Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby Debbie » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:16 pm

Melinda wrote:Everything that Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn says rings true for me and I have the greatest respect for them. I don't know all that much about Dr. Fuhrman except his 'toxic hunger' concept has always seemed false, at least for me. I think it is quite a stretch. Personally for me, I only feel 'cravings' in my mouth or throat, while I feel true hunger as my stomach growling, feeling empy and very mild contractions - not to say that others may not experience it differently.
I am grateful for Mark Simon's post.

Me too!! I feel better now that I've stopped worrying about toxic hunger vs true hunger vs cravings and so on. All that did was complicate it all. I did that on my own, I didn't need help. Haha

I too am grateful for all of Marks Posts.

As a side note, anyone notice the guy sitting next to Dr M??? His facial expressions were awesome!!! Especially his eyes. Hahahaha
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby scooterpie » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:56 pm

I like the word Dr McDougall invents toward the end of the clip.

scorage :: A combination of score: to succeed in acquiring and forage: to wander in search of food

It's at minute 12:35: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdxVfi632Xw
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby esselstyn » Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:24 pm

The present Fuhrman flap is an embarrassing and distasteful chapter in the journey to healthy plant based nutrition brought on entirely by Dr. Fuhrman himself who has a compulsion to denigrate his colleagues and or their science. The repetitious nature of his attacks indicates he is insensitive to his own behavior and unaware of what he is doing to hurt himself in the eyes of his colleagues or the public.

By way of contrast, when the chairman of a leading corporation was questioned on how he had become so successful and the recipient of so many awards, he replied, "There are no limits to how far and how high you can go, if you are willing to give credits to others."

Caldwell B. Essesltyn, Jr., M.D.
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby rijman » Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:41 pm

Wow! Now Dr. Esselstyn is chiming in, it's great to hear his take on the Fuhrman matter, which appears to completely support what Mark Simon is telling us.

My only question is, who is Mark Simon?
I may be naive.
But I still believe the truth will be revealed if enough light is shined on the subject.
Right now we are dealing with massive ignorance.

John McDougall, MD
(McDougall Discussion Board, posted 7/2/13)
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby ParsleyPatch » Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:43 pm

Dr. Esselstyn wrote:
The present Fuhrman flap is an embarrassing and distasteful chapter in the journey to healthy plant based nutrition brought on entirely by Dr. Fuhrman himself who has a compulsion to denigrate his colleagues and or their science. The repetitious nature of his attacks indicates he is insensitive to his own behavior and unaware of what the is doing to hurt himself in the eyes of his colleagues or the public.

By way of contrast, when the chairman of a leading corporation was questioned on how he had become so successful and the recipient of so many awards, he replied, "There are no limits to how far and how high you can go, if you are willing to give credits to others."

Caldwell B. Essesltyn, Jr., M.D.

Yet another high honor to be on the same forum as Dr. Esselstyn, as we are with Dr. Campbell and Dr. McDougall. Thank you all for taking the time to let us know you are there and that you care. It should be apparent how many of us do, too.
One who is forever grateful to Dr. McDougall for showing me the way to optimal health!
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby TerriT » Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:30 pm

didi wrote:One thing that I didn't like about the Starch Solution was Dr. M's statement that you add some green and yellow vegetables for a little color, flavor and some other very non nutrient reasons. I eat them because I think they are packed with nutrients and that although millions have lived and reproduced on starches, the other vegetables and fruits enhance health and immunity. And I eat starches not just because they are satiating but because they too possess nutrients conducive to good health.


Didi, I think you've misunderstood what Dr McDougall says about vegetables in The Starch Solution.

Green, yellow, and orange nonstarchy perishable vegetables contain only small quantities of starch. Their most important role is to contribute flavor, texture, color, and aroma to your starch-based meals. They offer a bonus in the additional nutrients (such as vitamin A and C) that come along for the ride. (page 4)

(Emphasis mine)

On page 5 there is a chart indicating the makeup of the Starch Solution diet: 70% starch, 10% fruits and 20% vegetables.

On page 7 is a table entitled "McDougall's Classification of Common Foods". Under starches is the sub-category "starchy vegetables" which includes carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, potatoes, salsify, sweet potatoes, winter squashes and yams.

Under "Green, Yellow and Orange (Nonstarchy) Vegetables are listed bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower...(and many others).

I think Dr McDougall makes it clear that the non-starchy vegetables contain valuable nutrients (see quote above). But the starchy vegetables contain valuable nutrients too; carrots and sweet potatoes are both high in vitamin A, for example, and potatoes contain all the nutrients we need apart from B12.

If someone were to eat a diet of 90% vegetables and 10% fruit, it would still be possible to adhere to the ratios suggested for the Starch Solution diet - 70% starchy vegetables, 20% non-starchy vegetables, and 10% fruit.

So I don't think Dr McDougall overlooks or minimizes the importance of vegetables.
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby LoriLynn » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:19 pm

TerriT wrote:On page 5 there is a chart indicating the makeup of the Starch Solution diet: 70% starch, 10% fruits and 20% vegetables.

I would also like chime in and comment that these percentages are by calorie and not by volume. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The reason I think that is important is that this means there are still a lot of veggies on your plate. It's just that their calorie density is lower.
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby miranda2060 » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:29 pm

Fascinating and informative thread.
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby ParsleyPatch » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:38 pm

TerriT wrote:
On page 5 there is a chart indicating the makeup of the Starch Solution diet: 70% starch, 10% fruits and 20% vegetables.

I would also like chime in and comment that these percentages are by calorie and not by volume. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The reason I think that is important is that this means there are still a lot of veggies on your plate. It's just that their calorie density is lower.

Dr. McDougall makes it super simple by suggesting the visual aid of a dinner plate that's 1/2 starch, 1/4 green & yellow vegetables, 1/4 fruit, and a nice side of green salad ~ pretty much the ideal meal, give or take. (Maybe a little less fruit and a little more veggie for some people). I don't know what could possibly be easier than this. 8)
One who is forever grateful to Dr. McDougall for showing me the way to optimal health!
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby Wild4Stars » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:45 pm

esselstyn wrote:The present Fuhrman flap is an embarrassing and distasteful chapter in the journey to healthy plant based nutrition brought on entirely by Dr. Fuhrman himself who has a compulsion to denigrate his colleagues and or their science. The repetitious nature of his attacks indicates he is insensitive to his own behavior and unaware of what the is doing to hurt himself in the eyes of his colleagues or the public.

