Does Meat Cause Cancer?November 02, 2015
Meat Gives You Cancer?
Reference CBCNews, Cancer.gov, IARC Report on Meat and Cancer
Nov 2, 2015
Does red meat give you cancer? It was all over the news this last week. The UN agency for health within WHO issued a report this week linking meat consumption to the risk of cancer. In particular, its data suggests that processed meat shows the strongest link. There has been evidence for quite a while to this effect.
Longo published a series of reports on animal versus plant sources of protein. Animal protein supplies us with all the essential amino acids that we need and don't make ourselves. But plant protein nourishes our gut biome, which will make all those amino acids for you, just slower. There is something about the combination in animals that seems to turn on cancer-making hormones. It might be the speed with which the amino acids get into you making you turn on insulin. Insulin is a potent growth factor for cancer.
But this report also suggested that processed meats are a problem. How much of a problem? If you eat one hot dog a day, your risk of colon cancer will go from 5% to 6%. That’s an 18% increased risk in relative terms. It’s a 1% risk in absolute terms. But that does make colon cancer ever so much worse. Did you get that risk? It’s already 5% of us. That’s huge. What are processed meats? Any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives; examples include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats. That includes chicken nuggets, ham, bacon, bratwurst, spam, breakfast sausage…..bummer. Is nitrate free bacon safe? Hmm? Maybe not!
It may not be the meat itself. There is clear evidence that it is the way we cook that causes a lot of the trouble. High heat cooking, like pan-frying, makes for a lot of chemical reactions that create all sorts of toxic substances. Their names are things like “heterocyclic amines” and “polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons”. In many models these chemicals cause cancer. You can make them with high heat grilling of anything. Roasted coffee and roasted peanuts have them too. It’s high heat. And the nitrates may not be added as pure chemicals, they can just come from vegetable sources. That allows you to say “no nitrites added” but your body still reads it as nitrites. Are you at risk from nitrites when you eat vegetables? No, because they have vitamin C which allows you to detoxify on your own.
Then there is Vitamin K2. Western meat is all raised on feedlots, and feedlots don’t have green grass. Those animals don’t have K2. K2 has clearly been associated with lower cancer risk. The EPIC study showed a 35% reduction in prostate cancer risk with K2. And in active cancer, it has been shown to cause apoptosis. Well, where does this all fit in the realm of scientific inquiry? It’s clear that using a low-carb diet is a great way to lose weight. Can we have meat in that diet? Sure. In the short term, all you want because losing 10% of your body weight and reducing/eliminating your risk of diabetes and high blood sugar is probably 10 fold more important than avoiding processed meats in the short term. Notice, healthy fats aren’t listed anywhere as a risk. So, is it K2 that’s missing? Do you go down 35% with K2 but up 18% with hotdogs?
WWW. What will work for me? I’m trying to eat nitrate-free bacon, and less of it. I cook it at lower heat – sort of a simmer and eat it chewy. Still eat it. But I take K2 every day. And I get my colonoscopy. And the ultimate way to prevent colon cancer is lots and lots of vegetables. More fiber. Less flour, less sugar. Not so much fruit. More veges. Ok, so I had Brussels sprouts chopped up in Trader Joe's bacon for supper last night. Took my K2 this morning. Yummy.
- Processed meats add risk to your diet? T or F Answer: True
- The risk comes mostly from it being animal protein? T or F Answer: Too early to tell. May be that our meat is flawed with no K2 in it, no omega fats in them, and cooked at too high a temperature.
- Vegetables can be roasted and make risk too? T or F Answer: Yup. Coffee or peanuts prove it.
- Your risk of dying goes up 18% when you eat a hot dog. T or F Answer: Whoa Nellie. That is an 18% relative risk. Only 1% absolute risk. You go from 5% to 6% overall risk. And you can get a colonoscopy every 10 years and just about guarantee you won't get colon cancer. Then take Vitamin D, K2 and eat 5 servings of veges every day, walk two miles and your risk drops way more than processed meat increases.
- You should still avoid processed meats and cheeses. T or F Answer: Yup. Find a way to taper down.