Church of Pfizer – 5 a Day Keeps the Pills Away

I was horrified to read this morning that:

Eating more fruit and vegetables has only a modest effect on protecting against cancer

As a Type 1 Diabetic, I’ve seen my fair share of dietitians and conducted my own research into the dietetic benefits of certain foodstuffs; when it comes to fruit & vegetables, cancer is the least of my worries.  There are so many other benefits to eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, that I think this is scaremongering media at its worst.

The story has got me thinking though.  Why release the study now when there are far more newsworthy events to report on?  I still don’t know what happened with the digital economy bill yesterday, for instance.

The headline itself has massively negative connotations; the link to everybody’s favourite medical nightmare, Cancer being the greatest part of it. The big C is guaranteed to stir butterflies in the belly of anyone and to be told that eating my “5 a Day” will not protect me from its ravenous clutches? Well, it makes me want to throw out the fruit bowl straight away. Some people (you can tell I have a low opinion of some people) will even misinterpret this as to think that eating “5 a Day” therefore gives you cancer!

I have to ask myself.  “Why put  a negative slant on eating fruit & vegetables?” Surely, the existence of other benefits mean that it is wholly irresponsible to be discouraging folk from eating a healthy diet?  Maybe that’s the point? Maybe the “5 a Day” message has begun to hit home and people are becoming healthier for it?  A healthy population may be good for the health service but where does it put the pharmaceuticals – the very people who fund this kind of research?

If more people are healthy then less people are worshiping at the altars of the Church of Pfizer. I’ve blogged about the Church of Pfizer before, that lofty conglomerate of pharmaceutical companies and scientific institutions whose word we take as gospel when it comes to scientific studies. Could this news be a way of making less people healthier? A drop in public health would certainly seem to increase the money spent on health care, and the pharmaceutical companies are the only ones who benefit there.

So what are the benefits of eating your “5 a Day”? If its not going to stop you dying of cancer, what will it do?

The NHS have this to say about your 5 a Day:

Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy…

… the health benefits of getting five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

They go onto give five reasons to get five portions

* Fruit and vegetables taste delicious and there’s so much variety to choose from.
* They’re a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium.
* They’re an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
* They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
* Fruit and vegetables contribute to a healthy and balanced diet.

Well the point regarding “some cancers” may be contested but the rest are fairly valid. Not being ones to side with the scientific wisdom given by the Church of Pfizer, the UK government are likely to stick to their guns on the overall benefits of eating your five a day, they collate more information on the benefits here.

It is worth adding that the UK is actually taking the World Health Organisation’s minimum recommendation of 400g per day.  Some countries actually advise their citizens to consume more!

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4 thoughts on “Church of Pfizer – 5 a Day Keeps the Pills Away

  1. Yep – its the 5 a day is the minimum of the WHO’s recommendation point which really gets me. Will the government put that figure up once the country as a whole are eating more fruit and veg?

    • I suppose that all depends on who gets elected in a month’s time and how much stock they take in external scientific advice (not to mention which advisers they listen to).

      I don’t think they’ll ever move away from the “5 a day”; I think they’ll stick to the patronising “Change 4 Life” style nannying that we have to endure at the moment.

  2. Sorry, ‘listen to advisers’. I don’t understand. Surely advisers are there just to say what they think – they don’t get listened to, let alone their advice acted on.

    What a silly think to think.

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