By way of contrast, when the chairman of a leading corporation was questioned on how he had become so successful and the recipient of so many awards, he replied, "There are no limits to how far and how high you can go, if you are willing to give credits to others."

Caldwell B. Essesltyn, Jr., M.D.

We need a "like" button for posts like this. Thank you.
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Re: Dr. Fuhrman: Not a credible martyr

Postby tcolin » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:46 am

Mark Simon wrote:From what we are hearing from some of the top nutritional people in the plant-based world, Dr. Fuhrman's credibility is being called into question.

At the moment, Fuhrman appears to be is casting himself as the victim of supposed “vendettas” by other experts, when it looks like it's exactly the opposite.

Here is Dr. Fuhrman answering a question about Dr. Esselstyn's program on his own discussion board:

“Esselstyn's work is striking for the 2 patients dying of sudden cardiac death, especially because he cared for such a small number of people.” – Dr. Fuhrman 02-11-2008, 06:06 AM

For Dr. Fuhrman to come onto Dr. McDougall's forum and assert that he is shocked to find "personal attacks" is rather hypocritical when you read Fuhrman's own words in his own forum toward his colleagues.  In response to a question about an article by Dr. McDougall, Fuhrman responds:

I read Dr. McDougall's article and was shocked! I have no idea what his motivation is to distort the research and make false claims that will increase the risk of cancer in his readers... I think McDougall's article is misleading and distorts the research. It is not the first time I have seen him do this and it is puzzling. – Dr. Fuhrman 10-09-2007, 04:56 AM

This sort of attack goes well beyond a discussion of science but is an attempt to vilify and smear a colleague and fear-monger the other guy's program. To disagree with McDougall's conclusion is very different than to claim McDougall is “distorting the research” and “making false claims.”

You can get videos of talks Dr. Fuhrman has given at various events over the years. Before he entered the scene, there was a great deal of professional respect between the leaders of the plant-based health world, even though they may have disagreed on various topics. You never heard the presenters speak poorly of any of the others or their dietary recommendations.

But when you watch Dr. Fuhrman coming into these same events some years later, you see he had no problem attacking and mischaracterizing the diet of Dr. McDougall, bringing up Dr. Esselstyn by name and intimating that Dr. Esselstyn's restriction of nuts was the cause of the death of one of Esselstyn's patients, and generally trashing the work of everyone else with a program. You can watch the various video and audio tapes from the various conferences over the years (Healthy Lifestyle, National Health Association, etc) and draw your own conclusions.

There is a pattern over the years of Dr. Fuhrman trying to increase his own brand by maligning the work of those he sees as his direct competitors, and smearing them based not on science – but on baloney, scaremongering and innuendo – while at the same time greatly exaggerating his own program and work.

For him to come into this forum and try to defend his actions by saying he was only talking about science, not attacking other people, well that is just more B.S.

Dr. Campbell

We already know that Dr. Campbell said he had to disassociate himself from Dr. Fuhrman, due to the “major errors” in Fuhrman's 2008 study, and what Campbell said were Fuhrman's subsequent mischaracterizations and exaggerations about the study. This appears to have been a look at Star Nutritarians from Fuhrman's files, turned into a study.

Here is a link to Dr. Campbell's letter removing his name from Fuhrman's study, in the Journal that had originally published it:


Dr. Campbell's reason for “disassociating” himself from Dr. Fuhrman's work was that Furhman's study contains “major errors that discredit the otherwise impressive health benefits of a whole food plant-based dietary lifestyle.”

Dr. Campbell recently responded to the public revelation about his decision to disassociate from Dr. Fuhrman and his work. You can read Dr. Campbell's statement here in the McDougall forums at:


In his response to Dr. Campbell further down the same string, it seems like Dr. Fuhrman is saying that he (Fuhrman) is not responsible for the analysis of and many mistakes in his own study.

Really? So, who is responsible? Furhman claims this study is documenting:

"the most effective weight loss method ever recorded in medical history. There was an average two year weight loss of 53 pounds. Most importantly they kept the weight off."

However Campbell says that the actual weight loss from the raw data was 34 pounds, not 53. Campbell points out, even though Fuhrman was claiming that the 65 or sometimes even 100 study subjects had lost weight and had kept it off for two years, Campbell says that there were actually only 56 subjects at the start, and only 19 of them were followed for the 2 years, and of that only 4 had actually kept their weight off, according to Dr. Campbell's post.

The reality, according to Campbell, is very different from what Fuhrman hypes to the public.

In fact you can listen to a brief clip from a Dr. Fuhrman interview in which Fuhrman claims that 100 people were in his study and the average person had lost 53 pounds and nobody had gained any weight back after 2 years. This would appear to be the kind of exaggeration or misrepresentation of the study that Campbell strongly objects to and wants no part of. Listen here:


Though Fuhrman likes to claim his was the most effective weight loss study in history, what about all the other studies showing better weight loss and longer compliance than his?

In fact, the National Weight Control Registry has documented 10,000 people whose average weight loss is 65 pounds and been kept off for 5 years, with over 10% losing over 100 lbs and over 10% keeping it off over 10 years. You can check this yourself at http://www.nwcr.ws/Research/default.htm

Here's a study showing greater and longer weight loss than Fuhrman's study:


It's easy to see how someone with Campbell's stature would be upset by Fuhrman's unjustified sales hype and puffery. Having his name on what turned out to be a very poor, unimpressive study, and seeing Fuhrman make unjustified exaggerations, apparently led Campbell to not want to be associated with any of that. To say that 56 people on the Nutritarian diet lost a bunch of weight kept it off for 2 years – when only 4 actually had – and to try to hype it as “the most effective...in medical history” is just nonsense.

In his response in these forums, Dr. Campbell documents multiple examples of what he terms Dr. Fuhrman's “misdeeds” and Campbell characterizes the whole situation surrounding Dr. Fuhrman and his lack of integrity as an “ongoing nightmare.”

Dr. Esselstyn

Several years ago Dr. Esselstyn was apparently aghast to learn that Dr. Fuhrman was publicly asserting that a patient of Dr Esselstyn's had essentially died due to Dr. Esselstyn's diet. Word of this apparently got back to Dr. Esselstyn, who says he attempted to discuss with Fuhrman his baseless speculation and set him right about the facts of Esselstyn's patient.

