START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
583,307 people care about Real Food

Can Eating Meat Be Just As Bad For You As Smoking?

Can Eating Meat Be Just As Bad For You As Smoking?

Can changing what you eat and what you do influence the likelihood of your risk for getting cancer?

With a new year starting, many of us may be making pledges to improve our health, whether by quitting smoking or cutting down on our consumption of beer, wine or meat. A review published at the end of 2013 that analyzes food supply data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provides some motivation for sticking to your newly-made resolutions. According to this study, eating a meat-rich diet could be as bad for you as smoking or drinking.

The study was published in an online, open-access journal, Nutrients, and was undertaken by William B. Grant of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in northern Califronia. It’s an ecological study that draws on data collected by others (in this case, the FAO) about populations, but without knowing specifics about the people studied (i.e., if they had any medical conditions, or if there were environmental factors, that might have made them more susceptible to cancer).

Correlations Between Cancer and Eating a Diet Rich in Animal Products

Various types of cancer (including lung, prostate, breast, stomach and liver, among others) among men and women in 157 countries were considered. Data from 87 of those countries was focused on, as these countries (Japan, the U.S.) are said to have “high-quality data” about health and diet.

Based on the notion that there is “generally a lag of up to 20 years between dietary changes and peak cancer rates,” the study looks at data that goes back to 1980. The author found that smoking and consumption of animal products (meat, fish, milk and eggs) were correlated with “over half of the cancer incidence rates, with alcoholic beverage supply explaining a smaller amount.” For men, smoking was found to play more of a role in increasing cancer risk; for women, eating animal products played the greatest role.

Overall, the study found that consumption of meat and dairy products was most strongly correlated with cancers of the “female breast, corpus uteri, kidney, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, testicular, thyroid cancer, and multiple myeloma.” Consumption of alcoholic beverages was only found to be linked to colorectal cancer while lung cancer was found to be “associated with animal fat supply in addition to cigarette supply.”

Additional research that takes factors such as people’s medical histories and lifestyle choices into account is needed to confirm that a diet rich in animal products is as bad for your health as smoking is.

Why Would Eating Meat Increase Cancer Risk?

The study does not explain why eating meat might increase one’s susceptibility to cancer. The India Times comments that eating animal products is correlated with cancer risk “since animal products promote growth of the body as well as tumors through production of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I).”

Other research has tied eating meat to increased cancer risk. Research published in March found that eating a lot of processed meat (ham, bacon, sausages, burgers) in particular was associated with a higher risk of dying from cancer and heart disease. In October, researchers from the University of Southern California reported that eating red and processed meat was significantly associated with a greater risk for colorectal cancer in people with a certain genetic mutation.

In the United States, the early 1980s saw a push for eating fewer carbohydrates and increasing protein intake, as called for by the Scarsdale diet and, in the 1990s, the Atkins diet. That is, even while meat consumption has been linked to heart disease and to being at a higher risk for total, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, people have had their reasons to increase their meat intake.

If you must eat animal products, eating meat that is minimally processed and from antibiotic-free animals who’ve been raised using sustainable methods and in humane conditions could be a way to minimize any risks. As the Nutrients study suggests, eliminating it from your diet and going meatless is a very good way to get your 2014 off to a very healthy start.

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo from Thinkstock

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

234 comments

+ add your own
6:23AM PDT on May 26, 2014

Sure eating meat can be bad for you. It could be too much that you're eating.

Other things that could be bad:

1: Nuts as nut allergies can be fatal

2: Gluten

3: Etc

Anything can be bad for you. The picture above with the girl smoking while eating a fast food burger, I'm sure the fries are bad too

12:42AM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Thank you

1:05AM PST on Feb 3, 2014

Thank you :)

11:56PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

Despite what the study says, I can't possibly in my right mind believe that eating meat is just as unhealthy for you as SMOKING! That is just absurd.

Humans have been eating meat for over 1.5 million years. Eating meat was an important part in our evolutionary process. We wouldn't be the humans that we are today if it wasn't for eating meat.

I understand that a lot of the meat that we eat today is full of antibiotics and chemicals (that's if you buy your meat from the supermarket or butcher, and not your local organic farmer -which also supports the local economy which is important) and it is possible to live a very healthy life on a vegetarian/vegan diet, especially in this day and age BUT...

...Eating meat is just as unhealthy as drinking alcohol or SMOKING? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

12:41PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

What kind of meat were the people in the studies eating? How was it cooked? Who cooked it? Same questions for all the other things in the studies. Honestly- what a crappy article!

8:14AM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Sorry Mark, but Karma is not about revenge. It's about learning lessons. Very different.

7:45AM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Whether anyone likes it or not there is absolutely such a thing as Karma.. it may take a little while longer but suffering Earth will have its unavoidable revenge.. The earth with its life systems won't step back to consider humans as some sort of exception, above the laws of physics or the laws of the biosphere. Just as a car breaks down when sugar is poured in the gas tank, Earth will collapse under humanity's trash, poisons and greed and resolve the overpopulated humanity problem with extinction... especially since greedy, unevolved humanity is very determined to seal its own fate.

7:35AM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Dale O. "People are not going to stop eating meat or anything else simply because it does not agree with the views of others" Oh, don't worry people will stop that by their own actions and it will be sooner than you think. Do you seriously believe the overpopulated human earth destroying catastrophe will survive for more than another 100 years? Not possible.

5:48AM PST on Jan 18, 2014

Sandra Z, It's sad to see that you chose to be insulting rather than open minded enough to possibly realize that NOT everyone can be healthy on a well-managed, professionally supervised vegan diet.

The Adventist study is known to be inaccurate at best, because of the general lifestyle of the participants. Look into it.

Please do us all a favor and do more research to enlighten yourself about food allergies and sensitivities and medical conditions that restrict the diets of so many people. I have done the research for about 30 years, and my own personal experience with the veg diet proved to me that it is not suitable for everyone. Apparently there are more people who have abandoned the vegan diet (for health reasons) than there are vegans....so our own personal experience means more to us than studies.

The discussion ended when your insults began.

11:41PM PST on Jan 17, 2014

MarilynBusy, you're obviously too busy to educate yourself, as your claim that a vegetarian diet would kill off a good percentage of the population is so ignorant it's laughable. There are more studies than could possibly be listed here, but here's the result of the latest study of more than 73,000 people, the 7th Day Adventist Study:
"After adjustments, vegetarians (all vegetarians combined) had a 12% reduction in the risk of death from any cause compared with non-vegetarians (hazard ratio (HR) 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.80 to 0.97).
Vegetarians also had a reduced risk of death from causes other than cardiovascular disease or cancer (HR 0.85, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.99). More specifically, vegetarians had a reduced risk of death from kidney problems and deaths from hormonal (endocrine) problems. Male vegetarians only also had a significantly reduced risk of death from ischaemic (coronary) heart disease and from cardiovascular disease overall."
Please educate yourself before posting again as you risk appearing a complete fool. There's a lot more where that came from, and it's easy to find.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free
CONTACT THE EDITORS

Recent Comments from Causes

Anything to help the species survive. Cloning doesn't exclude conservation, nor vice versa.

The older I've gotten the more I've decided it's just safer to stay off the roads on New Year's Eve!…

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
ads keep care2 free



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.