T Nation

carniverous cancer?

Keeping in mind most of us are vehement steak worshipers (myself included), thought I should share this…

Colon Cancer Rise Linked to Beef, Pork

By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Nov. 15, 2002 – A new study serves as good evidence that a western diet can more than double the risk of colon cancer. Researchers found that an increasingly western diet has led to a dramatic rise in colorectal cancer in Singapore. Rates of the cancer have doubled in the past three decades, largely because residents eat more red meat and fewer vegetables than in the past.

Singapore is one of Asia’s most rapidly developing nations. And for many of the ethnic Chinese who make up 77% of the population, industrialization has brought both changes in diet and a more sedentary lifestyle. Colorectal cancer rates now approach those in developed countries and are among the highest in Asia.

To determine the influence of changing lifestyles on cancer rates, researchers from the National University of Singapore conducted interviews with 121 Chinese colorectal cancer patients and 222 healthy Chinese people. The findings appear in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Cancer.

Researchers concluded that diet and a family history of colorectal cancer were the primary risk factors for the disease in the Chinese population. After accounting for all other risk factors, a high intake of red meat – including beef and pork – doubled the risk of colorectal cancer. No rise was seen for those reporting increased consumption of other meats or seafood. Eating vegetables was associated with a reduction in risk.

People who ate lots of red meat and few vegetables were more than 2.5 times more likely to get colon cancer. Eating lots of vegetables reduced the risk only slightly in those who also ate large amounts of red meat, but the risk was still almost double that of the healthy population. No other food groups -- including soy, legumes or fruit -- were found to have an impact on risk.

“Dietary intake of red meat in Western populations has been related to the risk of colorectal [cancer] in many, but not all, studies, and this appears to be independent of its contribution to total fat or protein content,” lead researcher Adeline Seow, MD, and colleagues noted.

The National Cancer Institute’s Arthur Schatzkin, PhD, who is an expert on the role of foods in cancer, tells WebMD that the evidence linking red meat consumption to colorectal cancer is strong but not conclusive. The consumption of processed meats has also been linked to colorectal cancer. Schatzkin is chief of the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch of the NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.

“The majority of studies support the red meat link, but we have seen several widely accepted hypotheses become controversial,” he says. “Until recently the link between dietary fiber and a reduced risk was accepted. Several well publicized studies challenged that idea, but they did not totally refute the hypothesis.”

Colorectal cancer expert Charles Fuchs, of Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute, says that evidence suggests that eating red meat in moderation is safe. But how much is too much? Fuchs cites findings from a large U.S. study, which showed that women who ate beef, pork, or lamb five or more times a week had triple the risk of colon cancer.

“There are a lot of good reasons to be moderate in one’s consumption of red meat, not the least of which is its link to heart disease,” he tells WebMD. “Eating red meat more than five times a week is probably too much.”

I want to know the increase in numbers. I mean if it doubles from 3/10 to 6/10 that’s something to think about. However, if it increases from 1/100000 to 2/100000, I’ll keep eating a lot of big dead cows.

What a load of excrement! I wouldn’t believe much of anything that came through WebMD. They are just the web version of the typical medical establishment, spouting the nutritional party line.

This so called study was just a bunch of interviews, not a controlled experiment. How accurately can people remember their dietary habits over the years? Let’s get real. Also, the study doesn’t take into account the fact that most commercial red meat is grain fed, contains hormones and has a high saturated fat content. Maybe it’s the animal hormones that cause cancer, not the meat itself, but the researchers didn’t think about that did they? Frankly, I’ll stick with my grass-fed beef with the lower saturated fats and better omega-3 content.

this is a bunch of crap. A western diet of hamburgers and french fries is very different from one using organically grass-fed red meat and quality veggies. This is just the same anti-meat and anti-protein garbage that we have been hearing for last 30 years.

Did you know that the Centerian Study performed by the University of Colorado roughly ten years ago interviewed a number of American centerians (over age of 100), ALL of them ate meat 2 - 3 times/day and also had a stiff shot of some sort of alcohol with dinner

It does look likely, but I think that the way the food is processed is very important. Pork (especially) is usually presevered with a chemical (can’t remember the name) that reacts with amines above 97 C (amines can be found in protein. Well, they ARE in protein, but most of them are bound and unavailable). This chemical then forms one of the more powerful carcinogens (makes smoking look healthy!). I suspect time in the gastric system degrades this chemical (like the acrylamide in bread must be) so that the effects are not as extreme as they could be. But the chemical is still there.

For this reason, it is especially silly to eat processed meats that have been fried. Fried ham, bacon, and sausage are the three “BIG” ones in my opinion.

I suspect that if they studied the way the meats were cooked, and the way they were eaten (food combining), the differences would be pronounced. For example. I only eat boiled hamburger (so the temp is never higher than 100C) during a dieting cycle with lots of vegetables. This has GOT to be different from eating fried bacon with pancakes!

I agree with Doogie. Give me rates not risk. If it goes from 1/1000000 to 2/1000000 then the risk just jumped 100 whoppin percent! So now you’re 100 times more likely to get cancer…

On the other hand if you show me that it went from 1/1000000 to 1000/1000000 that’s a decent rate change. Risk means squat in these studies. The researchers are using the terms which prove their case, while ignoring the truth or even statistical significance.


