Music to My Ahhhhhh!

Dan Malovany, editor

Many things cause headaches, but once in a while, I hear about something so outrageous that it seriously hurts my brain. In some rare cases, these ideas are so outlandish that they don’t even pass the what-the-fudge test. Recently, the buzz that has been giving me a friggin’ migraine has been about bread and cancer.
That’s right. First, Dr. Mack Ruffin of the University of Michigan Health System suggested that white bread is as unhealthy as smoking and may cause cancer. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the story didn’t appear in some scholarly journal. Rather, the article, titled “A recipe for cancer,” appeared in the “Top Ten for Living” column on John Tesh’s Web site,
Oh, I know what some of you are thinking: Who am I to disagree with someone of such intellectual and musical prowess as one of the masters of the New Age of music? I mean, Tesh’s Web site recently recommended that his fans read the book, “Why do Dogs Drink out of the Toilet?”
Then again, others may ask, why in the heck are you giving this doorknob any publicity?
Actually, I first got wind about the article from the Grain Foods Foundation, whose scientific committee wrote letters to Tesh and Ruffin saying that while the body of scientific evidence directly suggests that smoking causes cancer, the data on white bread and cancer clearly does not.
In fact, white bread got involved in this mess through what can be seen as guilt by association. It was listed as one of the many foods in epidemiological studies examining overall diets and the increased risk in getting cancer. Specifically, some of these studies indicated that an overall diet that’s low in antioxidants, folic acid, fruit and vegetables, and high in fats, red meat and processed meat may increase cancer. Targeting white bread was simply a cheap shot on Tesh’s and Ruffin’s part.
To make matters worse, a separate study of more than 2,300 Italians found a significant association between high bread consumption and kidney cancer. Published last month in the International Journal of Cancer, the research listed other factors, some of which may shock you. For example, massive consumption of pasta and rice also may have raised the risk. And, according to Marcia Scheideman, president of the Wheat Foods Council, the sample was questionable. The subjects were likely to be heavy smokers, obese and have close relatives with kidney cancer.
But the damage was done. Even though the American Cancer Society refuted the study’s conclusions, bread and cancer grabbed the headlines. To make matters worse, the researchers of the Italian study suggested that the high-glycemic index may be a culprit. Consumers may not know what the glycemic index is, but being associated with bread and cancer cannot be a good thing.
Scheideman adds that the main problem with this research is that it didn’t consider the total diet or meal patterns. Rather, it wrongly focused on an individual food.
“Food is not consumed in isolation,” she notes. “It is eaten with other foods and the cumulative combination is what affects the body.” For more information, check out Marcia’s blog on
As for Tesh, I’m sure there is a study out there that shows his music has done more damage to society than any food ever will. And if someone finds such a study, send it my way. I want to put it on my Web site under the title, “Top 10 Reasons for Putting Me Out of My Freakin’ Misery.”