Dr. Esselstyn subsequently felt compelled to publish a clarification on his website since this rumor, started years ago and promoted by Dr. Fuhrman, was still circulating:


Is it fair to accuse Dr. Esselstyn of devising a dangerous diet, because he keeps nuts to a minimum? We know that the longest-living Okinawans have eaten a diet much closer to Dr. Esselstyn's than Dr. Fuhrman's – they eat very few nuts. How is it that there are no arrhythmias in that long-lived population, when they eat a diet similar to Dr. Esselstyn's low-fat diet? In addition, Dr Esselstyn does recommend all his patients consume flax and chia seeds, see: http://www.heartattackproof.com/qanda.htm

Fuhrman Studies and Supplement Sales

Dr. Fuhrman did a study of supplements called “Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete.”

Somehow when the study was published, Dr. Fuhrman's conflict was not disclosed, namely that he profits financially from the supplements he promoted in his article. The journal which published his study later had to issue a correction, see:


The AMA has strict policies on doctors selling supplements because this is an area where doctors can reap huge profits, and potentially offer products of little or no value to customers over whom the doctors have great influence.

One requirement the AMA lists is that


“Physicians who choose to sell health-related products from their offices should not sell any health-related products whose claims of benefit lack scientific validity. When judging the efficacy of a product, physicians should rely on peer-reviewed literature and other unbiased scientific sources that review evidence in a sound, systematic, and reliable fashion.”

This may explain why Dr. Fuhrman's research seems largely focused to products he sells, such as his supplements or his diet program. Since the AMA wants doctors to have peer-reviewed literature when they sell supplements to patients, and since such research often doesn't exist for supplements aimed at the vegan market, Dr. Fuhrman can make his own. However, the AMA says to use “unbiased” sources. Is there an inherent bias when you are undertaking research for products you already produce and sell?

Dr. Fuhrman sells a variety of supplements, even writes health articles which appear to be to help to drive sales in his store, so it makes sense he would do research to help in what must be a huge profit center. Being able to get patients or customers on a continuity program, where Dr. Fuhrman monthly charges a credit card and autoships a month's worth of pills – is highly lucrative and very little effort once the first sale is made.

Dr. Fuhrman's latest study is on vegans and DHA. Why might vegans need to buy DHA supplements in order to be healthy? Because, according to Fuhrman, a lack of DHA may be linked to Parkinson's Disease. Dr. Fuhrman describes his theory in a DHA article – which of course ends with a link to purchase his DHA Purity product, see:

http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/lack_o ... nsons.aspx

Dr. Fuhrman's theory goes like this: two famous low-fat vegans died of Parksinson's, one of them had very low DHA, so it was probably a lack of DHA from being on a low-fat diet.

His first example is Herbert Shelton, who founded the American Natural Hygiene Society – but right off there is a problem with Dr. Fuhrman's theory. Herbert Shelton wasn't vegan, let alone low-fat. He traveled often which impacted his diet and his actual colleagues who worked with him contradict Fuhrman's theory.

Here is a close friend and associate of Shelton's commenting on Shelton's diet:


"Shelton's diet really wasn't that strict. He was a lactovegetarian; he never could get past the milk products in his diet, including cheese, clabbered milk, and butter."

Saturated fat is a known risk factor for Parkinsons, as is genetics. Several members of Shelton's family had Parkinsons, including his father, same link as the last one:

“There was a strong genetic tendency to Parkinson's disease because several family members including his father had it.”

So Shelton's Parkinson's disease (he was not actually formally diagnosed with Parkinson's) had nothing to do with a low-fat vegan diet – as he was never eating such a diet.

The second “low-fat vegan” who got Parkinsons' according to Dr. Fuhrman, is – well we don't know who he is, because Fuhrman doesn't give the name of this famous person. Dr. Fuhrman says this individual was his patient and that this person died with Parkinsons and, according to Fuhrman, had a very low DHA level.

Dr. Fuhrman continues his pitch for DHA by quoting two animal studies, which looked at inducing Parkinson's-like symptoms and treating the animals with DHA, and the animals had some improvement. This is old research that must not have been seen as very promising since no one has continued with it for many years. Now someone who sells DHA – Fuhrman – is picking up where the animal researchers left off.

If we assume Fuhrman is not exaggerating or misrepresenting here, and this anonymous famous person had Parkinson's and low DHA, that would mean that out of the – what? – 20,000 patients Dr. Fuhrman claims he has treated, one had Parkinson's? That is a half of 1,000th of a percent. Not exactly a raging epidemic in his practice. But apparently enough to justify going out to raise research money.

Is Dr. Fuhrman hoping to find low DHA in vegans, and then (somehow) make the leap that low DHA must cause Parkinson's, and that by supplementing with DHA we vegans will make ourselves Parkinson's-proof? And if he can scare enough vegans, he can reap a fortune from DHA sales? After all, trying to scare people away from Dr. Esselstyn's proven diet (you might die like some of his patients for lack of nuts) or away from Dr. McDougall's program (McDougall is misleading and distorting in a way that will give you cancer!) – this is how Furham works to build his brand. Trash others, scare you, and make you believe that he is your only savior.

Now if we put Dr. Fuhrman aside a moment and look at the literature on the vegan diet and Parkinson's, we see the opposite of what Dr. Fuhrman is theorizing.

Seventh Day Adventist studies, which includes a fairly good sample of vegans, along with the large EPIC cohort, that has followed many vegans  (and as we know, not even the healthiest vegans), has not shown any association with Parkinson's.

Here's a study on the subject itself: A vegan diet prevents progression of Parkinsons Med Hypotheses. 2001 Sep;57(3):318-23. Does a vegan diet reduce risk for Parkinson's disease? McCarty MF.

In aggregate, these findings suggest that vegan diets may be notably protective with respect to Parkinson's Disease. However, they offer no insight into whether saturated fat, compounds associated with animal fat, animal protein, or the integrated impact of the components of animal products mediates the risk associated with animal fat consumption. Caloric restriction has recently been shown to protect the central dopaminergic neurons of mice from neurotoxins, at least in part by induction of heat-shock proteins; conceivably, the protection afforded by vegan diets reflects a similar mechanism. The possibility that vegan diets could be therapeutically beneficial in PD, by slowing the loss of surviving dopaminergic neurons, thus retarding progression of the syndrome, may merit examination. Vegan diets could also be helpful to PD patients by promoting vascular health and aiding blood-brain barrier transport of L-dopa. PMID: 11516224

Here is another – Schwartz RH. Parkinson's disease and vegan diet. Med Hypotheses. 2004;63(1):178.