Gotta agree with the rest of you guys. Meat eating and cancer risk is a load of crap. I’ve done a lot of research on the subject, and I would highly recommend anybody concerned about the issue to read some of articles by Dr. Mary Enig, one of the foremost nutrition experts in the US and a big proponent of meat and other REAL foods.

Futhermore, we really should pick apart these kinds of stupid studies.

1)The study doesn’t distinguish the KIND of meat, because the culprit when it comes to meat is the crap processed stuff (like microwave bacon, spam, porksausage etc…)that people tend to lumped into the same category as real meat like beef, chicken, organ meat, and fish (with all concern about mercury toxicity aside). This is done in the same way that people see all carbs as the same. There is a big difference between starches in a potato and complex carbs in broccoli.

2)The study also doesn’t tell us what else the people who ate a lot of meat ate. Generally those people who just eat a lot of meat and don’t eat vegetables and other good food just eat crap all the time. Burgers, fries, potatoe chips, beer, and other junk often comprise much of their diets. This kind of study sounds like the vegan party line where they claim that vegetarians live longer, healthier etc…, but fail to recognize that many people who undertake veg. do so for health reasons and so avoid much of the crap that unhealty eaters put into their system. It doesn’t necessarily mean that veg is healthier, it simply means that those who follow it are health conscious people to begin with.

  1. Now this next one is just some anthropological thoertizing on my part, but why in the hell would you conduct a study on people from Singapore who are eating a lot of red meat! OFCOURSE there are going to be adverse effects is a culture begins eating in large quantity a food that had been largely absent in their diet for the entire course of their history! If you find fault with this reasoning, can you then explain to me why swiss, swedish, icelandic people, and nomadic tribes enjoy just as low rates of heart diease as traditionally eating asian people, but consume TONS of meat a raw full fat dairy and very little veggies? IT’S BECAUSE THEY’VE LIVED OFF THE STUFF FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS!

OKay, I’ll wrap it up. For all vegan line-towers out there, I tried vegetarianism for a year, thinking it was the ‘healthy’ thing to do. Well, it was probably the shittiest I’ve ever felt in my life! I couln’t think clearly, I would get the shakes, and I almost completely lost my sex drive (hell? yeah, I know). And I was a knowledgeable, committed veg. too, so don’t tell me I did it wrong. I follow veg dogma to the letter. IT JUST AIN’T NATURAL!
Please feel free to offer feed back on this.

I’m glad we’re all flustered by the study, but I should point out that even if Web MD is a fallacy (if…), it came from a reputable medical journal (Cancer). I agree with the notion that it’s not based on consumption of grass fed meat, but unfortunatly most of us don’t eat grass fed meat, even here in the states. That being said, I haven’t given up my flesh (just added more veggies).

Hey guys I haven’t wrote in here for awhile. I have been busy with my clients and I was diagnosed with Cancer again three months ago. I kind of have to agree and disagree with the finding. Partially because of personal experince. I do believe that red meat is a link to cancer but in large quantities. I believe red meat is a important in your diet if you are trying to build muscles. But it doesn’t give you the authority to say all I eat is red meat. Thats where the western diet goes wrong. We are consume with red meat products day in and day out where. So my take on this is as long as you have a balance diet you are fine just don’t over do it. Everthing in moderation.

Reputable journal? Come now, let’s not start this. Which journal prints studies which are contrary to it’s dogma. Hell even data which is the foundation for the fat intake=heart disease is a load of crap.

Dr. Keyes who “proved” that increased fat intake led to increased deaths had SELECTED the countries from a pool of 21 countries. Keyes chose the 7 countries which proved his hypothesis that fat=death. When you plot out all 21 countries there was NO relationship at all between fat intake and rates of heart disease.

I work in research and can tell you very few scientist publish the data which proves them wrong. Why would they? Who would fund failure? It’s always a case that they underestimated something but their hypothesis are headed in the right direction. Kinda peculiar how the majority of studies are headed in the right direction but deaths due to heart disease and obesity have grown since the low fat rhetoric emerged. Why is that? Can’t just be simply that people are eating more? Maybe it’s there food choices? Which choices would those be if fat intake has decreased? Or maybe it’s grown, depend on whose study you want to believe.

Back to the study. The diagnosis of heart disease is relatively new to Chinese culture. (forgive the generality) Most deaths are determined as cerebral before any autopsy would be performed. Now more accurate reports of deaths are being reported and since it can only be red meat and not the misreporting of data there has emerged a correlation which is bogus.

Believe half of what you read and nothing that you hear. Croooz

Did anyone ever think that maybe it was the increased meat consumption, with the chronic lack of fiber and healthy carbs that the US eats, the asian countries eat alot of fiber in their grains i would geuss. lack of fiber in a diet is a big cancer risk over the long run isnt it? Maybe if we ate heathier carbs and more fiber that cancer rate would go down, one thing that I learned way back when in Psychology was that correlation does not equal causation…Just becuase everyone that gets chronic testicular atrophy also consumes soda doesnt mean that the soda causes it…burn all the media that starts these tales without the whole story…god I hate it when they put articles in there without telling the whole story or accepting biased articles in the first place. One note to also think about in this article is I dont think they ever specified what “High intakes of red meat was” That could be eating 10 pounds of fatty unhealthy meat a day for all we know…I hjate when they leave these details out!


People who eat lots of red meat and don’t eat vegetables also typically eat lots of other processed junk like sugar and such. This study could be misleading because it doesn’t look at the other things these people are consuming.