Lab Notes: On Celery Juice, Cancer, and the Renaissance of Measles

More musings from this week’s news in healthcare:

Is celery juice a gateway food?
How are you celebrating colorectal cancer awareness month?
What are the politics of measles?

ICYMI: There’s a new food pusher on the block, and it’s “Medical Medium” Anthony William. Celebs dig his celery-juice sermons (see Debra Messing, Robert DeNiro and Pharrell Williams), and William makes the following claims for organic celery juice:

“[I]t’s highly beneficial for people who suffer from chronic and mystery illnesses, including conditions labeled ‘autoimmune.’ Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, migraines, vertigo, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, psoriasis … [still reading?] … eczema, acne, lupus, Guillain-Barré syndrome, sarcoidosis, Raynaud’s syndrome, Ménière’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gout, bursitis, bloating, intestinal cramping, distention, acid reflux, vertigo, constipation, restless leg syndrome, tingles, numbness …”

Not so fast, says Lindsay Malone, RD, of Cleveland Clinic. Malone indicates that celery juice via high doses of vitamins A and K helps with blood clotting and vision, but she regards it more of a gateway food: “Eating one particular food isn’t necessarily going to give you all the results you’re looking for … but, if you start your day with that one thing, and it helps you make several other healthy choices throughout the day, then by all means, you should try it.” And, like gateway drugs, you’re more likely to try something if your friends are doing it: hence the growing black market for organic celery in Los Angeles.  

Only lung cancer is more lethal than colorectal cancer in the US. And yet: screening methods have made it decreasingly lethal since 1985, and there’s more good news on the screening front: there’s new alternatives to ingesting a gallon of bad-tasting laxative as part of the test prep. According to Cleveland Clinic’s Carol Burke, M.D., “We have many new kids on the block that are better tasting, and more palatable, and much lower volume that patients are really appreciative to have.” If you’re over 50, ask your doctor about the cranberry-flavored option.

Now that the Mueller report is out, maybe there’s room to discuss other political topics: like measles. The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen makes a fascinating case to regard vaccination as “a basic political issue, because it is the subject of community agreement.” But if politics is akin to war without bloodshed, what happens when a lethal and once-managed disease has a new outbreak?

May you have a healthy first couple weeks of spring!