Doctor's Note

The World Health Organization recently published a report that puts chicken nuggets, deli turkey slices, bacon and other processed meats in the same category as cigarettes and asbestos: known carcinogens. According to independent research cited by the WHO, the deaths of 34,000 people from cancer every year are attributable to diets high in processed meat, in addition to the 800,000 additional deaths due to cases of diabetes and heart disease. That's a meat-borne epidemic every year.

More on processed meat can be found in videos such as:

But cancer risk has been associated with unprocessed meat as well via a variety of potential mechanisms:

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  • Julie

    Caution should be applied with veggie “meats” as well. A food fraud investigation by Clear Labs revealed that after analyzing 21 vegetarian hot dogs using novel molecular testing and genetic sequencing, 10 percent of them were found to contain meat. http://www.clearfood.com/food_reports/2015/the_hotdog_report

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Well that’s news to me. Thanks for sharing. I am not quite sure what to make out of the clearfood report I had never seen that before. It looks like they only found a bit of contamination in like 2 veg products, but I couldn’t tell what ones.

    • Leonid Kalichkin

      It doesn’t mean that they contain meat, it means that they contain animal DNA. It could be eggs or milk, feathers, hair or nails. It could be just residues at the production line, i.e. cross-contamination. The test was super-sensitive, so it detected even trace amounts.

      Though, no one should consider fake meats a healthy food, but not because of cross-contamination, but because it is still processed food.

      • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

        More great perspectives thanks, Leonid.

      • Ray Tajoma

        It’s called “Fake Meat” but it’s seitan and seitan (wheat protein) is very good and healthy (unlike “Real Meat”) because it’s wheat. Now, if some company sells meat with a “Vegan ” label, that’s obviously “Fraud” and has nothing to do with healthy delicious 100% plant-based vegan burgers that have zero cholesterol and full of plant-based protein & Zero animal torture.

    • Sensualpoet

      I’d be very cautious about reading too much into the Clear Food analysis — some might say publicity stunt. The analysis showed probable cross-contamination in production lines of select processed foods; it found traces of unexpected species in sausages (vegan and “normal”). The report may appeal to the germophobe, to be sure, but as Dr Greger reminds us: is there a clinical impact? I’m not saying disregard this, but I don’t quite understand what the point is. There doesn’t seem to be a food safety issue raised, just an “ick” factor — the kind the egregious Food Babe is always on about. Here’s an early “raises questions” post at Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/clear-foods-hot-dog-dna-study/

      • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

        Good perspective thanks for sharing! Like I said I had never heard of this clearfood thing before today. Good to be aware and know what’s going on. The clinical impact, as you point out, is always a good focus.

    • Lucy

      10%, or… 2 out of 21.

      • VegGuy

        2 out of 21 is 9.5%, rounded up is 10%

        • Lucy

          The number is tiny, and the Clearfood data is under scrutiny as it is for not being a legit scientific anything. So 2 out of 21 is really nothing that I care about, especially i regards to trace amounts.

  • Misterimpatient

    These are always interesting but I wonder how meaningful this data is for most people? The sort of thing I wonder if we can see is this:

    – Non-smokers, eating a whole foods, plant based diet(WFPBD) getting moderate exercise (define this) have a life expectancy in the US of: X years (different for men and women I expect.

    – Non-smokers, SAD diet, getting moderate exercise (define this) have a life expectancy in the US of: X-a years

    – Non-smokers, eating WFPBD, no exercise have a life expectancy in the US of: X-b years

    – Non-smokers, SAD, no exercise have a life expectancy in the US of: X-b years

    – Smokers, eating a whole foods, plant based diet getting moderate exercise have a life expectancy in the US of: X-c years

    – Smokers, eating a SAD, getting moderate exercise have a life expectancy in the US of: X-d years

    – Smokers, eating a whole foods, no exercise have a life expectancy in the US of: X-e years

    – Smokers, eating SAD, no exercise have a life expectancy in the US of: X-f years

    Did I hit all cases? Probably not, but you get the idea.

    I don’t ask for much :-)

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I think the idea is just to aware the public about how dangerous processed meat really is. For an organization like the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research to say “Avoid Processed Meats” must mean these products are pretty harmful, even in small doses, as Dr. G explains.

      Good questions about life expectancy. I am not sure it’s possible to get actual risk percentages for each circumstance. Having said that it’s still helpful to see epidemiology trends by following populations who live the longest and observing their lifestyle habits. Not smoking, exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, and eating a healthful diet is associated with longer life expectancy. The best information on life expectancy is this video on the Okinawa diet and perhaps Dan Buetner’s book, Blue Zones.

      • Wondering

        I have vegetarian relatives that are in their 90s. One is 97 but I wonder how much the lifestyle of between 1918 and 1950 have to do with the longevity versus diet. My in-laws ate regular food and she died at age 96 and he is still alive. I am wondering how much the era they were brought up in had to do with the longevity.

        • DarylT

          With regard to our grandparents era, typically they ate a LOT more home prepared foods, they ate standard things like meat and 3 veg for the main meal, they also were less sedentary, (no TV, Internet or computers).

        • Rebecca Cody

          In 1918 a huge percentage of Americans were still family farmers. My grandparents would have been typical of those in Oklahoma. This was an era before chemical pesticides and artificial fertilizers. They grew cotton for a cash crop, and most of their food came from their garden, a milk cow or two, hogs they butchered in the fall, chickens and eggs. They did have animal protein, but they ate a lot of greens, corn bread made with cornmeal from their own corn, blackeyed peas and beans they grew, lots of tomatoes and other veggies. Their air and water were unpolluted.

          Everybody worked. Cooking was done on a woodstove, which required work. Laundry was by rub board, which took work. Baby diapers were made of cloth and had to be washed and hung out to dry.

          Grandpa and his sons plowed and did all the farm work with machinery pulled by mules. Cotton was picked by everybody, walking through the fields pulling long sacks behind them, where they threw the cotton as they picked it. It was all hard work. No gym membership needed.

          My mom, born in 1915, was the oldest of seven and she greatly valued her upbringing on the farm. My uncle, at 91, is the last one living and he also valued that upbringing and is still healthy, other than his arthritic knees. Even as a kid during the Great Depression he could see that they were better off than school friends who lived in town because they grew their own food and never went hungry.

          In other words, their lifestyle pretty much forced them to be healthy!

          Now our world is inundated with chemicals everywhere we turn. Babies are born with hundreds of unnatural chemicals in their blood! People don’t get enough exercise unless they are motivated to do so. It isn’t required to survive as it was back then. I’d say that people of that generation definitely grew up in a world that gave them a healthier, longer life expectancy than any of us have.

    • James

      I don’t know about all those comparisons but the following report is interesting. Regarding life expectancy of Ontarians, it says that….
      https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/BrowseByTopic/HealthPromotion/Pages/Seven-more-years.aspx

      Life expectancy of a non smoking male / female is 82.9 / 86.2 years, compared to 71.1 / 75.0 years for a heavy current smoker(light current is 75.2)
      Life expectancy of a physically active male / female is 82.6 /87.23 years, compared to 78.2 / 82.6 years for a physically inactive male / female
      Life expectancy of a male / female with a diet including +5 daily fruits and veg is 83.3 / 86.8 years, compared to 76.5 / 79.2 for 1 or less daily fruit and veg.

