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How bad is red meat?

This week’s article was inspired by Calvin Sloan of Santa Monica, CA:

What should I not eat, what is the most carcinogenic? [in the common American diet] Also, does eating burnt toast actually lead to stomach cancer?

I am still gathering information on burnt toast, but the LA Times recently put out a decent article on charred / heavily cooked meat and cancer risk

Unlike most scientific “journalism” online, Elena Conis did a good job interviewing real scientists and doing decent footwork to include large-scale studies.

It has been known for a long time that meat cooked at high temperatures contain a class of compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) that have been strongly causative of DNA damage in test tubes, and caused cancer in rats, mice, and monkeys. There are several large-scale studies that link red meat consumption, especially charred meat consumption, to an increase in risk for colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.

But, these links are not as strong as, say, smoking to lung cancer, and the increase in cancer risk is ~10-20% for most of the studies. That does not mean it is not important.

Given the evidence, experimental and correlative, I have personally chosen to eat less red meat. (I have ecological reasons as well, but that is beyond the scope of this blog) I also encourage those around me to eat less red meat as well. Especially charred or burnt meat.

happy tofu and quinoa! -Ryon

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