010

Readers question part 2: validity of studies

Would suggest you read part 1 before you read this post. The reader has come back with a question regarding the study used on the web page which started the original discussion. The question was asked: can you find the original study? I side stepped that issue in the previous post as to the suspected complexity of the situation........ however I have relented and here is the research:

Background: rats were feed extruded wheat products eg cornflakes or fruit loops etc. The rats feed these die before the rats feed nothing, or card board box.... or whatever the control was. Furthermore they didn't die of starvation but from cancers, heart disease etc.

There are two studies mentioned. The first was written in 1942, and read by Paul Stitt who wrote about it in his book published in the 70's. There the trail stops.... as it was his story, remembering that in the 70's the lack of photocopies, scanners, digital cameras etc made duplication of material difficult. So we cannot conclude anything concrete. 

The other story was written by Sally Fenton. Couldn't find any information about it and snoops was critical of the story. Again nothing concrete, however nothing to say it wasn't true either. 

So in conclusion there might be true, but could well be old wives tales. What I find fascinating is that I couldn't find any resent study that duplicated the results. One would think that a study such as the two above would be simple enough to replicate - or disprove.

As these studies were done decades ago they could have been influenced by contaminates in the grain. For example mold on the grain can release toxins such as Furomoisin's which are highly toxic (and not observable to the eye) Contaminates could have easily been in the grain as the detection methods could have been primitive to non existent. As humans have to eat a lot more to get sick due to their body mass low levels of these toxins could have been present in the food killing the rats but not making enough people sick to have the product recalled.

Interestingly enough there is research exploring how to extrude wheat products that minimize the toxins. Looking at what salt and malt levels reduce the toxins. It has also been shown that these toxins can survive the extrusion. Furthermore furomonisin causes DNA damage oxidative stress and is toxic to the liver in rats. The oxidative stress can lead to all sorts of issues such as cancers, heart disease etc.  Thus it is plausable that furomoisins could have been in the wheat, got processed into breakfast cereal which was then feed to the rats, causing the "Western degenerative diseases" that were observed in the autopsy.

Therefore I would conclude that the two studies probably occurred with results closely aligned with the stories on the internet. It is also highly likely that they couldn't be replicated (although I note that no one seems to have tried to replicate them). And that the results were caused by other toxins such as furomoisins.  

In saying all this I don't consider extruded breakfast cereals a wise choice to feed to yourself or your family.  

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