Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Red Meat and Breast Cancer
If you heard the news this morning about red meat and breast cancer, you may have immediately dismissed it. "I have heard it all before," you thought to yourself. Well, I want you to reconsider, especially if you are a woman in your 20's, 30's or 40's. In a nutshell, the study looked at 90,000 women and found those who ate more red meat almost doubled their risk of developing a specific type of breast cancer, called hormone receptor positive cancer, over the next 12 years.

To be fair, it is really hard to do a study like this. This study was based on questionnaires asking people to remember what they ate and how much. I can barely remember what I had last night, let alone last month. And, we are not really sure why red meat would be linked to breast cancer. It could have something to do with certain compounds in the meat that are released in the cooking process. It could also have to do with the fact that certain cattle are often given hormones in their feed, which could fuel the breast cancer to grow.

Now, Americans eat more red meat than the rest of the world. And, yes, most of us already know we should probably cut down for a variety of reasons. But, here's what I find interesting - there are so many things out there affecting our likelihood of cancer that we can't control, such as family history, but we are starting to accumulate lots of evidence about things we can control. Now, if you had a juicy cheeseburger last night, don't worry - you still have a very low likelihood of ever getting breast cancer. But, here is yet another good reason to cut down
That's right! Go Vegan!
I've heard time and again that the hormones in beef are dangerous for various reasons.cancer, menopause, etc.etc. I've switched to organic beef and eat it in moderation. Because I am already high risk for breast cancer, the beef article is just one more risk that could cause breast cancer for me.
I'll continue with the yearly mammograms and hope for the best.
Actually, I think it would also be interesting to ask whether the red meat that was eaten was organic or non-organic. Non-organic may contain traces of the hormones and other additives that are given the cows during their maturation. Many of these chemicals are often interpreted by the body as a hormone look-alike, which may be triggering growth of the hormone receptor type cancers.

It would be worth a look!
It is interesting how frequently studies come out on potential carcinogens. It seems these days the only thing that wont cause cancer down the line is water. Even though this study may have its merits in predictions, I would like to see how the data was collected. In the end, I think everything just needs some moderation... too much coke will probably give you some form of cancer too among a range of other maladies.
Dr. Sanjay,
I have to strongly disagree with "food = cancer." When I was suddenly diagosed 8 years ago, I had NO family history, walked 5 miles a day, and ate a "healthy" diet of seafood, grilled chicken, lots of fruits, and salads. I was a nonsmoker and a very moderate drinker, only wine.

My first oncologist told me it was my fault for contracting the disease because "of poor diet." Thankfully, I went to another oncologist who told me, "No Big Mac you ever ate once in a while caused this."

Blessedly, I am at nearly 9 years cured. The biggest myth is "family history" -- more environmental factors need to be looked at ... certainly more than having a cheeseburger, or even eating lots of salad, as I did.
This news is not new to me. Check out PETA's website. You'll get the real answers there. I still eat meat, but have drastically cut down. My 16 year old daughter is the one who turned me on to the unethical treatment of farm factory animals and the gross and disgusting unhealthiness of eating meat. Sure genetics has a part in it, but the current food industry is a huge contributor to the problem.
Red meat contains more saturated fat than chicken and fish and so we should try to limit our intake. Hence, if there is any truth to this study we should even be more cautious of the amounts we consume. I am a 39 year old female who has given up red meat 10 years ago. As a result I am much healthier and leaner and would do it all over again if I had to.
My dad just recently passed of colon cancer and he was eating very healthy, especially when he retired here in Brazil where you get to eat red meat all the time, yet he didnt. So i hate to say this but why is it always say "the studies do not prove but is likely to develop cancer. Why does not say it does?
This news will not change my eating habits. If I die, I die. I am looking forward to crossing over anyway.
I personally think the toxins we're putting into our environment are causing our cancers. The food that we eat whether it be animal or plant are contaminated so until we clean up this planet, we'll continue to see people like my father who ate a lot of green leafy vegetables, never drank, smoked and exercised everyday - die of cancer.
It sounds crazy, I know, but with all the awful pesticides, hormones, and genetic engineering that goes into food nowadays, I made the decision to exclude non-organic food from my house. I also feed my cat organic foods.
When I am at home, I eat organic, and I try to patronize restaurants that serve organic foods as well. It could be my imagination, but I've been healthier, maintained a more regular weight, and had a better mood and skin condition since I consciously decided to go organic.
If I swing by a McDonald's or a Taco Bell to indulge a craving, I feel ill and downbeat for the rest of the day. I don't feel like that with organic foods. The nice thing about organic is that I can indulge-- proscuitto, filet mignon, eggs, milk, and imported cheese and olives are just a few organic products I've enjoyed. And I feel like I'm doing something a little healthier.
high cholesterol, body fat, and other diet-induced ailments may be dangerous, but I think the chemicals we unwittingly ingest are worse. If I die from my diet, I believe it will be from something a little more natural than an unidentified, rBGH-induced breast cancer.
Of course it's caused by hormones etc injected in cattle & added to their feed. 7 years ago my Beagle was diagnosed with terminal cancer & given 2 months to live. I stopped feed the expensive dog food & started feeding raw, organic meat I buy directly from my local farmer. Today my Beagle is going on 22 years old & healthy! I just lost my Swiss Mt dog at age 12 years plus - their life expectancy is 7 to 9 years & rarely live beyond. My English Shepherd will soon be 12 & looks & acts like a 5 year old.

