The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, March 30, 2009

Adulterated food in the modern world.

Nothing is more personal than the choice of food we eat. It is strange, therefore, so often in the modern world, that choice is removed from us. We are forced to eat food components we would rather not.

Monosodium Glutamate is a flavour enhancer widely used around the world. It is also something which many people react negatively to, in particular, non-Chinese people. It is a curious observation that Chinese people have a biological advantage in clearing MSG from their systems. Thus, a Chinese person has much greater tolerance for MSG than a non-Chinese person. This makes for interesting situations. You see, it means that a Chinese person may be perfectly comfortable eating food that a non-Chinese person would find unpleasant.

I once had such an unpleasant experience in a restaurant. We were in an Asian country that likes to use MSG in its food, so we made a particular point of telling the waitress that we didn't want MSG in the food. She nodded her understanding: there would be no MSG.

Then the restaurant did something odd. The woman we had spoken to went away and a new waitress came back. So, just to be safe, I repeated the request to this waitress: no MSG. Again, she nodded her understanding.

Then they did something very strange. A third person attended to us. So, for the last time, we repeated our request that there be no MSG in the food.

Eventually, the food came. Now, as is the way with many restaurants, the food was strong on flavour and low on quantity...but that didn't particularly bother me, having seen this phenomenon in many other restaurants. It tasted rather good. In fact, I began to become suspicious about the intensity of the flavour. In particular, the soup left a strong tingling on my tongue as of a flavour that would not go away. This seemed a lot like MSG to me.

By the time the meal had finished, I was feeling the typical effects of MSG on me: a dazedness combined with a severe and growing headache. Indeed, such was the strength of the response that, in my estimate, that "MSG free meal" that we had requested contained MORE MSG than any other meal I had eaten in memory. I could not recall a more intense and sudden reaction.

This irked me. It just wasn't right that I - and the others who had dined - were to suffer for several hours from headaches and dazedness, after we had specifically requested that there be no MSG in the food. The restaurant had broken its basic contract with all customers: to give them what they want. They had given us specifically what we didn't want.

Sure enough, for the next few hours, I nursed a terrible headache. I was also rather dazed. Without any doubt, I had consumed a lot of MSG.

Now, if you are of Chinese origin, you may be wondering why I am making a fuss about this. Well, it is simple. This "flavour enhancer" may make a meal taste better, but in my particular case, it also comes with a headache and hours of dazedness. The side effects outweigh the benefits, considerably. For me, and for those who share my genetic construction (ie. quite a few non-Chinese people), a meal with significant MSG is a ruined meal. It is a meal that will punish its consumer for several hours, thereafter. Personally, I don't think any meal is worth eating, no matter how tasty, if it leaves me dazed with an awful headache for the rest of the day.

It comes back to choice. Everyone should have the choice on whether or not their food is adulterated by anything which is not innately part of the food. If it is not part of the food, in nature, it should be optional for the consumer. MSG is NOT part of most foods. It is added in cooking. Now, this adulterant and all others, should ONLY be added if specifically requested by the consumer. It should be an OPT-IN situation, not an opt out situation. The reason for this is clear: opting out just doesn't work in many cases. We tried our best to opt out of MSG in this particular meal, but their assurances and nods to us were nothing but lies. Perhaps they thought we were just being eccentric in making this request and that it could be safely ignored because we wouldn't notice. Well, of course, we noticed because to those of our genetic background, this particular adulterant is basically a poison and has noticeable toxic effects.

Given that we tried our best to opt out of the adulteration by MSG and that it had not worked, we decided that the only option left was never to eat out in that country again: those headaches were just not worth it. Thus, the lies of one restaurant, cost every other restaurant in the land the possibility of our patronage.

Thus it is clear that giving the customer choice in such matters makes good business sense: if a restaurant doesn't allow a customer to opt out of an adulterant, owing to food sensitivity (and a reaction to MSG could be called a food sensitivity), then restaurants will lose business. People will simply go to where they can opt out. In our case, this meant avoiding all restaurants in that country altogether.

Food sensitivity is a serious matter. All in the food and beverage business should take it seriously - for not only does it affect the customer, but it affects their bottom line, too. If a customer wants to opt out of MSG, or salt, or wheat, or soy or dairy, then they should be allowed to do so. A responsible restaurant that allows such opting out is one that will get more business, too.