      Life expectancy of a person with exposure to all five key risk factors (diet, smoking, physical activity, alcohol, stress) compared to someone with no risks is 68.5 versus 88.6 years for men; 71.5 versus 92.5 years for women. So that’s like 20+ years worth of life lost because of lifestyle, if not more because there is more to a healthy diet than just eating five fruit and veg a day! Additionally while smoking is the biggest risk factor, poor diet is greater threat to life expectancy than physical inactivity.

      ps (re the title of the report, the “seven more years” refers to the number of years of additional life expectancy by eliminating exposure to risk factors compared to the exposure of the average Ontarian)

      pps there is also a life expectancy calculator derived using the model developed in the report available at https://www.projectbiglife.ca/life/ I am sure if you play around with it perhaps you could separate the contributions of each individual risk factor to total life expectancy under different conditions.

      • Misterimpatient

        Thanks James. Very interesting and the sort of data I think is useful.

      • spicy_pedals

        The life-expectancy numbers are interesting, but what they don’t express is life-quality expectancy. Someone exposed to the risk factors is more likely to spend their later years suffering from poor health conditions, and in and out of hospital being treated for them. So from a practical standpoint, these numbers actually under-represent what most people care about: not just living longer, but living a longer healthy life.

  • Mountain Rose

    Dr. Greger said that broccoli sprouts at 48 hours had the most cancer fighting nutrients. Joseph Gonzales or Dr. Greger do you know if the 48 hours start when the seeds are first soaked or after the first 12 hours of soaking?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I looked around on the broccoli sprouts video and found this gem of an answer in the comment’s section! It’s “48 hours post soak” – the 1st 12 hours, the seeds are submerged in water and soaking so right after that start your timer.

      • John

        Is there some source of bulk seeds for soaking? If I have to buy seed packets each time it could be very expensive, and many companies treat their seeds with chemicals which would not be good for human consumption. Thanks,
        John

        • Maureen Okun

          West Coast Seeds is one company that sells untreated, non-GMO, certified organic seeds specifically for sprouting. Their smallest packet of sprouting broccoli seeds is 50 gm (quite a lot for sprouting), but you can also buy in some serious bulk—2.5 kg.

        • VegGuy

          Mountain Rose Herbs and Handy Pantry are two other sources of organic broccoli sprouting seeds.

          • John

            Thanks for your responses.
            John

        • Charzie

          Check out Amazon too for whichever seed you want in bulk, they have many options with many suppliers!

        • Charzie

          Check out Amazon too for whichever seed you want in bulk, they have many options with many suppliers!

          • John

            Thanks Charzie. After having heard what a soulless slavedriver Jeff Bezos is, I try to look for other options if possible, but I appreciate hearing the option.
            John

          • Charzie

            Wow, ya learn a bunch of stuff every day, thanks for the info!

        • fencepost

          I’ve used Johnnies Selected Seeds for bulk organic seeds for sprouting.

          • John

            Thanks fencepost, John.

        • Kaye

          i have bought from a Amish source. Had talk to a neighbor on the phone and leave an order. E & R seeds. Was way less than Amazon.

      • Johanna Martin

        Joseph, what about this? http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/fruits/sprouts.html Because of reports like this, I have been avoiding raw sprouts. (I am 68….)

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Thanks for bringing this up! You are spot on about alfalfa sprouts and Dr. G. discusses the same issues you mention regarding contamination. Broccoli sprouts on the other hand don’t carry the same risks. So really it depends what you’re sprouting.

          • Johanna Martin

            Joseph, why would broccoli sprouts not carry the same risk as other sprouts?

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            It has to do with food poisoning. Alfalfa seeds have tiny cracks that can store bacteria even when washed and rinsed, so Dr. G. says that even homegrown alfalfa sprouts may be risky. Again, broccoli sprouts are different and do not accumulate bacteria in the seeds like alfalfa does. Let me know if this helps? Thanks!

          • Johanna Martin

            Thank you!

  • Panchito

    Lunch Meats should at least raise some short of identity crisis to those who identify themselves as omnivores. They are products from an industrial shop, food engineered, mass marketed, powder coated, colour changed, cooked, spiced, etc., just to name a few of the processes necessary to make meat attractive to those who identify themselves as omnivores and believe in the more-protein myth. Then, they ask science to save their lives when their bodies are in trouble.

    • Davesandbrook

      Not true of all sliced meats. I can go to my local butcher shop and buy unprocessed locally pasture grown meat (beef, goat, lamp, pork, chicken, turkey at al) and have it sliced to my specifications. I can even choose the source farm or ranch. I can tell the difference in flavor between different ranches, because of different feed or grazing.

  • Daisy

    What about soy protein isolate in veggie processed deli slices? Is that cancerous too? What about the processing process makes sandwich meats more cancerous than regular meat?

    • Dominic

      I would avoid isolated soy protein entirely as it has been shown to increase IGF-1 even more than dairy protein. Whole soybeans are fine, but avoid the mock meats and cheeses that contain isolated soy protein.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHYFOJBU434

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12629084

      • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

        Wow! More than dairy? I did not know that! Thanks for sharing the study, but didn’t it also say soy protein was better for bone health than the milk-based protein? Even in the youtube video Dr. McDougall mentions how those on a strict plant-based diet had lower IGF-I levels. I wonder how much soy isolate they were eating?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Great question and kind of a complex answer. Dr. G compares the nutrition of chicken vs. veggie chicken. However, when looking directly at soy isolate and potential impact on IGF-I levels “this two year study found no effect on IGF levels of adding two servings of soyfoods day, whether they were tofu, soymilk, soy nuts, or the concentrated soy isolate found plant-based meats, protein bars or protein powder, still fine.” Having said that, Dr. Greger mentions a 3-5 serving range for soy intake based on the research.

      Looking at Dr. David Jenkins’ work, soy protein analogs (like hot dogs, veggie burgers, and soy deli slices) were used in combination with his portfolio diet for reducing cholesterol. Meat analogues have also been found to help reduce hip fracture risk. Still, whole soy foods appear more healthful (edamame, tofu, miso, and tempeh.)

      • Nigel Oswyn

        So I shouldn’t necessarily avoid something with added “pea protein,” “soy protein” or “isolated soy protein” as long as its in limited quantities? I’ve always believed that quantity is everything, like one vodka cranberry as opposed to five.

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Pea protein is different than soy protein, but yes it’s up to you what to eat! As Dr. Forrester (our top-notch M.D. volunteer) says “it’s all relative.” So if loading up on like 13 soy dogs daily for vegetable protein it may be wise to consider eating less and finding alternative protein sources.

      • MikeOnRaw

        Perhaps the issue with soy is reduced due to the increased IGF binding protein found in those most likely to be eating soy products, i.e. plant based eaters?
        http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-plant-based-to-lower-igf-1/

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Also, I forgot to attach this link to a great video on Animalistic Plant Proteins. Let me know if any of these videos help?

    • Tom Goff

      I think that another issue with processed soy foods is the high salt content. It is believed that high salt consumption is a key factor in the high rates of certain cancers including gastric cancer .
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-205378/How-salt-heavy-diet-double-cancer-risk.html
      In some Asian countries, gastric cancer is the most common form of cancer and is linked with salt consumption:
      http://www.nature.com/bjc/press_releases/p_r_jan04_6601511.html

  • I recognize a source referenced by Dr. Greger–the the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute of Cancer’s landmark Second Expert Report: Food, Nutrition, Physical activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. It comes flat out stated ‘. direct link between foods and risk of cancer’. It claims to be cancer prevention experts at its website–http://wcrf.org/int/about-us. It’ s an international group of scientists devoted to cancer prevention. I tend to believe it is not influenced by the big pharma.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      It’s a great reference – the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute of Cancer’s landmark Second Expert Report: Food, Nutrition, Physical activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. They are not influenced by Big business from what I know. Our team of researchers used this reference to publish a review on diet and cancer. Some of the same researchers who helped me are mentioned in Dr. Greger’s videos like Dr. Barnard and his GEICO studies and Dr. Jenkins and his Eco-Atkins Diet.

      If interested in our paper check out Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer.

      Thanks, Mr. Yang.
      Joseph

  • Nigel Oswyn

    Although I’ve known this for decades, I don’t give the WHO a lot of credibility as they are politically skewed.

    • Wade Patton

      There’s really no group over about 139 folks who cannot be construed as politically skewed. Look at the deeds not the labels. That said, I don’t participate in politics/labeling anymore. Be well.

  • MikeOnRaw

    I have to wonder what this will mean for the various government food programs, be it prisons, hospitals, and/or schools. These are places that regularly serve processed meat products. And this very likely includes ground beef or ground chicken/turkey/pork products if they are adding preservatives in the manufacturing process. While some talking heads on t.v. will talk moderation, perhaps even the WHO will, but it is obvious that doctors who have reviewed the science fully feel there is no safe level of these processed meats.

    • rijelkentaurus

      I wonder how parents will respond, in the case of schools? My wife and I eat plant-based, but haven’t been so strict on the little one. We should change that and this all might push that harder.

      As for prisons (and food subsidy programs), I favor the cheapest route, which would be healthy, too: Cheap potatoes (including sweets) and cheap vegetables. No meat, no dairy, nothing fancy at all. It would be bland and boring, but would increase the dietary health of the people eating the diet tremendously. The object of free food should be health and sustenance, not enjoyment (although it sounds tasty to me!). Not that I see it happening.

      • MikeOnRaw

        Plant foods don’t need to be bland nor expensive to have them be not bland.

      • Charzie

        Careful, some issues might even be helped by such a diet. What would the penal system do without it’s “customers”?

  • fixmyed

    What about organic non-gmo pasture raised/grass fed meats?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Good question. Let me try to elaborate on this issue because it comes up a lot!

      The short answer is we don’t know. Some of these newer animal products like nitrite-free and pasture-raised meats have not been studied heavily, according to AICR. Dr. Greger’s videos help answer some questions on organic meat and health. There is one study that found less multi-drug resistant bacteria contamination on organic chicken, compared with conventional chicken. The difference was not huge. Here is a post on free-range vs. conventional eggs. One on organic chicken and arsenic. And this video talks about the problem with organic salmon.

      Furthermore, here is a post by a fellow RD of mine on the issue:

      “My opinion is no, how your raise the meat does not affect whether or not it is carcinogenic. Both conventional, feedlot meat and grass fed organic meat are probable carcinogens. And once you process either of these into “processed meat,” they are definitive carcinogens, per WHO and other large health/research agencies.

      In addition to the nitrates/nitrites in processed meats, three key issues to consider with meat in general are heme iron, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Ample evidence suggests heme iron contributes to chronic disease risk, particularly heart disease and possibly digestive tract cancers, including colon cancer. Heme iron in particular is a strong pro-oxidant; in processed meat, heme iron likely interacts to worsen the carcinogenic effects of the nitrites. I heard an interview on the WHO statement, and heme iron was mentioned as one of the leading hypotheses regarding why/how meat is pro-carcinogenic.

      As for PAHs and HCAs, you cannot avoid these if you eat cooked flesh. These compounds are generated due to the precursor compounds in the meat. HCAs are formed when amino acids, sugars, and creatine (found in muscle) react at high temperatures. PAHs are formed when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over an open fire drip onto the fire, causing flames and smoke, which rise up and coat the meat. So you can reduce PAHs by not grilling over open flame, but HCAs are formed regardless, simply because it’s meat plus heat.

      You can grill your carrots and eggplant until they resemble a charcoal briquette, and you will not form PAHs or HCAs, because vegetables don’t contain the precursor compounds. You may get other noxious compounds, but PAHs and HCAs, which are carcinogenic, are particular to cooked flesh.

      While it isn’t definitively known that PAHs and HCAs directly cause cancer in humans, evidence suggests this is the case.

      So for cured meat, it makes no difference if it’s grass-fed or conventionally-raised, you still have nitrates/nitrites, heme iron, PAHs, and HCAs. For uncured red meat, it makes no difference if it’s grass-fed or conventionally-raised, you still have heme iron, PAHs, and HCAs.”

      I love how she laid this out! Let me know if it helps? Forgive the 3 page reply to your question my hope is we can keep this conversation going…

    • Tom Goff

      Don Matesz has a couple on interesting blog posts on this general topic including the claims that grass fed/organic/non-GMO meat is “healthy”:
      http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2012/04/harvard-meat-study.html
      http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/search/label/Grass-fed%20meat%20myths

      Another blogger, Healthylongevity, also has some comments that are well-worth reading:
      http://healthylongevity.blogspot.com/2013/10/Cardiovascular-Disease-in-Ancient-Civilizations.html

      • largelytrue

        Travis’ commentary on colorectal cancer among gauchos is particularly timely, given the recently publicized determination by the WHO.

      • vmh

        Intermittent fasting brings down IGF-1 levels. An article here:

        http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25549805

        I used to wonder why paleo-bloggers were trying different fasts . . .

  • baggman744

    “not more than 2% of all human cancer is attributable to purely genetic factors…” I did a quick search, yes this is perpetuated all over the ‘net, yet I could not find a credible source. Can anyone else?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Just look at the sources cited section and pull the study, it’s this one – J S Bertram, L N Kolonel, F L Meyskens Jr. Rationale and strategies for chemoprevention of cancer in humans. Cancer Res. 1987 Jun 1;47(11):3012-31.

      • baggman744

        Ok, I give… where does one find that 2% conclusion? I looked at those studies/articles referenced.

        • James

          Yeah, the Bertram paper just cites another paper for the “2%” fact, which I cant find an online version of. Anyhow what the 2% is referring to is specifically cancers caused by inherited mutations, like kids who have a retinoblastoma mutation. It doesn’t mean 98% is attributable to lifestyle because every time a cell divides mutations will be introduced by chance just due to the inherent error rate of DNA replication. Indeed one recent study provided evidence that two thirds of cancer is just due to these chance mutations and only one third is due to lifestyle.

          http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6217/78

          • baggman744

            Yes, the “bad luck” hypothesis has been in print for a while. I’m sorry Doc, but until you show us otherwise, that 2 percent statement is misleading.

          • largelytrue

            Have you read some of the comments on that study? It was poorly done for supporting its conclusion which was slanted to catch the breeze of media hype. The authors demonstrated poor quantitative ability to interpret a statistical model and low awareness of basic research in this area.

          • James

            I read a couple of criticisms of them, seem like reasonable criticisms but none are really fatal to their conclusions, though the should be more tentative.

            Other research show similar things too, for example in the following study most cancer could not be attributed to the main known lifestyle factors.

            http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v105/n2s/full/bjc2011489a.html?WT.ec_id=BJC-201112

          • largelytrue

            What are the conclusions that survive from that study?

            I’m not reflexively opposing lifestyle preventibility estimates using legitimate epidemiological approaches such as in your second citation, though this too probably has its debatable aspect.

            I’m pointing out that the study was poorly done and that the conclusion that you were drawing from it in particular is inappropriate:

            ” Indeed one recent study provided evidence that two thirds of cancer is just due to these chance mutations and only one third is due to lifestyle.”

