Meat as Bad as Cigarettes?

posted in: Fun Health Facts | 0

Most of my friends know that I keep to a Paleo-style diet, which is essentially vegetables and meat. Therefore, I was forwarded this new study by multiple people.  (Thank you all for the opportunity to rant).

First of all, the study was done specifically on people ages 50 and older. Though, if you are a news headline skimmer, you would have missed that part and declared yourself a vegetarian unnecessarily. The study population consisted of over 6k participants with a subclass of that population (~2k people) who had their IGF-1 levels checked. IGF-1, Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1, is a key mediator in cell growth, death, regeneration and more. In this study, high levels of IGF-1 were being correlated with moderate to high diet in animal meat and Dairy, as well as elevated cancer risk or early death.

I admit that I have a strongly swayed opinion on this topic. Putting my bias aside, it still didn’t seem right.

We’ve been eating meat for LONG over a century and yet the rates of cancer have tripled just since 1900

From what I can see, this study was backing its findings primarily on the correlation between protein and cancer, with elevated IGF-1 levels being a highlighted point. I do not disagree that there is clearly a connection with high levels of IGF-1 and incidence of cancer. I spent hours looking into the study that was done, as well as the others referenced and specifically at IGF-1. Turns out that IGF-1, this indicator for cancer, is induced by Growth Hormone… You know, Growth Hormone, the thing they fatten animals up with?!

Something notable to me is that NOWHERE in the study does it clarify the TYPE of meat participants were consuming. I would assume then, the high animal protein group was eating conventional meat. Well, conventional meat is given growth hormone to ensure nice fat cows, pigs, salmon, etc. This is controversial territory since some, the FDA for one, state that hormone use in animals has no effect on us. This seems hard to believe, but it IS the FDA’s job to protect us. I did find though, that animals have their own reaction to hormones which gets passed on to us.

Cows that were given growth hormone had higher levels in IGF-1 found in their milk.

Why are we not seeing the importance in QUALITY of meat blasted all over CBS, ABC, Discovery News or any other major news source. Why isn’t there funding to differentiate between good quality meats versus conventional meat?? We can assume these participants were eating meat that, in addition to Growth Hormone, gets treated with antibiotics, steroids, pesticides and fed a corn based diet (which produces a significant inflammatory response in the animal). 

It seems to me that maybe this study highlights the importance of eating meats that are either Organic or do not contain growth hormone, antibiotics, and are fed appropriate food for their biological needs. I am not a chemist, not a scientist, not a researcher. So, this is my personal opinion backed by factual scientific information that I have found. It seems to me that until a study is done that analyzes quality of meat, we simple won’t know. If anyone can find such a study, please leave your comment below!


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