What the (Korean) MSM Won't Tell You

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Korea, still smarting from the downfall of its favorite ova-mad stem cell researcher, is facing attacks on its national food, fermented cabbage. The L.A. Times breaks the silence on Korea's slow-food conspiracy:

"I'm sorry. I can't talk about the health risks of kimchi in the media. Kimchi is our national food," said a researcher at Seoul National University, who begged not to be quoted by name.

Among the papers not to be found in the vast library of the kimchi museum is one published in June 2005 in the Beijing-based World Journal of Gastroenterology titled "Kimchi and Soybean Pastes Are Risk Factors of Gastric Cancer."

"We found that if you were a very, very heavy eater of kimchi, you had a 50 percent higher risk of getting stomach cancer," said Kim Heon of the department of preventive medicine at Chungbuk National University and one of the authors…

Kim said he tried to publicize the study but a friend who is a science reporter, told him, "This will never be published in Korea."

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  1. Just wondering… Did the Reason staff just learn the acronym “MSM”? Is there some sort of MSM-utilization diktat? This is the 3rd mention in the last couple of days. And — yeah — I have too much free time.

  2. MSM confused me for a long time. I previously knew it to mean “men seeking men” in the online personals. Also, in the HIV epidemiology literature, it means “men who have sex with men.”

  3. In health literature, “MSM” stands for “men who have sex with men.” Is there an increase in the number of gay journalists?

  4. Yet another shameless coverup by Big Kimchi.

    Disgraceful.

  5. God dam do I love kimchee! It is the foulest thing any human can consume.

  6. But is there corn syrup in the kimchi?

  7. I once ate in a Korean restaurant where the Korean waitress asked if I was really sure I wanted kimchi. She was then impressed that I ate it all, and said she couldn’t really stand how hot it was.

    Thus having gone through some sort of Korean manhood ritual, I decided I could back off and go for flavorful stuff. Still, every once in a while I like to get a good glow on from what I eat.

  8. Yes. And the odor will likely set off any nearby guns.

  9. I’d like a kimchi-durian salad, please. With extra Limburger cheese.

  10. Really, what have the Reason staff got against fully spelling out words? Are you going for a sort of a mid-level 1960’s Lockheed engineering manager short-sleeve white shirt and black tie communications style? I though you guys were more into the jaded West L.A. and Beltway hipster thing.

  11. I remember my old college room mate removed a long forgotten jar of kimchi from the back of the fridge. He opened the lid, gingerly sniffed at it and asked, “Do you think this is still good?”

    I said, “Good question, does sour cream turn fresh after the pull date? Since it is rotten to begin with, can it stop being rotten and therefore no longer be good kimchi?”

    Clearly this is a question to be settled by the best philosophical minds of our age. No wonder it appears here in Hit&Run.

  12. Heavy eaters of kimchi have other concerns than gastric cancer. Like not having any friends and being forced to sleep on the couch for their entire lives.

    Dolsot Bibim-bap is the stuff of the gods, though.

  13. Rotten Cabbage Rots Your Guts, Film At 11!

  14. Is there any difference between kimchi and sauerkraut?

  15. Is there any difference between kimchi and sauerkraut?

    Yes, about 6 months under the crawl space.

  16. Let me preface this statement with the fact that my parents grew up in Korea and I am a very heavy eater of kimchi.

    While there may be some health risks associated with Kimchi, I would hazard the guess that the overall health benefit is positive. After all you are talking vegetables all of which are very high in fiber. Even if there is increased risk of gastric cancer, my guess is that the other health benefits overwhelm that.

    FYI, some of the key ingredients of dolsot bibim bap are various kinds of kimchi.

  17. I can’t speak for the Beltway, but I will tell you that there are no, I repeat, no hipsters in West LA.

    East Asian UCLA undergrads, Persians, a smattering of Latino families, crackers who can’t afford Santa Monica, and yours truly – yes and in spades.

    But Hipsteria – no; they don’t go west of La Brea. (Or is it Crescent Heights? Maybe Farifax . . .)

