Meat Consumption Linked to Cancer in 1907

Meat Consumption Linked to Cancer in 1907

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in America, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients each year. Despite over 40 years of scientific research dedicated to win the war on cancer, mortality rates continue to climb.

Most people understand the evidence demonstrating the correlation between meat consumption and the potential health risks linked to heart disease, yet the risks associated with cancer and meat consumption aren't well known. As Dr. Neal Barnard says, "While everyone understands the link between cancer and cigarettes, the link with meat has somehow escaped notice." Dr. Barnard cites the recent results of two large studies, one conducted in 2009 and another in 2012. "In both studies, meat-eaters were at higher risk of a cancer death, and many more studies have shown the same thing."

Numerous components found in meat suggest a plausible relationship between cancer growth and meat consumption.  For example, heterocyclic amines are carcinogenic compounds that form when meat is cooked.  Other components may be the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or the heme iron in meat. The lack of both fiber and antioxidants may also be contributing factors. "But really the situation is like tobacco" Dr. Barnard explains, "We know tobacco causes lung cancer, even though no one yet knows exactly which part of the tobacco smoke is the major culprit. And although meat-eaters clearly have higher cancer rates, it is not yet clear which part of meat does the deed."

Dr. Barnard's article points out that the "link between meat and cancer has been known for more than a century." He refers to an article published in the New York Times, September 24, 1907. The article references a seven-year epidemiological study which showed meat-eaters being at a higher cancer risk than those who didn't consume meat. The study concluded that the increase of cancer rates were "due to the increased consumption of animal foods...."

"Over the past century, meat eating in America has soared, as have cancer statistics," Dr. Barnard states. "The good news is that many have woken up and smelled the carcinogens. They know there is plenty of protein in beans, grains, and vegetables, and that traditional Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Japanese foods—and endless other cuisines—turn these plant-based staples into delicious and nourishing meals." Dr. Barnard and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine offer many resources that equip and empower us to make the transition to a healthy, plant-centered diet.  The evidence continues to grow. As Dr. Barnard says, "Let's not wait another hundred years."

Read about the article, "1907 New York Times Article Shows that Meat Causes Cancer. A century later, many people still haven't heard the news" by Neal Barnard, MD here.

See the New York Times article written September 24, 1907, "Cancer Increasing Among Meat Eaters" here.

Neal Barnard MD Links

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