Study claims red meat triggers cancer; 5 resources say otherwise

March 26, 2015

3 Min Read
Study claims red meat triggers cancer; 5 resources say otherwise

A few weeks ago, I shared news about an upcoming meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) aimed at determining whether or not red meat and processed meats should be labeled as carcinogens. IARC says it will review scientific evidence before making this determination, and the meat industry is organizing information to defend animal proteins as part of a healthy diet.

SHARE: 5 resources that debunk the red meat and cancer trend 

While public opinion and testimonies won’t help win that particular battle, a grassroots effort is needed to debunk the misinformation that continues to be presented to consumers by the mainstream media. For example, a recent Telegraph article, entitled “The body views red meat as a foreign invader which must be stamped out," suggests red meat is a direct cause of cancer. 


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In a nutshell, the article details research that claims red meat triggers a toxic immune reaction that causes cancer, according to a University of California-San Diego study. Here is an excerpt:

“Red meat has been linked to cancer for decades, with research suggesting that eating large amounts of pork, beef or lamb raises the risk of deadly tumors. But, for the first time, scientists think they know what is causing the effect. The body, it seems, views red meat as a foreign invader and sparks a toxic immune response. They have discovered that pork, beef and lamb contains a sugar which is naturally produced by other carnivores but not humans. It means that when humans eat red meat, the body triggers an immune response to the foreign sugar, producing antibodies which spark inflammation, and eventually cancer.”

This is a new take on the red meat and cancer link that I haven’t heard before, and I don’t know of any currently available science to refute these claims. However, there are plenty of information and resources to share regarding the healthfulness and importance of red meat in the diet.

I would encourage you to pass along the “5 resources that debunk the red meat and cancer trend” along with these additional items:

1. I call bull on the red meat & breast cancer link

2. Low-carb, high-protein diets might cut cancer risk

3. Cancer scare doesn’t have much meat on its bones

4. Red meat does not cause cancer, study concludes

The truth is, consumers are worried about cancer, and articles like the Telegraph article above help sow confusion about cancer and its causes. Cancer is not one disease but a complex group of hundreds of diseases with many possible causes. Simple genetics, lifestyle choices and various exposures are thought to play a role. In actuality, Americans are eating less red meat than ever before, so increased rates of cancer in the face of less beef consumption doesn’t track for me as a causal link.

And even the researcher who led the University of California-San Diego study, Ajit Varki, a professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine, does not advise cutting red meat out of the diet, saying: “moderate amounts of red meat can be a source of good nutrition for young people.”

Let’s be proactive and share the facts. How do you think we should work to debunk the red meat and cancer link?

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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