Shooting at the scapegoat, missing the perpetrator

Red meat's latest raw deal

I normally don't jump on top of things in the news like this - but I just have to weigh in on this bit that's getting more and more traction in the mainstream media this month: The ridiculous notion that red meat raises the risk of breast cancer in women.

Originally published in the April issue of British Journal of Cancer, but starting its foray into the media's consciousness with a UK Telegraph story from earlier this month, these stories are quoting some pretty scary findings of a University of Leeds survey study of 35,000 women aged 35-69 that claims to indicate that, compared to vegetarians:

  • Women of any age group (even the youngest) who ate as little as 2 ounces of red meat per day suffered a "slightly increased" risk of breast cancer
  • Post-menopausal women who consumed more than 3.5 ounces of processed meats (sausage, ham, bacon, etc.) endured a 64% increase in risk
  • Women who ate the most of both red AND processed meats were at the highest end of the risk spectrum, statistically

Sounds pretty unnerving, doesn't it? It's especially so when you read that the researchers adjusted for such factors as weight, smoking, other diet, education, background, and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Alright, first off, the media that are reporting this study are being a little disingenuous (shocker). They've targeted "red meat" as the culprit - yet the research clearly correlates increased cancer risk with greater consumption of processed "meat products" like Slim Jims, potted meat and other unsavory meat-like junk. I'll be the first to tell you that some of these things are terrible for you.

Low-quality sausage, though delicious, is full of fillers and trash I wouldn't feed my dog. And in the UK, home of Mad Cow disease, I'm sure that the average quality of many of these processed products leaves a lot to be desired. Good American-made (or German) sausage, on the other hand, is far better for you than the soy-based mush vegetarians swill down! But I digress

Secondly, I've never read or seen ONE single credible scientific study that links red meat to increased breast cancer risks. I HAVE, however, read things that led me to believe that not all red meat is created equal - and that the difference may be deadly.

If you've been with me for any length of time at all now, you know that I'm a huge advocate of organic, hormone-free, grass-fed, free-range beef. There's a very simple reason for this:

It's better for you. And the British research all but proves it.

As much as it pains me to know it, a lot of commercially produced beef - though still healthier to eat than tofu and granola - is laced with agricultural-strength hormones, antibiotics, and harmful chemicals present in the feed they're fattened with (there's no "grazing" involved in a lot of cattle farming).

In fact, there is a body of little-reported research linking 5 or more hormones frequently used in cattle farming to various cancers - breast and prostate most prominently - and to abnormal sex-organ development in both males and females

And might I also point out that several of these same hormones are nearly identical to some that are KNOWN TO CAUSE CANCER as components of Hormone Replacement Therapy programs

In other words, the British research is very likely to be measuring the cancerous effects of all the artificial crap we're ADDING to red meat - not the healthy, nourishing meat itself. But NOOOOO, they didn't adjust for that little factor, did they?

Of course not. Nor did the media. Otherwise they'd all only have proven once again that I'm right: Red meat is harmless, but only the RIGHT kind of red meat - 100% organic, free-range, grass-fed and hormone-free