I realize that most will not share my concern about MSG, in this post, because most people will not react with headaches and dazedness. However, a proportion of people will react to it and for this reason all should have the right to opt out. In Chinese dominated countries, MSG is used a lot in cooking. However, such countries should still allow opting out because they will have non-Chinese in their midst who are not so genetically equipped to process the ingredient.

People's food sensitivities should be respected and restaurants should take steps to accommodate those of their customers. To do otherwise, it to ensure that certain customers will never come back - and is that good for any restaurant?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:52 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps they didnt understand you? Or misunderstood you?

Anyway, even for a ethnic chinese like myself, msg is well... unhealthy, even though it does bring out the flavor of food, and that's why my family does not even have salt at home.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Fox said...

MSG additives is also used in potato chips, BBQ sauces, salad dressings, canned soups, etc, all of which are consumed daily by Americans. I presume that most of them will not share the genetic constitution of Chinese people. Yet, as far as I can tell, most of them have no problems eating potato chips or canned soups.

Do you experience the same symptoms when you have the aforementioned foods?

8:41 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is possible they misunderstood. But then why were they pretending to understand with all their nodding and assurances? That only compounds the situation.

Yes. MSG is unhealthy, though curiously ethnic Chinese people are well adapted to it...and are surprisingly more effective than other ethnicities of clearing it from their systems.

It is good that you are making such a stand on health issues.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It depends on dosage Fox. MSG is used in relatively low doses in the foods you mention. However, quite clearly, the dosage in prepared foods can be much higher: it is up to the chef how much he throws in.

Americans don't handle MSG well. (They aren't genetically adapted for its clearance like the Chinese (proven in research into the matter)). I would think the American diet contains much less MSG than the Chinese diet. However, the Americans might not cope as well with their intake as the Chinese...

8:57 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I experience the same kind of symptoms, no matter what the dose...but increasing the dose just makes the reaction more intense. A small dose would mean a mild reaction...but the same kind of response, just less intense. That is all. So, yes, if I ate enough potato chips with MSG, I would get the same response (and so would many others).

9:04 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. not understanding us.

This is unlikely since we spoke in their language as well as English. We gave all instructions in both languages for two chances of understanding. I don't see how we could have done more to get our point across.

I rather think they thought it was not important to oblige us.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Fox, perhaps you should know that the observation that Westerners do badly on MSG is such a common phenomenon that it actually has a name: "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome". Please look it up. Americans don't handle MSG at all - nor do any people of Caucasian origin.


10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then it is likely the cook... well... thought it was a ridiculous request and decided to over-rule you- the customer.

Correct, now that you have mentioned it, it is called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. Well, i guess different ethnic groups have different 'abilities'. Just like how asians cannot metabolize alcohol as efficient as westerners.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI Valentine,

perhaps the restaurant pre-prepared all their food and just re-heat it when the customers arrive. So there was no way they could remove the MSG. This could explain why they sent 3 different people to serve you!

4:05 AM  
Blogger Fox said...

Valentine Cawley:

I do know about the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, perhaps more than you realize. Ironically, most restaurants that I have been to in America and Singapore do not use a lot of MSG. I can actually taste MSG and based on experience, the taste of MSG is much more palpable in Kentucky Fried Chicken (in SG and the US) and Lay's Potato chips than most hawker stalls or Chinese restaurants in Singapore. Most chicken products in fast food restaurants contain significant amount of MSG. Pray tell, do you get dizzy when you partake KFC?

MSG is not used in traditional Chinese cuisine simply because pure MSG was only chemically isolated in the 20th century. It is difficult to see how Chinese people are genetically adapted to tolerate MSG when MSG is a 20th century discovery. Actually, many Singaporeans are unable to tolerate significant doses of MSG as well (especially those who do not eat out often).

Furthermore, Chinese restaurants that use MSG liberally are considered low class. Such is the distaste for MSG in gourmet Chinese cuisine that many a Chinese chef will consider it a grave personal insult if you tell him that there are hints of MSG in his dishes!

8:03 AM  
Blogger Fox said...

By the way, Vegemite and Marmite contain high concentrations of MSG, significantly more than soy sauce. That hasn't stopped generations of Brits and Ozzies from enjoying them on their toasts and in their mugs.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Fox,

I don't eat at KFC, so I don't know if I would have the same response to their food as the restaurant's in the tale above.

Re. Chinese Restaurant Syndrome - obviously it has this name because many Chinese restaurants use MSG. In fact, the belief is that all such restaurants in places like the UK do.

