Last month the World Health Organization released a report stating that consumption of red meat might increase the likelihood of developing certain types of cancer (especially colorectal), and they also stated that processed meats can cause cancer. (Here’s a good Q&A provided by WHO.)
Of course this announcement was met with some skepticism on one side, and panic on the other. Should we avoid red meat entirely? Does this include all processed meats, even nitrate free meats? What exactly are the risk increases?
And something that I personally always question; what were the diets like of the participants of the studies that were used to come to this conclusion? Did they eat a lot of processed foods and sugar in addition to meat? Did they eat a lot of carbohydrate, thus keeping their levels of insulin higher than normal? Was their vegetable intake high? (Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to these.)
In light of all this let’s focus on some of the responses to this announcement from WHO, as well as a few articles on why it is thought meat may effect cancer rates.
For a clearer understanding on how the World Health Organization classifies something as carcinogenic, check out this excellent interactive article on Bloomberg Business.
Here’s an insightful article from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, aka The Paleo Mom, about the link between meat and cancer, but also the link between vegetable consumption and how this can possibly negate the risks.
Mother Jones lays out 7 things we should know about meat and cancer.
Nutritional and Eco expert David Wolfe recommends a colon cleanse using kefir and flaxseed to remove pounds of toxins from our digestive tract.
N-nitroso compounds, aka nitrates, have been suspected for a long time of being carcinogenic to animals, including humans. Here’s a short abstract from 1999.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are created when we char meat. To understand them better, read this breakdown.
It’s important to remember that meat can be a nutritious part of the diet. But the closer it is to a whole source (fresh rather than processed), and the way we prepare it counts. I think it’s also important to remember that humans evolved eating meat, so it’s a natural part of our diets. Our bodies are typically loaded with “toxins” everyday, whether from inside (natural processes) or outside (food) sources. That’s why it’s vitally important that we consume foods that boost our antioxidants, and assist our bodies’ master antioxidant glutathione.