There has been a media attack on meat recently, and the cheers and jeers are rolling in. Vegetarians and vegans are spreading the message in hopes that people will finally realize that eating meat is an unethical and unhealthy thing to do, and Paleo supporters are fighting the news and proclaiming that eating meat is natural and healthy, and in no way causes cancer.
As usual the devil lies in the details and this “not so new” news to those of us who have been studying food and nutrition for decades, requires some serious clarification. Then, you can make a more accurate decision for your chosen lifestyle.
7 steps that makes meat a cancer causing nightmare
The recent spark for the widespread meat debate was generated by the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), who stated that processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans”. They found that eating 50 grams of processed meat (meat that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked, or processed in another way) each day raises the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
They also went on to say that red meat, which includes beef, lamb, and pork, is “probably carcinogenic to humans”, and has been associated with colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.
However, what is not being openly acknowledged in these findings is the way this food is being raised, preserved, and cooked, all which have enormous implications in the end result.
Consider the following series of events, which is very common:
1. Animal grows up in a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation), with other stressed and diseased animals.
2. Said animal is primarily or entirely fed non-organic, GMO corn and soy products, and sometimes parts of other dead and diseased animals.
3. As a result of these conditions and to keep animals “healthy”, they are then injected with antibiotics to keep them from becoming “sick”.
4. To bring the final product to market quicker, animals are injected with steroids and hormones, and are even fed arsenic (chickens) to plump them up.
5. Said animal then gets brutally slaughtered, and becomes processed and preserved which results in things like cancer causing nitrites being added to many of the cuts of meat.
6. The end consumer then takes a lot of this meat and covers it with sauces predominantly made up of GM sugar, and cooks it in a way that results in the development of acrylamide, a carcinogenic chemical produced when this meat is cooked at a high temperature (often done in grilling).
7. This individual then pairs this meat with other starchy, sugary, and grain based foods which results in a terrible food combination that severely compromises the digestive process, and creates more toxicity in the intestinal system through undigested food particles and constipation.
This very predominant process is a perfect set up for any disease, with cancer leading the list. As it seems to be with any food today, it is man’s unabashed capitalistic involvement that has turned it into a disease generating nightmare.
The merits of eating well raised meat
Now that you know why excessive meat consumption that is conventionally raised and processed, can lead to an increased rate of cancer, how about we discuss some of the merits of eating meat, that is properly raised and fed?
Pasture fed animals can result in reduced saturated fat levels while increasing omega-3 content.
Animals with access to a wide spectrum of plant species helps provide antioxidants and less common nutrients like vitamin E.
Grass fed diets favour the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria species, which helps break down protein and fiber.
When vitamin E rich plants are consumed and that antioxidant is stored in the muscle of the animal, it enjoys a longer shelf life and prevents rancid odours and off flavours (without cancer causing preservatives).
Pasture fed or free range animals are less stressed, and more likely to produce healthy muscle tissue (which you end up eating).
Saturated fats contain important nutrients like iron and zinc.
Saturated fats gives cell membranes their necessary integrity, and play a huge part in the health of our bones.
Saturated stearic acid and palmitic acid are optimal foods for the heart, which is why the fat around heart muscle is highly saturated. The heart uses this reserve of fat in times of stress.
A diet high in healthy fats may actually slow the aging process, including stemming off the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
So eating meat can have positive health benefits, if it is properly raised and fed, and primarily combined with other nutrient dense and easily assimilated foods, like organic produce.
So can eating meat cause cancer? Yes, if you eat the denatured, processed, and diseased kind, along with other heavily processed and genetically modified foods. However, it can also have a disease preventative effect if it is pasture raised and fed, eaten in smaller portions, and paired with more nutritious and “light” foods.
Sources for this article include: