Published on: October 28, 2015
In yesterday's MNB, we took note of an NBC News
story, widely reported yesterday, about how the new World Health Organization (WHO) report saying that red meat - including beef, pork and lamb - probably cause cancer, in addition to processed meats that it also has said are carcinogenic.
"Many studies show the links, both in populations of people and in tests that show how eating these foods can cause cancer," according to WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which released the report in Lancet
, a medical journal.
The meat industry replied to the charges by saying that the accusations were unwarranted.
I commented: The real news here would be if anybody in the pro-meat lobbying business actually conceded that their products had any relationship to cancer.
I'm no scientist ... but the WHO findings seem entirely reasonable to me. Then again, I've already cut back on my meat consumption for health reasons. If it helps cut back a bit on my chances of getting cancer, that sounds like a pretty good deal.
Boy, did I get slammed on this.
MNB user Jo Craven wrote:I’ve read multiple articles on WHO’s claim that red meat causes cancer… First of all every article says “probably” or “most likely”. What the heck, when did we stop basing facts on scientific proof and start guessing and pointing fingers. It sounds like WHO should be running for office! If I eat red meat every day for the rest of my life when will the cancer caused by red meat hit? Today, tomorrow, when I’m 97. Those in the scientific field have a responsibility to the public to not run around crying out like Chicken Little.
Furthermore, you adding to the article that you’ve changed your diet due to health concerns implies that everyone needs to adjust their diets to be more healthy. Let’s, for a minute, take into consideration all the differences in people. Different blood types, different gene pools, different food sources, different activity levels, different medical tendencies…. The list goes on and on and on; to say what one person does or needs in their life that everyone should do or need is just silly. I for one am not falling for it, please, let’s keep to the facts and concrete scientific proof with details. If science proves something causes cancer let us give the public the truth, the facts, and not just the skewed version to manipulate people’s believes in the direction current media wants to lead.
I am not in the red meat industry but I’m really tired of the scare tactics. Everything causes cancer. Everything is bad. They are taking away from things that really are bad and really do cause severe unrepairable damage.
It seems to me that the WHO report is saying that there appears to be a preponderance of evidence that consumption of red meat can lead to a great likelihood of cancer. As I said, I'm no scientist, so I have to depend on actual scientists for information that can help me reach conclusions. And as I said yesterday, the WHO findings seem reasonable.
I understand that there are scientists who disagree with the WHO conclusions. But there also were "scientists" who said that cigarettes did not cause cancer. There are "scientists" who say a lot of things that don't seem reasonable to me. So I read what I can, understand what I'm able to, and try to reach reasonable conclusions on my own.
If other people want to reach other conclusions, that's their business. To be honest, it's none of my business as long as the conclusions and disagreements don't veer into the public policy lane, at which point things get more contentious.
I added the part about my own diet - which to be honest, is far from optimal - because that is the section called "KC's View." It is what I've always done ... personalizing commentary in an effort to be both communicative and, sometimes, provocative.
By the way ... you write that I'm implying "that everyone needs to adjust their diets to be more healthy." I'm not in the business of lecturing anyone about how or what they eat, but I would suggest that the nation's obesity crisis does a lot more than imply this.
Another email, using the subject line "you disappoint me," came from MNB reader Jean O’Toole ... who is, I think it must be pointed out, with the New York Beef Council:I’m sure you are not rocked by the subject line, unless maybe if it was coming from your mom.
I’m disappointed in your comment about WHO and the link to meat and cancer. Maybe take a minute to view what comments people are saying about WHO/IARC and not the meat industries, they would beg to differ with you. Of course industry will defend, however I’d like to see you defend your statement, do you have proof? Maybe instead of WHO/IARC making assumptions, and not based on ALL factual data, maybe they should study the beef producers around the world and seek cancer rates in their families, maybe looking at century’s old practices of curing meats as a preservative, it’s a wonder we exist today.
Oh well, we all have opinions, even myself and yes I work for the industry, didn’t grow up in it, but have learned to admire and respect how it functions. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t take the time to see the multitude of comments on reports from CNN, Fox News, BBC to see the lack of transparency that others saw.
I’ll still follow your MNB, but every once and awhile, you lack further insight to what is being said, I’ll have to remember that if and when I feel you are influencing my views.
Nobody should agree with me all the time. And for the record, I did note yesterday that the beef industry disagreed with the WHO conclusions ... though I must concede that I did point out that it would've been real news if it had concurred with them.
I'm sorry if you think that when I express an opinion contrary to that of the industry that signs your paycheck, it undermines the validity of every opinion I express on every subject. To be honest, if I worried about such things, I'd never express an opinion.
