The War on Delicious

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Two people were standing in line at a fast-food restaurant waiting to place their order.  Above the menu on the wall was a sign that read, “No bills larger than $20 will be accepted.”  The one person said to the other, “Believe me, if I had a bill larger than a twenty, I wouldn’t be eating here.”  This week the WHO (World Health Organization) added both red meat (hamburgers, roasts, steaks, etc.) and processed meat (hotdogs bacon, ham, etc.) to its ever-growing list of items that are known to give you cancer.  So now hamburgers and hot dogs get the very same dreaded carcinogen label as do nicotiene, asbestos, and plutonium.  And as expected, each side of the debate spun the news accordingly.  Vegetarian organizations ran apocalyptic-like meat-eating headlines.  And cattle associations promoted all the health benefits of beef.  Where does the truth lie?  It lies in the warning being put into proper perspective.  Statistically, 7 out of every 100 people will get digestive-tract cancer (stomach, colon, rectal, etc.) whatever their diet, celery and carrots or cheeseburgers.  And yes, eating red or processed meat does increase the cancer risk by 18%; but that simply takes the odds from 7 out of 100 people to 8 out of 100.  This is quite a difference, say, compared to smoking – which increases your likelihood of getting lung cancer by over 1500%.

The bottom line?  Eating meat is like eating any other food – as long as in moderation, there’s little increased risk of getting any disease from it – including cancer.