Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reason #107 not to eat red meat

Because -- surprise, surprise -- it appears as though it increases the risk of developing a common type of breast cancer.

I'll let the WaPo speak for itself:

Younger women who regularly eat red meat appear to face an increased risk for a common form of breast cancer, according to a large, well-known Harvard study of women's health.

The study of more than 90,000 women found that the more red meat the women consumed in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the greater their risk for developing breast cancer fueled by hormones in the next 12 years. Those who consumed the most red meat had nearly twice the risk of those who ate red meat infrequently...

Although more research is needed to confirm the association and explore the possible reasons for it, researchers said the findings provide another motivation to limit consumption of red meat, which is already known to increase the risk of colon cancer...

Cho added that the findings could be particularly important because the type of breast cancer the study associated with red meat consumption has been increasing. Eating less red meat may help counter that trend...

Why red meat might increase the risk for breast cancer remains unknown, but previous research has suggested several possible reasons: Substances produced by cooking meat may be carcinogenic, naturally occurring substances in meat may mimic the action of hormones, or growth hormones that farmers feed cows could fuel breast cancer in women who consume meat from the animals.

Pandagon has a great discussion on this article, relating it to the problems of feedlots and factory farming in general. And something that's been bothering me a lot lately: the way in which companies slap a pink ribbon on its products as a quick PR trick, rather than actually evaluating how their products affect women's health. And, you know, changing things based upon that evaluation.

So this is #107 why red meat is bad for our health & bad for our environment. It doesn't seem that surprising: agribusiness feeds cattle a completely unnatural diet of grain and other animals (ahem, mad cow), while giving them hormones and antibiotics to increase profit margins. Considering the effects of bioaccumulation, and the fact that nasty stuff accumulates in fat, it seems fairly self-explanatory why eating animal flesh could be risky.

But my favorite part of this WaPo article is this, which signals the close of the essay:

But noting that earlier studies reached the opposite conclusion, Randall D. Huffman, vice president for scientific affairs at the American Meat Institute, said that research into "diet and health is known for its fluid and often contradictory conclusions. This study is a perfect example of that."
Yes, BRILLIANT idea! This is journalistic "integrity" at its finest. In the interest of "fair and balanced" reporting, who does the journalist turn to in making concluding remarks? OH YES, of course, a talking head from the American F-ing Meat Institute! Because I'm sure he's completely unbiased. It's not like his f*cking paycheck comes from the meat industry that relies upon selling a product that is bad for women's health, right?

And then this Huffman character pushes the food pyramid, which is heavily influenced by big agribusiness:

"The wisest course of action in the wake of one more contradictory study is to consume the balanced diet recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines," he said.

Really? Is this really the wisest course of action? Or would the wisest course of action be to limit one's intake of red meat, seeing as it is linked to myriad health problems?

1 comment:

karuna said...

I enjoy red meat in moderation. In reality there are so many pesticides and hormones in all our foods, and no one can point to exactly how much intake of such substances can cause cancer. I think ...everything in moderation. However, beck, you know me. Due to the hormone levels in cows milk, I only drink organic. That is probably a good way to go with the meat as well.

Not to rant, but I think it's absolutely ridiculous that our society does so little about hormones in food. This is part of the reason so many women get breast cancer and so many little girl develop early and we have so many issues with infertility. Seriously, it's something that should be examined. Our hormone systems are SO SENSITIVE! Any extra hormones from outside can throw the whole system off. Ok, that was a rant. Sorry.