The new reigning King of Bullshit Internet Health Memes David Avocado Wolfe isn’t slowing down. This week via FaceBook I stumbled upon one of his more recent pieces of bullshit advice where he is advising and advocation wrapping your joints in cabbage when you have aches and pains because in addition to the mild analgesic pain and anti-iflamatory properties of the cabbage (true) they also are “bursting with antioxidants” and that is going to help you ward off cancer.
Because cabbage is bursting with antioxidants, it eliminates free radicals from around the body, which helps prevents against cancer and heart disease. In fact, studies show a significant reduction in breast cancer once cabbage is added to your diet.
Except for the fact that it won’t. Or at least scientists and real qualified health professionals have no idea if cabbage will help you ward off cancer.
There is this belief that “eating cabbage and other green vegetables, esp. the cruciferous type, reduce inflammation, and are antioxidants, hence, reduce the chance of cancer” and while yes we all eat a diet rich and plentiful in vegetables there is no real scientific evidence that any of those things are true.
Yes cabbage is a natural analgesic and treating superficial bruises with a compress of cabbage will help to relieve pain but if the goal is a “natural” analgesic and anti-inflammatory treatment you could also just take an aspirin (and there are topical aspirin creams and ointments too).
Inflammation, the body’s response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals while true has gone off the rails into pop science and even pseudoscice somewhat in the past few years with both over diagnosis and overemphasis. I’m thinking of Dr. Richard Perlmutter who wrote the best-selling nonsensical book, “Grain Brain”and his sphere of influence.
As Dr Harriet Hall aka TheSkepDoc wrote in her article “Inflammation: Both Friend and Foe” (12/27/2011) on the Science Based Medicine site:
“It is simplistic to talk of “inflammation” as a single phenomenon, since it is a complex response involving many different physiological processes ….And its relationship to health is even more complex. The human organism is a mesh of interrelated networks, and it could be hazardous to meddle with one element without understanding how our intervention might affect other parts of the system.”
Unfortunatly outside of science and medicine “inflammation” has become a buzz word especially in the CAMI, complementary alt-med industries and communities. Foods get promoted anti-inflammatory and people think “Well, that has to mean it’s good for me” and it a lot more sophisticated and complicated than just that. As Dr. Hall wrote an example would be:
“If they really diminish the body’s ability to mount an inflammatory response, wouldn’t that also tend to impair wound healing and response to infection?”
When is this a good thing and when is it not?
On Inflammation she concludes:
“…it’s a mistake to oversimplify and to assume inflammation is always a bad thing, and trying to prevent or treat it with special foods and supplements is little more than a shot in the dark, a gamble based on speculation. Eat your vegetables and stay tuned!
Likewise with respect to “antioxidants” unfortunately the benefits of “antioxidants” are more sales pitch and marketing hype than good solid science. Dr. Steven Novella in his article “More Trouble for Antioxidants” (1/27/2016) on the Science Based Medicine site again:
“Antioxidants are now an iconic example of premature hype making its way into marketing and the public consciousness long before the science is adequately understood.”
“Before scientists could even follow up on their hypotheses, however, the supplement industry seized upon the notion of antioxidants….Marketing of the alleged health benefits of antioxidants has been at saturation levels ever since. The result is that antioxidants have a powerful health halo, one that they did not earn through scientific study.”
One of Dr. Novellas conclusions:
“We have yet more evidence that for the average person the best advice is to eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, but extra supplements (and especially high dose supplements) are likely unnecessary and even counterproductive.”
In that past couple of years there are also now a lot of animal studies that are now finding that taking an excess of antioxidants might do more harm than good. A Scientific American article “Antioxidants May Make Cancer Worse” (10/7/2015) takes a look at some animal studies being done that may eventually turn the existing thinking on antioxidants on it head. It looks as though antioxidants, at high enough levels, will protect cancer cells from free radicals in the blood stream.
Just because some particular food contains antioxidants doesn’t necessarily mean its good for you.
When you see food with “antioxidant” emblazoned on it that is the food producer recognizing that its a buzzword that will help trigger your interest and/or response so you’ll buy it.
The problem with someone like David Avacado Wolfe is he’ll touch lightly on the edges of some scientific truth about something and then go crazy extrapolating (imagining) what it can do. He is the kind of guy who will hear or think he has heard that there’s a study saying the anthocyanins in cabbage have been shown to kill cancer cells in vitro (meaning in a petri dish) and then jump to the conclusion that this means cabbage will treat/cure cancer. The problem is just about anything will kill cancer cell in vitro. Bleach does, alkali does, so does letting the culture dry out. So does saturating the culture in water. And the list goes on, and on. It’s very easy to kill cells in a cancer petri dish. What is difficult is selectively killing cancer cells in the human body while not harming normal cells.
David Avacado Wolfe is the last person or maybe one of the last five people you should ever seek health and medical advice from (Joseph Mercola, his wife Erin Elizabeth (HealthNutNews), Mike Adams (The Health Ranger at Natural News), Vani Hari (The FoodBabe)). The are this centuries versions of the snake oil salesman of yore. They are a hucksters, frauds, quacks, and charlatans and saddly they aren’t the only ones only the most prominent.
I would alternatively argue that David Avacado Wolfe causes brain damage. It’s satire but The Science Post website has an article: World Health Organization classifies David Avocado Wolfe as ‘probably carcinogenic’
For more on David Avacado Wolfe…
7 Hilariously Batsh*t Things David “Avocado” Wolfe Believes
Being a full-time skeptic, I long ago since accepted the world is full of people who believe in stupid sh*t. Throughout my time ranting on the Internet, I have found no end of unadulterated crazy peddled by con-artists and promoted by people who don’t have enough critical thinking skills to understand they’re getting screwed – both intellectually and financially.
How is it that I’ve never heard of David Avocado Wolfe before? – RESPECTFUL INSOLENCE
I’ve been at this skeptical blogging thing for over a decade now. I realize that I periodically remind you, my readers, of this and that perhaps I do it too often, but my reminders generally serve a purpose.
A New Year’s Resolution For Science Advocates: Don’t Cry Wolfe
A group of science advocacy social media pages have asked their followers to make a New Year’s resolution. With hashtag #DontCryWolfe, the resolution was released to the internet world, with a request regarding one David “Avocado” Wolfe: “In 2016 we pledge to never share posts from this man on Facebook.
The David Avocado Wolfe Effect
Some of you may not know who David is in the first place, nevermind why he’s so dangerous. When I decided to write this, I had to do quite a fair share of digging to learn more about David myself. Any information about him is curiously ambiguous.
A Challenge to David Avocado Wolfe: Take a Flying Leap (literally). – SciBabe
David Avocado Wolfe is an asshole. (Hi guys, I missed you too!) He’s the guy who spent a lifetime telling you about all the superfoods you need for longevity and now sells a fancy blender that allegedly turns every food into a superfood. Funny how commissions a fancy blender can do that!
Watch How Charlatan David Wolfe Profits From Superfood Gibberish
If you have any scientifically illiterate people in your friends list on Facebook, there’s more than a good chance that they have shared an inspirational quote from the colossal ignoramus David Avocado Wolf e.
David Wolfe gives you brain cancer
Lately, the name “David Wolfe” has been popping up in my Facebook feed with alarming regularity. In case you haven’t heard of him, David “Avocado” Wolfe (yup, “Avocado”) is a self-proclaimed nutritionist and health guru. According to his own website, he’s the “rock star and Indiana Jones of the superfoods and longevity universe.”