Today, I read an article in the Huffington Post, called, Horse Meat Inspection Ban Lifted In The U.S. (horse meat consumption) and I was shocked.
It is a proven fact that consuming animal protein causes cancer, yet we keep on eating it. And now, to top that off, our government is trying to add yet another cancer-causing protein to people’s menus—horses, which are beloved pets.”
“What’s next—dogs and cats? Warm feelings for pets aside, no one should be eating horse meat!”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that dietary factors are associated with at least 30% of all cancers in developed countries and up to 20% in developing countries. One of the biggest dietary culprits they uncovered was animal-derived foods [1, 2-7]. In fact, high meat intake has been estimated to increase your overall cancer risk by 17%, while high saturated fat intake increases your cancer risk by 19% .
It is a fact that throughout our lives we will all have cancer cells appear in our bodies. However, not everyone develops cancer, and usually this comes down to diet . Animal proteins like meat, dairy, and eggs alter hormone levels in the body, cause inflammation, promote cell growth and tumor development, and make the body more acidic [2, 8-13]. All these changes “feed” the cancer cells and make them stronger. To make matters worse, as meat is cooked at high temperatures, potentially dangerous chemicals are produced. For example, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can initiate the cancer process [14-20], while advanced glycation end products (AGEs) play an important role in the development and progression of atherosclerosis, diabetes, aging, and chronic renal failure [21-22].
Although meat is often labeled the major culprit in cancers of the esophagus, lung, pancreas, stomach, colon, breast, and prostate, research has shown that other animal proteins, such as the casein found in milk, can promote cancer development as well. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that the consumption of dairy products affects the biological pathways associated with cancer development and spread . After following participants for 65 years, the researchers discovered that a diet rich in dairy products during childhood nearly tripled the risk of colorectal cancer in adulthood.
More than 200 studies have shown that a diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, raw nuts and seeds, and whole grains (as well as the countless meals and menus you can derive from these foods) provides significant protection against many different types of cancer. People with the highest consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have about half the risk of developing cancer as those who eat a more animal-based diet [24-27]. Based on the research of Dr. Campbell in the Cornell UniversityChina Study, the ideal diet should be at least 90% plant-based foods and less than 10% animal-based foods .
Dr. Campbell based his initial research on a preliminary study in which two groups of rats (one fed a 5% protein diet and one fed a 20% protein diet) were given cancer-causing aflatoxin. While every single rat in the 20% protein diet group developed liver cancer or pre-cancerous lesions, nothing happened to a single rat in the 5% protein group. Campbell conducted a similar study but used the milk protein casein to determine whether all animal proteins acted as cancer promoters. Like in the previous study, Campbell divided his rats into a 20% casein diet and a 5% casein diet and then exposed the rats to aflatoxin. His results supported the earlier research, and he reported that adjusting an organism’s protein intake could turn cancer promotion on and off like a switch . Proteins derived from plants, however, did not have the same cancer-promoting effects.
Many experts believe that this is due to the nutrient-rich nature of plant-based foods. Fruits and vegetables do not promote inflammation in the body, are rich in antioxidants that can neutralize cancer-causing free radicals, and do not contain bad fats such as saturated fat, trans- fat, or dietary cholesterol, which the body does not need to get from dietary sources. Plant-based foods also contain high amounts of fiber. Fiber acts like a filter in your digestive system, effectively removing cancer-causing substances from your colon. Fiber is also food for bacteria that thrive in your intestine, favoring the ones that reduce the production of cancer-causing acids.
The health-boosting properties of a nutrient-rich, plant-based diet have also been shown to benefit people who have already developed cancer. A 2006 study showed that, in general, men with prostate cancer who avoided animal products reduced their PSA levels, which meant that their cancer was not advancing and may actually have been diminishing . However, the cancer continued to worsen in the men who made no dietary changes. Such dietary changes were also shown to reduce the recurrence risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by about 25% .
- Campbell TC, Campbell TM, II. The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2005.
- World Cancer Research Fund. Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: A global perspective. Washington, DC: American Institute of Cancer Research, 2007.
- Cho E, Spiegelman D, Hunter DJ, et al. Premenopausal fat intake and risk of breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003;95:1079-1085.
- Barnard ND, Nicholson A, Howard JL. The medical costs attributable to meat consumption. Prev Med. 1995;24:646-655.
- Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Colditz GA, et al. A prospective study of dietary fat and risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993;85(19):1571-1579.
- Kolonel LN. Nutrition and prostate cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 1996;7(1):83-94.
- Ma RW, Chapman K. A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2009;22(3):187-1899.
- Boyd NF, Stone J, Vogt KN, Connelly BS, Martin LJ, Minkin S. Dietary fat and breast cancer risk revisited: a meta-analysis of the published literature. Br J Cancer. 2003;89(9):1672-1685.
- Murtaugh MA, Ma KN, Sweeney C, Caan BJ, Slattery ML. Meat consumption patterns and preparation, genetic variants of metabolic enzymes, and their association with rectal cancer in men and women. J Nutr. 2004;134(4):776-784.
- Norat T, Riboli E. Meat consumption and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Nutr Rev. 2001;59(2):37-47.
- Armstrong B, Doll R. Environmental factors and cancer incidence and mortality in different countries, with special reference to dietary practices. Int J Cancer. 1975;15:617-631.
- Carroll KK, Braden LM. Dietary fat and mammary carcinogenesis. Nutr Cancer. 1985;6:254-259.
- Rose DP, Boyar AP, Wynder EL. International comparisons of mortality rates for cancer of the breast, ovary, prostate, and colon, and per capita food consumption. Cancer. 1986;58:2363-2371.
- Skog KI, Johansson MAE, Jagerstad MI. Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in model systems and cooked foods: a review on formation, occurrence, and intake. Food Chem Toxicol. 1998;36:879-896.
- Robbana-Barnat S, Rabache M, Rialland E, Fradin J. Heterocyclic amines: occurrence and prevention in cooked food. Environ Health Perspect. 1996;104:280-288.
- Thiebaud HP, Knize MG, Kuzmicky PA, Hsieh DP, Felton JS. Airborne mutagens produced by frying beef, pork, and a soy-based food. Food Chem Toxicol. 1995;33(10):821-828.
- Sinha R, Rothman N, Brown ED, et al. High concentrations of the carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo-[4,5] pyridine [PhlP] occur in chicken but are dependent on the cooking method. Cancer Res. 1995;55:4516-4519.
- De Stefani E, Ronco A, Mendilaharsu M, Guidobono M, Deneo-Pellegrini H. Meat intake, heterocyclic amines, and risk of breast cancer: a case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1997;6(8):573-581.
- Snyderwine EG. Some perspectives on the nutritional aspects of breast cancer research. Food-derived heterocyclic amines as etiologic agents in human mammary cancer. Cancer. 1994;74(3 suppl):1070-1077.
- Butler LM, Sinha R, Millikan RC, Martin CF, Newman B, Gammon MD, Ammerman AS, Sandler RS. Heterocyclic amines, meat intake, and association with colon cancer in a population-based study. Am J Epidemiol. 2003;157(5):434-445.
- Krajcovicova-Kudlackova M, Sebekova K, Schinzel R, Klvanova J. Advanced glycation end products and nutrition. Physiol Res. 2002;51:313-316.
- Uribarri J, Cai W, Sandu O, Peppa M, Goldberg T, Vlassara H. Diet-derived advanced glycation end products are major contributors to the body’s AGE pool and induce inflammation in healthy subjects. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2005;1043:461-466.
- van der Pols JC, Bain C, Gunnell D, Smith GD, Frobisher C, Martin RM. Childhood dairy intake and adult cancer risk: 65-y follow-up of the Boyd Orr cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(6)1722-1729.
- Steinmetz K, Potter J. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer, I. Epidemiology. Cancer Causes Control. 1991;2(suppl):325-357.
- Jacobs DR, Marquart L, Slavin J, et al. Whole-grain intake and cancer: an expanded review and meta-analysis. Nutr Cancer. 1998;30:85-96.
- Thorogood M, Mann J, Appleby P, McPherson K. Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. Br Med J. 1994;308:1667-1670.
- Key TJ, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, et al. Cancer incidence in British vegetarians. Br J Cancer. 2009;101:192-197.
- Nguyen JY, Major JM, Knott CJ, et al. Adoption of a plant-based diet by patients with recurrent prostate cancer. Integr Cancer Ther. 2006;5(3):214-223.
- Blackburn GL, Wang KA. Dietary fat reduction and breast cancer outcome: results from the Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS). Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(3):878S-881S.