  18. I always thought kimchi was pretty disgusting stuff, now I have another excuse not to eat it.

  19. Ah, but you must try it sometime in kimchich’un — good stuff!!!

  20. lanny:

    Kimchee as a way to add seasoning is just fine, especially if it makes the sizzly hot rock tastier.

    Kimchee is a sometimes food.

  21. To all naysayers of Reason’s use of “MSM”:

    Get hep, you guys! They are just poking fun at the use of MSM on various rightish Web sites, such as freeperland. Where you will see references to “the MSM” a lot.

  22. PS: This thread has just made me ravenous for sushi. I know it doesn’t make sense, but there it is.

  23. Other studies have suggested that the heavy concentration of salt in some kimchi and the fish sauce used for flavoring could be problematic, but they too have received comparatively little attention.

    I know that there is research in Japan that links dietary salt to cancer. My gut feeling (Ha!) is that it’s the salt in the Kimchi and Soybean Pastes that’s the culprit.

  24. I once ate in a Korean restaurant where the Korean waitress asked if I was really sure I wanted kimchi.

    How could you possibly eat in a Korean restaurant and not be served kimchi? Where I’ve eaten, places with superlative names like “Myung Dong Tofu Cabin”, they usually give you six different varieties the minute you sit down!

    I’m surprised by all the comments suggesting it’s offensive. I’ve eaten it for years and never seen anyone turn up their nose at it. Maybe it’s a West Coast thing.

    However, “kimchi” is a large category, and when you get beyond the most common cabbage + chile combination, it can get a little scary. The stuff made (I believe) from fermented squid guts is a bit skanky, I’ll agree!

  25. I’m genuinely surprised that Dave W. isn’t in this thread.

  26. Mister Wannamo can’t decide if kimchi is good becuase it’s vegetable or bad because it’s rotten or vice versa.

    One day the Supreme Court will decide. Then he, Hakluyt and others can argue about what the decision really means, precedent and other such minutiae.

  27. I think it is interesting. I didn’t know stomach cancer was that prevalent. Doubling a small enough risk is not a problem.

    To analogize this to the sweetner area, kimchee I would analogize to cane sugar: it is the traditional alternative and carries some threshold level of health risk. Is there any evidence that the stomach cancer incidence rate in Korea has increased over time? If so, I think they would to take a close at ant ways the kimchee might have changed in its ingredients and/or impurities.

  28. I’ve never had kimchi, but I do like sauerkraut. Hey, I’m half German! At least I like kraut and not, say, France. If you know what I mean.

  29. Is there any evidence that the stomach cancer incidence rate in Korea has increased over time?

    Then again, they might also want to see if more people are living long enough now to get stomach cancer.

  30. I’ve never had kimchi, but I do like sauerkraut. Hey, I’m half German! At least I like kraut and not, say, France. If you know what I mean.

    I found a great new restaurant that serves German Chinese food. The only problem is that an hour after you’ve eaten you’re hungry for power.

  31. So, if a kim chee eater in Massachusetts contracts stomach cancer and sues big kim chee, will big kim chee be barred from using a Correia defense?

  32. Are you going for a sort of a mid-level 1960’s Lockheed engineering manager short-sleeve white shirt and black tie communications style? I though you guys were more into the jaded West L.A. and Beltway hipster thing.

    Haven’t you heard? The styles came together in ’93. Well, kind of.

  33. Good one, Dick. Fortunately, my family has been here for quite some time, so my urges to “reunify” with France and, for that matter, the rest of Europe are rare. Well, I did once conquer Paris, but my mother made me give it back.

  34. I didn’t know stomach cancer was that prevalent. Doubling a small enough risk is not a problem.

    Further to precvious:

    should read: –not a problem even if the private corporation causing the additional margin of risk has to compensate the additional (miniscule) margin of damages–

  35. But is there corn syrup in the kimchi?

    TCS Daily has now weighed in (so to speak) on the HFCS controversy. Here is what they said about the diabetes part:

    “What about health effects [of HFCS] other than obesity? Type 2 diabetes has also been linked to consumption of sugars. It is, however widely recognized by experts that . . . HFCS metabolism is essentially the same as that of sucrose.”

    Full story:
    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=051606C

    Where is my bud ORLY the Owl when I need him?

  36. No, this is far, far worse.

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