Letter: Meat and cigarettes
October 29, 2015
Thank you to the World Health Organization for having the courage to speak truth to power: Meat, like cigarettes and asbestos, does cause cancer. No U.S. health agency would ever say this for fear of losing Congressional funding.
The World Cancer Research Fund and a number of other international health agencies have been advising for years that meat consumption raises the risk of colon and other forms of cancer, but the WHO panel was actually able to determine a causal effect.
The 630-page report was drafted by a panel of 22 experts from 10 countries who reviewed 800 studies of the link between meat and cancer. These included animal experiments, studies of human diet and health and research into cellular processes that cause cancer.
The panel's conclusions evoked strong responses, with obvious resistance from the meat industry and calls for warning labels, akin to those mandated for cigarettes, from environmental groups.
Cancer of the colon is expected to kill nearly 50,000 Americans this year, mostly through a self-inflicted diet. Fortunately, annual per capita U.S. meat consumption has dropped by 15 percent from a high of 121 pounds in 2002 as consumers switch to healthier, more convenient and tastier plant-based alternatives.
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