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Meat & Multiple Myeloma

Meat consumption may increase one’s risk of a variety of blood cancers.

October 6, 2010 |
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The NIH-AARP study also looked at diet, lifestyle, and acute myeloid leukemia. Two things seemed to do it. Smoking and total meat intake, which included all beef, chicken, fish, pork, bacon, etc. Since they measured the effect of both smoking and meat intake, we have the rare opportunity to actually compare the two. In terms of our risk of getting this rare—but deadly, blood cancer, this much meat, two boneless chicken breasts worth, may increase our leukemia risk as much smoking 10 cigarettes.
So what if we don’t eat any meat? The most comprehensive study of cancer rates in vegetarians was published last year. No surprise that vegetarians had significantly less cancer than meateaters. Perhaps the most striking finding was how low the risk was for lymphoma and leukemia among vegetarians. Just a quarter, of the risk of multiple myeloma in vegetarians compared to meateaters, an aggressive incurable cancer of the bone marrow. Potential mechanisms include the mutagenic compounds and viruses in the meat.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on meat. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Poultry Paunch: Meat & Weight Gain and Harvard's Meat and Mortality Studies

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on meat. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Ghul

    my mother in law got diagnosed with multiple myeloma 2 years ago, she has been vegan for over 2 decades and  her cancer markers in her blood are still going up. she reads a lot of information about cancer everywhere but it is mostly information about the more common cancers like breastcancer. since myeloma is quite rare its hard to find specific information about it. 
    I was wondering where i could gather some more reliable information about this cancer and maybe its possible treatment

    • Joan

      I’d like more info on multiple myeloma also.

  • Livinglovenlight

    I have just recently found out that my mom is going in for chemo because the doctors think she has this kind of pretty much to them “rare” dis-ease. But I´m a planteater myself and found this highly valuable supporting my own values. Do you think that it is possible to save her without getting through chemo, and putting her on strict diet and lifestyle?

  • Dr. TR

    Doc, I hope you can comment on the recent study published in the journal of nutrition (J Nutr. 2012 Jun;142(6):1074-80.) contradicting the previous NIH-AARP findings. I would like to see how you deal with it. Here is the link

  • Shaila

    I am a CML patient for about 11 yrs and soon will undergo transplant. Can you suggest food that I should be eating more of. I have been a vegan for the last 1 year and always regret why I haven’t consider going vegan earlier. Your website have been very helpful for over the years. Thank you for all your videos and discussions.

    • Thea

      Shaila, I’m not a doctor and don’t have specific recommendations for you. However, I thought I would note that a whole plant food based diet seems to be very good for making a healthy immune system. Surely that would be a good idea for someone facing a transplant.

      I just wanted to wish you good luck with your procedure. And to say that I am totally with you on your thought about, why didn’t I go vegan earlier!? I sure wish I had.

      Best of luck to you.