Meat Science Journal Indicts Its Own Product, Links Meat To Cancer

I was reading this article, Why Doctors Blame Steve Jobs For His Death to Cancer (And Why They’re Wrong!). The author, Simon Hammett, said:

On the other hand we know that meat consumption (particularly processed meats) increases the risk of various cancers (32, 33, 34). It’s something that the meat industry is abundantly aware of and probably why an article was published in the American Meat Science Association Journal in 2011 titled: Red meat and colon cancer: Should we become vegetarians, or can we make meat safer (35)? It is also why the World Health Organisation has just categorised red and processed meats as carcinogens that cause cancer (36).

The meat industry is abundantly aware? They acknowledge it? I thought they refuted it, or at least obfuscated, tried to change the subject, e.g. “it’s not the meat, it’s the soda, it’s lack of exercise.”

Meat Science is a leading journal in its field. It focuses on meat’s “composition, nutritional value, wholesomeness and consumer acceptability.” (What does wholesome mean?)

I had to look up that reference no. 35:
Red Meat And Colon Cancer: Should We Become Vegetarians, Or Can We Make Meat Safer, Meat Science, 2011

The author, Denis Corpet, and his team looked at all the epidemiological and experimental studies that had been published (which already suffer publication bias, that is, some studies which found meat harmful never saw the light of day) and found they “consistently” and “clearly” showed that red and processed meat were significantly associated with colorectal cancer.

Corpet’s own studies in animals:

We thus have demonstrated in animal studies that red meat and processed meat can promote colon carcinogenesis.

His own words, his own exclamation point:

Let us assume that one hundred people in France are told each day they have colorectal cancer. The excess risk associated with a daily steak, +25%, would now translate to an extra 25 people each day with cancer, which is not acceptable!

I had to let this next part sink in, not that’s it’s true (I think it is) but where it’s coming from:

Our experimental studies in rats suggest the effect is not due to confounding factors, but comes from true toxic factor(s) in red and processed meat.

He went ahead and listed those toxic factors. (Numbers are mine.):

Pro-cancer factors in red meat might be 1. excess fat, 2. excess protein, 3. excess iron, or 4. heat-induced mutagens. These factors may also act in processed meat, plus salt and nitrite added during the curing process:
1. Dietary fat increases bile acids secretion inside the gut, and they act as aggressive surfactants for the mucosa thus increasing cell loss and proliferation. In addition, fatty diets favor obesity which in turn increases insulin resistance and associated changes in blood values (high glucose, free fatty acids, insulin and IGF1): these circulating factors increase proliferation and decrease apoptosis (= cell suicide) of precancerous cells, thus promoting tumor growth.
2. Excess protein is fermented in the large bowel yielding amines, phenols and H2S [hydrogen sulfide] that are toxic to the mucosa.
3. Iron induces production of genotoxic free radicals in the colonic stream and endogenous N-nitrosated compounds such as carcinogenic N-nitrosamines.
4. Cooking meat at a high temperature or on an open flame (e.g., grilling, frying or barbecuing) produces heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are potent carcinogens.

There is likely a synergistic effect, that is, the combined affect of these substances is greater than the sum of their separate effects. (Add exposure to smoke and you have a recipe for colon cancer.)

Articles like this do not promote meat-eating, they condemn it.

It looks like the meat industry is fighting back. This next article was published after the one I just wrote about, after we were told that the link between meat and cancer was consistent and its mechanisms clear (and “true”), but:

The Role Of Red And Processed Meat In Colorectal Cancer Development: A Perspective, Meat Science, August 2014

Epidemiological and mechanistic data on associations between red and processed meat intake and CRC [colorectal cancer] are inconsistent and underlying mechanisms are unclear.

Inconsistent and unclear! They used his exact words! Doubt is their product.

And this. They’ll say it’s not the meat, it’s our poor diets overall. (No, it’s the meat.)

Modifying meat composition via animal feeding and breeding, improving meat processing by alternative methods such as adding phytochemicals and improving our diets in general are strategies that need to be followed up.

What Would You Do?
Say you owned a business, something that employed a lot of people, something millions of people used, something that people felt they could not live without. Something that made you rich. (Can you think of an example? Smartphones? Facebook? Cigarettes?) Then you find out your product harms people, may actually be killing people. What would you do?

One thought on “Meat Science Journal Indicts Its Own Product, Links Meat To Cancer

  1. Bix Post author

    He has a table in there that shows eating red meat (just 3.5 ounces a day!) is worse than smoking, as it relates to colon cancer.

    Reply

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