Based on a study of more than 100,000 people, chicken consumption was associated with double the risk of bladder and pancreatic cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have been found to improve when saturated fat intake (found predominantly in cheese and chicken) is lowered. And poultry has been associated with an increased risk of lymphoma (see also here).
Other possible risks associated with chicken include: urinary tract infections, warts, staph, the MRSA superbug (see also here, here), and salmonella. Chicken has been found to contain in dioxins, toxic waste, excessive sodium, saturated fat, AGEs (which promote aging), and processed chicken is high in carcinogenic nitrosamines. Arachidonic acid, found in high levels in chicken and eggs, may adversely affect mood and mental health (see also here, here, here). Phthalates found in chicken, when eaten during pregnancy, can affect the fetus and may reduce the size of a male’s developing genitals. And because we feed so much fish meal to chickens, you can have an allergic reaction to a parasitic fish worm by eating chicken fed contaminated fish.
Poultry tends to be so covered in fecal bacteria that one is advised against rinsing poultry because of concern of bacterial splatter. Using laser imaging, 92% of chicken carcasses were found to be contaminated with fecal matter, and more than 80% of chicken breasts sold in the US are fecally contaminated. Cooking fecal matter will kill the pathogens, but the danger of cross contamination in the kitchen before cooking still results in millions of cases of foodborne illness every year in the United States. A neuropathic strain of the fecal bacteria Campylobacter contaminates the US chicken supply; it can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rapid and life-threatening paralysis.
Chicken has also become a high calorie and high fat food. One serving of chicken has over 200 calories today; 100 years ago a serving of chicken had only 16 calories. Cooking chicken until it is well done (to avoid the risk of food poisoning) creates carcinogens that increase the risk of cancer (see also here). And in a survey, TGI Friday’s chicken salad was found to be the most carcinogenic among fast food restaurant chicken dishes.
Compared to the general population, poultry workers appear to have an excess of mouth, nasal, throat, tongue, tonsils, inner ear, liver, bone marrow, blood, rectal, anal, and penis cancer. Poultry workers have also been found to have higher rates of thyroid gland disorders, senility, schizophrenia, hypertension, heart disease, and autoimmune neurological disorders such as myasthenia gravis. This may be due to exposure to viruses present in chickens and turkeys. There is even a poultry virus that has been found to cause chickens to gain weight; one in five obese humans have tested positive for exposure to this virus. Other viruses can induce cancer in poultry in a matter of days; these viruses are found in raw poultry products, and the concern is that they also cause cancer in humans.
Placing children in the basket of the shopping cart with raw meat packages increases kids’ risk of food poisoning. Listeria, a potentially life threatening bacteria that can be found in deli meat, is now being treated with bacteria-eating virus.
See also the related blog posts: Adding FDA-Approved Viruses to Meat, Poultry and Penis Cancer, EPA dioxin limit has National Chicken Council worried products could be declared “unfit for consumption”, Talking Turkey: 9 out of 10 retail turkey samples contaminated with fecal bacteria, Foie gras ban in California: human health implications
Topic summary contributed by Denise.
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