Tag Archives: carcinogens

Strike out cancer! Go vegan!

By Heather Moore

April is Cancer Control Month.

It’s also the official start of baseball season.

Every year, Major League Baseball (MLB) partners with a national cancer charity to show support for those who have been touched by cancer. Each season, during the All-Star Game and the World Series, MLB invites players, coaches, umpires and fans to “stand up to cancer” by holding up signs bearing the names of loved ones who are battling the disease.

I always get choked up during these events, especially since my mother and a close friend are breast cancer survivors. But then I remember that many of the foods sold in baseball stadiums — like hot dogs and hamburgers — can cause cancer, and the initiative suddenly seems incongruous.

Selling meat at stadiums where people are encouraged to take a stand against cancer makes about as much sense as serving booze at a benefit for MADD or taking doughnuts to a Weight Watchers meeting.

While it’s fun to see players swinging pink bats to raise awareness about breast cancer or wearing blue wristbands to call attention to prostate cancer (the second most common cancer among men), it would be far more effective for MLB to warn fans about the connection between cancer and meat — or better yet, for all MLB stadiums to stop selling carcinogenic foods.

In April 2015, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council sent out a news release estimating that baseball fans would eat more than 18.5 million hot dogs and nearly 4.2 million sausages — enough processed animal flesh to stretch from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to Chase Field in Phoenix — during the 2015 Major League season. But six months later, the World Health Organization made headlines when it published a report announcing findings that processed meats cause cancer and that red meat is probably carcinogenic, too.

Then in March, a study published in Cancer Causes & Control found that Latinas who eat a serving of processed meat per day about the size of a strip of bacon have a 42 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer than those who don’t. Another recent study, this one by Loma Linda University Health, shows that vegan men are a third less likely than nonvegan men to develop prostate cancer.

And according to a recent Oxford University study, if everyone stopped eating animal-based foods, this could save 8.1 million human lives a year — not to mention billions of animals. The study’s researchers believe that if we all went vegan, the combined numbers of deaths per year from cancer, heart disease, strokes and diabetes would decrease by 19 percent.

I’m hoping fans will eat considerably less meat this season, and that stadiums will offer more vegan options. I’m seeing promising signs so far. This March, Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota — the springtime home of my beloved Baltimore Orioles — began offering veggie dogs in addition to veggie burgers, which have been available for several years now. And this season, there will be a vegan food cart at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, which will feature vegan nachos, vegan jerky, vegan spinach wraps and other vegan options. Almost makes me want to root for the Rangers!

Many other major league stadiums, including Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park; Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles; Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.; and U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, have scored spots on PETA’s annual listing of vegetarian-friendly ballparks. And I don’t just mean for their popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks, either — some offer vegan cheesesteak, vegetable sushi, black-bean burgers and other vegan items. That’s really something to cheer about.

So, let’s take a stand against cancer and other diseases — as well as against cruelty to animals — by choosing vegan fare at the ballpark and beyond. And if MLB does its part by continuing to increase vegan offerings at stadiums, it will actually help strike out — instead of perpetuating — cancer.

Bacon is “trending” now: Pass the carcinogens!

By Heather Moore
 
The meat-eating public’s general reaction — disbelief, denial and anger — to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) announcement that bacon and other processed meats cause cancer and that red meat, including beef, pork and lamb, is probably also carcinogenic, shows that meat is not just cancerous. It’s also addictive. Even after reading reports linking meat to colorectal cancer — which can cause diarrhea, rectal bleeding and abdominal pain and even be fatal — many meat-eaters are refusing to change their eating habits. Some even insist that they’d rather die than stop eating bacon. 
 
I think those people need to attend Meat and Dairy Eaters Anonymous meetings to help them kick their unhealthy addiction, or they may well get what they want.
Seriously. There are 12-step programs to help people kick their addictions to alcohol and cigarettes, and according to WHO, cured and processed meats belong in the same category. Kim Robien, a cancer epidemiologist at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, says the WHO report is “very legitimate” and confirms longstanding research showing that meat consumption raises one’s risk of cancer.
 
Just a few days after the WHO report first made headlines, scientists from Oxford University revealed that eating one steak per week increases one’s risk of colorectal cancer by more than two-fifths and that people who eat meat twice a week have an 18 percent higher risk compared with vegetarians.

Other studies have linked meat consumption to heart disease, diabetes, strokes and several other types of cancer.
 
And yet many people are still eating meat!
 
This may be because meat and other animal-based foods contain opiates and other drug-like chemicals that cause people to get “hooked” and keep craving more.

A recent study conducted at the University of Michigan and released by the U.S. National Library of Medicine indicates that the more processed and fatty a food is, the more likely it is to cause addictive eating behavior. Meat-eaters and vegans alike can agree that many vegan foods, such as strawberries, peaches and pasta with marinara sauce, are quite tasty, but they’re not chemically addictive.
 
Researchers identify addictive foods based on people’s responses to the Yale Food Addiction Scale questionnaire. Many people reportedly have a hard time controlling their intake of foods such as pizza, steak, bacon, cheeseburgers and ice cream. Cheese is thought to be especially addictive because the casein (milk protein) it contains releases opiates called casomorphins.
 
According to Dr. Neal Barnard, the author of Breaking the Food Seduction, it takes just three weeks to kick cravings for addictive foods like meat and cheese.

This explains why 21-day vegan programs are so popular—and effective. If you stopped eating addictive foods for three weeks, you’d crave them much less than you would if you had eaten them the previous day.
 
Giving meat and other animal-based foods the boot will reduce your risk of life-threatening illnesses and help animals at the same time.

Researchers have found that people who eat plant-based meals are between 25 and 50 percent less likely to get cancer, and each vegan spares more than 100 animals every year.
 
Bacon isn’t worth dying for — not for people and not for pigs. With so many tasty vegan foods to enjoy, kicking the meat habit is entirely possible. And it could save your life!