Firstly, let me start by saying that Cancer is something that is a horrible disease. I am sure many of us have been touched by it at some point. We all know someone who has had cancer and some of us may have experienced it first hand. I have lost family and friends to cancer like many others.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have an agency called the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) who carry out studies on Cancer, including the causes of specific cancers. They also have categories for their findings which are as follows:
Class 1 – Causes cancer in humans
Class 2a – Probably causes cancer in humans
Class 2b – Possibly causes cancer in humans
Class 3 – Not classifiable
Class 4 – Probably doesn’t cause cancer in humans
To get a picture in the minds eye, below shows some examples of items and which category they fall into (the list is in no way exhaustive and I have tried to pick things people can easily picture).
Tobacco, Asbestos, Exhaust fumes from diesel engines, Formaldehyde, Ionising Radiation, Arsenic
Inorganic lead compounds, Creosotes, Petroleum refining, Malaria (caused by infection with Plasmodium Falciparum)
Petrol engine fumes, Marine diesel fumes, Lead
I don’t think it is necessary to go on with the list as the remaining classifications are’t important. But as an eye opener, we can picture the things in those categories quite well I would imagine. If our bosses asked us to be around any of them we may have issues with that. We certainly wouldn’t want to expose our children and people we love to those things. But it happens every day at almost every meal time. If you don’t know where meats fall in those groups, take a guess. Do you think bacon is classified with lead and petrol engine fumes? Maybe its with Malaria caused by infection? What about asbestos and tobacco products and fumes? They all sound pretty nasty to be honest. Well, bacon is a class 1 Carcinogen. Yep. All processed meats (that’s hot dogs, ham, sausages, deli meats, bacon. Any meats which have been processed in ways such as curing, smoking, salting or treated in some way to flavour or preserve) are in the same cancer causing category as Tobacco, asbestos and arsenic. That’s pretty fucking scary right?
(Yep. This causes cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love a bacon sarnie but when you put the life of another before a taste it becomes easier to go without. If not the pigs life, put yours first.)
You may be thinking “Ah, but I don’t have processed meat, I have organic, free range, cuddle fed beef from a local farmer who names his animals and actually tucks them up into bed at night with a kiss to their head”. Well regardless of the dream land conditions envisaged, beef is still a red meat; and red meat is also classified into one of the above categories and its not groups 3 or 4. So, do we think its group 2a or 2b. Probably or possibly causes cancer? Not really a nice choice either way really. But it’s in group 2a, meaning it probably causes cancer. The same as lead compounds and creosotes! Worse than marine diesel fumes and petrol engine fumes! So your beef, lamb, pork, goat etc is all something which probably causes cancer.
(Even Cancer Research U K (CRUK/CROOK) back it up. I am not a fan of them but most people seem to listen to them so here you go)
That is some scary stuff and it can all be read about on the IARC website. Now I am not saying that if you eat bacon you will get cancer and die. I ate bacon and, well, pretty much I would have monster burgers with all sorts of nasty crap it in. The same way that not everyone who smokes gets cancer and dies. Personally, I have smoked and drank and eaten copious amounts of meat and processed meats but I don’t anymore. I am pretty straight edge I think the term is called (but I am not down with the kids so meh).
Ask yourself though, what would it take to stop you eating a known carcinogen? If someone came up to you tomorrow and said “Hey, did you know that Brussel sprouts cause cancer?” I am sure most people would be like “Woo! No more sprouts!” (apart from the Vegan Bunny who fricken loves sprouts). As a society we have taken to stopping smoking in public places to protect people. That’s cool as passive smoking is also a class 1 carcinogen, and you can’t get cancer by passively watching someone eat a burger I hear you yell at me (Stop yelling!). We also put warnings on packets of cigarettes to make sure that people are aware of the risks. We stop the advertising of those products as they are highly addictive and cause cancer and we don’t want to advertise a product that does that to people. We certainly don’t want our kids seeing them and wanting them.
We as a society should share information which relates to health and social care. Lets not forget that anyone needing treatment for any illness or disease will take up a bed and funds from an already overburdened NHS.
If you are a meat eater and didn’t realise the cancer causing properties of processed and red meat, ask yourself why? I don’t expect people to have email alerts as to when a new food is classed as cancer causing, but you would think there should be a duty of care from the supplier to label the products as such.
Hell, we label food that may contain milk due to people having allergies. We as a society care more about allergies than cancer? You have to be 18 to buy tobacco and are made to ask for it from behind a hidden shelf, when you receive it, it has pictures of blackened lungs and gruesome images on it. Compare that with burgers. There is a clown handing out balloons if you get your child a class 1 carcinogen patty in a bun. There are offers during the summer to get buy one get one free on carcinogens to put on the BBQ.
How can it be illegal to smoke in a car with an under 18 present but not illegal to feed them cancerous food? Happy meals and burgers should come with a cancer warning so people and parents can decide whether the taste is worth the cancer risk.
You are probably more likely to get cancer from tobacco than from a burger I know that. The classifications show what causes cancer not how strong each one is or the amount required. But in a society which is already so badly touched and surrounded by cancer, shouldn’t we do what we can to reduce our risk or the risk of others.
What I guess is the best way to look at it, imagine cancer is a gun shot wound. We hold a revolver, some of the rounds in the cylinder we cannot remove such as the environmental aspects which happen to the world around us. But by stopping or not smoking we can take a round out of the gun. By not eating processed meat we can take another round out of the gun. By stopping eating red meat we pull another round out of the gun. Just by those three things we removed three rounds that could kill us. Life is Russian roulette and the fewer chambers filled with rounds the better our chances at avoiding that bullet. If you have kids, take the rounds out of their gun, for them. At least until they are old enough to make a decision that affects their health.
On top of this, there have been studies which show the blood from those following a plant based diet is 8 times more effective at fighting cancer cells that the blood of those following a Standard American Diet (which is very similar to the Standard Western Diet). Groups of people were placed on a standard diet and others on a plant based diet for a year. Their blood was then placed in a petri dish of cancer cells and the plant based blood showed to be 8 times better at fighting cancer cells. Those on the plant based diet also had 30-60 minutes of light exercise a day (walking) so this was run again to check it wasn’t exercised blood which was the beneficial aspect and it showed that although exercise does help, plant based blood is still more effective.
In shorter term experiments, women with breast cancer were placed on a plant based diet for just 14 days and saw a significant reduction in cancer growth.
So by eliminating processed and red meat not only do you reduce your risk of cancer you also improve your body’s ability to fight cancer should you get it from other sources.
A little bit of a serious post but an important one I think. If you dispute what’s written here, that’s awesome because I want you to go and research and see for yourself. We take things more serious when we discover them rather than being told. I encourage people to research, study and find out details for themselves. It’s how I went vegan, by trying to dispute stuff I had seen and was unable to. Go on, do some research!
The next serious post will be about the health affects of dairy. 🙂