“A 75-year-old man with PD for eight years changed to a vegan diet for two years. During this time his PD did not appear to have advanced, his dosage of PD medications (levadopa) did not increase, and his quality of life was reported to have improved—an atypical course for this disease.”

It is worth nothing that, like Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn before them, it appears the National Health Association (which used to be called that American Natural Hygiene Association – which Herbert Shelton founded) has withdrawn from their involvement of Dr. Fuhrman's DHA study. The NHA previously was involved but it appears they abruptly terminated their relationship on the study recently. NHA has not responded when I contacted them to ask why they are no longer listed as a supporter of Dr. Fuhrman in this supplement study.

Of course the irony is that Dr. Fuhrman owes much of his nutritarian theory to the NHA/Natural Hygiene movement. His diet is constructed on many of the concepts of the Natural Hygiene diet. It is a high raw, high plant-based diet focused mostly on legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts and seeds. He limits grains and starches, and uses the concept of True Hunger, which goes back 150 years in the Natural Hygiene movement. He recommends not eating between meals and only eating when you are “truly hungry.” But the NHA apparently is not going to do supplement studies with him, probably especially when they are based on mistaken information about their founder (that is just speculation on my part).

Although Campbell, Esselstyn, and the NHA are no longer on board, Dr. Greger has been working at building a relationship with Dr. Fuhrman. Greger is a doctor coming from the animal rights perspective, with no real clinical or research experience, or even a specific point of view about diet. He is highly reductionist in his focus, looking at this nutrient or that food – and lacking context he is often led to conclusions that aren't really justified. In other words, he could be perfect to stand-in for Campbell to work with Fuhrman in supplement-based research. And in fact he has been recruited and is listed as part of Fuhrman's DHA study.

If Dr. Fuhrman can show that DHA is lower in vegans than the general population, and if he can find a way to then show that this means vegans are at higher risk for Parkinson's (that could be tough), then maybe he can scare a lot of vegans into buying his DHA supplement.

Dr. Fuhrman's DHA supplement is $37.99 for a 40-day supply, on his recurring program. Imagine if he can scare 1,000 vegans into signing up for his continuity program, and having him ship a bottle automatically every month. That would be $37,990 a month in extra sales, or around $400,000 extra income a year to Dr. Fuhrman. And if he could scare 2,000 vegans into buying, that would be an extra $800,000 a year. This DHA study looks like an excellent investment for Dr. Fuhrman!

Interestingly, this document http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10 ... 0050115211 reviewing the AMA rules doctors must follow when selling supplements, states:

Be aware of any local requirements. In New Jersey, a regulation has evidently been passed limiting sales to wholesale cost plus 5 percent, a figure that barely covers the cost of money that is tied up in inventory, let alone spent for staff, space, and other costs associated with such sales.

What are the odds that Dr. Fuhrman, who is located in New Jersey, is marking up his supplements by only 5%?

In 2000 the AMA applied their same strict standards to sales by doctors over the internet and websites:

Clarification of Opinion 8.063
Do the guidelines discussing the sale of health-related products (E-8.063) and the sale of non-health-related goods (E-8.062) apply to physicians’ practice websites?

Yes. The physician who provides or sells products to patients must follow the above guidelines regardless of whether the products are provided in the physician’s office or through a practice website.
Adopted December 2000 as "Addendum III: Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs Clarification on Sale of Products from Physicians' Offices (E-8.062 and E-8.063)

http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physici ... n8063.page bottom of the page

So it would seem the AMA's rules regarding supplement sales would apply to doctors' websites as well as their websites, such as the online stores of Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. Mercola.

Dr. McDougall

The more successful a “competitor” is, the more it seems he becomes at target for Dr. Fuhrman. This could explain why Fuhrman apparently sees McDougall as his greatest rival, and works to smear or discredit him. Let's look at a few examples of how Fuhrman plays fast and lose when it comes to Dr. McDougall.

White Potato, White Rice-based Diet

Dr. Fuhrman loves to talk about the “white potato, white rice-based diet,” and about how much better his diet is. Now who could he be talking about when he invokes the “white potato, white rice-based diet?” Could it be Dr. McDougall? If so, wouldn't that be a gross mischaracterization, and highly unfair – so we can probably assume that's exactly who Fuhrman wants people to think he's talking about.

The truth is, Dr. McDougall's diet isn't based on white rice or white potatoes in any way. When you look at the menu for McDougall's 10-day program, it's less than 5% white potatoes and when served, they are only an option. Not exactly “white potato-based.” And there's no white rice anywhere on McDougall's diet. And yet, Dr. Fuhrman loves to rail against the “white rice, white potato-based diet!”

At one point Dr. Fuhrman was asked in the Comments of one of his articles about “white rice diet” whether he was in fact talking about the diets of McDougall, Esselstyn or Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman replied that he was talking about people on his blog who were “defending” white rice. The exchange is between MarieC and Fuhrman in the Comments section under this article:

http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/di ... -risk.html

Shortly after the “debate” between Fuhrman and McDougall at McDougall's Advanced Study Weekend in February of this year, Dr. Fuhrman made this comment in his forum:

Some people have stated that from the weekend event, the conclusion that our recommendations [of McDougall and Fuhrman] are similar or 97 percent the same. I have to say, after listening to the presentations in the audience, I arrived at the opposite conclusion. Our recommendations are very, very different. I think it is bordering on insulting to claim my recommendations are almost the same. If anyone was there the entire weekend, he made every point opposite to what I teach, advocating and defending white rice diets and white potato based diets, oblivious and in denial of the scientific link of both of those foods to contributing to diabetes (and with white rice and white bread to breast cancer). He denied the clear facts of the increased incidence of diabetes in Korea, advocated people severely limit beans, lest they get too much protein, advocated restriction on vegetables for fear of kidney damage from too many micronutrients, (can you imagine that one), advocated fear of eating nuts and seeds for being too fattening ("the fat you eat is the fat you wear"). So he tried to argue us nutritarians would be too thin and weak and too fat (from the seeds and nuts) simultaneously. – Dr. Fuhrman

So notice how Fuhrman turns things into a smear of his host, McDougall. And he once again raises the straw man argument that McDougall recommends a “white rice diet and white potato-based diet.” His response is ad hominem – McDougall is “oblivious” and “in denial.”