            This is wrong. Their model was weak and poorly interpreted. For example lifetime stem cell divisions can not be read as “luck”.

          • James

            The number of cancers in different tissues is primary determined by number of lifetime stem cell divisions. If lifestyle had a really big role then one would expect that those tissues most exposed to those carcinogens would have higher rates than those less exposed. Since as the authors say “No other environmental or inherited factors are known to be correlated in this way across tumor types”, its fair enough to say that cancer risk is not primarily determined by lifestyle.

            I think the following article gives a pretty fair criticism of the report. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/is-cancer-due-mostly-to-bad-luck/

          • largelytrue

            Nope. This is wrong. First off, what we do generally find is that the more common cancer types such as (breast and lung) are more preventable. The authors display ignorance of common risk factors that affect multiple tumor types when they make that comment. Also, why can’t carcinogens act on the body in a way that say, impacts relative but not absolute risk? When lifetime stem cell divisions in their data set vary by several orders of magnitude, their approximate contribution to cancer in a particular tissue will tend to dominate a relatively strong modulation of risk by lifestyle. Across the whole data set, you’d still see a strong trend for lfscd to explain risk in a tissue, but:

            a) The quality of this model to explain total risk is not determined by the (adjusted) R^2 in a log-log plot. Even if their model were linear, the total preventibility would not be R^2, because a proper estimate should be biased to reward better preventibility of more frequent cancers. The authors were two times wrong there.
            b) No single carcinogen would need to act on all tissues in order for the set of carcinogens to hugely modulate risk. All that would be required is some degree of positive correlation between the set’s impact on cancer risk in a tissue and baseline rates. We should anticipate this as a matter of course.

            If it seems somewhat remarkable to you that the maximum theoretical effect of lifestyle can be estimated through a model that uses no lifestyle factors within it whatsoever, that’s because it is not a coherent strategy in general. The author’s reasoning is inadequate to justify this extremely unusual strategy.

          • James

            As the authors make clear in their detailed response to criticisms it is simply not the case that carcinogens have a greater relative impact on cancer risk in tissues with higher lifetime stem cell divisions. Regardless we should not look at this research in isolation, other research as I detailed above shows the same thing. Most cancer risk is not attributable to lifestyle.

            http://arxiv.org/abs/1501.05035

          • largelytrue

            They have a greater absolute impact, however, and that’s my point. An estimate of preventibility through various pathways should be in terms of absolute risk, not “risk across tissues”, which is a measure of no immediate practical importance.

            Do you mean the detailed response in their letter here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/729.2

          • James

            Except there is no evidence that carcinogens act in this way. They have the greatest effect on tissues to which they are exposed. As that’s the case you would expect greater variance then what you actually see in their data.

          • largelytrue

            Their correlation was drawn from a log-scale plot. That’s why the correlation coefficient seemed so precise, but it wasn’t an absolute measure of residual risk. They botched the statistics for making the inference that you are striving to make from the study. See the point in Wild et al’s letter which was never addressed:

            “We also take issue with the statistical analysis. Despite the reported
            correlation of 0.81, stem cell replication is a poor predictor of incidence rates at any given cancer site. The residual standard deviation of the log rates is 0.75, so the
            95% confidence limits for the log rate of any cancer site are given by the linear predictor ±1.47 (i.e., 1.96 × 0.75). Converting from a log10 scale to an absolute scale gives an
            error factor of 101.47=29.4; i.e., the incidence rate may be 30 times higher or 30 times lower than the value predicted by stem cell division rates alone. This residual variation is consistent with large effects of environmental and lifestyle factors.”

            Qualitative considerations certainly do suggest that many carcinogens act in a manner that is partly proportional to the number of initiation events, which is proportional to lscd. Exposure matters, but given a similar level of exposure in two tissues, the absolute risk caused by the agent will tend to increase as the amount of replicating tissue exposed increases.

          • James

            They address the concerns about relative and absolute risk, as well as the log scale plot in the response to criticisms pdf the authors posted on arxiv I linked to. Their response seems quite reasonable to me.

          • largelytrue

            It isn’t that reasonable, and it is definitely backpedaling from their stance in the paper. As they say, the 0.8 correlation that survives the transformation back to ‘linear’ space is Spearman’s rho, which as a rank correlation is really unchanged under any monotonic transformation and hence doesn’t sit in a linear or a logarithmic space in particular. The authors claim that this shows a tight effect, but it is beside the point for the inference that you are trying to make, which depends on the residuals in a model of absolute risk, not risk rank.

            Their’s is also a pretty hasty claim in itself, given that so many of their data points are separated by several orders of magnitude. A weakly proportional effect can lead to high rank correlations when the data are highly separated in the space of independent variables, and even in the log-scale plot you can see that there is meaningful scatter.

            If the model underlying the Pearson correlation in this plot (also 0.8) is accepted then that scatter in log-space becomes a larger multiplicative factor when examining how well absolute risk is explained by the model, as Wild et al say. If you think the Arxive paper is an adequate response, presumably it’s because you think they disavow the use of the Pearson correlation in this manner. If that’s the case, then even they are trying to tell you that the inference that you are trying to draw about cancer rates from their paper is inappropriate.

          • James

            The authors say that if they had not used a log-log scale to estimate the Pearson correlation, then then it would in fact be much higher, ie they were being conservative in the methods they used. These are some complicated stats and I have to admit, you could be right. That’s why looking at this in context is important. Epidemiological estimates show the same thing, that most cancer risk is not due to lifestyle. That doesn’t mean changing lifestyle is not important though, but its not helpful when some people imply that becoming vegan will make one almost completely resistant to cancer.

          • largelytrue

            Epidemiological estimates show the same thing, that most cancer risk is not due to lifestyle.

            That’s getting off to a second topic. Are you trying to start another conversation with me, and if so, with what in mind?

            These are some complicated stats and I have to admit, you could be right.

            That’s nice of you and shows intellectual integrity, but part of the thing here is that it is not actually that complicated. Getting the issue right and understanding how the transformation of variables transforms the variance is a reflection of very basic numeracy and very basic statistical concepts. When they get it wrong in their paper, or use language that suggests a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the issue, it’s very wrong indeed:

            “…The correlation between these two very different parameters—number of stem cell divisions and lifetime risk—was striking,
            with a highly positive correlation (Spearman’s rho = 0.81; P < 3.5 × 10−8) (Fig. 1). Pearson’s linear correlation 0.804 [0.63 to 0.90; 95% confidence interval (CI)] was equivalently significant (P < 5.15 × 10−8)…"

            "A linear correlation equal to 0.804 suggests that 65% (39% to 81%; 95%
            CI) of the differences in cancer risk among different
            tissues can be explained by the total number of
            stem cell divisions in those tissues. Thus, the stochastic effects of
            DNA
            replication appear to be the major contributor to
            cancer in humans."

            The Pearson correlation of 8.04 was drawn between log lcsd and log lifetime risk but the authors are not calling attention to this and without looking at the figure we’d be almost certain that they meant a linear correlation between the two variables mentioned: stem cell divisions and lifetime risk, rather than their logs.

            They then go on to interpret the log-linear correlation of 8.04 as if it were the Pearson correlation coefficient between the unlogged variables. Again, Wild et al showed the correct statistical reading of the correlation coefficient between logged variables. This unambiguous mistake is why I said that they backpedaled in the Arxive paper to focus on the rank correlation. It’s also an extremely boneheaded kind of mistake to make. The degree to which log x explains the variance in log y is different from the degree to which x explains y, because the variance that is used to assess the explanatory fit is different in the two cases. Pre-collegiate algebra is sufficient to understand this if you actually know what the things like ‘variance’ refer to in mathematical terms.

