BREAST CANCER: Groups Lambast NBC Doc’s Prevention Book
A health consumers group has unleashed harsh criticism of a bestselling diet book that claims to prevent breast cancer. The AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) issued a "sharply worded critique" of "The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet" by NBC medical correspondent Dr. Bob Arnot, currently #1 on the New York Times' list of bestselling advice books. The ACSH contends that the book's claims amount to "bad science ... that hurts women" (11/22). In its report, the ACSH identifies a number of claims it charges are misleading or not scientifically supportable:
- The book contends "American women are in the midst of a breast cancer 'epidemic.'" ACSH says increases have been attributed to increased screenings, and notes that mortality is holding steady.
- Arnot asserts that "nutrition is emerging as the most important way to prevent breast cancer." ACSH counters that "[t]he only conclusive studies linking diet to breast cancer so far have been limited to rats."
- The book claims the National Cancer Institute has endorsed flaxseed as a cancer-fighting food. According to the ACSH, the NCI "knows of no flaxseed studies which have proven any such cancer-fighting properties.
The New York Daily News reports that the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the National Breast Cancer Coalition have joined in criticism of Arnot's book. Appearing on NBC's "Today Show" Thursday, National Breast Cancer Coalition President Frances Visco "blasted Arnot for 'raising false hopes.'" The Daily News reports that "NBC's Katie Couric -- whose husband died of cancer this year -- said: 'Perhaps, Bob, you went too far'" (Saltonstall, 11/22). Click here to view the entire "Today Show" segment.
TV Bully Pulpit
ACSH President Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, in a Washington Times op/ed today, writes, "Given the trust and credibility inherent in his position at NBC, Dr. Arnot's book carries a veneer of respectability it simply does not deserve. ... As we ingest our daily dose of TV medicine, we should insist that NBC and other networks feature physicians who deliver the facts, not hype. Not to do so jeopardizes the credibility of all media doctors and makes us yearn for Marcus Welby, M.D." (11/23).