If you watch the “debate” yourself – it's available streaming on Dr. McDougall's website – you will see that, in answer to the first question, Dr. Fuhrman clearly states that he too “recommends a starch-based diet.” Did you get that? Fuhrman is on video saying he also recommends a “starch-based diet.”

He goes on to say he emphasizes more starchy beans and so forth, but when Whole Foods CEO and debate moderator John Mackey asks the question, after McDougall answers, Fuhrman says “I also recommend a starch-based diet.”

I have watched the “debate” and other than some of Fuhrman's answers being proven wrong by audience members who were fact-checking him with Google searches (like Fuhrman was wrong and McDougall was right about the protein content of beans), I am struck by how much agreement they actually had. The only exception were some fairly small areas of representations Furhman made about a trip he took to Korea, and which Fuhrman attempted to blow up into huge “disagreements.” Not really.

In another entry on his website, Dr. Fuhrman used The China Study to show that populations eating a “vegetable-rich diet” have almost no recorded heart disease and not a single heart attack. A commenter then pointed out in the Comments section that the diet Campbell is talking about in The China Study that Dr. Fuhrman cited – the diet that protected completely against heart disease – was actually a starch-based diet, rather than Dr. Fuhrman's “vegetable-based” diet.

Fuhrman conceded that the commenter was right, that the diet in The China Study wasn't his diet. Fuhrman then went on to say that in any case, Dr. Campbell supports his conclusion about his own diet. Full discussion above is in the Comments here:

http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/al ... table.html

So Fuhrman uses a study to show his vegetable-based diet prevents all heart attacks and heart disease...until he's called on it and has to admit it was the starch-based diet in that study, not his diet. And then he tries to make a point that Dr. Campbell, author of the study Fuhrman had cited, supports Dr. Fuhrman's conclusions. Not anymore. Campbell stated he can no longer trust Fuhrman due to Fuhrman's exaggerations and false statements.

In any case, it's nice to see Fuhrman acknowledging that the starch-based diet has been proven in thousands of rural Chinese to prevent heart disease entirely. Now why do those Chinese need to start adding nuts to prevent heart problems again?

It's interesting that Dr. Greger has joined in the subtle McDougall-bashing in a recent interview with Dr. Fuhrman. Greger said:

Too often we hear outdated information that is ego-based and supporting old theories that have been proposed. These include extremely low fat vegan diets, without nuts and seeds, or centering one's diet around white potatoes or white rice. This is just not the best science-based advice.

http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/in ... er-md.html

Gee, who could Dr. Greger be referring to here when he criticizes a diet of white rice and white potatoes? And who is he attacking for not having nuts in their diet? Has anyone asked Greger which expert in the veg world is recommending that diet? I did. And Greger has refused to answer. It's unfortunate to see another doctor in the veg world joining with Fuhrman in ad hominem attacks and cheap shots. Fuhrman used to be the only MD who did that; now there are two.

The funny part of the interview is at the very end where Dr. Fuhrman says to Dr. Greger:

“Thanks for the interview; obviously I am thrilled to have someone with your degree of scientific integrity to be in general consensus with and to have mutual efforts complement each other, in order to revolutionize the health of Americans.”

Oh yes, “scientific integrity.” If Fuhrman really were in favor of integrity and against personal attacks as he claimed in this forum, why would he post and allow such a smear to stand? Has he duped Dr. Greger into being the bad guy for him to help trash Dr. McDougall?

McDougall & Diabetes

As part of his continuing assault on McDougall, Fuhrman wrote an article called “Starch-Based Diets No Answer for Diabetes.” Fuhrman extols readers to leave the starch-based diet and come “all the way” to his Eat To Live diet, because McDougall's diet is okay, but just not good enough for diabetics. If you read Fuhrman's piece, it seems like he has looked in detail at McDougall's starch-based diet and found it can cause heart attacks and increase diabetes.

Oh really?

Fuhrman goes on to cite a study which, he says, shows that eating starch-based will not really help diabetics. You can read Fuhrman's original article here:

http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/di ... etics.html

So is Fuhrman right? Or is he full of it once again, as he has been when going after Esselstyn and Campbell?

Well dietitian Jeff Novick looked at Fuhrman's attack on starch from the study Fuhrman used, and wrote one of the most cogent responses, destroying Fuhrman's allegations. First, the study didn't look at anything like a McDougall-style starch-based diet, but a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet filled with junk food. You can read Novick's full rebuttal at this link:


But the bottom line is that the “starch-based diet” evaluated in the study Fuhrman pointed to, was a diet fairly high in fructose coming mostly from honey, and it was this high consumption of honey from these particular vegetarians that caused a problem, and had nothing to do with starches. Certain fresh and dried fruits (apples and dates) are also higher in fructose, which, Dr McDougall happens to limit.

As one reads Dr. Fuhrman's work, you start to get the very strong impression that he never actually reads a full study, but merely looks at the Abstract and then makes all kinds of completely wrong statements – always in an attempt to promote his diet and bash someone else's. The actual facts don't appear to matter much, just his agenda of saying his diet is “best,” that you will “live longest” on his diet, and that other diets will “make you die sooner.” Somewhere I hear P.T. Barnum.

Jeff Novick and Fuhrman

When asked why Jeff Novick disagrees with certain of Dr. Fuhrman's points, Fuhrman responded on his forum:

It is clear and not controversial that Jeff is on the payroll of Dr. McDougall and intentionally distorts my work to protect and promote Dr. McDougall... - Dr. Fuhrman, 01-21-2010, 06:43 AM

So once again, Dr. Fuhrman attacks Novick and the only reason Novick could be making a criticism of something Fuhrman did – is because he is being paid off by McDougall. The truth is that this is one of many examples of Fuhrman refusing to answer a question, and instead using an ad hominem attack to deflect it. If you spend time on Furhman's forum, you will see that when faced with a question or challenge where an explanation is requested, he may sometimes simply get angry and say he doesn't have time in an apparent attempt to evade answering.

Contrast that with Novick here on this forum. It appears that if Novick has learned anything from Dr McDougall, it is how to take the high road, which he does when Fuhrman's aggressively rude comments are copied from Fuhrman's forum to this one, and Novick redirects the conversation back to the issues. Note how Novick reacted and responded when he learned of Dr. Fuhrman's accusations:


Dr. Campbell has said of Jeff Novick:


"Jeff, your ability to probe and analyze the research literature is as good as anyone I know, inside or outside of the professional research community. You actually obtain the papers and critically review the tables and charts of the data, then see if the authors discussion of their own data is consistent."
T. Colin Campbell, Phd

Based on your own experiences, whose perception do you believe is correct about Jeff Novick? Fuhrman's, that Novick will say whatever McDougall orders him to say, as long as McDougall is paying him? Or Campbell, who believes Novick is one of the most careful and thoughtful reviewers of scientific literature anywhere?

