Eating meat increases cancer risk by up to 300%
Diseases are almost always caused or triggered by external factors—the environment, stress and diet. Few have given thought to the idea that something as common, and relished, as meat or animal protein may have a hand in causing cancer.
Early studies have linked excess consumption of animal protein not just to cardiovascular diseases, but to cancer as well. Literature from the journal Lancet, dated Nov. 27, 1976 and titled “Lymphomas and animal-protein consumption” by A. S. Cunningham revealed international comparisons, suggesting countries where more animal protein is eaten have more cases of cancer of the lymph nodes among the general population.
“The link between animal protein consumption and lymphoma appears solid,” said Dr. Neil Nedley, MD, author of the book “Proof Positive (How to Reliably Combat Disease and Achieve Optimal health through Nutrition and Lifestyle).”
The US Department of Health and Human Services’ The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health, US Government Printing Office reported in 1988 that other population studies have found a strong association between animal protein consumption and increased incidence of cancers other than lymphoma. According to the International Journal of Cancer on April 15, 1995 by B. Armstrong and R. Doll, increased animal protein consumption increased the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, kidney and womb (endometrium).
Some truth in both assumptions
“With all of these associations, the question could be asked whether it is animal protein that is so bad, or whether the bigger problem is lack of certain nutrients found abundantly in a plant-based diet. Actually there is some truth in both assumptions. Animal protein itself does increase risk when compared to vegetable protein,” Nedley said.
Nutrients found in many plant products appear to prevent cancer. Thus, those who consume large amounts of animal protein are likely depriving themselves of an adequate intake of healthful plant products.
Of all forms of cancer, colon cancer may be the most strongly linked to diet. John Robbins, author of “The Food Revolution (How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World),” explained that the food one eats has a great impact on the health of his or her colon.
“If you step back and look at the data (on beef and cancer), the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero,” said Walter Willett, MD, chair of the Nutrition Department, Harvard School of Public Health, and director of a study of 88,000 American nurses that analyzed the link between diet and colon cancer.
The risk of colon cancer for women who eat red meat daily compared to those who eat it less than once a month: 250 percent greater, according to the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons’ “Presidential Address: Beyond Surgery” by Caldwell Esselstyn, San Jose, California, April 15, 1991.
The risk of colon cancer for people who eat poultry once a week compared to those who do not eat the same: 55 percent greater, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology study titled “Dietary Risk Factors for Colon Cancer in a Low-Risk Population” by P. N. Singh.
The study also said the risk of colon cancer for people who eat poultry four times a week compared to those who abstain: 200 to 300 percent greater.
Risk of colon cancer
It also cited that the risk of colon cancer for people who eat red meat once a week compared to those who abstain: 38 percent greater.
The same study stated that the risk of colon cancer for people who eat beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week compared to people who avoid these foods: 50 percent lower.
The Food Revolution cited that the impact of risk for colon cancer when diets are rich in the B-vitamin folic acid: 75 percent lower. The primary food sources of folic acid are dark green leafy vegetables, beans and peas.
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