Meat will kill you … according to scientists

It sounds familiar - a panel of scientists from the World Health Organization have decided that meat increases the risk of cancer.

It all sounds familiar but a panel of scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) have decided that eating red and processed meats will increase your risk of getting cancer. As expected media headlines around the world screamed that eating a piece of bacon or a hot dog was guaranteed to kill you and implied that your only hope was to avoid eating red meat all together. That seems curious being the death rate between meat eaters and vegetarians is not all that different. What’s even more annoying to the anti-meat zealots is that human life expectancy has almost doubled over the past 150 years and so has meat consumption. Clearly from that statistical evidence – you live longer if you eat meat. But that’s the point with these crafty scientific exercises its all about twisting the figures to make your case. Then the authors use suggestive weasel words which tend to be purposefully subjective knowing full well that the media will interpret them into sensational headlines. And Bingo, the report receives much free publicity and the scientists can look forward to more research grants. It sounds cynical but it works.

The report makes the statement that consuming red and processed meats will increase your risk of getting colon cancer by 18 per cent. It appears ominous but the figure has been averaged and is somewhat arbitrary as it doesn’t differentiate any variables such as age, gender, genetics, diet, lifestyle, geography, and socio-economic conditions amongst many. The authors claim that they examined countless previous studies, but did those reports cover every scientific variable, I expect not. What about the scientists themselves – is there a bias in their research. It’s all relevant because so much scientific research has been debunked over the years. Many readers are aware that most foods have been declared carcinogenic at one time or another, which has caused almost all alleged scientific reports to be greeted with considerable skepticism by the public. Scientists, god bless them, don’t seem to understand that they are the ones that created such skepticism with their misleading and presumptive research results. The result is that these sensationalized scientific analyses quickly fade from media and public interest.

Another point not clarified in the red meat report, for manipulative reasons I expect, is that as alarming as an 18 per cent increase appears it’s not quite the actual picture. According to overall cancer statistics, Canadians already face an 8 per cent risk factor in acquiring colon cancer. Yes, it’s also averaged but it puts risk into context – if you add the 18 per cent increased risk factor from red meat to the already established 8 per cent, it now comes to 8.4 per cent – hardly more life threatening to the average human. Sure you can torture the data to come up with a higher rate, but it won’t be a lot more. For instance researchers love to drag in data from studies that use rodent models. The usual experimental approach is to give lethal dosages of almost any food substance to a lab rodent to trigger a cancerous response and then extrapolate that into a possible human implication. That’s a research method much loved and abused by zealous self-appointed consumer lobby groups. They use such dubious research and presumptions to make their outrageous claims to further whatever cause of the day they pursuing. I cite the following classic case.

About 10 years ago, a Swedish study implied that eating potato chips and French fries would lead to an early death from acrylamide poisoning and cancer. They cited their research on lab rodents as proof. Acrylamides are a chemical that is created when many foods are fried – not just chips and fries. The amount is miniscule, which is why the human race has not been wiped out by eating fried foods. The problem with the research report was that it did not make clear that the research rodents were basically overdosed with pure acrylamides that would trigger a tumour or cancer response. For humans to absorb the same level of lethal acrylamides as the rodents were subjected to, they would have to consume 60 pounds of potato chips per day for 20 years. Clearly any human consuming such quantities of chips would soon be dead from other causes. Interestingly the World Health Organization (yep, the same one involved in this red meat study) supported the Swedish acrylamide study and wanted even more research done to prove their conclusion. If you have concerns about WHO credibility and its misleading red meat report, you are not alone.

Just Posted

Stettler Library has lots programs for public

Memberships are free for county and town residents

MLA: You don’t vote for the tail

Bureaucracy overtakes elected representatives

Our Town Stettler: Convalescent Hospital opened in 1954 first of its kind

Gave Stettler forward-thinking reputation for helping an ageing population

Snowfall adds some delay to morning commute

The QE2 and area road conditions in central Alberta were partly snow covered

Witness refuses to testify against John Savage

Preliminary hearing on Stettler man for second-degree murder halted, plea bargain made

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

WATCH: Team Alberta in Red Deer this weekend to prepare for Canada Winter Games

About 250 Team Alberta athletes toured venues and tested out facilities Saturday

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Ponoka cowboy Vernon (Bud) Butterfield passes away

The Ponoka Stampede Association announced his passing Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Ponoka RCMP are looking for a missing man

Police say he may be in Drayton Valley and they are worried for his wellbeing

Dog dies saving B.C. family from burning home

Homeowners safe but one pet missing, another confirmed dead following fire

Most Read