The Bogus ANDI Scoring System

ANDI is a system Dr Fuhrman invented and ANDI scores are based on evaluating the amounts of a variety of vitamins and minerals in a given food, adding them together, and then taking the USDA's ORAC score for the food, doubling the ORAC score and adding it to the total. You can see some explanation of the ANDI scoring system at this link:

http://blog.fooducate.com/2010/01/28/wh ... ng-system/

The system is proprietary, which means we just have to trust Dr. Fuhrman on the exact formula and calculations. But if the above description is correct, it looks like several key nutrients were left out.

According to the description in the link above,  ANDI includes the following Vitamins:

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folate

And the following Minerals; 

Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc 

And  Carotenoids:
Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Lutein & Zeaxanthin, Lycopene,

And Glucosinolates, 

And the ORAC score times 2 (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity is a method of measuring the antioxidant or radical scavenging capacity of foods).

And Fiber.

But, what happened to the vitamins, A, K, B5, and Biotin, and the minerals phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride,  manganese, cobalt, copper, & molybdenum?

Aren't they important? According to National Institutes of Health, yes. See:



If ANDI scores are intended to represent a comprehensive nutrient density rating system, why were so many nutrients omitted? Could it be the ANDI formula was adjusted by Dr. Fuhrman to make his dietary recommendations appear best? Why was he selective in choosing which vitamins and minerals to include?

If this were not a proprietary system but open source where anyone could have Dr. Fuhrman's formula, then we could test it out and check the numbers. But that's not possible.

Another major problem with his ANDI formula is that Fuhrman has taken the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scores for each food, doubled them and added them to the total for other nutrients. In this way he comes up with a score of the relative healthfulness of each food.

ORAC – which features most heavily in the ANDI system – measures the antioxidant activity of foods. It puts a value on how effectively a food or product slows the activity of free radicals, measured by the degradation of a fluorescent dye.

But the creators of the ORAC score have specifically said it should never be used to determine whether a food is healthy for human consumption. They say ORAC is a “crude measure” and “should never be used to say 'Eat this or eat that'” – which is exactly the way Fuhrman is using it.

Here is more information about ORAC from a recent Wall Street Journal article:



The ORAC test was developed in the mid-1990s by scientists at USDA. In 2007, USDA first published a list of the ORAC values of common foods, and then updated the list in 2010. In February of this year, the USDA removed the database from its website because use of ORAC values to sell products had gotten "completely out of hand," says John Finley, national program leader for human nutrition at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. "The values have nothing to do with whether a food is healthy for you or not."

"The problem with ORAC,” says Dr. Ames of UC Berkeley, “is that a substance that looks like an excellent antioxidant in a test tube may not be well-absorbed by the body."

Companies use ORAC "as if it's the final authority and the second coming of antioxidant activity in the body, which it isn't," says David Bell, a spokesman for Brunswick Labs, which is used by many food and supplement companies. "Brunswick never, ever promoted it that way."

Does this look like fraud to anyone? Fuhrman uses ANDI to try to steer people toward “healthier” foods.

In 2010, Whole Foods adopted Dr. Fuhrman's ANDI system, and they use it to encourage people to buy certain foods over others. But the USDA had specifically said that ORAC scores, which are a major component of ANDI, are never to be used this way.

Do the ends justify the means? Is it okay to try to get people to eat more plant foods and avoid animal products, by using a system that was never intended to be used that way? How does a company which is selling a product through Whole Foods feel when their product is given a low ANDI score, if the score is not based on reliable science? Has Whole Foods been duped into promoting pseudo-science?

If the ANDI scores were based on a solid formula, you would think that the score for a given food would remain constant and unchanged. Why is it then, when you look at food scores from Dr. Fuhrman's ANDI chart, that some foods have gone up and others have gone down over time?

Here are charts from Dr. Fuhrman over time:

2007 from video presentation: http://i.imgur.com/0VS6l.jpg

More recent chart (~2010) from Furhman's website: http://i.imgur.com/OZC8M.jpg

Looking at the 2007 versus the more recent ANDI chart, you notice how different the older one is from the more recent one. Look at how the white potato was much higher in the 2007 chart, but is now lower, and beans have come up in value.

If Dr. Fuhrman had changed or updated the ANDI system, then you would think that the numbers for everything should have changed in some way. Yet only a few foods changed, suggesting that perhaps Dr. Fuhrman selectively adjusted the numbers. Was he trying to manipulate ANDI to make his diet look “better” than someone else's?

Now let's compare the ANDI scores of “Top 30 Super Foods” on a Whole Foods chart based on ANDI: http://i.imgur.com/TCmfZ.jpg

Is this really the “Top 30 Super Foods” based on ANDI? After all, sweet potatoes, oats and brown rice have all been left off, yet they all score fairly high, higher than other foods on the chart, according to Fuhrman's calculations.

Is this even less scientific than claimed, when starch-based foods appear to be intentionally left off for reasons unknown? Has the chart been manipulated so that Whole Foods appears to be making Fuhrman's diet look good, and McDougall's diet not even on the chart – though of course the starch-based foods should be there?

For example, if you compare the Whole Foods “Top” foods from ANDI, the sweet potato at 80 and oatmeal at 53 were both left out of the “Top 30,” despite the fact that they scored higher than the nuts and some beans, which have been included. That seems very odd to have been omitted. In addition, skim milk at 36, avocado at 37, shrimp at 38, salmon at 39 and even green peas at 70 – were completely left out.

I don't eat shrimp, skim milk, salmon or any animal products. But I would have left them in the list since they score higher than other foods that are included, and since some people who aren't plant-based could benefit from making healthier food animal food choices.

Looking at this page from Whole Foods' website:

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/healthy ... ndi-scores

It says, “an ANDI score shows the nutrient density of a food on a scale from 1 to 1000 based on nutrient content. ANDI scores are calculated by evaluating an extensive range of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities.”

Extensive?  Really? Not so much, actually.

