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New study: red meat carcinogenic

New Study Confirms Red Meat Is a Rich and Varied Source of Cancer


by Martha Rosenberg

Joggers--put down the hog head cheese.

A new study of half a million people from the National Cancer Institute finds that red and processed meat not only promotes colon cancer--which everyone knew--but esophagus, liver, lung and pancreas cancer!

Grilled meat, the study found, is especially bad because it produces heterocyclic amines--linked to breast, colon, stomach and prostate cancers--and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, another class of carcinogens formed from dripping fat.

Much to the chagrin of cattlemen, in the last two decades red meat has gone from good-for-you to do-it-if-you-feel lucky. Not as kamikaze as smoking or eating a Lake Michigan fish but getting there.

In fact the all American meal of roast beef swimming in a moat of gravy and mashed potatoes, rolls, butter and pie for dessert is now regarded as a coronary waiting to happen.

And that's before we get to the all American breakfast of sausage and bacon.

No, for anyone who wants to live past 40 today the four food groups are no longer cholesterol, salt, calories and fat. There's a new sheriff in town and he's called fiber.

It's got to be rough on the Department of Agriculture these days--promoting beef and the beef industry while safeguarding the population whose health it destroys.

USDA can't come right out and say red meat causes heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity and most of the other neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases that are known to man.

So it says a low fat diet prevents them--the same way low tar cigarettes prevent lung cancer and low ultraviolet exposure prevents melanoma.

Instead of saying get your affairs in order before eating this product, it does a little diplomatic dance and says red meat can be a valuable contribution to a well balanced diet when used in moderation. So can saw dust.

And the problems don't end there.

Thanks to the "honor" system enacted in slaughterhouses, HACCP-- Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point or Have A Cup of Coffee and Pray--in which packers inspect their own operations with no onsite federal inspectors to stop the line and lose the company money, e Coli is another red meat "perk."

How do you convince people the meat is perfectly safe when they have to disinfect their hands, cutting board and utensils after handling it?

And speaking of biohazards, does anyone really think mad cow disease has gone away?

Red meat has other public relations problems too.

Like production on corporate or "factory" farms which produces more waste than the top American cities put together writes Eric Schlosser in Chew On This, polluting streams, killing fish and cannibalizing valuable arable land for nothing more than animal grain.

And the slaughter floor itself where animals do not die voluntarily or nicely and which has "cured" many a meat eater of the habit.

No, thanks to cancer, coronaries, contamination and cruelty, red meat is a tradition on the way out.

Like smoking or chewing tobacco or even putting kids in the car without a car seat, we did it once-- and now we know better.

*************

Martha Rosenberg, Staff Cartoonist, Evanston Roundtable, Evanston IL USA

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