That one can't explain a finding does not make it unfounded. The Chinese are genetically adapted to high MSG intake (rapid glutamate clearance). I do not know the reason for this - but that they are so adapted is well established. A Chinese person clears this substance much more effectively from their system than a non-Chinese person. This means that the tolerance for MSG is greater and the likelihood of a problematic response much lower.

If a Chinese person is responding to MSG, there must be one hell of a lot of it in the food in question, I would think.

Thanks for your informative comments.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Marmite and Vegemite.

The flavour of these spreads is so strong that very, very little is used: a thin layer on the bread is usual. Thus, even if the MSG concentration is high, the quantity of MSG involved is very low. This is further diluted by the bread volume. Thus problems with this consumption are unlikely. However, if someone ate from the pot of marmite directly, that might be a different story.

Thanks for your information.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. alcohol and westerners: yes, this is true. Caucasians process alcohol more rapidly than Asians - so they have an analogous ability in a different area.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. alcohol and westerners: yes, this is true. Caucasians process alcohol more rapidly than Asians - so they have an analogous ability in a different area.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. the food was already made.

This is possible. Sadly, they didn't have the integrity to say so.

As for the three different waitresses...that is really stupid. No wonder it all got messed up.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This link to a research summary shows that 25% of people (westerners, I understand) share my response to MSG above.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I note that Fox has engaged in an ungentlemanly attack on me on his blog because of this post, which begins with "I am pissed". Apparently, he is pissed because he doesn't believe that some people react to MSG. Studies show, in fact, that 25% of people in the West, do. So that is hundreds of millions of reasons why he is wrong. Applied to the population of Earth that would be more than a billion reasons why he is wrong (excluding the Chinese). However, facts never seem to get in the way of a good argument with this young fellow.

He then disputes my revelation regarding Chinese tolerance to MSG saying "there are no good medical studies to show this". How funny. Clearly, he hasn't checked the medical research at all, since the studies in question were done quite a few years ago. This omission of a basic academic procedure is strange for one who states that he is pursuing postgraduate studies in the United States. The last time I checked the USA had access to journals. He would find what he hasn't looke for, in them, if he bothered to look.

He also claims I haven't posted his posts...well, I have. He seems to think that not posting them immediately (because I have a life to get on with) but doing so after a few hours, constitutes "not posting". Interestingly, Fox has actually not posted any of my rebuttals which puncture his claims. In his own words this makes him "the thin skinned hypocrite" he alleges that I am.

The surprising thing about this attack by Fox and friends (there are two of them) on me, is unprovoked since I have been civil to all of them on my blog (and all others). It seems that civility is not returned in kind in Singapore. Kindness is repaid with hate, here.

Fox has been given voice on many occasions on my blog. He has not posted any of my who is the hypocrite now?

I find the whole thing absurd. In Singapore, it is impossible to write anything without having hateful, misinformed, people with very high self-esteem, attacking one. I find it most strange. All I am doing is writing some thoughts...apparently, though, to think, in this country, is to cause offense to many and pleasure to none.

What all of these posters share, however, is a fundamental ignorance of that of which they speak, combined with an accusation of ignorance against the one who has written in the first place. They never pause to check whether they understand the situation or know what they are talking about...they just attack. Apparently, most of them are students, too...which says a lot I suppose.

If you have read this far, thanks for taking the time to do so. It might, perhaps, give you an insight into why a lot of people just wouldn't bother to write anything in the Singaporean blogosphere at all. It is not a good place to be, really.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MSG has not been proven as the culprit yet.

tomatoes are naturally high in MSG

Less than 15% of Americans are sensitive to MSG

Again finding little scientific link to MSG.

But as usual, i rather not take any chance and always request less/no salt when eating out.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Anon re. MSG proof.

There is plenty of evidence against MSG. There are numerous animal studies, for instance, showing significant harm to the organisms, in a wide variety of ways after excessive exposure. The reason that there are conflicting opinions on this is the same as the cigarettes and cancer issue: the matter is politicized, with industry lobbies trying to confuse the public.

My figures said at least 25% of people are sensitive to MSG. Yours say 15%. Both say that a significant number are affected.

This is the kind of issue that will always have people on the opposite side claiming safety for MSG: this is because they are making money out of it. (Or don't want to be sued for having promoted/sold it.)

Thanks for your comment.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

There are some more comments which I shall post later on...I don't have time to respond to them, now and only ever post when I have to respond. Thanks.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Fox, the fact that you have overlooked and which is causing you confusion in interpreting information (and perhaps that of some researchers, too) is that glutamate that is bound up in food is released slowly and fairly harmlessly. However, free glutamate, such as that added to Chinese food is harmful since it is rapidly absorbed. This accounts for the disparity between western food intake of glutamate and their reaction to Chinese food - and other major MSG sources.