            The correlation would be larger in linear space but it would be spurious for the reasons they laid out, because of a poor choice of model for studying this relationship across several orders of magnitude. That they would conceive of the modeling decision in such rudimentary terms as picking between two univariate correlations is bad enough, but they are basically saying that because another decision and interpretation would be garbage, their decision and interpretation was justified. It wasn’t.

          • James

            I am trying to get back to the original topic, so no not a second topic at all.

            I really dont have the knowledge to be able to say whether you or the authors are right on this one, though you both make reasonable arguments. None of the issues you mention were highlighted by the researcher in the science based medicine article who gave a very none biased critique, and making sweeping statements about the quality of research from very well regarded scientists does not endear your argument to me (although I admit that is maybe a bias on my side!)

          • largelytrue

            Vogelstein is the only really notable author there, and his role in important research papers was probably for his scholastic skills as a qualitative reviewer and theorizer rather than for statistical analysis. An undergraduate degree in mathematics doesn’t ensure statistical skills, and Vogelstein received that degree long ago before going directly for an MD.

            Tomasetti is the one billed as the biostatistician here but is not nearly as eminent as Vogelstein and is the odd one out in terms of having a pretty short list of publications for this kind of field. Maybe Tomasetti is actually incompetent in this very particular area, but maybe with his responsibilities as a new assistant professor in the department and an apparently newsworthy result for the New Year, he was pressured to publish quickly and didn’t correct gross mistakes, some of which maybe came from Vogelstein. Maybe he even deliberately tried to massage the data, but there are also many reasons why this team could fail to produce research at par that have nothing to do with nefarious intent or a lack of the appropriate intellectual tools in at least one of the two persons.

            As for well-regarded scientists, why do you think I’m pointing you to comments and letters? If you can’t comprehend my points about statistics then you probably won’t be inclined to accept them on my authority alone, therefore I have to look in the relatively thin record of scientific correspondence to show that well-regarded scientists join with me on some of these points. Wild et al are a group writing from the IARC. They are well regarded scientists in cancer research, many with explicit statistical credentials:

            Wild: http://www.iarc.fr/en/staffdirectory/displaystaff.php?id=40132
            Brennan: http://www.iarc.fr/en/staffdirectory/displaystaff.php?id=10127
            Plummer: http://www.iarc.fr/en/staffdirectory/displaystaff.php?id=10118
            Bray: http://www.iarc.fr/en/staffdirectory/displaystaff.php?id=40255
            Straif: http://www.iarc.fr/en/staffdirectory/displaystaff.php?id=10057
            Zavadil: http://www.iarc.fr/en/staffdirectory/displaystaff.php?id=40535

            Many doctors don’t have the education to think mathematically about statistical choices in research. I wouldn’t be especially surprised that a professor of surgery and oncology writing at an informal blog might lack the time, skill and will to read the paper’s statistics closely, and the same goes for any statistically qualified researcher in the area who is too busy and too time pressured to provide this kind of close reading for the blog in blurb format. One thing that I hope you appreciate from this discussion is that showing statistical mistakes can be a very involved and laborious process, especially when the audience is not in the know on statistical methods.

            As I’m sure you know if your statistical competence is as low as you claim, it’s quite easy to simply read off the numbers and trust that the authors used statistics coherently. People who know how to critique statistical models will often do this too and attend to other aspects of the paper. Because statistical models are somewhat standardized in epidemiology, the modeling choices are usually established by a research tradition and have been well scrutinized by many eyes beforehand.

            But when authors introduce a novel approach to statistical modeling in a field, you need to check whether it rests on sufficiently sound statistical principles, and be on the lookout generally for the potential strengths and weaknesses of the approach.

          • James

            I agree, research that relies so heavily on involved stats is always hard to interpret. I am sure we be both agree though that the report’s conclusion, that most cancer risk cannot be attributed to lifestyle, is supported by a large body of epidemiological research?

          • largelytrue

            I’m not sure that we can, but maybe we can. Are you talking generally about “large” bodies of research (how large?) or do you mean to try to discuss what all the evidence likely implies? I haven’t come even close to a comprehensive review of this general topic because that’s also a highly involved process and the theoretical amount of current preventability is not especially interesting to me. We also haven’t created a working definition of “lifestyle” and the sort of environmental variation that it should encompass. There are both minimal and maximal conceptions of “lifestyle” factors.

            Whether I’m talking with a blowhard here or someone who may be onto something, my basic approach is similar. I want to see more about what evidence they’ve used to support their belief in particular and how they have used it.

            As it stands currently you’ve explicitly presented two studies for consideration, right? You know that I basically reject one of them since that’s been the basis for this long discussion about my objection. That currently leaves one study which you have chosen to highlight so far, as far as I’m concerned.

          • James

            Sorry I wasnt aware that you wanted me to provide you with all that epidemiological evidence that lifestyle is not the main cause of cancer, but I am happy for you to do some research on this in your own time(the science based medicine article has a few references ro start with should you actually be interested). Its pretty clear to me though that your refusal to comment on how such research you dismiss so easily could get pass peer review, or not be retracted subsequently, that the bias you appear to hold would make any more discussion pretty futile.

          • largelytrue

            Of course I recognize that our direct grasp on research is only part of the whole. I will of course accept small sets of studies and while I am interested most in primary peer-reviewed research, I’m also interested in your beliefs’ basis in less formally placed arguments if they are sufficiently rigorous and their base is likely comprehensive, such as with leading research institutions in health.

            I’m just giving you an opportunity to clarify your argument and prepare your opening statement (so to speak) in as comprehensive a way as you like. I thought you might like to lead with more than one study directly on the table if you want to have this type of discussion.

          • James

            I would very much like to put more studies on the table, with someone who is not so biased by their own opinions that they imply the folk they discuss with are either blowhards or idiots. I do urge you to do your own reading on this subject, and try to keep an open mind.

          • largelytrue

            I don’t think you are a blowhard or an idiot. I thought you might be on to something, but this new comment from you is starting to change my mind.

          • James

            How charming.

          • largelytrue

            The ball is in your court. If you want me to evaluate your skeletal argument now as you have stated it, you can make that request and we’ll go from there.

          • James

            Your a bully who uses condescending language to belittle others. Why should anyone engange with that?

          • largelytrue

            I don’t know, but didn’t you want to engage before at many junctures throughout the discussion about ? What changed your mind so suddenly? What was that nasty and unambiguously condescending thing that I said to you?

            Because as far as I can tell, I clarified my position when you asked about if I could agree to a scientific proposition. I thought I more or less said:

            a) I am relatively uninformed and undecided on this scientific proposition
            b) The scientific proposition may be a bit ambiguous. It would be good to clarify terms so that I can work with your interpretation of the scientific proposition.
            c) I have a general approach to discussing scientific propositions, which doesn’t entirely depend on my opinion of the person advancing the proposition or my feelings on the proposition.
            d) The evidence you have provided in support of your claim so far is not much by my standards.

            At which point you explode! How dare I say that! Rather than supplying more studies or pointing me to specific claims in Gorski’s blog post that you think were important, you shut down. You pointed to claims in the Arxive paper adequately well (though specific quotations would have helped), and showed command of the written argument in that way. You can do that with Gorski’s blog post, right, now that you intend to present it as a competent review on the preventability of cancer overall? I think you can do this and value this kind of standard, which is why I thought the “how you know” clause in my standards of scientific discussion would be enough prompting.

