steak red meat

Red Meat Causes Cancer?

by Kelley Herring on August 2, 2010

If you have picked up a newspaper or turned on the news in the past few months, you might have read or heard the story that “red meat causes cancer.”

Just about every major health organization and the entire mainstream news media have broadcast the headlines about this study of 500,000 people, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

But before you toss out your steak knives and donate your grill, consider this important fact: The researchers in the study failed to consider how the beef was produced.

And that’s just ONE of the major flaws in this study purporting that red meat causes cancer. We’ll cover the others in another newsletter. For today, let’s focus on how the meat was produced.

You may be thinking: “Red meat is red meat, right?” Not even close.

conventional meat promotes cancer

Conventional or grass-fed? All beef is NOT created equal.

You see, 85% of all meat that is produced is conventionally-raised. That means that whether you are eating a cheap fast food burger or an expensive filet mignon, the beef on your plate is raised on a jam-packed factory feedlot and fattened on pesticide-ridden corn.

That cow doesn’t have the chance to eat the diet that was designed for it by Mother Nature – a diet of grass. And the result is meat that is:

  • Higher in calories
  • Higher in saturated fat
  • Higher in inflammation promoting omega-6 fats – in fact conventional beef has a ratio of 20:1 omega-6 to omega-3!
  • Lower in a cancer-fighting, fat blasting fat called conjugated linolenic acid (CLA)
  • Lower in heart-healthy omega-3s
  • Lower in cancer-fighting vitamins including A and E
  • Packed with growth hormones, pesticide residues and antibiotics

Dining Where the Grass is Greener

The good news is that the grass is definitely greener on the pasture-fed side.

In fact, meat from grass-fed beef is naturally leaner, lower in calories and packed with age-defying, cancer-fighting nutrients including:

  • An optimal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 (about 0.16:1)
  • 200-400% more omega-3 than its grain fed counterparts (that’s because 60% of the fats in grass are omega-3s!)
  • 400% more conjugated linolenic acid (CLA)
  • 400% more vitamin A and E
  • NO growth hormones, pesticide residues or regular antibiotic use

Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD, author of The Paleo Diet and a professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University , has done quite a bit of research on the world of differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

Prior to the development of agriculture, wild ruminants (including elk, deer, buffalo, and antelope) represented the primary fat source for humans.

Because our genes haven’t changed much since the days of our paleo ancestors, Dr. Cordain holds that this dietary deviation – due to a shift to unnatural farming practices – is one of the primary causes of chronic disease, including cancerjoel salatin.

Dr. Cordain found that the fat composition of wild ruminants is quite similar to that of grass-fed beef… but notably dissimilar to the unhealthy fat makeup of grain-fed beef.

Could it be that disease is not associated with a diet of red meat… but rather with the diet of our red meat?

You have certainly heard the adage, you are what you eat. But when it comes to meat and fish, you are what they ate.

There are three key things to think about when eating higher on the food chain: the animal’s environment, its diet and your preparation method.

If you always opt for the more natural method (grass-grazers vs. corn eaters; wild vs. farmed; free-range vs. caged; pesticide-free vs. sprayed), you’re sure to start out with a healthier piece of meat.

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About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.


References 
Sinha R, Cross AJ; Graubard BI, et al. Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009; 169: 562-571. Rule, D. C., K. S. Brought on, S. M. Shellito, and G. Maiorano. "Comparison of Muscle Fatty Acid Profiles and Cholesterol Concentrations of Bison, Beef Cattle, Elk, and Chicken." J Anim Sci 80, no. 5 (2002): 1202-11. Ip, C, J.A. Scimeca, et al. (1994) "Conjugated linoleic acid. A powerful anti-carcinogen from animal fat sources." p. 1053. Cancer 74(3 suppl):1050-4. Aro, A., S. Mannisto, I. Salminen, M. L. Ovaskainen, V. Kataja, and M. Uusitupa. "Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women." Nutr Cancer 38, no. 2 (2000): 151-7.

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