Another confusion is on whom particular research was done. Some people are sensitive, some are not. If you people your research population (deliberately or otherwise) with people who are not sensitive, you will get a null result. If on the other hand some are sensitive, you will get a positive result. Since this is a politicized issue, some research no doubt has probably manipulated this issue.

I read the research re. Chinese rapid processing of glutamate some years ago (90s I think) so I cannot now recall which journal. However, given that you are in a University, if you are interested to find it, you could.

Your comment re. army was overlooked because I am busy. You have not read the US Army website. I have. On it, it states that a two year minimum is required of Medical bonded students. So that states clearly that there are students who are bonded for shorter periods than you believe. Furthermore, I did not approve of bonding by the US...I don't approve of bonding by anyone ever. It is a kind of slavery in all circumstances. You have interpreted my words to mean other than was intended.

As for your comments not being posted: I never post a comment that needs a reply until I have time to reply to it. I lead a busy life and it can take a while to get around to it. The only categories of post that are not posted are the libellous, scurrilous and stupid. Everything else is eventually posted.

However, you have given me something to consider: since you persist in attacking me on your blog, I may have to decide against allowing your comments here: it seems unfair that you demand a right of free speech while simultaneously attacking the person who allows it to you. Personally, I am surprised at your temerity, in this respect.

I don't know of Lehrer and do not think that was the source of the information re. 25% are sensitive. You presume too much.

Thank you for your comment.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Imustbestupid said...

Hi Valentine,

I wonder if you have read the actual research articles on MSG because, to the best of my knowledge, the last study (by Taliferro) was done in 1995 and the authour's conclusion was

"Is it safe to use MSG as a food additive? Summarizing 26 years of research and 87 years of use, the answer is "Yes." Arguments to the contrary are overwhelmed by evidence in support of MSG.

Case reports have linked MSG and CRS. However, postprandial reactions are not unusual. One researcher has concluded that 43% of his study population experienced unpleasant sensations of one sort or another after eating ( 6). In addition, the symptoms linked to MSG in the majority of case reports are not life threatening. No deaths or other long-term adverse effects have been reported associated with MSG ( 7). To quote Kenney, "the typical MSG reaction that can be provoked with high doses in the laboratory, while uncomfortable, is transient and benign" ( 43).

A proportion of the existing body of research indicates that MSG causes brain lesions in rodents ( 14, 23, 24, 25, 33, 34). However, these lesions were observed under extreme circumstances, using unrealistically large doses, and under forms of administration that are not applicable to MSG's role as a food additive ( 24, 34, 35, 36).

If for a moment, we grant that these studies may be relevant, the data still support MSG as a safe food additive. It is customary to use less than 1% MSG, by weight, in food ( 44). Brain lesions are observed in sensitive newborn mice when they receive a 20% solution of MSG by gavage (500 mg/kg). Even when humans are given doses of 60 mg/kg, an unpalatable dose 30 times greater than the average U.S. daily intake, their plasma levels of glutamate are 57 times less than the levels at which damage occurs in mice. This difference becomes even more striking when MSG is given in conjunction with other nutrients. When the same massive dose is given in tomato juice, plasma levels are 110 times below the neurotoxic concentration ( 14). MSG toxicity is only seen in animals under circumstances that do not replicate its use by humans.

Based on current data, it is possible to conclude that it is safe to use MSG as a food additive. For nearly a century, it has been used with no adverse effects in Oriental countries at a rate that is, in some cases, more than double the consumption in this country ( 12). Although some individuals experience sensations, collectively referred to as the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, there is no clinical data that links MSG, when used as a food additive, with any long-term adverse consequences. "

Taliferro, P.J. (1995). Monosodium glutamate and the Chinese restaurant syndrome: a review of food additive safety. J. Environmental Health 57: 8-12.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, "I must be stupid", for your post.

Firstly, I must say that the study you have dug up is one of the silliest I have ever come across. It seems to have been written by someone with little appreciation of science. MSG is proven at a certain dose to cause brain lesions in animals. This should be a cause for worry because we CANNOT assume that humans are not more sensitive to the substance than the test animals. We should not assume that equivalent doses would be required in humans. Secondly, saying that Orientals show no effect from high consumption of MSG accords with my experimental information that states that Orientals tolerate higher intakes. It is illogical and unscientific to use this data to suggest that MSG is safe for other populations. The author is being a little dim witted on this issue I am afraid.