            And as for studies, you first say that you’d be happy to provide them but I’m so biased that I won’t look at them, or something. When I point out that I didn’t call you a blowhard and don’t think you are one, you go on to say you won’t talk with me because I’m condescending and I’m trying to belittle you. Because specifically mentioning your intellectual integrity as something praiseworthy or saying that I don’t think you are a blowhard is so belittling. What should I say of you instead, if an honest favorable appraisal of your intellectual approach is read by you as condescending?

            You may not have been in these discussion pages, but blowhards are pretty routine, and you don’t fit the mold. It was visible in your original post that you were interested in intellectual consistency, that you had listened carefully to Greger’s argument, and you made a cogent point about a potentially misleading claim. Not a blowhard. You seemed like you might be prepared to discuss science fairly seriously, making it appropriate to introduce more serious standards of scientific discourse before the discussion got well on its way.

          • MikeOnRaw

            James, the difference between a plant based lifestyle, and any other is how much better the body handles chance cellular mutations. See this video at 12:22 where Dr. Greger discusses the Pritikin study which shows how the blood from vegan patients destroys more cancer cells than those from a SAD diet. The point being that every ones blood does fight some mutated cells (cancer) (or we would all be full of cancer), but those on a plant based diet fight harder, killing more cells.
            http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/

          • James

            I agree and there is lots of interesting research about different phytochemicals being protective against cancer, but then again even the most favourable research shows a vegan diet reduces cancer by 19%. Though that’s still quite a bit!

            http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/cancer

  • charles grashow

    Doesn’t apply to me – I don’t processed foods described in report. My meat is eaten raw.

    • Tom Goff

      You’re a brave man, Charles. According to Wkipedia (not the most authoritative source I know):
      “Every year in the United States, 6.5 million to 33 million cases of illness are diagnosed due to microbial pathogens, with about 900,000 deaths occurring annually as well. ………….. Most of these diseases come from contact with contaminated raw meat….”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_meat#Raw_meat_diseases

      And this Time article is interesting:
      http://time.com/3731226/you-asked-why-cant-i-eat-raw-meat/

      • charles grashow

        I purchase my meat from local farms – just got 50 lbs of grass fed/finished Scottish Highland Beef

        • Wade Patton

          Yes, if it never sees a real production mega processor (as 97.25% of what is creating the statistics quoted above), then you’re half-way safer. I go all the way. I process my own-and heat it up a bit too before serving. Game mostly though.

          • charles grashow

            The meat is processed here

            http://schrader-farms-meat-market.com/about/

            Schrader Farms Meat Market is a USDA inspected facility, the highest level of government inspection that a meat processor can obtain. We are held to a high standard of cleanliness and sanitation. Regulations require our facility to be so clean that bacteria have nearly no chance of being introduced into your food. Our facility is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized at the conclusion of every business day, and testing is performed regularly to ensure that our sanitary procedures are effective.

            Following a review on February 20, 2014, Schrader Farms Meat Market is recommended by Animal Welfare Approved for the processing of beef cattle from AWA farms. This means that animals need to be healthy and treated humanely on the farm and also in our facility.

          • Wade Patton

            “nearly no chance”!

            that’s rich.

            Okay, enjoys yer meat.

          • largelytrue

            USDA inspection of meat processing facilities is required by US federal law, Charles, with only a few exceptions predominantly for small-scale, relatively uncommercial operations:

            Application for USDA Inspection — 9 CFR Part 302 and 9 CFR Part 304

            Inspection is required at:

            –establishments in which livestock are slaughtered for transport or
            sale as articles of commerce, or in which products or carcasses of
            livestock are prepared for transport or sale in commerce, which are
            intended for use as human food;
            –establishments at which livestock are slaughtered or products of
            livestock are prepared, for use as human food solely for distribution
            within a state; that is, USDA inspection authority extends to intrastate
            commerce; and
            –establishments designated as producing adulterated products which would clearly endanger the public health.

            https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/foodlaw/processingsector/inspections

            Your local meat market obviously doesn’t qualify for the exceptions. Since USDA inspection is widespread in US meat processors who have had issues with meat borne pathogens, you can’t really cite that as a reason why you’d be protected from that risk.

          • Fred

            Around here even the deer graze on GMO soy and corn….. They’ve been planting GMO crops in wildlife refuges….

          • Wade Patton

            Of course they do. But they’re not injected and brutalized as the incarcerated animals are.

            GMO is the scariest thing out there, that and our eating crisis.

  • Lucy

    “The World Health Organization recently published a report that puts chicken nuggets, deli turkey slices, bacon and other processed meats”

    Odd, the WHO didn’t access the risk of cancer involved in pultry or fish, at least that what they said in their WHO report. “The cancer risks associated with consumption of poultry and fish were not evaluated.” (http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/)

    “in addition to the 800,000 additional deaths due to cases of diabetes and heart disease. That’s a meat-borne epidemic every year.”

    Wrong. Meat does not cause diabetes or heart disease. What DOES cause these, however, is an overconsumption of added sugars. And in the case of Heart Disease: Saturated Fats. The overconsumption of foods at all can put you at a higher risk, and vegan french fries and vegan fruit juice, can also increase your risk for this. Heart disease and diabetes are NOT meat-related.

    Despite being a vegetarian who eats a lot of vegan meals, this is why even I can’t stand veganism often as anything more than a diet. Evidence and Research needs to come before your predetermined belief systems.

    • Guest

      Curious, you claim to be vegetarian yet defending meat consumption? You don’t make any sense. Be honest, you’re not really vegetarian, and it is you who is wrong. Plenty of evidence that meat causes diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Search this site for more videos about the dangers of meat. You might not like to hear it but the world is finally waking up to how harmful meat consumption is to human health.

      • Lucy

        Defending meat consumption? Being against lies and misinformation is defending the consumption of meat?

        How about this: Show me peer reviewed scientific research, because I am not going to just view propagandized and biased videos spreading myths and lies. Yes, red meat and processed meat causes cancer. Chicken and fish most likely do not, according the the evidence. meat does not cause diabetes, unless you can prove that with peer reviewed scientific research, which you can’t, as that research doesn’t exist.

        And yes, I AM vegetarian. A Dietary evidence-based vegetarian, not one who focuses on my feelings.

        • guest

          What it is Liz,

          Welcome, peeps can be Vegan for many reasons, not just animal activism. Lots of “Health Vegans” on this board who are not animal activists but rather avoid eating meat BECAUSE of the peer reviewed science you speak of. Many non-meat eaters here are science hounds like yourself who have done vast amounts of personal research and knowledge growth.
          This site does an amazing job of exposing the “lies and misinformation” you talk about coming from the meat, eggs and dairy industry who pay front groups for “bad/junk science” and then spoon feed those bogus studies to the media. The time magazine cover stating “Butter is not bad for you” is one example of this type of industry bought junk science. Is it any wonder so many people are polarized in the nutrition debate?

          If peer reviewed science is what you’re looking for, then you are in luck! You found the right place! Nutritionfacts is publicly funded by donations and is most definitely NOT beholden to a financial backer like the the meat, eggs and dairy industry are.
          Here, I’ll show you! Take a look at this video below, it does a good job explaining what I’m talking about and will deepen your understanding of why so many here trust the data and integrity of Dr Greger and this site.