You notice on that Whole Foods ANDI score page that there are no whole grains or starchy veggies listed at all! It's only the foods that Dr. Fuhrman favors in his program, not foods highest in his (probably manipulated) ANDI system.

Just as the formula for ANDI selectively omitted certain minerals and vitamins, so the charts produced using the ANDI scoring system themselves seem to be manipulated, in order to make Dr. Fuhrman's preferred foods look superior.

So it looks like Whole Foods has fallen for the shenanigans. But since the entire ANDI system is essentially bogus in any case, why is Whole Foods even presenting it to the public?

Unique Idea: Nutrient Density?

It's worth it to mention that Dr. Fuhrman didn't invent the concept of nutrient density, and his system is far from the first. Nutrient density, and nutrient density scoring systems, go back to the 70's if not earlier. But somehow Fuhrman thinks he has it better than everyone else, possibly because it appears to be manipulated (by him) to prove his diet is the best.

Here is a list of studies showing that nutrient-density scoring systems go back almost 40 years, long before Fuhrman was in the medical field:

- USDA/CNPP. The Healthy Eating Index. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. USDA. Internet:www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/HEI/HEI.html (accessed 5 June 2005).

- Lackey CJ, Kolasa KM. Healthy eating: defining the nutrient quality of foods. Nutr Today 2004;39:26–9.

- Haines PS, Siega-Riz AM, Popkin BM. The Diet Quality Index revised a measurement instrument for populations. J Am Diet Assoc 1999;99:697–704.

- Kant AK. Indexes of overall diet quality: a review. J Am Diet Assoc 1996;96:785–91.

- . Kennedy ET, Ohls J, Carlson S, Fleming K. The Healthy Eating Index: design and applications. J Am Diet Assoc 1995;95:1103–8.

- Wyse BW, Hansen RG. Nutrient analysis of exchange lists for meal planning. II. Nutrient density food profiles. J Am Diet Assoc 1979;75:242–9.[Medline]

- Hansen RG, Wyse BW, Sorenson AW. Nutrition quality index of food. Westport, CT: AVI Publishing Co, 1979.

- Guthrie H. Concept of a nutritious food. J Am Diet Assoc 1977;71:14–19.[Medline]

- Sorenson AW, Wyse BW, Wittwater AJ, Hansen RG. An index of nutritional quality for a balanced diet. New help for an old problem. J Am Diet Assoc 1976;68:236–42.[Medline]

-Wyse BW, Sorenson AW, Wittwater AJ, Hansen RG. Nutritional quality index identifies consumer nutrient needs. Food Technol 1976;30:22–40.

- Lachance PA. Critique of an index of food quality (IFQ). J Nutr Educ 1975;7:136(letter).

- Sorenson AW, Hansen RG. An index of food quality. J Nutr Educ 1975;7:53–7.

- Hansen RG. An index of food quality. Nutr Rev 1973;31:1–7.[Medline]

Unique Idea: True Hunger?

It's worth mentioning that Dr Fuhrman did a study on the nature of hunger, and discusses what he calls "true hunger," and how eating in response to "true hunger" results in greater health, as opposed to "toxic hunger." see: 


Although it's not widely know, the concept of "true hunger" goes back to the 1800's, and Dr. Herbert Shelton and the original Natural Hygiene movement, as well as its predecessors (Dr Edward Hooker Dewey, Dr Hereward Carrington, and Dr Oswald and Dr Tilden, etc).

Here are excerpts from a 1935 book in which Dr. Shelton discusses the exact “true hunger” concepts that Fuhrman echos in his study and books:

http://chestofbooks.com/health/natural- ... ungry.html

http://chestofbooks.com/health/natural- ... art-3.html

Many people believe that Dr. Fuhrman invented concepts such as true hunger and nutrient density.  I wonder why he doesn't ever mention the source of these ideas and credit the people who actually came up with them. It is the American Natural Hygiene movement, now called the National Health Association, that has provided much of Dr. Fuhrman's principles.

Beans and Resistant Starch?

While Dr Fuhrman admits to recommending a starch based diet, he says beans are his recommended choice of starch. Beans are well known to be a healthy food as they are an excellent source of protein, fiber and many nutrients. However, Dr. Fuhrman loves to promote them for a different reason, called “resistant starch,” and he says that around 30% of the calories in beans are not absorbed, due to this resistant starch.
From this article: http://www.examiner.com/article/more-nu ... el-fuhrman
Dr. Fuhrman believes that beans are a fundamental part of a healthy diet. He says that they are special because they contain “resistant starch” meaning that they are resistant to digestion. Foods with resistant starch go all the way through the small intestine without being digested. They are broken down by bacteria in the colon to short-chain fatty acids. The best news is that, according to Dr. Fuhrman, if you eat 150 calories worth of beans, you only absorb 100 calories.

Is this true? Actually, no. It's just another exaggeration to support Fuhrman's particular diet recommendations.

Let's look at the Bean Institute and what they say the research says. After all, they are in the business of marketing beans and are looking for every angle and benefit to sell beans, and are up on the latest scientific studies that promote beans.

From their website at:


We have utilized in vitro methods to estimate resistant starch (non-gelatinized and retrograded) in canned beans from 30 bean lines and we estimate that about 10% of bean starch in canned beans is not digestible. We predict that the amount of indigestible starch in cooked beans is 20% of the total starch content. Additional research on bean starch is warranted.

So according to the Bean Institute, between 10% and 20% of bean starch in canned beans it not digestible. So it is only a percent of the calories in the starch portion, not the total calories, which is resistant. But Dr. Fuhrman takes the total calories of the beans and applies his inflated 30% number.

To further illustrate how he is exaggerating this point about his diet, according to the USDA Database, 100 grams of pinto beans (mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt) have 15.2 grams of starch and 143 calories.

Now as we saw, the Bean Institute says that 10-20% of the STARCH is resistant starch (not 10-20% of total calories).

Normally, starch yields 4 calories per gram. So that means 15.2 grams of starch contains 60.8 calories.

So let's look at this two ways: with both the 10% and 20% of calories being resistant. If 10% of the starch calories are not absorbed, that would be 10% of 60.8 calories, or 6.08 calories are not absorbed from the 100 grams of beans.

Or if it was 20% of resistant starch not absorbed, that would mean 20% of 60.8 calories, or about 12.16 calories of resistant starch is not absorbed.

So out of a total number of calories of 143 in 100 grams of beans, you are not absorbing 12.16 calories, assuming the higher 20% estimate for starch resistance that the bean institute provides.