From MNB reader Dan Jones:The sun may cause cancer, but you don’t spend your life in a dark room. The smell of a new car may cause cancer, but nobody spends 24/7 in new cars. Red meat may cause cancer, but few people eat red meat at every meal. And if you do – cancer may not be the first thing on the list to get you.
I think singer-songwriter Joe Jackson had it right years ago – “No caffeine. No protein. No booze or nicotine. Everything gives you cancer. There’s no cure, there’s no answer."
I'm sorry. The sun may
You're right, though. I don't spend my life in a dark room. But I do wear sunscreen, do wear a hat.
I wasn't suggesting that I was going to stop eating red meat completely. To my mind, the WHO conclusions serve mostly to suggest that people should be conscious of how much meat they eat because of the likelihood that it could increase the chances of getting cancer.
MNB reader Dennis Sirianni wrote:These findings somehow remind me of the Salem Witch Hunts. It was probable those women were witches, I mean they had a birth-mark or exhibited some odd behavior. I mean, it couldn't be explained, so….why not a witch? It was an answer to what was scaring the population, right.
Well, let's be realistic about this. Cancer, is scary, and remains elusive, so, why not advance an idea that seems to be plausible into the public conscience, and let those who are frightened of the witch, something to focus on instead of the “why the accusers of the witches actually pointed them out in the first place”. Ignore the man behind the curtain!!
I suppose (by the standards espoused in the WHO report), it is probably that stepping on a crack, can break your mothers back! Look, if responsible science understood the causes of cancer, it could be cured. There are certain facts in life, we will all die, some will abuse themselves and life long lives, some will avoid every Witch, and be careful walking on every sideway, and will still succumb to our eventual fate.
Herding animals for energy is not an invention of Modern Man. Tribes in Persia understood that the grasses contained the energy of the sun, but humans could not eat or process grass, but animals were converting this energy into proteins that we could eat. The harvest of the animal was spiritual, and we (as a species) advanced and thrived. Heck, I know I am protecting the Red Meat Industry (and I am), although, my real issue is RESPONSIBLE SCIENCE and REPORTING….
I won't speak to the question of "responsible science," simply because I'm not qualified to defend people a lot smarter and more educated than I.
As for "responsible reporting," I think it would have been irresponsible if I had not reported this story yesterday. It's out there. Deal with it. Disagree with the conclusions, if you want. But don't suggest that the WHO study should not have been reported.
Got a lot of very positive email (thank goodness!) about our story yesterday regarding the REI decision to close its stores on Black Friday, pay its employees and urge them to go for a hike rather than get involved in the morass of post-Thanksgiving commercialism.
One MNB user responded:I'm thinking we may be seeing the beginning of the end of Black Friday shopping frenzy. I know retailers don't want to hear this, but with many more options on shopping (on line, deals before and after Friday, lay away, etc), who needs to fight crowds on one of our precious days off? This now seems so "yesterday"-like, you can only get deals on one day? It's possible REI is ahead of the curve here.
From MNB reader Jenn Nannini:I could not agree more. I heard the news of REI’s decision to stay closed on Black Friday on my morning commute and was moved to tweet out a note of support for them. As a loyal REI member for many years, I applaud their decision and the consumer in me bears only warm fuzzies to the company for making it. As a seasoned marketer, I also think it’s not an entirely altruistic choice, but a sound business calculation made on the foundation of deep understanding and insights about the values that it’s core consumer base holds dear. When a business projects shared values of those shoppers it wishes to attract, it can reap tangible benefits — increased loyalty, brand equity, and, yes, even the elusive benefit of “brand love”.
Love and appreciate the insight I get from you every day –thank you!
MNB reader Russell J. Zwanka wrote:The REI move for Black Friday is a genius position for the company! The lifestyle they represent is just begging for this type of a statement. They are about the outdoors, so get outdoors. And the brilliant part? Just like when Patagonia told you to stop buying their products, sales will probably increase because of this statement. Anyone can sell price, not everyone can connect with a lifestyle. Nice move!
From MNB reader Nancy Lazara:REI is one retailer that I won’t have to Boycott on Black Friday. Kudos to them for so many reasons. I’ll be with family and friends enjoying my Turkey Dinner and inspired to do something in the spirit of REI.
MNB reader Mark A. Boyer wrote:I am already an REI member; have been for a long time. But if I weren’t, I would become one. And give them all of my business that I could.
And from MNB reader Ronnie Cook:I have used REI off and on for years. This Black Friday decision reinforces the good karma and great customer relationship I have experienced with REI. This move will definitely help me decide to shop REI more often.
And from MNB reader Kevin Hollenbeck:My wife is a strong consumer of REI ( I am not) and I can tell you when she hears this, it will only strengthen her commitment to REI. While I am not sure how it will help them attract new consumers, I would imagine their base is like my wife and will only strengthen their connection to this retailer. Which by the way is bad news for my pocketbook.