In regards meat, and processed meat, as a carcinogen. Some people seem to not understand what a carcinogen means. A carcinogen is a substance known to cause cancer. Now just because you consume a carcinogen does not mean you will get cancer, just like not eating carcinogen doesn’t mean you will not get cancer. Our body has intrinsic defense mechanisms to protect against damages caused by carcinogens. Cancer occurs when our mechanisms fail. But why stress our mechanisms?
The WHO deliberation over meat being a carcinogen is not new. The USDA scientific advisory board has mentioned this before, but industry influence shut that movement up. The WHO is influenced by several large studies and specifically the teaming of the American Institute of Cancer research and the The World Health Organization. The AICR and World cancer Research Fund held a large meeting and joined together many of the top researchers from around the world to review all the research. They concluded that the science shows that meat and processed meat do cause cancer.
Some say the studies are epidemiology studies which show correlation, not causation. Well, you simply cannot do a randomized control trial to prove meat causes cancer. If multiple large, prospective studies show a strong correlation then you better believe where there is smoke there is fire. The same complaints were made about smoking and lung cancer.
What we know is that when you eat meat you are exposed to heterocylic amines, large amounts methionine, N Nitroso compounds, heme iron, and all of these have been independently associated with cancer. In addition, meat stimulates an IGF1 response in the body, which is a growth hormone that has also lead to cancer. Meat also exposes people to Activated Glycation End Products which certainly can cause disease. Finally, there has been interesting research on a substance called Neu-5-GC which is in meat and not in humans, but when consumed, expresses itself on human cells and can stimulate an immune response and possibly cancer.
So we have a possible causal mechanism, and when you combine that with long term data from EPIC study, NIH-AARP, Nurses Health study, Health Profession Study, Adventist Health Study, and many more, which all show meat strongly correlated with cancer, then you have very reliable grounds to tell people to not eat meat and processed meat.
I go into the science in great detail in Proteinaholic. I really hope that the agencies that are supposed to protect our health will listen to their scientific advisory boards, and NOT to the industry that profits from them keeping their mouth shut.