Keeping up with Changing Medical Advice

As "experts" make contradictory claims about the causes of high cholesterol, ulcers and acne, how are you supposed to know who's right?

Experts are still engaged in an intense purse-swinging tiff as to how many eggs you can safely eat every week

As experts often change their tune about the causes of various health issues, how do you know what to believe?

Here’s a medical riddle: First “it” was, then “it” wasn’t, now “it” is again. What is “it”?

Actually, that’s a trick question because there are so many potential answers, so many issues that have been subjected over the years to an ever-swinging pendulum, as “experts” (who are often really not experts, so much as know-it-alls) change their minds.

Eggs and Cholesterol

For example, who in my generation didn’t grow up eating eggs nearly every day because their mother kept telling them that eggs are full of protein and vitamins?

Then, suddenly, it seems, eggs became a dietary no-no as the experts declared a war on cholesterol. But more recently, the experts have had to acknowledge they aren’t nearly as sure any longer about how diet affects cholesterol.

A recent study, for example, found that some poly-unsaturated fats, which nearly every health group has been pushing, may be worse for some cholesterol problems than other kinds of fats. So, eggs are okay again, although many experts are still engaged in an intense purse-swinging tiff as to how many eggs you can safely eat every week.

Stress, Bacteria, and Stomach Ulcers

Or, take the example of stomach ulcers, which everyone in my era was told were due mostly to stress. In fact, ulcers were once called the executive disease since executives were known to be subject to way more stress than us mere peons.

But then, as it became clear that most ulcers are caused by bacteria, the role of stress was minimized. However, the ulcer pendulum has now swung back, and trying to control stress is once again considered a well-recognized strategy when dealing with ulcers.

Fatty Foods and Acne

Which brings me to acne. Now every pimply-faced kid in my youth knew — and all doctors swore it was so — that if you were prone to acne, then eating certain foods (particularly fatty foods, junk foods and chocolate) would ensure an outbreak of pimples just when you least wanted it.

Then, the experts declared that those foods were getting a bum rap, and that diet doesn’t really have much effect on acne. Well, guess what. A recent study re-analyzed all the old data and researchers concluded that yup, diet can play an important role in acne after all.

And which foods are the worst culprits? You guessed it: dairy products (most of which are fatty) and high-glycemic foods (which is all your junk food).

Expert Misadvice

You know what I’m waiting for? For the experts to realize their mistake and declare that eating lots of salami and Montreal smoked meat (especially from Schwartz’s) is the real key to longer life.

And even if it isn’t, trust me: You will die a lot happier if you eat that stuff on a regular basis.

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.