The anti-meat activists are having a heyday with the new study from the World Health Organization that states unequivocally that, hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats cause cancer. I’m sure you have seen it everywhere, even though the study has not even been officially released! Here is a link to the story in yesterday’s Washington Post if you need a refresher: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/10/26/hot-dogs-bacon-and-other-processed-meats-cause-cancer-world-health-organization-declares/
Below is my response. I’ve posted on every news story I could find that gave me a comment box! Also check out Zoe Harcombe’s in-depth rebbutal here: http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/10/world-health-organisation-meat-cancer/ See more responses to the WHO recommendations at the end of this post.
Nitrates are actually used to treat heart patients. They open the arteries. I haven’t seen any solid science that supports their link to cancer. Green vegetables have hundreds of times more nitrates than cured meats, yet we are encouraged to eat lots of them! I posted about how we came to believe nitrates were harmful here: http://carbwars.blogspot.com/2013/07/rethinking-bacon-and-best-way-to-cook-it.html
We already know that the fat in pork is good for us; even those who vilify saturated fat surely are aware that pork fat is mostly mono-unsaturated, like olive oil. One of the main kinds of fat found in beef is quickly converted to mono-unsaturated fat as soon as it is ingested, so if there is any problem with eating cured meat (other than the fact that it is most often eaten as a sandwich with a side of fries cooked in a toxic vegetable oil sludge and served with a sugary soft drink), it is most likely due to the way it is raised and processed in this country. Factory-farmed meat, fattened on GMO corn and soy, injected with hormones and anti-biotics, mixed with starches, sugars, and preservatives (like BHA and BHT), and usually cooked and packaged in plastic, might contribute to cancer. But we can opt out on the nasty stuff. If we buy fresh or naturally cured, pastured pork and grass-fed beef and lamb, we can still enjoy the benefits of the world’s most nutrient dense foods, the ones that have nourished mankind throughout all of human history.
It is interesting to note that most of those who responded in the media to the WHO study buy into the myths about the dangers of cured meat and red meat. The real Mediterranean diet was full of cured meat; that’s why a lot of it is called by Italian names, like salami, prosciutto, pancetta, pepperoni, etc.
PS: Dr. Eenfeldt’s blog post reminded me that I forgot to mention that the way meat is cooked affects its carcinogenic content. So don’t blacken your steak or if you do, trim away the burnt parts and keep your bacon wobbly. Marinating meats or cooking in liquid helps reduce the harmful compounds too. See my recipe for cooking bacon under water. (He points out that cooking any food at high temperatures produces carcinogins but charred vegetables will have many more of them than charred meat!)
The experts weigh in on the WHO study:
A great article on the WHO study from Prof. Schofield:
Dr. Eenfeldt says Vegetables Cause Cancer:
Dr. Childers on the WHO study::
(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker