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The Great Visions of Ellen G. White

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    Scientific Corroboration

    Science has confirmed virtually all the counsels that emanated from Ellen White’s first major health reform vision of 1863. Limitations of space prevent mention here of more than perhaps four points made that found their corroboration in scientific inquiry between 1950 and 1990:GVEGW 101.1

    1. Tobacco. In 1863 Ellen White declared that tobacco was a “slow,” “deceitful” (in 1886 this adjective was modified to read “insidious”), and “malignant” (in 1886, “most malignant”) poison. Has history subsequently borne this out?GVEGW 101.2

    In the early 1950s Alton Oschner, M.D., professor of thoracic surgery at Tulane University’s medical school, New Orleans, was among the earliest to demonstrate an undeniable link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. 86Oschner’s cinema film (in which he appeared personally), One in 20,000, produced in 1954, took its title from the fact that in that year, just in the U.S.A., 20,000 lung cancer patients died of this disease. The film was produced and distributed by the Temperance Department of the General Conference of the SDA Church (interview with Winton Beaven, Ph.D., Kettering, Ohio, July 8, 1991). Some 30 years after One in 20,000 was released, the annual American death toll from lung cancer reached 121,000 (of a total of 139,000 cases), a more than 600 percent increase in three decades. Women did not begin to smoke in large numbers until the early 1940s, so female fatalities from lung cancer began to loom large in the early 1960s. By February of 1984 lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the leading cancer cause of American women fatalities from disease. By October 1986 lung cancer was the leading cause of death among American women from all causes. And the three characterizations by Ellen White?GVEGW 101.3

    a. “Slow“: Medical pathologists today declare that it takes approximately 20 years to incubate a full-blown case of lung cancer.GVEGW 101.4

    b. “Deceitful” or “insidious“: Medical specialists also tell us that if the patients wait for the overt symptoms of lung cancer to appear, it is usually too late to save their lives. The patients with this disease who are saved are those whose condition is revealed in the early stages as a result of routine X-rays.GVEGW 101.5

    c. “Most malignant“: No informed medical scientist today would dispute the demonstrated link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.GVEGW 101.6

    Ellen White was about 90 years ahead of her time on this one!GVEGW 101.7

    2. Coffee. Ellen White was told by an angel from heaven in the autumn of 1848, and again in the spring of 1863, that the drinking of coffee was deleterious to health, even life-threatening.GVEGW 101.8

    In the March 12, 1981, New England Journal of Medicine veteran epidemiologist Dr. Brian MacMahon reported on a study done by his team of Harvard University School of Public Health researchers. According to their study, the predisposing cause of cancer of the pancreas (one of the fastest killers of all cancers today) is coffee drinking.GVEGW 101.9

    Then he “dropped the other shoe” by adding that caffeine was probably not the chief culprit, since in his study group as many patients died from drinking decaffeinated coffee as those who died using the straight stuff. 87Brian MacMahon, Stella Yen, Dimitrius Trichpoulos, Kenneth Warren, and George Nardi, “Coffee and Cancer of the Pancreas,” New England Journal of Medicine 304, No. 11 (Mar. 12, 1981): 630-633. Reports were also carried in Newsweek, Mar. 23, 1981, p. 87, and Time, Mar. 23, 1981, p. 73.GVEGW 101.10

    Unsurprisingly, the coffee industry lobbyists quickly geared for a frontal attack on the study and its presenters; indeed, their livelihood and the survival of their industry depended upon destroying the substantial impact this report (in one of the nation’s most respected medical journals) had created.GVEGW 102.1

    A five-page article, “All About Caffeine,” by Lowell Ponte, appeared in the January 1983 Reader’s Digest in what was billed as “A Reader’s Digest Report to Consumers.” It tried to destroy the credibility of the MacMahon report. 88Patriarchs and Prophets, 72-76.GVEGW 102.2

    Mervyn G. Hardinge, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. P.H., then director of the Health/Temperance Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, responded in these words:GVEGW 102.3

    “This article is obviously written by one who is defensive of the use of caffeine. After some 25-30 years of countless articles showing that tobacco smoke is detrimental to health, scientists who smoke still claim there is no hard evidence to relate smoking to human illness in the smoker.GVEGW 102.4

    “The same is and will be true of those who use caffeine. I know of no way to discount an article like this because no matter how carefully a study is put together, someone can criticize its structure, methodology, interpretation, etc. I think our best course is to, whenever possible, present the evidence as we see it and allow the individual to choose his own course.GVEGW 102.5