A substance proven to produce brain lesions at ANY dose, should not be in the human food supply. This is because we cannot know what the dose for human brain lesions are - nor whether less obvious brain damage is occurring at lower doses (very likely).

The study is written as if the purpose is to prove MSG safe...and not written as if to establish the truth of whether or not it is safe. A different approach would be manifest if that were the case.

I will post more shortly.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Another point:

It is silly to use deaths caused as a measure of harm. By this measure, most harmful substances are harmless. I think the author is trying to be manipulative to prove MSG safe. Deaths caused should not be the threshold for harm.

The experience of my family and friends, is that MSG is readily detectable in food through its negative effects: ie. sudden headaches upon ingestion, dazedness, etc. It is detectable every time it is ingested. This is an obvious toxic effect. I absolutely do not buy the idea that this is not having long-term consequences. Normal foodstuffs do NOT have such an effect on anyone I know.

By all means consume kilos of MSG per day if you wish. Personally, I would not do that...

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Imustbestupid said...

"A substance proven to produce brain lesions at ANY dose, should not be in the human food supply."

That is obviously not true. Excessive consumption of water causes hyponatremia which in turn produces brain lesions. You are not saying that we should ban the consumption of water, are you?

Dosage is all important. The safety margin of the dosage is important too.

Studies in infant mice may have shown that MSG at dosages of 4g/kg via gastric tube feeding causes brain lesions. That's the equivalent of feeding a 60kg adult 240g of MSG all at once! If you were to consume that amount of salt without any water to maintain electrolyte homeostasis, I'm sure you would get brain lesions too.

My point is this: Many substances are poisons. It all depends on the dosage. You cannot take a study that floods infant mice with 4g/kg MSG and consider that as proof of the toxicity of MSG.

"Secondly, saying that Orientals show no effect from high consumption of MSG accords with my experimental information that states that Orientals tolerate higher intakes. It is illogical and unscientific to use this data to suggest that MSG is safe for other populations."

That is true. But can you quote me any study that conclusively demonstrates the toxic effects of MSG on the non-oriental population?
Otherwise your claims on the toxic effects of MSG are unsubstantiated.

While it may be true that you and your family members experienced unpleasant side effects after ingesting MSG, that is in no way evidence that MSG is the cause. First of all the symptoms which you have reported are subjective. Secondly, there are another million and one confounding factors that may skew your observations. Perhaps you may have an individual genetic variation from the rest of the population which renders you very sensitive to MSG. But that is not a good reason to have MSG banned.

But first of all, do quote me some convincing studies on the toxic effects of MSG. I'll be most interested to read about it.

Thank you

1:50 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Mr or Mrs. 'I must be stupid'...

You have completely missed the point I was trying to make. Any substance which has been shown to be toxic at a certain dose to animals should most definitely NOT be in the food supply for humans, until it has been proven to be perfectly safe to humans at the doses humans would ingest. That was my point. MSG has not been proven safe in humans. Show me the studies, as you keep saying. It has however been proven to be poisonous to animals at certain doses.

MSG is a proven prove it is safe in humans.

There are many, many studies showing harm from MSG. You simply have been ignoring them. One study on retinopathy is particularly relevant:

Ohguro, H., Katsushima, H., Maruyama, I., Maeda, T., Yanagihashi, S. Metoki, T., Nakazawa, M. A high dietary intake of sodium glutamate as flavoring (Ajinomoto) causes gross changes in retinal morphology and function. Experimental Eye Research 75:(3),2002.)

This study showed long term degeneration of the retina upon consumption of MSG. No changes were visible at first...but at the three month stage degeneration was clear. The longer consumption continued, the worse the retinopathy became.

The work of Dr. Peter Spencer on slow toxins, with a cumulative degenerative effect on many functions, is particularly relevant. See:

Spencer PS, Kisby GE, Ludolph AC.
Long-latency neurodegenerative disease in the western Pacific.
Geriatrics. 1991 Aug;46 Suppl 1:37-42. Review.
PMID: 1894143 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Spencer PS, Kisby GE, Ludolph AC.
Slow toxins, biologic markers, and long-latency neurodegenerative disease in the western Pacific region.
Neurology. 1991 May;41(5 Suppl 2):62-6; discussion 66-8. Review.
PMID: 2041595 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Spencer PS.
Guam ALS/parkinsonism-dementia: a long-latency neurotoxic disorder caused by "slow toxin(s)" in food?
Can J Neurol Sci. 1987 Aug;14(3 Suppl):347-57. Review.
PMID: 3315142 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

His work points to slow toxins in food as a cause of ALS and Parkinsonian conditions. The 2002 study shows MSG to be a slow toxin in this mould.

