Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Eating meat will kill you within 5 seconds.

Now the dust has settled down, I will comment about the latest WHO findings on red meat and the increased risk of colon cancer. What often surprises me is the reaction and interpretation from the public which can often differ from what has actually been said.

The study looked specifically at colon cancer rates and concluded there was enough evidence that red and processed meat consumption increased your risk of getting colon cancer. This is what people interpreted from the findings.


It's easy to see why, but it's not so black and white. Firstly, this information has been around for while. A study on rats who had chemically induced colon cancer, showed that dietary haemoglobin had a catalytic effect on the formation of cancerous lesion. This is the formation of the theory that heam in meat 'might' contribute to cancer. This might not sound great news for those who are espousing the virtues of organic or free range meat. Heam is heam, regardless whether it is organic or not.

Secondly, this current study looked at processed meats. They are defined as anything that has been:

  • Smoked.
  • Cured.
  • Salt, additives or preservatives.

The additives and preservatives list is quite extensive. Here are a few but not all are used exclusively in meat.

  • Benzoic acid - preservative.
  • High fructose corn syrup - makes things sweeter.
  • Sodium nitrate - preservative.
This study then claimed processed meat (which was shortened to 'all meats' by militant vegans on twitter) should be put in the same category as smoking, alcohol and asbestos for know carcinogens. You've got to be a pretty hardy meat eater not to re-read that bit. So that's it. Meat will kill you. 

What concerns me about these articles, is people jump to extremes and these are the only voices you hear. Meat eaters were claiming that this is all a rubbish and to carry on eating as much meat as possible. This isn't the best tip if you have gout. Vegans were claiming that they have known this all along, despite cancer rates being similar in meat and non-meat eaters in the western world ( which in some way is more concerning than this study). I prefer to operate in the middle and let people make up their own minds, once the facts have been presented. 

A study in 2010 found 3 extra cases of bowel cancer per 100,000 attributed to meat consumption. If the next year this rate went up to 4, the papers would report it as an increased risk or that you are 33% more likely to get cancer. When in reality, we are talking about 1 extra person. It probably would be a a less sensational a headline if it read, "Bowel cancer rates are up 0.001%........."

"For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed"
- Dr Kurt Straif, IARC

Here are some statistics on bowel cancer rates from Cancer Research.

8,000 cases of cancer can be linked processed meats.
64,000 cases of cancer can be linked to smoking.
12,000 cases of cancer are caused by alcohol - There is no safe limit.

We are winning the war on cigarettes, but unless you are going to address how much you drink or smoke, you are trying to put out a blazing inferno with a water pistol. What the report doesn't mention is that you can decrease your chances of getting colon cancer by simply not eating processed meats. To do this, I suggest you find a good butcher. A good butcher doesn't need to preserve the meat because everything is locally sourced and is bought or consumed within a few days.

I wish the papers had gone into who this is really about. It isn't an attack on meat. It's about manufacturers and supermarkets doing things to our meat which increases our cancer rates. They are the ones who need food to last longer as it spends longer in transit. They want meat to last longer on the shelves. They create the ready meals which are full of salt and additives to disguise the poor quality ingredients. It appears clear to me that what we do to food, is more important than what we eat.

Cancer is a complex matter. We tend not to know much about it unless it affects us or someone close to us. This then makes us terrified when he read an article which has the word 'cancer' in it. Cancer happens when DNA is damaged and this damage then spreads throughout the body. The damaged part of the DNA is then replicated as a mutation. As DNA tells the cells what to do and how to grow, once there is a mutation, the body replicates this and the body starts to tell certain cells to grow. This is how tumours start. DNA gets damaged all the time and normally by a process of methylation, we can repair our own DNA. DNA damage occurs by known carcinogens, diet, lifestyle and genetics. We've known for a long time that processed meat or burnt food can overburden our bodies ability to naturally detoxify. So again the news about meat isn't really that surprising.  

Here are some of the known carcinogens if you really want to avoid them. Good luck!

  1. Tobacco smoke
  2. Sunbeds and sunlamps
  3. Aluminum products
  4. Boot and show manufacturer repair
  5. Chimney sweeping
  6. Isopropanol manufacture - found in cleaning and disinfectant agents
  7. Rubber
  8. Alcohol 
  9. Diesel
  10. wood dust

If you want the full list of 116 known carcinogens, click on the link below.

So if you are serious about cancer and reducing your risk, I would look at meat eating as a general strategy. Cut down or cut it out but don't think you have reduced your cancer risk if you smoke, drink, eat processed foods or don't take regular exercise. 

If you are in need of meat free recipes, click here.

Hopefully this blog has left you less confused and probably a little hungry. If you are still thinking about going 'red meat free' we've created a cookbook to add some extra variety to your diet. It will be released on 1st  November. We will release it via our Website and our Facebook page so look out!

Stay fit.


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