That is about 12 calories not absorbed out of 143 calories. So that means about 8% of total calories in beans are not absorbed. Now that is a very big difference from Fuhrman's claim that 30% of total calories are not absorbed, which would be 42.9 calories.

So Fuhrman asserts that you don't absorb 42.9 calories when eating 143 calories of beans, but the true figure is far lower, only 12 calories are not absorbed – using the Bean Institute's highest estimate.

So where did Dr Fuhrman get the mistaken notion that 30% of total calories from beans are not absorbed? In his newsletter where he discusses it,

http://www.drfuhrman.com/FreeNewsletter ... E0EB2B228B

there is a chart in Dr. Fuhrman's article just linked, showing resistant starch. Here is the chart:


Here are the references for this chart, #12 and #13:


If you look up those two studies on which Dr. Fuhrman's resistant starch estimates are drawn, you will see that the first one is a study on dogs, which is where the chart itself actually came from, see:


and the other is a test tube study, see:


So again, it seems like Dr. Fuhrman is misusing this dog and test tube study, to try to assert that you don't absorb 30% of the calories in beans, when it's actually only about 8% at most. It seems Fuhrman is willing to grasp for whatever he can find, in spite of the quality or applicability of research, to try to convince people his diet is better.

The numbers I arrived at are also very similar to the numbers Jeff Novick gets in his detailed analysis of Resistant Starch here:


In summary, I think what much of the problems currently coming to light at this point, come down to a no-holds-barred strategy on the part of Dr. Fuhrman to compete in the plant-based marketplace, to try to differentiate his brand from others and try to make his brand look best. And to do that, it appears he attacks, smears, exaggerates and uses sloppy science.

But why should Fuhrman go after the other plant based champions, who have not only helped pave the path for him, but have also helped so many thousands of people? Who not go after the real villains like the meat and dairy industries? The only explanation I can think of is that Fuhrman is doing it in an ugly effort to make a name for himself as the kingpin in this plant based whole food world.

Fortunately, many people are starting to see through that.

Mark Simon’s commentary on Dr. Fuhrman’s misdeeds is excellent. There’s not much else to say, except perhaps to remind ourselves that the proposition of using a whole food, plant-based diet, with little or no added oil, sugar and salt, is an amazingly productive story that has so much to offer.

I must add, however, one additional comment to my own post on Dr. Fuhrman. This concerns my ‘take’ on the matter of trust in science, especially as it applies to the publication of research results in professional peer-reviewed journals. It is a process that is poorly understood by most people.

When manuscripts are submitted for publication, reviewers of the manuscripts rarely if ever see the raw data. They only see the summaries of these raw data. Thus they are compelled to trust the authors who compile the data into tables and graphs. If any of these raw data are not included, this must be explained. This process is a matter of trust that is so fundamental to science. If and when this trust is broken, penalties can be severe. At least this is the way that science is supposed to work and I am confident that it does for the vast majority of researchers who publish papers. Our reputations in science rest on this trust and without it, our reputations--and our careers--can be quickly destroyed.

I accepted Dr. Fuhrman’s request to help him publish a peer-reviewed paper by lending my name as a secondary author. I did so because I believed his claim that he had something important to say. In effect, he wanted to use my reputation because of my half-century of publishing about 350 papers, my serving on the editorial review boards of five journals and my serving on several grant review panels of NIH, the American Society and other organizations.

Fuhrman’s manuscript really was not a study. It was a summary of case histories from his practice. As project director his name was listed last, as is customary. Dr. Sarter was the person who tabulated the data. Her name was listed first, as is customary. They are the authors who assembled the data, wrote the manuscript and submitted the paper. My name was in the middle, as is customary for people who have a secondary part in the project.

The paper was submitted to two respectable journals. Both rejected the manuscript. About two years later, I inquired of Dr. Fuhrman what had become of the manuscript and he informed me that it was being published in a journal with a much lesser reputation (May 2008).

Three years later (2011) I learned that the findings of this paper were being questioned. I was urged to get a copy of the raw data to see for myself. Initially, Dr. Sarter who I have never met, denied giving me a copy. My second request succeeded, thus giving me my first opportunity to see her compilation of the data, in the form of an Excel sheet. I did my own compilation and it was flawed, as initially suspected by the person who brought this to my attention. But, importantly, this is only Dr. Sarter’s and Dr. Fuhrman’s compilation of the data. To this day, I have never seen the real raw data as presented in the case histories.

I also learned (in 2011) that my name, three years earlier (2008), had been changed to my being listed first in the journal’s archives. This is a serious misrepresentation, although I do not know who did this and why it was done. In any event, it incorrectly gave the impression to others that I was main author of this so-called study.

Like I have done hundreds of times for reviews of other manuscripts, I had trusted Drs. Fuhrman and Sarter to honestly summarize the data--a huge mistake on my part, as it turned out.

But, unbelievably, this flawed summary of data was only the beginning of the problem. Dr. Fuhrman then grossly exaggerated these flawed findings even further, in very public places.

I therefore had to withdraw my name by submitting to the journal a proposed retraction letter. I shared a copy of my letter with Dr. Fuhrman, assuming that he would want to do the same, as is customary in matters of this sort. He failed to take advantage of this opportunity and continued to go forward with the same exaggerations. Indeed, he began using this study, with my name intact, to raise public funding for his version of research.

He made it clear to me that he had no intention of acknowledging his culpability or of changing course in making false public claims. Instead, he and one of this colleagues began accusing me of “personal attack”, among other charges. Finally, about six months later my retraction letter was published but only after the editor eliminated the substance of my reason for submitting the letter.

Aside from Fuhrman’s serious misrepresentations, this affair reveals how important is this matter of trust in science. It is literally impossible for reviewers and secondary authors of studies to examine the details of raw data. They must trust those who assemble these data in a form that can be properly reviewed, analyzed and interpreted. When that trust is broken, science fails, and severe penalties can be the consequence. In this case, based on what I have experienced, I can no longer trust anything that Dr. Fuhrman does or says, as I said in my previous post. Were he to have been a member of a professional society, I am confident that he would by now have been put out to pasture.

And finally, returning to my initial point, although we must clean up messes when they occur, we also must not lose sight of the extraordinary possibilities that this dietary lifestyle offers for solving so many of our problems. We also must acknowledge the exceptional work and courage shown by the majority--and growing number--of professionals working in this area for these past 2-3 decades.
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