Medicine is wonderful at pointing at the symptom, but rarely at the cause. Take, for instance, a recent study that found that overweight and obese people were much more likely to die from cancer.
The researchers concluded, after studying the records of 900,000 people, that it was the increased body weight itself that was linked to increased deaths from all cancers. Obesity accounts for 14 per cent of all deaths from cancer in men, and 20 per cent in women, say researchers from the American Cancer Society.
Significant stuff, it seems, and the world’s media dutifully reported it (as they always do when approached by Men in White Coats).
Unfortunately, it isn’t true. Body weight does not lead to fatal cancers; it’s the lifestyle and diet that does it, and being overweight or obese is merely the unfortunate display of that poor diet and lifestyle. It’s a bit like suggesting that coughing, caused by smoking, is the cause of lung cancer rather than the smoking itself. Fat, therefore, is an effect and not a cause of cancer.
(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2003; 348:1625-38).