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April 10, 2024 | Health Prepping Update: So Intermittent Fasting Kills? Really?

John Rubino is a former Wall Street financial analyst and author or co-author of five books, including The Money Bubble: What to Do Before It Pops and Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green-Tech Boom. He founded the popular financial website in 2004, sold it in 2022, and now publishes John Rubino’s Substack newsletter.

A new family of weight loss drugs — including Ozempic and Wegovy — recently hit the market to extreme fanfare. The drugs’ makers claim… wait for it… great results with minimal side effects (other than the fact that the drugs have to be taken for a lifetime to sustain the results).

Wall Street analysts responded by raising Big Pharma earnings estimates while the drug makers flooded the media with ads. Even Oprah, whose size has been one of her defining traits for decades, pitched in with a high-profile infomercial TV special in which she interviewed formerly obese people who are taking the magic medicines and pharma executives who love improving their customers’ lives.

This is all par for the course in today’s world: Big Food and Social Media create a generation of sedentary, obese, diabetic, and depressed people, and then Big Pharma steps up with expensive drugs to manage the symptoms. Fortunes are made all around, and the victims more or less survive until the next lifestyle disease hits.

“Science” Weighs In

But this time the Aristocracy may have overplayed their hand by releasing a study claiming that intermittent fasting — a popular and effective weight control strategy recently profiled in this newsletter — doubles the risk of heart attack. See Intermittent fasting linked to 91% increase in risk of death from heart disease, study saysfrom Fortune Magazine.

I checked with a healthcare researcher friend who has become my go-to expert on such things, and she responded:

This is not peer-reviewed or published, and we know hardly anything about the study protocol [which is where they really lie, even more often than in the statistical analysis]. Meanwhile, the “fasting” group includes people with food insecurity (i.e. poor and starving).

A cynic might view this study and its timing as a scam with two goals: Eliminating competition for Ozempic et al. and hiding the effects of forced covid vaccinations. Well played, Aristocracy.

Skeptics Respond

But not everyone was fooled. Jimmy Dore got it right away:

And WebMD posted a long, righteously angry analysis. Here’s an excerpt:

Is Intermittent Fasting Bad For Your Heart? What to Know

Does intermittent fasting raise your risk of death from heart disease? That’s what you might think from headlines about early research presented at a recent  American Heart Association conference – drawing skepticism from experts and cautions from the researchers themselves.

Here’s what you should know.

Overheated Media Headlines

The American Heart Association issued a news release headlined: “8-hour time-restricted eating linked to a 91% higher risk of cardiovascular death.”

Media outlets piled on with headlines saying some forms of intermittent fasting – a diet plan where food intake is limited on certain days or in certain hours of the day – “may pose risks to your heart” or “could lead to much higher risk” of death, contradicting research showing time-restricted eating can improve heart health factors such as insulin sensitivity, inflammation, obesity, and cholesterol levels.  

Among other study findings, according to the AHA news release:

  • Those with heart disease or cancer also saw an increased risk of cardiovascular death.
  • Among people with heart disease, eating in a window that’s no less than 8 but less than 10 hours a day was linked to a 66% higher risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
  • Fasting did not reduce the risk of death from any cause.

Those conclusions are premature and misleading, says Christopher Gardner, PhD, a professor of medicine at Stanford University and director of nutrition studies at the school’s Prevention Research Center, who commented on an abstract of the study for the AHA news release before study results were presented in Chicago.  

Gardner tells WebMD that people in the study group who consumed all their food in a daily window of 8 hours or fewer had a higher percentage of men, African Americans, and smokers, and they had a higher BMI than those who ate over longer time spans – any of which could’ve raised the group’s heart disease risk. Also, investigators lacked data on shift work, stress, and other variables, including the important element of the quality of nutrients in their diets, which alone might have provided another explanation, he says. 

As with all experts in this story, including the study’s co-authors, Gardner pointed out this research provides no reason to stop intermittent fasting if you currently see benefits.

Gardner, who isn’t a proponent of intermittent fasting, summarized in an email his thoughts on what he feels is the overstatement of the research:

“This particular finding is PRELIMINARY and should be treated with HEALTHY SKEPTICISM, and should await PEER-REVIEW before it receives any additional media coverage.”

Correlation Is Not Causation

Questions remain, says Jason Fung, MD, a nephrologist who has written articles and books on intermittent fasting, including The Obesity Code.

With their headlines, Fung feels, the AHA and media made correlation tantamount to causation, a mistake that would get any first-year medical student a failing grade, he says.

“The whole thing is just outrageous.”

Just because there’s a link between shorter eating windows and bad health outcomes in a particular population doesn’t mean the eating window caused the outcome, Fung says.

For example, he says, research shows you’re more likely to drown if you’ve recently eaten ice cream. It would be easy to conclude that eating ice cream leads to drowning. Yet a closer look shows people eat more ice cream in warmer weather, when they’re more likely to swim and drown. Thus, ice cream correlates with drowning but doesn’t cause drowning.

Another issue, Fung says, is that the study data was taken from a health and nutrition survey done by the CDC between 2003 and 2018, when intermittent fasting was largely unknown as a way to manage health. Most people skipping meals before 2018 weren’t trying to improve their health. They were ignoring what was then standard dietary guidance, he says. It could be that people in this group were more likely to have poor eating habits and diet.

In addition, study authors used just 2 days of self-reported eating activity to estimate 16 years of dietary habits, says Krista Varady, PhD, a kinesiology and nutrition professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and co-author of several fasting studies.

“I think the conclusions are extremely overstated,” she says. “Two days of diet record data is NOT at all reflective of an individual’s regular eating pattern – this is a major limitation to the study.”

“The science is very, very sloppy. You expect better,” Fung says.

Read the rest of this article here.

So why dump such shoddy work into the marketplace at this particular time? Here’s why:

Weight-loss drugs cost $1,000 a month but less than $25 to make. Why do we pay so much?

(USA Today) – New-generation weight-loss drugs can retail for about $1,350 a month, but a new study from Yale University suggests they cost just $22 to make.

Similarly, life-saving insulin can be manufactured for well under $250 a year, the study found, but it took pressure from the Biden administration to bring out-of-pocket costs for many Americans down to about $420 annually.

Everyone likes to complain about how much drug companies are overcharging for medications, but it’s been nearly impossible to know how much it actually costs to get a dose from a laboratory bench to a patient’s bloodstream.

Now, a Yale postdoctoral researcher has provided rare transparency on the cost of manufacturing weight-loss and diabetes treatments, with some help from Doctors without Borders, a global nonprofit that negotiates with drug companies, and information the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi provided ‒ perhaps by accident ‒ to a Senate committee.

Pulling back the curtain revealed the prices to be “outrageous,” according to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who released a statement shortly after the study published late Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network Open. He specifically called out the diabetes drug Ozempic, which has the same active ingredient as Wegovy, a weight-loss drug. Both are made by the Danish drug company Novo Nordisk.

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April 10th, 2024

Posted In: John Rubino Substack

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