"The Steaks are Done! Hey, Where'd Everybody Go?"

Attention All Lovers of the Following:

Hamburgers (also known as "our national pastime")
French Fries (also known as "coronary sticks")
Pastries (apply directly to hips to cut out the middle man)
Sugary Drinks (the answer to this riddle: "What is the slowest known way to commit suicide?")
Beef (sorry, Fred - brontosaurus steaks are gefahrbringend)
Pork (th-th-that's all, folks!)
Lamb (Mary had a little, and look what happened to her)
Bacon (a.k.a. colon cancer fertilizer)
Ham (see "Bacon")
Sausage (see "Ham")
Lunch Meat (see how it is made for the best deterrent)
Alcohol (Hic! Hey, even the skeptics say one or two snorts a day is worth the risk, given its protective effect against heart attacks. Pass the bottle - the small one, please.)

A comprehensive new report warns that medical evidence is stronger than ever that excess body fat increases a person's risk for numerous cancers.

Wow! This report really lambastes several of our most popular menu items for crimes against humanity, namely for increasing the risk of acquiring cancers of the colon, esophagus, pancreas, breast, endometrium and kidney. Oh, is that all? Ahh, what do they know?

The report by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund says there is also convincing evidence linking consumption of alcohol, red meat and processed meat to elevated cancer risk.

Yea, sure - another feeble attempt to try and scare us T-bone lovers by patching together bits of incompletely analyzed data and then jumping to the politically correct conclusion.

The report, the second by the expert panel in 10 years, is the most comprehensive ever published on the evidence linking cancer risk to diet, physical activity and weight. It is the culmination of a five-year process that involved nine independent teams of scientists from around the world, hundreds of peer reviewers and 21 international experts who reviewed and analyzed more than 7,000 large-scale studies.

Oh...never mind. (looks down at shoes)

I suppose I should pay attention to what they're saying...(tears welling in eyes)...I feel awful that I made fun of your report...can you ever forgive me? (choking back sobs) Just tell me what I should do to make you happy and by God, I'll do it!

In a separate recommendation, the panel says meals should be planned around non-starchy vegetables and fruits, served with such protein sources as poultry, fish or eggs.

"We are recommending five servings or more of vegetables and fruit daily because, like physical activity, they pack a double whammy against cancer," panel member Dr. Phillip James said in releasing the 517-page report.

"Probable evidence indicates they help reduce cancer risk on their own, and as low energy-dense foods, they help maintain a healthy weight, which the evidence shows has a big influence on cancer risk," James said.

I feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. I'm going out right now and stock up the pantry with nothing but healthy food. Thank you, American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, for sending this wake-up call to all of us who have been eating cancer-causing crap like it's the last day of the world. Well, I'm off to market - just as soon as Mom fixes my breakfast.

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What exactly is the difference between red meat and poultry in promoting colon cancer?

What especially about bacon? Is it the fat, or the smoking? In the former case, would a lean turkey bacon be OK for the occasional indulgence?

I didn't pay a great deal of attention to this news as reported on BBC Radio 4 this afternoon, but now that it has been pointed out that this is an American study, I must point out that American "bacon" is almost entirely fat, and Americans burn it. I seem to recall burning food being a good way to produce carcinogens (especially when done with gas or charcoal). So does this apply equally to real bacon?

The problem with bacon is that nitrates are used as preservatives.

I am interested in seeing this report when my copy arrives. Are they really scare mongering that much?

There is really no avoiding it, is there? At some point, the evidence will pile up against us so completely that we will not be able to avoid it, and we'll stop eating bacon (oh God I think that means proscuitto, too... sob...) and french fries and the rest because it's easier than dying by the millions.

I'm a breast cancer survivor, and I wonder how much of my cancer was preventable. Why did I, a healthy 35 year old, get cancer? I don't blame myself, but I do wonder if it might have been avoided, or if a future bout can be avoided.

What I do know is this: I have a four year old daughter, and I'm going to raise her according to these standards (fruits & veggies, lean protein, whole grains, avoid preservatives etc.) because she doesn't have the bad habits that the average 35 year old does... yet. Maybe I can still influence her to enjoy healthful eating. Maybe she will not get cancer like her mama.

It's hard to do this, and to live according to this standard, in a world full of Kit Kats, though. Especially at Halloween.

The way I read this, it's mostly not the foods themselves (apart from burned meats), but that overeating them causes weight increase, which is the main health culprit.

So have steak. Just, have it like Japanese - about 80 grams worth, not 500, with vegetables, pickles and so on picking up the slack. And since you have so little, you can afford getting the highest quality, juiciest absolutely wonderfully marbled Kobe beef steak you could ever dream of.

Let's see, as a cancer survivor in a cancer family, in addition to the foods condemned by this report, I can't have chicken beause of estrogen in the feed, tofu because it has phytoestrogens, most fish because of mercury and lately, many greens because of e-coli and assorted other bacteria. I see my diet dwindling down to jicama, rutabaga and daikon with some nuts thrown in for protein. At least I can clear my bookcases and toss all my cookbooks--The Joy of Cooking is mostly recipes for forbidden foods!

Okay, nobody is kicking eating healthy...but...don't take the promises as fool proof. What the reporting of this study didn't mention was that obesity is tied to er/pr+ breast cancer in post-menopausal women. The thought is that the excess body fat contains estrogen and that encourages the cancer. Since you were unlikely to have been menopausal at 35 it may not apply to you. If your cancer was er/pr- there is no evidence that obesity was a risk factor. There is only a very small chance (1-2%) that any breast cancer you may get in the future will have different receptors than your first cancer.

Frankly, I love spinach and brocolli; they are probably the only foods that I eat on an everyday basis. Tomatoes are awesome and I crave oranges and avacado's like some people crave chocolate. I don't drink now, and never have very much and I breast fed three babies until they weaned themselves. I still got breast cancer. There are no promises here.

Pat:
Chicken feed does not contain estrogen. It may or may not have antibiotics. I am not aware of any hormones that are approved for use in poultry.

The problem I have with reports like this are that they are based on the goal of extending life expectancy. I honestly would rather die sooner than give up moderate amounts of both red meat and processed meats. Quality of life is just as important as quantity, especially since eating is the second more pleasurable experience to humans.

Emmy, you are correct that I was pre-menopausal at 35. I also had a BMI of about 24 - a few pounds overweight by my own standards, but within healthy BMI guidelines. I wasn't overweight in a clinical sense, and I think what I'm looking at is that our food supply is filled with things that may act as carcinogens. Is it water drunk from plastic bottles? Bacon? Partially hydrogenated oils? Excess sugar or alcohol? A deficit in fruits and veggies? Too much refined flour?

I ate organic for several years before getting cancer. I breast fed my daughter for 15 months. I exercised moderately. Yada yada yada.

The studies don't tell us the answers to my questions about why I got cancer in the first place; I'll probably never know. But I see this study - and its sisters - as a hard-to-ignore wake up call. Time for change.

"What especially about bacon? Is it the fat, or the smoking? In the former case, would a lean turkey bacon be OK for the occasional indulgence?"
Almost anything is ok for the OCASSIONAL indulgence.

Kristina, stop torturing yourself, you are not to blame. Evolution is not perfect, we live in a somewhat precarious balence and shit happens. Saying that each person should be responsible for their own health is a far cry from saying they can detirmine the outcome. Even with all the health studies you are only seeing percentage shifts, not magic bullets. Furthermore attitude has little to do with cancer. The other shoe can fall too, I have a 90 year-old relative who is in pretty good health and smokes like a chimney and has done all her life.