You Are (and Look Like) What You Eat

I found "Got Wrinkles, Go Fish" [Dec. 17] interesting and amusing.

Since medieval times, health care practitioners have been simplistically trying to link diet as the panacea for any health problem. Although modern medicine accepts a well-balanced diet as important in promoting general good health, scientists, physicians and the general public are astute enough to know that diet and exercise alone can not prevent heart disease or melt wrinkles away.

Wrinkles are caused by many separate factors. Some of these include heredity, and cumulative sun and other carcinogen exposure (like pollutants and cigarette smoke) over a lifetime. As your story points out, it's foolhardy to think that eating some salmon and fruit for three to 28 days can undo what God and nature (over the years) have dealt to us.

Dr. Perricone feels that his food-for-wrinkles cure is based on scientific literature that the general dermatologist just isn't reading. Unfortunately, after perusing years of major dermatology journals, I can't seem to find any of Dr. Perricone's "scientific literature." In fact, while doing research for a book, I discovered that Dr. Perricone touts the antioxidant lipoic acid (for which he appears to hold the patent and royalty fees) as a key to erasing wrinkles.

Several of my patients have also asked me what I thought about the Perricone line of beauty products sold at major department stores. Dr. Perricone seems to be promoting more than just food for wrinkles to fatten his wallet. It's sad that anyone with enough money spent on publicists for self-promotion can promote such baseless ideas.

Lawrence J Green, MD

Assistant Professor of Dermatology

George Washington University

School of Medicine

Washington

The way in which farmed salmon are raised and processed entails much hazardous drug use, animal suffering and environmental pollution, to name a few documented concerns. The most serious issue is the high levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in farmed salmon, which, according to World Health Organization guidelines, make the frequent consumption of salmon and salmon oil supplements ill-advised.

Doctors and nutritionists need to be better informed as to the sources and quality/safety of the foods and "nutraceuticals" that they are advising people to consume. Organically certified flaxseed oil and products from grass-fed animals provide a safer source of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and other essential nutrients than salmon oil.

Michael W. Fox

Washington

Speaking as a photographer, I think Stefanie Weiss's test of the Wrinkle Cure was flawed. The "after" photo that she showed to friends to evaluate the effect of three days of eating fish has significantly higher contrast, probably the result of the amount of flash added to the available natural light. Higher contrast tends to emphasize wrinkles.

This difference is somewhat noticeable to the eye in your printed cover shots, even more striking in the side-by-sides used on washingtonpost.com and borne out by downloading the pictures from the Web site and analyzing them in Adobe Photoshop.

This is not to say that I think the Wrinkle Cure diet has much merit. The only way salmon should be served for breakfast is smoked, on a bagel with cream cheese.

David Muhlbaum

Washington

Conventional Standards Don't Apply

The University of Wisconsin study of echinacea you reported on in "Cold Reality" [Dec. 17] demonstrates the difficulty of conducting herb research through the prism of conventional medical research techniques. Unfortunately, studies like this focus only on a single herb, while failing to consider the numerous herb and homeopathic options available to cold sufferers. More important, these studies do not acknowledge or incorporate into the research paradigm one very basic principle of natural medicine: Every patient is different.

Susan Bonfield Herschkowitz

Washington