Again, his work shows that the longer term the consumption, the worse the conditions. His work also shows that slow toxins affect human nervous systems.

Regarding the supposition that I have a special genetic vulnerability to MSG...well, my wife, who is from a different RACE to me, has exactly the same response. It is, therefore, extremely unlikely that we both share the same genetic vulnerability. It is much more likely that the only vulnerability we share is that we are living organisms...and therefore susceptible to the evil doings of MSG.

That I can produce a set of people all of whom have unpleasant responses to MSG IS evidence of human harm. Were their responses to be written up as a paper, it would be considered evidence in the literature. The only difference between the evidence of our experience, and scientific evidence, is the formality of presentation. You are wrong to dismiss it.

You seem to have a vested interest in the safety of MSG - are you in the industry? Are you lobbying for them? Or are you at Fox's university, given the common themes of your argumentation?

As for Fox's comment: I will answer that in due course...too busy recently.

My claim is not 'unsubstantiated'...there is plenty of evidence to back it up. The data set is very large...but so too is the ostrich-like response to it.

MSG is another tobacco type scandal waiting to erupt...and it will end in the same way: with large law suits.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

re. 'imustbestupid'.

You have made a number of statements that need support. Show me studies that show that water causes brain lesions...or that salt does in the quantities of sodium found in 240g of MSG.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

re. 'imustbestupid'.

You seem to suggest that the amount of sodium in the 240 g of MSG is the cause of the brain lesions it induces. This does not seem plausible.

The molar mass of sodium is 23. The molar mass of MSG is approx. 169. There is one sodium atom in the formula for MSG. Therefore, sodium is 23/169 of the mass of MSG. This is multiplied by the mass of MSG in question: 240 g to give us 32.66 grams of sodium. Now, this is quite a bit of sodium but it is only somewhat more than people consume daily. It seems extremely unlikely that this would cause any harm except perhaps to sodium sensitive hypertensives. Again, we see that you make strong statements without support, or truth to them.

Show me a study that shows brain lesions from 32g of sodium as salt.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This debate is becoming far too time-consuming and somewhat pointless...since the positions against which I am reasoning are, I sense, entrenched and unlikely to alter in any way. Therefore, the whole exchange is a waste of time. Since this is so, I will accept no more posts on this topic, though I will answer one that is still pending. As far as I am concerned this topic has taken far too much of my time already...especially when life has told me the answer to this one long ago.

Thanks for your attention.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am forced to reiterate. I will take no further comments on this topic since I haven't got the time to compose replies to them. Any reply I compose will just invite further comments and so on. This is clearly an argument that will go on forever unless I stop it now...which I have, for the second time.

No more comments will be entertained: I haven't got the time to attend to them. Please respect this.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

For those unposted commenters who requested human studies, here is one.

The August 2008 issue of the journal Obesity had a HUMAN study of MSG consumption. The amounts used were tiny, but the effects were large.

752 Chinese people aged 40 to 59 were asked to consume specified amounts of MSG in their food. These people had been randomly sampled from three villages in North and South China. 82% of them were MSG users. They consumed an average of just 330 mg per day of MSG.

Taking account of confounding factors such as energy intake and activity levels, MSG intake was found to significantly increase body mass index. Indeed, in the one third of participants whose MSG intake was highest, the relative risk of being overweight was between 2.10 and 2.75.

This is a very significant finding. It also has significance beyond mere weight gain, since it indicates brain damage to the MSG consumers. The reason for this is the background to the study. Studies in rodents had shown that MSG ingestion caused obesity owing to damage to the hypothalamus causing dysregulation of various bodily functions. Thus, the great increase in obesity in the MSG consumers in the Chinese study points the way to actual hypothalamic brain damage as being the operant cause, since that was the avenue of obesity causation in rodent studies.

There are many studies out there showing damage in animals and humans. I personally don't have either the time or interest to post about them. However, it should not take many studies showing actual harm to humans to persuade RATIONAL people of the danger of MSG consumption. Irrational people, however, will insist on an infinite number of instances in proof. I don't have time for that.

5:02 PM  

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