We're not into "the cure" we're into prevention. It's about time we more closely examined the effects of food on health.

And what's up with mercury & other contaminates in fish? Just ask my pets about that one!
My husband and I burst into laughter when we heard this "news". I'm a 5 year breast cancer survivor and I have absolutely no doubt that the growth hormone they inject in our cows is one of the major causes of breast cancer; we've known this for years. What took the AMA so long to figure this out? Why do you think other countries won't import our beef? After my diagnosis I still eat a lot of beef, I just make sure it's hormone free. Same with chicken and pork. And, by the way, we also believe growth hormone in our meats is part of the reason for Americans being so overweight. If you eat at a fast food restaurant on a regular basis and eat FDA approved meats with growth hormone, which is what they sell at most grocery stores, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out it's going to fatten you up as well.
Dear dr. Gupta, I'm a woman in my mid 30's, I knew red meat wasn't that good for us, but I didn't know it was more applied to women. Thanks for reminding us.
It could be that people who don't eat meat are eating something instead that is protective-- recent studies on vitamin D point to the possible role of fatty fish in the diet. The meat eaters may not be suffering from hormones in their meat-based meals as much as they are lacking the vitamin D and other nutrition values in a serving of fish.
First margarine is better than butter, then it is the other way around. We couldn't eat spinach. Now red meat can cause cancer. I just want to know what I can eat!
You can't just blame red meat, it is all saturated fat. A hamburger made from lean organic meat will be healthier than fried chicken! I also know two vegetarians who had breast cancer. Studies have shown that saturated fat increases estrogen levels in the body which in turn can increase your chance of breast cancer.
It would be interesting to see if these statistics are the same in a country like New Zealand where the cattle are not given growth horemones. This could, maybe,give a better handle on this type of research.
It would be interesting to see what portion of the meat eaten was from fast food as it is higher in fat and sodium. Also, if it was prepared at home, what % of fat was it? I buy the lean meats. Trim off any fats before cooking. Stay away from higher fat contents of meat such as sausage, bacon, etc.
Read the China Study, which
deals with red meat and protein
intake. The author sites numerous
reasons why protein MAY accelerate
cancer growth. This was an eye
opener and made me switch to a
vegitarian diet.
Actually, all meats can cause cancer. The human body was not designed to digest and assimilate meat properly, (if one compares the human body to carnivores vs herbivores and frugivores, one will see that our system more resembles that of the latter two - by far) so when we eat and absorb flesh foods, much of its residue remains in the folds of our tissues throughout the body. Over time, these ferment and give off toxins, which in turn can damage our cells, leading to many diseases, including cancer. Anyone who wants to know more about the process, read the book "The Holy Science" by Sri Yukteswar.
Is cardboard safe to eat, because it seems that nothing else listed on the food pyramid is safe to eat due to contaminated vegetables, mercury ridden fish, and now cancer causing beef.
So here's an interesting question, something I often think of. What's killing more Americans - terrorists or the contaminated food we eat which causes a multitude of illnesses (including cancer)???
Thanks keep on doing the good work
Argentines eat more red meat than Americans, so I think it's the hormones that increases the cancer risk. I buy hormone-free eggs and chicken. We ought to be able to buy meat from cattle fed a natural diet, free of additives,hormones and antibiotics.
I really think what you are telling the world is a good thing for people to know.
Thanks :)
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