          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-set-up-to-fail/

          So now that you know nutritionfacts is on board with exposing industry backed “lies and misinformation”. Lets point that skeptical finger at the REAL biased pseudoscience studies. Check it out Liz! Science hounds unit!

          http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/10/29/why-some-dietary-cholesterol-studies-fail-to-show-harm/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/bold-indeed-beef-lowers-cholesterol/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eggs-and-cholesterol-patently-false-and-misleading-claims/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/heart-attacks-and-cholesterol-agribusiness-sees-it-differently/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/debunking-egg-industry-myths/

          • Lucy

            Claim: Nutritionfacts.org is biased and untrustworthy
            Fact: Nutritionfacts.org isn’t biased and untrustworthy
            Source: Nutritionfacts.org

          • guest

            I hear what you’re saying Lucy, Just trying to help.

            I’m just a reader who posts in the comment section. I’m not a nutritionfacts employee or anything. All I was trying to point out to you is that nutritionfacts is PUBLICLY FUNDED BY DONATIONS from people who benefit from the information being presented. I am not affiliated with nutritionfacts and yes I am saying as an outsider that nutritionfacts is very trustworthy and many people who come here agree.

            Nutritionfacts is run by people of high ethics and integrity. The information here is for your benefit only, It’s not a corporate profit machine like you see in the meat, eggs and dairy industry who put out false and misleading reports to bolster sales of those products. Nutritionfacts does not pander to a product/profit ideology.

            Nutritionfacts cares about your health. There is no BIG CARROT industry funding Dr Greger. He does this work for FREE as a way to give back and help the public see past the disingenuous media hype.

            Nutritionfacts IS trustworthy and a much needed organization. For the majority of us, we have already vetted this site, some vetting has been over years before people ‘get it”. Nutritionfacts is not the enemy you seem to make it out to be. They are here to help you in your health journey with strait forward talk and yes some topics you will not agree with but in the end, they are only trying help save lives.

            Hope this helps, glad you are here Lucy and hopefully you will come on-board and be a nutritonfacts supporter as well, like so many others who have discovered this site. Welcome!

          • Thea

            guest: This is very compassionate and well worded reply. However it is taken by the recipient, I wanted to give you my kudos.

          • Lucy

            Claim: Nutritionfacts.org is biased and untrustworthy
            Fact: Nutritionfacts.org isn’t biased and untrustworthy
            Source: Nutritionfacts.org

          • guest

            Claim: Lucy knows everything and if you disagree than you are “bias and untrustworthy”
            Fact: Lucy thinks she knows everything and if you disagree you are “bias and untrustworthy”
            Source: Lucy

            Cue music! Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

    • Tom Goff

      This is a very strange claim. You accept that saturated fat contributes to heart disease (it is also a risk factor for diabetes) and meat contains saturated fat. So your claim that “Heart disease and diabetes are NOT meat-related” is inherently self-contradictory. Meat, of course also contains cholesterol, trans fats, carnitine, heme iron etc etc – all factors associated with higher risk for cardiovascular disease. And meat consumption has certainly been associated with increased risk for diabetes
      http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20141105/red-meat-carnitine
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423170903.htm
      http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/9/2108.full
      http://harvardmagazine.com/2012/01/a-diabetes-link-to-meat

      This evidence shows that meat consumption is related to heart disease and diabetes. Stamping one’s feet and shouting that they aren’t is an unconvincing argument …… albeit one that is widely found on the web.
      You also seem a bit confused about what veganism is. Vegans are people who eat a completely vegetarian diet and additionally use no animal products whatsoever, eg no leather shoes, no woollen clothes etc. Of course, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a vegan diet – vegans simply eat a completely vegetarian diet.
      http://www.ivu.org/history/vegetarian.html
      http://www.vegsource.com/john-davis/vegetarian-equals-vegan.html

      • Lucy

        Guess what else contains saturated fat and trans fats? Peanut butter, canola oil, avocados, almonds, cashews. You can eat a high fat vegan diet and still get heart disease, the same way you can be vegan and still get colorectal cancer.

        I will change my stance on the meat causing diabetes thing, I found research and meta-analysis showing me that red meat does in fact cause that. But not chicken, or fish. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942738/

        And I know what vegans are, and I said exactly what I meant to say. Most vegans are pseudoscientific and fear-mongering. But Veganism is also a belief system that goes far beyond a vegan diet.

    • Thea

      Lucy: re: “What DOES cause these, however, is an overconsumption of added sugars.” I can understand why you think this. You can find such statements all over the internet. However, we have very good reason to believe that diabetes is caused by over-fat consumption (which is directly related to eating meat) and then the condition is worsened by eating meat (since eating animal protein increases insulin a whole lot). If you would like to see the scientific evidence to support these statements, you can look here:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/why-is-meat-a-risk-factor-for-diabetes/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/diabetes-as-a-disease-of-fat-toxicity/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-causes-diabetes/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/fish-and-diabetes/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/if-white-rice-is-linked-to-diabetes-what-about-china/

      And it’s not just animal flesh that is a problem. Check out this information about eggs:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eggs-and-diabetes/

      Here is a great topic page on diabetes that was updated just yesterday!
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/diabetes/

      The evidence is all there. I recommend spending more time on this site. As a person who places value on Evidence and Research (me too!), I think you will really like this site.

      • Lucy

        “And it’s not just animal flesh that is a problem”

        Animal flesh as in…. cows, pig, and deer? You’re obviously not talking about chicken or fish, as there is little evidence to show that chicken or fish causes many health effects at all. What about the health effects of consuming insects? Mollusks? Sponges?

        “Check out this information about eggs”

        Egg yolks, or egg whites? Because egg whites have almost no cholesterol or saturated fat.

        “Animal protein increases insulin”

        Which animal protein? Protein from cow is different than protein from chicken, fish, and insects. You know what else increases insulin? Potatoes, bananas, and apples.

        It sounds more like we are anti-animal-flesh more then we are pro-evidence. Isn’t it possible to live a healthy life similar to that of a full vegan, being devoid of meat, eggs, and dairy, but still containing lean poultry and a side of grilled fish? How about a vegan diet, but also includes egg whites and Oysters?

        • Thea

          Lucy: Based on your reply, you did not actually look at the evidence I presented. (I don’t think you even had time to do it.) It’s especially clear that you never looked into it with your comments about chicken and fish. Wow. It’s very odd that a person who claims to be all about the evidence does not want to actually look at the evidence. There is no where else to go with this conversation.

          • Lucy

            Can you give me evidence that is actually scientific studies? Because I am not clicking circlejerk links to posts on this website. Give me peer reviewed research.

          • Thea

            Lucy: The peer reviewed research is listed under each video after you click a button that says “Sources Cited”. That’s one of the reasons this site is so great.

            The evidence (peer reviewed scientific studies) is so vast that the level of information you are looking for is more than can be communicated in a post on a forum like this. I gave you some great starting points of summary videos which you can then follow up to verify by looking at the actual studies. You can take this opportunity to start to look at the evidence or not. It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. It’s your choice.

          • Lucy

            So you’re ignorant on the topic of nutrition and can’t just link to any sources yourself? Is it because you don’t understand how these studies work?

            I told you, I trust NutritionFacts the same way I trust NaturalNews, or The Institute for Creation Research. Anybody can link to half-assed studies that suit their predisposed position.

          • Thea

            re: “Anybody can link to *&^* studies that suit their predisposed position.” That’s what I thought. I could give you a list of studies and you would just say that statement. That’s why I’m not bothering. Again, you can review the actual evidence or not. I already did all of the work I’m going to do for you. If you really want to know the truth, it’s right there…

          • Thea

            Lucy: I will also mention that you need to watch your language on this site. You can find the posting rules under the FAQ link below.

