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Do Vegetarians Get Fewer Cancers?

March 31, 2009 | 61,697 views
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vegetarianA vegetarian diet may help to protect against cancer, according to a new study. Analysis of data from 52,700 men and women shows that those who did not eat meat had significantly fewer cancers overall.

However, the researchers also found a higher rate of colorectal cancer (a disease often linked with eating red meat) among the vegetarians.

Researchers divided the study participants into meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. There was a significantly lower incidence of all cancers among the fish-eaters and vegetarians when compared with the meat eaters. For colorectal cancer, however, that trend was reversed.
 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Although some people decide to become vegetarians for spiritual or philosophical reasons, many do so for health reasons, often encouraged by studies like the one above. The China Study is another frequently cited "gold standard" of proof, however I have previously commented why I believe this study is seriously flawed.

And there are loads of studies showing that eating meat is bad for you in one way or another, and being vegetarian is good.

But it is my belief that most of these studies get the favorable findings toward vegetarianism that they do because the common way most people consume animal protein is COOKED, or worse yet grilled, creating all kinds of toxic, cancer-causing substances in the meat.

To the best of my knowledge there are no studies comparing raw animal-food-based diets versus cooked vegetarian diets, or even grass-fed, organic, lightly cooked meat diets compared to vegetarian ones.

And even if there were these types of studies, they still could be flawed because they most likely would not factor in the person’s nutritional type.

There are so many variables in the equation, it’s hard to know where to begin, but let me first explain why being a vegetarian is NOT healthy for everyone.

Two-Thirds of People, or More, Will NOT Thrive as Vegetarians

No one diet works for everyone because we are all unique on a biochemical level, and we all need different amounts of macronutrients -- fats, protein and carbs -- to help us function optimally. You can find out the right ratio of macronutrients for you by learning your nutritional type.

You may be a protein type, mixed type or carb type, and as the names imply require a lot of protein and fat, a moderate amount or a small amount to thrive. Only about one-third of people are truly carb types, which means they could get by on a vegetarian diet (using eggs and other non-meat animal products for their protein sources).

For the other two-thirds of us, eating high-quality protein is necessary to function each day and certainly to prevent disease. Some of the sickest patients I have seen over the years have, in fact, been protein nutritional types who insisted upon eating a vegetarian diet. And when cancer patients are treated in our clinic, nutritional typing is one of the most powerful anti-cancer strategies we have.

So if you are a vegetarian and facing health problems, I would highly suggest you learn your nutritional type and begin to eat the right ratio of foods to best support your health.

How You Cook Your Meat Matters

Just as a vegetarian diet is not healthy for everyone, eating meat is not healthy across the board either. There are numerous factors that influence the quality or health-value of the meat you eat, such as:

• Whether or not it’s organic (conventional meat is loaded with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals)
• Whether or not it’s grass-fed (essential for healthy meat)
• Whether or not it contains nitrates, preservatives linked to cancer (processed meats are a big-time no-no)
• How it’s cooked

Any time you cook meat at high temperatures, whether you’re grilling, frying, broiling, etc., some pretty nasty chemicals are created:

Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs): These form when food is cooked at high temperatures, and they’re linked to cancer. In terms of HCA, the worst part of the meat is the blackened section, which is why you should always avoid charring your meat, and never eat blackened sections.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): When fat drips onto the heat source, causing excess smoke, and the smoke surrounds your food, it can transfer cancer-causing PAHs to the meat.

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): When food is cooked at high temperatures (including when it is pasteurized or sterilized), it increases the formation of AGEs in your food. When you eat the food, it transfers the AGEs into your body. AGEs build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.

In other words, even if you are a protein type who thrives on red meat, eating grain-feed beef that’s been charred to a crisp will NOT improve your health.

In order for meat to be its healthiest, it should be organic and grass-fed, and it should be cooked as little as possible, or even eaten raw. You can also quickly sear the meat on both sides, leaving the inside mostly raw. This gives the illusion that you’re eating cooked meat, with many of the benefits of raw.

Many people are concerned about parasites or other infections. It is important to recognize that the quality of the animal is of utmost importance here. If you are consuming factory farmed animals that are fed and housed poorly than this is certainly an issue.  Infections become far less likely if you are consuming meat from appropriately fed and humanely raised animals.

Additionally one can supplement with hydrochloric acid when consuming your meal to help increase the pH of your stomach which is designed to kill most pathogens.

So while there are many variables involved, the majority of people feel their best when they include some healthy sources of lightly cooked or raw animal protein in their diet.

What Cookware You Use With Your Meat Also Matters

One of the most important variables that many fail to consider is the type of cookware they use to prepare their meals as this has the ability to transfer toxins like aluminum and fluoride gas to your environment even if you are cooking vegetables.

It is important to avoid all non stick cookware as they are slippery due to fluoride polymers that will volatilize once you heat the pan. This fluoride gas is well documented to increase your risk for developing health problems.

So, I'm sure you understand when I say “enough already” with the potential dangers of using Teflon. If you haven't already done it, don't you think it's time to give your Teflon cookware the boot for good?

Although this type of cookware usually goes by the brand name there are many other non-stick brand names that contain this toxic coating, including: Silverstone, Fluron, Supra, Excalibur, Greblon, Xylon, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph and T-Fal, to name just a few. So, watch out for these as well.

Additionally I would not recommend aluminum pans for cooking if you want to enjoy your golden years. Aluminum is a causal factor suspect in Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Contrary to popular belief, stainless steel may not be an inert metal either. All stainless steel has alloys containing nickel, chromium, molybdenum, carbon, and various other metals.

In a study conducted on heart patients receiving stainless steel stents, restenosis occurred in 50% of patients. Allergies to the nickel and molybdenum in the stainless steel were suspected causal factors.  

While this study is clearly not cooking-related, it is certainly possible that cooking with stainless steel, clad or not, may increase the likelihood that metals will leach into your food. This is especially true if the cookware becomes pitted due to extended use or storage of acidic foods. For those with nickel allergies, it could be a particularly concerning problem.

Copper is an alternative that provides even heat distribution. However, I recommend that it never has direct contact with your food.

When you use copper as your cooking surface, it can leach out in excessive amounts. If enough leaching occurs, you could potentially experience digestive discomforts.*

Therefore, most copper pans come lined with other metals, creating the same concerns noted above. And copper pans are also extremely costly.

Ceramic or Glass One of Best Materials

So here is the summary of what cookware would be wise to avoid:

Cookware Material Potential Hazards
Teflon PFOA induced potential health hazards -- from your immune system to birthing activities
Aluminum Is a reactive metal and suspected casual factor in Alzheimer's disease
Stainless steel Potential likelihood of metal leaching into your food and allergen issues
Copper Due to the possibility of copper caused discomfort, recommended to never have direct contact with your food

Of course, I believe you should eat as much of your food raw as possible, but if you choose to cook your meal I could not recommend more strongly that you use a glass, or better yet, a new high tech ceramic cookware to prepare your meals. It is the only cookware I use in my home.

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico