Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On the liver

As you know from reading this blog, assuming you read it regularly, one of the things I love about obituaries is what I learn about how recently thinking has changed, within a person's lifetime. Today, I read the obituary of Dr. Charles Lieber who first proposed -- in the 1970's! -- that it was alcohol consumption that caused cirrhosis of the liver and not a poor diet.

No one believed it. “'His concepts put him under a lot of pressure, but he defended his positions brilliantly and gentlemanly in very heated discussions with some of the brightest scientists in the world,' Dr. Schenker said in an interview."

The thing I feel bad about are the poor baboons "who had been fed the equivalent of a fifth of liquor every day for up to four years" and whose livers, naturally, completely deteriorated. I suppose that's one way to prove the point. But a lot of humans had voluntarily given themselves cirrhosis of the liver and yet people couldn't connect the dots. "The co-discoverer of insulin, Dr. Charles H. Best, ... contended that alcohol was no more toxic than sugar water." My goodness, it takes a lot to convince us of what we don't want to believe.

1 comment:

Lorin said...

La-la-la, I can't hear you, my fingers are in my ears, la-la-la. =)