Adding to the nonstop flood of health risks associated with a diet heavy in meat, a recent study found that eating cold cuts dramatically increases your chances of developing bladder cancer.
The “American” diet, heavy on animal proteins and low in fruits and vegetables, has been under heavy fire for decades for health reasons, ethical reasons and environmental reasons. The criticism continues to intensify as a mountain of scientific research about the detrimental health effects of a diet heavy in meat come to light. The chemical “villains” so to speak, in these studies, were nitrites and nitrates that are added to meat to preserve color and flavor.
Nearly every day I encounter a news story about the negative effects of a meat diet, or a story about the health benefits of a vegan diet. People with a plant-based diet have a lower occurrence of nearly all the major causes of death in America, most importantly heart disease and cancer.
Nearly every time I try to talk to people about the medical risks associated with poor diet and lifestyle, especially those linked to a meat-centered diet, they say something like “well everything gives you cancer nowadays”. This is a sad and ignorant way to disregard the enormous health risks that could be easily evaded by a dietary change that could benefit, not just your own health, but could save the lives of animals and the entire environment of the planet. Anyone who has seen a loved one die of cancer knows that this is hardly a risk to be disregarded.
The study used a large sample of 300,000 men and women whom they followed over an eight year span. The results were conclusive in their finding of a “positive nonlinear association for red meat cold cuts” with cancer of the bladder.
In a interesting side note, the study also noted non-causal correlations between eating higher amounts of meat with smoking, having a higher BMI, lower intake of fruits and vegetables, and lower intake of vitamins C and E.
Beyond being the most ethical diet, it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the trend of people who are concerned about their health, who are choosing to remove animal products from their diet. Is it a coincidence that the people who ate the most meat were also most likely to be smokers and overweight?
I’ve said it before and I’ll be saying it for a long time: go vegan, for the animals, for your health, for the planet.
Photo: thanks to Elin B via flickr