Something set me off today. It was not Melissa Doyle, she looked lovely as ever. Perhaps it was her casual report on how red meat seemed to be linked to cancer. Actually, it was not her at all. It was another research with data linking red meat to cancer. There were two parts that seemed to be an issue. The first one is “People who eat a lot of these meats” the second one I will get to later.
From this I decided to take a trip into US data. The first place we get is Hereford, Texas, which is the beef capital of the world, or so they say. I am not stating that this is not true and it is true that Texas is one of the 5 states responsible for over 50% of all produced beef from cattle and calves. Yet, my mother was from Buenos Aires and you have not tasted true beef until you have tasted a steak from an Argentinian charcoal grill. I am not leaving the subject here, because we have two places were beef rules supremely.
So how is their health?
Dr Karen Humphries seems to know what she was doing and the approach sounded well enough, so what is the issue? Well, when I take an initial look at the statistics the CDC has for Colorectal (Colon) Cancer (at http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/statistics/), the data (as incomplete as it is), shows no spike for these 5 states, because there is a valid thought, that outside the metropolitan area’s the home state might be the cheapest place to get steaks, consider that these places are not in possession of a vegetarian explosion (or is it a population explosion of vegetarians?), the overall spike of cancer, should stand out there (read slightly spike).
So, what is the other option?
Perhaps these people do not eat loads of red meat? Are you kidding me? Have you seen the sizes of steaks in them states, they are huge! I can eat a lot but I need to bring my A-game of hunger to these places to finish my plate. So is Dr Humphries wrong?
No, I do not believe this to be the case. She is by the way not the only one on this meaty horse. A 2008 article form Harvard Medical School (at http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/Red-meat-and-colon-cancer.shtml) shows a similar conclusion on the data that they have. So why am I questioning this?
I am not questioning these issues perse. Perhaps there is another factor that is not being considered. So am I just on a windmill chase, like a Don Quixote seeking the next windmill? I am not arguing that those who think this are wrong, but consider the next piece of information, which was found at http://authoritynutrition.com/is-red-meat-bad-for-you-or-good/.
The title ‘Is Red Meat Bad For You, or Good? An Objective Look‘ seems appealing enough, however is it therefor true?
They are giving us the following thoughts which some had considered a long time ago. The thought is set in the following quote “However, the meat we eat today is vastly different from the meat our ancestors ate. Back in the day, animals roamed free and ate grass, insects or whatever was natural to them. Picture a wild cow on a field 10.000 years ago, roaming free and chewing on grass and various other edible plants. The meat from this animal is completely different from the meat derived from a cow that was born and raised in a factory, fed grain-based feed, then pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to make it grow faster“.
Here is the question that is raised within me: “Is this research the first evidence of antibiotics and hormones on consumption beef?”
That is not really the question people seem to be looking at. So is this a windmill I am chasing, or are we asked to look away? This is not against Dr Karen Humphries, who was investigating the red meat on the people. To be honest, with the amount of red meat offered, I would have loved to have been a volunteer there (I could never refuse a good steak). The information and ‘evidence’ as well as my train of thought took less than 5 minutes to clear, then about 25 minutes to get through the readings and the CDC data tables. If we look at the Guardian article (at http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/24/worldwide-cancer-rates-uk-rate-drops). The issue here is that Cancer is seen in a generic term, which means all kinds of cancer and still Argentina, a massive beef consumer (and yummy it is too) is only on the 46th position, so have I made a case that it is not just about red beef, but are there other elements in play? Which is the second part to all this.
Without more data, the case I am making would only be supposition, yet is this a start? Are there other factors that reduce the dangers in the USA and Argentina? Is there now a valid case against certain hormones and antibiotics? There is no way to tell without a lot more data and more (and better) in depth research. If that is indeed the track we must walk, how should this proceed? You see, in any research there is a goal and a counter goal. You can bet your bottom dollar that pharmaceuticals would not want quick results. If you doubt that, then remember the ‘investigation’ in Syria that we saw in early 2014. The question ‘were chemical weapons used’ (which seemed like a joke) and ‘who did it’ was completely set aside. So here we face a possible approach to it in the way of ‘Could antibiotics be a cause of an increased presence of colon cancer causing bacteria?‘ and ‘Could hormones be a cause of an increased presence of colon cancer causing bacteria?‘ getting the research set up, the data collected and then the actual reporting done might be taking an intense amount of time, but should we therefore not get this done?
I do not pretend to have the answer, yet I do have the questions that were casually not asked in the Channel-7 news. Questions, which are at a first glance seemingly assumed, to some extent by Authority Nutrition, a site that is the child of Kris Gunnars, a medical student. He is also not the man just claiming and assuming issues. His site had an entire tab on evidence, filled with charts that seemed to have been made with proper analytical tools (I did not dig into that data though).
There is another side to all this. Kris voiced it really nice in his article “the meat we eat today is vastly different from the meat our ancestors ate“. We all (including me) seemed to have forgotten about that. As we go forward, what other parts had not been properly looked at? For example, the article ‘History of diethylstilbestrol use in cattle‘ (at https://www.asas.org/docs/publications/raunhist.pdf) gives several answers, but also leaves us with questions. Did anyone look at the evolution of meat as the ‘victim’ (also known as Mr or Mrs soon to be steak) had been treated by these hormones? Let us not forget that this game has been pushed through generation upon generation of hormones. Is the idea so far-fetched that we have changed to context of the BBQ target? Does this amount to poisoning the well? I truly do not know, but it seems that the latest results, in conjunction with the data that Harvard and several other sources have collected, contribute to a new train of thought that we need to take a very serious look at the meat and the cattle as well as their DNA in regards to our beefy food supply. It is the earlier mentioned paper by A. P. Raun and R. L. Preston that leads to two quotes linked to all this. In the beginning “The removal of DES from the market led to the development of a number of other growth stimulation products for cattle” and at the end “If diethylstilbestrol had not been removed, these same resources could have been directed toward the discovery, development, and approval of other technologies for the cattle industry“.
Yet, are we losing sight to the long term effects of these growth stimulants and hormones? If these bowel cancer numbers are linked in any way to these developments, what links are we yet to discover and at what price had beef profit been maximised? The last one is not a blame game moment. At some point hard choices had to be made, consider that Gartners meat in Portland Oregon gets us a Rib Eye for just under $15 (16 oz.), with this the fact that at present beef is at an all-time high according to Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/25/usa-agriculture-inflation-idUSL1N0QV0J620140825). What happens when the beef rises above the option to buy as a food source? This is not just the drought or disease which is the latest reasons for the price hike. Consider that 318 million American residents need their dinner, current statistics place the vegetarian population (those who hate plants more than animals) at roughly 10%, which means just over 280 million of meat pieces are needed EVERY DAY! Now, many do not have steak on a daily basis, so the need for beef is not at a deadly level, but…..
What did I just say?
There is the crux, have we been so into the need to get more food that eagerness was too quickly satisfied, but we now see a long term consequence.
LET ME BE CLEAR!
This last part is all conjecture, but is it being looked at? If not, why not? There is a foundation of concern and evidence that the effects of beef on our health seems to have changed, the question becomes how much? Questions I do not have answers to, but I was surprised not to see anyone in the press ask the question and deliver the results, just as is!
That itself is worth a question or two too.