          • Lucy

            Michael Greger is a known biased quackjob. He thinks Splenda is bad for you despite over 100 scientific studies proving that it is safe for consumption. He thinks GMO’s are terrible for you despite a complete lack of credible evidence showing that Genetic Modification is harmful.

            He sells tons of DVDs and books to make a profit, which he slyly claims that “all proceeds go to charity.” You know, HIS charity, as the Vegan Reseach Institute, oh I am sorry, he changed the name, didn’t he? Nutritionfacts is labeled as a 501c3 charity, and all proceeds he makes go back to him so he can continue making DVDs, lecturing, writing, whatever.

            Most of what he says is overblown, claiming that you can get mercury poisoning from canned Tuna for instance. A lot of it is outright false, like the claim that the WHO even mentioned chicken nuggets in their report.

            Now if you can link me to scientific evidence and peer reviewed studies, and not something copy-pasted from The Vegan Research Institute, I’d like to see it.

  • Rodrigo Cardoso

    In Portugal, just recently, came on the news that the WHO announced that meat causes cancer. But the news was presented as “when eating every day”. This NF video comes in a good moment here.
    Legendado em Português / Translated to Portuguese: http://nf.focoempatico.net/quanto-cancro-e-causado-por-carnes-frias/

  • John Cohalan

    Can anybody please share their knowledge and or experience with Coconut oil/butter. I am a type 2 diabetic and I’m reading widely different reports on this product. Thank you

    • Wade Patton

      The general gist of WFPB eating is that oils are not WHOLE foods. Minimize or avoid altogether. When you do it that way, the plant from which the oil is derived makes little difference. There are videos/articles here on the subject.

    • VegGuy

      Coconut is saturated fat and saturated fat promotes insulin resistance. I’d stick with small amounts of whole foods sources like nuts, seeds, avocados. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/lipotoxicity-how-saturated-fat-raises-blood-sugar

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi John. In addition to the other suggestions I just wrote an update on coconut oil health claims. My best advice is don’t follow the hype, it’s not a miracle oil. No oil is. Stick to whole foods and check out our page about type 2 diabetes, if interested.

      Best regards,
      Joseph Gonzales, R.D.,
      Nutrition Director

  • HemoDynamic, MD – NF Volunteer

    Regarding the Headline picture of the video Chicken Dunks. Chicken used is 100% white meat. What they meant to say is it becomes white after they take the “Pink Slime” or the dark meat that was scraped of the chicken bones and then bleached it white.
    Now I don’t know if what I say is true but the ingredients list states “white chicken” it doesn’t say Chicken Breast which is what most people would think and what the company is trying to imply. I don’t buy it! And don’t buy it.

  • Han

    Question is: how to formulate the message so that any simpleton gets it. Even the more educated rather put their head in the sand.

  • Will73

    this is a question for Dr Greger. I went vegan about 7 months ago. Initially my diet was predominantly fruit – probably 80-90 of calories were from fruit (bananas, berries, tangelos/grapefruit, apples, dates, figs). Maybe 3-4 months ago I changed to mostly grains and beans. So most of my daily calories come from grains and beans. I eat very little fat. I add virtually none to my meals. Now one thing I have noticed (both with fruit and also with the grains/beans) is that I become very tired and sleepy about 1-2 hours after eating. I go ‘on the nob’ something shocking. This happens are all, or nearly all, meals. It is incredibly frustrating and rather confusing. Any ideas or suggestions? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  • ToBeAlive

    Paleo folk claim traditional cured meat has probiotic bacteria fermenting away and that processed meat is a different beast…?

    • largelytrue

      Do they? Do they provide evidence? What kind of evidence do they provide?

      • ToBeAlive

        that’s why I posted: would like to know if indeed any difference between cured and processed. all putrefying flesh to me…

        • largelytrue

          There wasn’t for the purposes of the statistical analysis supporting the WHO report. Curing is one of the forms of processing considered to imply that meat is ‘processed’. See the WHO Q&A here: http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/

          There are of course differences between different curing processes, but it’s up to the people making the claim to have a credible case for the claim that these are differences that are relevant to the cancer connection and substantially protective. If such people just want to speculate in order to wave away concerns about their dietary choices, that’s nothing particularly new.

          • ToBeAlive

            thanks, clears that up.
            true about the speculation used in paleo promotion of unhealthy-fleshy diets.
            one went on about nitrites not converting to nitrosamines in proper curing. also waved away epidemiological studies with the notion that health conscious people have been warned off bacon to such a degree that consumers of such are unfairly lumped together with the I’ve-given-up crowd, skewing results. sad. but I have to hand it to them for talent in obfuscation.

  • Ray Tajoma

    If processed meat is worse than Raw meat, why is it not so for other foods including plants ? I think there is a strong common sense logical obvious link there. When you burn (cook, BBQ, grill, extreme heat) foods, you affect their molecules (just like burning a house or a forest) and the burnt food is not as healthy as eating it RAW.

    • lemonhead

      It really depends on the food and the cooking method. For example, cooked kidney beans are very good for you; raw kidney beans are poisonous.

  • Gearoidmuar

    First point. One third of the board in the WHO organisation did NOT agree with the report. People in favour on the board included vegans etc.
    Second point. This stuff is all associational. It is not science. Association CANNOT prove causation.
    Third Point. Greger NEVER alludes to the second point. If it suits his case he gives it his imprimatur. This is unscientific bullshit, no matter who says it.
    Fourth Point. My father ate bacon 6 days a week and meat at least once a day as well as that. He lived to be 96.
    I think that a well-planned vegan diet with no junk food is a healthy diet, but a well planned LCHF diet is actually better. It gives better cardiac risk factors and all the scare stuff about it is just propaganda.
    Wolfgang Lutz, an Austrian doctor who did some serious research on it, not reading journals which suit him, like Greger, was on it himself for 50 years and lived to be a mere 97.

    • largelytrue

      First point: got a credible source?

      Second point: no, there is mechanistic plausibility too as part of the WHO’s criteria, and finding associations that strengthen or weaken a hypothesis about causation is part of science. Your views are extremist, simplistic, and you probably don’t apply them uniformly to all scientific findings. If you do that then it will leave a barn-sized hole in your reasoning and allow bias to run rampant.

      Third point: you never allude to the unscientific part of your second viewpoint.

      Fourth point: what was that about associations not proving causation and not being science? Because sort-of high bacon consumption associated in a poorly controlled fashion with a long life span in one person, that should vastly outweigh the evidence of foods such as bacon associating with shorter life in thousands of other people, with much more systematic control for several potential confounders? You don’t understand that scientific theories can be based on stochastic processes, or processes with incomplete information. A small proportion of outliers does not necessarily count as much evidence against a statistical hypothesis which allows for some people to be atypical due to genes or other unobserved factors, including an element that could be called dumb luck. Also, unverified anecdotes are not good data.

  • M. Teresa Rico

    The problem are governments. Instead of controlling food manufacturers (How odd that sounds!) through regulation and inspection, they let them get away, leaving consumers with a Herculean task: finding out what to eat without risking their health… Their life.

  • Mark Ruocco

    Waaaa! Lunch meat might cause cancer. In other news, people are starving all over the world!

  • Jennie

    I’m avoiding these foods entirely, but what about “nitrate free” and “uncured” meats that are everywhere at health food stores? Any better?