In July, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine published a study detailing their efforts to create a gene therapy treatment for congestive heart failure.
The research involved hamsters who have a naturally occurring genetic defect that leads to eventual heart failure in much the same way that congestive heart failure does in human beings. In congestive heart failure, the heart’s ability to pump blood gradually declines. The scientists wondered if there might be a way to restore the heart’s vitality using gene therapy.
Using a virus they delivered a genetic mutation to the hearts of the hamsters that corrected a defect in the gene that regulates the way calcium is cycled through the heart. This sort of problem has been linked to heart failure in human beings. With the mutated gene in place, the hamsters showed a dramatic improvement in the ability of their hearts to pump blood throughout the seven month long experiment.
Having proved the concept in hamsters, the UCSD researchers are now conducting similar experiments on pigs, with human trials likely in the next 12-18 months assuming that the findings in the pigs are as positive as were the results in the hamsters.
Congestive heart failure: Treatment shows success in animal model. Heart Disease Weekly, August 25, 2002.
The British Advising Standards Authority ordered Vegetarians International Voice for Animals! to rewrite a leaflet it published after the ASA found that the group’s claims were alarmist and not supported by the evidence.
The leaflet claimed that, “Eating animals is one of the main reasons why heart disease, clogged arteries, high blood pressure and strokes are at epidemic proportions . . . Vegetarians, on the other hand, are much less likely to develop these killer diseases and face the prospect of living longer than meat eaters — largely because of the protective effect of vital nutrients found only in fruit and vegetables.”
VIVA! submitted studies that it said backed up its claim, but the ASA ruled that, “The advertisers had not supplied adequate evidence to show that eating animals caused the listed diseases or that vegetarians were much less likely to develop the listed diseases. The Authority considered that the claims exaggerated the likelihood of eating meat in a balanced diet causing the listed diseases.”
The bottom line is that vegetarian and vegan activists have yet to find any convincing evidence that a diet low in fat, and high in fruits and vegetables that also includes lean meat is inferior to a vegetarian diet. So far, the sort of studies that VIVA! cites merely demonstrate that diets high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables are inferior to diets low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables.
Vegetarian shock tactics slammed. The BBC, August 14, 2002.