Joseph Pisani, of the Associated Press, has written an interesting article, “Hot Dog Makers, Meat Sellers, Shake off WHO Cancer Report.” These groups think the recent World Health Organization report is baloney. What is the report? This report has evaluated the research and concluded that processed meats raise the risk of colon, stomach, and other cancers. Just colorectal cancer accounted for 93,090 cases in the United States last year.In fact the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified processed meats as a class 1 carcinogen. This carries the same high-risk as cigarettes, asbestos, and plutonium. Just 1.8 ounces of bacon daily, two strips, raises a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
I am proud of the WHO for telling the truth. What else can the meat industry say in response to this report? Many carnivores are shrugging off the report. The North American Meat Institute, who represents meat producers, said the report was “alarmist”. They go on to say, “classifying red and processed meat as cancer ‘hazards’ defies both common sense and numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer.”
First I would like to see who is funding those numerous studies. This report looked at the evidence and made an honest statement. The report, hopefully, is just the tip of the iceberg. What about the cardiovascular risk of meat? What about the damage to the bowel flora? What about the methane release and the increased greenhouse gases? What should the next independent study target?
How about the increased protein content of meat? Let’s start here. The increased protein content stimulates the production of Insulin Like Growth Factor. I am not going to turn this into a biochemistry course but excess animal protein triggers many biochemical responses which increase estrogen and fat stores thus raising cardiovascular risk. Should the next study be one comparing coronary artery disease in meat-eaters to those who eat a plant-based diet? I doubt Hormel would fund this study. The Adventist Health Study-2 is looking into this question with over 96,000 participants.
Meat also increases fat in the body. What about meat and the relationship to diabetes? The beta cells in the pancreas are decreased with excess processed fats leading to decreased insulin available and worsening diabetes. Diabetes is the number one cause of end stage renal disease and blindness. Who wants to help with this study?
I could go on and on, but the fact that this information is now making the front-page headlines is encouraging. This needs to be more than just a passing headline in a paper. Perhaps some humanitarian agency would fund another major study. I must admit the money is on the side of the meat industry.
Wouldn’t be great if McDonalds and the other fast food restaurants would band together and say something like this, “There are some questions raised about the safety of meat on many fronts. We are going to band together and fund a study. If the data is conclusive that meat is harming our customers, we are going to develop a line of fast foods that are meatless and taste great.” If we, as a society, can develop the Internet and sequence the human genome, we can surely accomplish this task. We should be embracing this report and moving forward with this information rather than “shaking it off.”