On Wednesday, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund issued a massive report emphasizing the link between cancer and body fat. After seeing USA Today‘s coverage of the report, I asked Michael Greger, M.D., our director of public health and animal agriculture, to give me his thoughts about the piece and interpret the results. His summary follows:
Two months ago, the American Journal of Public Health published an editorial recommending we dramatically reduce our consumption of animal products to prevent the emergence of new animal-to-human infectious disease outbreaks such as bird flu. Last month, the prestigious medical journal Lancet published a study on the effects of the livestock industry on global warming and proposed a daily cap on meat consumption to about 3 ounces a day, roughly equivalent to the beef in a single hamburger. This would require Americans to cut more than half the meat out of their diet.
Then this week, an exhaustive report on diet and cancer was released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. Ten years in the making, reviewing more than 7,000 scientific studies, this 500+ page report is being considered the most comprehensive review ever published on the causal role of diet in cancer. The good news is that cancer is largely preventable. In addition to stopping smoking, exercising daily, and attaining a healthy weight, the expert panel recommends an overall limit on meat intake, and specifically singles out processed meat—bacon, hot dogs, ham and cold cuts—as a “convincing cause” of cancer. In general they conclude: “Eat mostly foods of plant origin.” By choosing to eat a more humane, plant-based diet we can simultaneously attend to our own welfare, that of the animals, and that of our planet.