    “I think caffeine is addictive (I am a pharmacologist), increases the incidence of coronary heart disease, is an adjunct to hypertension and consequential stroke, is a real instigator of peptic and duodenal ulcers, produces birth defects (has long been known to affect chromosomes), and in recent reports coming from the Adventist Health Study, is related to a significant increase in cancer. I doubt, however, if the Reader’s Digest would be willing to print such an article.” 89Mervyn G. Hardinge to Roger W. Coon, Washington, D.C., Jan. 11, 1983.GVEGW 102.6

    3. Vegetarianism. Ellen White first learned of the substantial health hazards of a nonvegetarian diet in 1863; she herself became a vegetarian immediately thereafter. 90Counsels on Diet and Foods, 482-484. In 1900 she wrote: “Animals are becoming more and more diseased, and it will not be long until animal food will be discarded by many besides Seventh-day Adventists.” 91Testimonies for the Church 7:124.GVEGW 102.7

    Perhaps the most recent distinguished non-Adventist scientist to come forward urging vegetarianism is Dean Ornish, M.D. His professional pedigree is impressive: assistant clinical professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine; attending physician, Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center, San Francisco; and president and director, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, California.GVEGW 103.1

    His recent findings were little short of startling. Writing in Hospital Practice, May 15, 1991 (“Can Lifestyle Change Reverse Coronary Atherosclerosis?”), Ornish reported that “by combining a strict low-fat vegetarian diet, moderate aerobic exercise, abstinence from smoking, and stress management training” his study group was able to show “measurable regression of disease in patients with severe coronary atherosclerosis.” 92P. 107. This article covers pp. 107-114.GVEGW 103.2

    Recently challenged on his view, Ornish ticked off the reasons for his vegetarian stance:GVEGW 103.3

    • “Even severely blocked arteries began to unclog in the majority of heart patients when they stopped eating animal products and made other simple lifestyle changes.” Atherosclerosis can be reversed!GVEGW 103.4

    • A December 13, 1990, study in the New England Journal of Medicine provides persuasive new evidence that the more red meat and animal fat women ate, the more likely they were to get colon cancer. Harvard’s Dr. Walter Willett, chief director of the study, declared, “The optimum amount of red meat you should eat should be zero.”GVEGW 103.5

    • Dr. T. Colin Campbell, of Cornell University, directed a landmark study of 6,500 persons in mid-1990. He found that “the more meat they ate, the more likely they were to die prematurely from coronary heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer, among others.”GVEGW 103.6

    • “Many athletes are forgoing the pregame steak for foods high in complex carbohydrates because they find that eating less meat often increases their endurance.”GVEGW 103.7

    • Most beef is “still very high in fat. And cholesterol. Studies also indicate that meat protein and perhaps other substances in beef raise the risk of cancer and heart disease.”GVEGW 103.8

    • “Eating meat makes you fat.”GVEGW 103.9

    In his conclusion Dr. Ornish played on a recent slogan of the American Beef Association (“Beef. Real food for real people.”) with the words “Meat. Real food for real death.” 93“For a Better Life, Don’t Eat Any Beef,” USA Today, International Edition, Dec. 19, 1990, p. 5-A.GVEGW 103.10

    4. Trust in Divine Power. Ellen White listed this as one of “nature’s remedies.” Although I firmly believe it, I never expected to find an empirical study demonstrating the veracity of her declaration. But now science has confirmed the value of even this “natural remedy”! The respected Southern Medical Journal of July 1988, included an article by Randolph C. Bird entitled the “Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population.” 94Patriarchs and Prophets, 826-829. The two questions his study sought to answer were: (1) “Does intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God have any effect on the patient’s medical condition and recovery?” and (2) “How are these effects characterized, if present?”GVEGW 104.1

    His study concludes with these findings: “Prayers to the Judeo-Christian God were made on behalf of the patients in the prayer [study] group by ‘born again’ believers in Jesus Christ. Analysis of events after entry into the study showed the prayer group had less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests, and were less frequently intubated and ventilated....GVEGW 104.2

    “In this study I have attempted to determine whether intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has any effect on the medical condition and recovery of hospital patients. I have further attempted to measure any effects, if present, of those prayers. Based on these data there seemed to be an effect, and that effect was presumed to be beneficial.” 95Patriarchs and Prophets, 829.GVEGW 104.3

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