Smoking: The new meat? Will we someday have school programs dedicated to warning children about the health hazards of eating meat — similar to those that currently warn about the adverse effects of smoking? That day might not be too far away. Published last week, an international study found that eating meat is right up there with smoking as a major risk factor for cancer. In fact, the association between consuming animal products and cancer was just as strong as the link between tobacco and cancer.
The study, published in the journal Nutrients, looked at data provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations from 157 countries to see how often 21 different types of cancer occurred in those populations. This data was compared statistically with indices for risk factors. The findings show that smoking and diets high in animal products (meat, dairy and eggs) have the strongest correlation with cancer rates.
There were also interesting trends found between certain cancers, risk factors, and gender. Specifically, eating animal products affected women twice as much as smoking. And, the cancers most impacted by diet included breast, uterine, kidney, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancers.
The article says that “although much of the war on cancer emphasizes early detection and treatment, the burden of cancer will remain high unless the primary risk factors for cancer are understood and addressed,” while concluding that environmental causes contribute much more to cancer than genetic factors.