In the last week, I’ve been seeing a lot of headlines linking red meat consumption to breast cancer. This tired fallacy continues to make the rounds, despite being debunked by several major studies over the years. But as the old saying goes, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it soon becomes the truth.” Do we want our consumers accepting the misconception that red meat causes cancer? Absolutely not, and one reader urges the industry to get to work on counteracting this misinformation.
I received an email from this reader, who is a veterinarian, stating, “I am sending this because I think our entire industry needs to focus on what the public is hearing about raising livestock and eating meat. All week, the news has been reporting how eating meat could increase your risk to develop breast cancer. And yet I have seen virtually nothing from the livestock side to contradict this.
“From my perspective, when news like this comes out, the beef and meat industry need to respond as quickly as possible. I think there are a lot of weaknesses in the study that is cited. But the livestock industry needs to immediately have experts in that area evaluate the data and get their responses. And I have seen none of that this week.
“This may look like reactive methods, but at times we need to be reactive. The meat industry needs to provide information to their colleagues, so we have ammunition to battle these studies with, when someone throws them in our faces.”
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To get an idea of what this reader is referring to, here are five headlines our consumers are hearing and reading this week:
“Red Meat Linked to Breast Cancer in Harvard Study” featured in Voice of America
“Breast Cancer Link To Higher Red Meat Consumption Greeted With Skepticism” featured in The Guardian
“Eating A Lot Of Red Meat Can Increase Breast Cancer Risk By 25%” by Samantha Bonar for LA Weekly
“Red Meat May Raise Breast Cancer Risk, Study Suggests” featured in U.S. News and Health Report
“Red Meat And The Risk Of Breast Cancer” featured in ABC’s Health Report
When a highly-respected institution like Harvard conducts a study warning women about red meat consumption increasing their risk of breast cancer, you can bet that many take the advice at face value. This is unfortunate because the study has too many variables to accept the conclusions as truth. The study was based on a questionnaire asking women about their eating habits. It didn’t take into account any other variables, and we know that studies of this nature can be very inaccurate because people tend to falsely report on what they actually eat.
I’ve written about the red meat and cancer link on many occasions, so I thought it would be helpful to round up some of the most relevant blogs on this topic with the hope that we can start spreading correct information -- red meat does NOT cause cancer. Here are five blogs worth sharing:
Please help spread the word that the link between red meat and breast cancer is false. It’s this kind of irresponsible reporting that leads to paranoia and fear in consumers as they try to feed their families healthy meals. Beef does have a place on the menu, and consumers shouldn’t have to worry that this nutritional powerhouse has dangerous repercussions if eaten.
How do you think the industry can best respond to this misinformation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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