We got a lot of cattlemen and ranchers in the area (see our tribute to them and beef in this issue), thus when the news broke a few days ago that red meat was a contributor to cancer, I was saddened. Saddened because, beef has been under attack from many health-conscious organizations the last several years, and saddened because I feel cattlemen and ranchers are getting a raw deal.
I for one, love a good old steak at least once a week. Processed meat, which supposedly offers an even greater potential for cancer is a staple of mine. I love a juicy hamburger and hot dogs, particularly with cheese and chili, get a high five signal from my taste buds a couple of times a month.
Thus I decided to look in to the latest announcement, seen all over the media, this week. Come to find out, if you believe the study, the chances that you may come down with colon, throat or stomach cancer are remote at best. Of course no one talks about that. All we hear is “red meat causes cancer,” and immediately think it is as bad as cigarette smoking.
It is not. For instance if you ate a hot dog each and every day of your life, you have a 17% greater chance of getting colon cancer than someone who didn’t eat processed meats. So what. One study in Great Britain claims 60 out of 1000 people will get colon cancer in their lifetime. They studied 1000 vegans and found 56 out of 1000 came down with cancer. Then they studied 1000 avid bacon and hot dog eaters and found 70 that eventually were treated for colon cancer.
The difference is miniscule. And it is even less if you consider red meat. Yes it is true, if you eat meat you are more likely to get colon cancer, but study after study has shown the risk is negligible at best.
There is no comparison between red meat and tobacco. The risk you will get lung cancer if you smoke most of your life is extremely high- 23 times higher than if you don’t smoke. That number, in my opinion, is scary. Furthermore, 85% of lung cancer is caused by smoking. That’s unbelievable.
Processed and red meat numbers aren’t even comparable. I hate it when the media makes a big deal about a study, when numbers clearly indicate it is not a big deal. There are certainly more important health stories than this, and probably many more causes for cancer that are much greater than red meat.
Don’t expect this meat eater to cut his consumption. Even though I’m getting up there in age, and do worry about my health, my weekly steak, and my breakfast bacon, will continue to play havoc with my colon.
And to all those cattlemen and ranchers in our area, I would like to offer my thanks for a job well done. It’s not an easy profession. Long hours and an up and down market make life sometimes difficult. And then the media comes along and disparages your product. Pay no mind, continue to work hard, and continue to make sure my weekly steak is of the best quality.