Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second-largest cause of cancer death in the U.S. About 98,200 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in 2001, and colon cancer is expected to be responsible for approximately 48,000 deaths in the U.S. this year alone. The greatest incidence of colon cancer occurs primarily in the developed world where the consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products is high.
A 1999 study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, investigated the rarity of colon cancer in black Africans. The authors concluded that the low prevalence of colon cancer in this population is related to the absence of animal protein and fat.
The average American faces a 6 percent lifetime risk of colon cancer, according to the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention. The American Cancer Society (ACS), discussing all cancer, points out that “about one-third of the 500,000 cancer deaths that occur in the United States each year is due to dietary factors … Although the committee recognizes that no diet can guarantee full protection against any disease, we believe that our recommendations offer the best nutrition information currently available to help Americans reduce their risk of cancer.” The society’s top two recommendations are: “1. Choose most of the foods you eat from plant sources,” and “2. Limit your intake of high-fat foods, particularly from animal sources.”
The ACS takes such a strong stand because numerous studies over many years link meat and dairy products to the development of a variety of cancers. Discussing colon cancer specifically, the National Cancer Institute upon examination of the body of evidence, says that “colorectal cancer seems to be associated with diets that are high in fat and calories and low in fiber” and that “eating vegetables and fruits is associated with a decreased risk of cancers of the … colon [and] rectum …” Remember that meat and dairy products have absolutely no fiber at all, and even lean meats and “low fat” dairy products are packed with fat and cholesterol, relative to fruits, vegetables, and grains. And the ACS Web site states that “a diet mostly from animal sources” is a risk factor for colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer. As a result, the ACS “recommends choosing most of your foods from plant sources and limiting intake of high-fat foods such as those from animal sources.”
Numerous studies have linked meat, eggs, and dairy products to the development of colon cancer. The following sample of studies shows the correlation:
Upon reviewing an array of studies discussing the link between diet and colon cancer, scientists from the Bremen Institute for Prevention, Research, and Social Medicine and the German Cancer Research Center stated in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that “the relationship between a vegetarian and fiber-rich diet and a decreased risk for colon cancer has been reported in many studies.”
A review of population studies published in 1996 in the prestigious Italian medical journal Annali dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanita found that meat and other animal fats are among the most consistent risk factors for colon cancer and that vegetarian diets reduce the risk of colon cancer.
A population study conducted by the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health found that “animal fat was positively associated with the risk of colon cancer.” The authors also reported that in another large-scale clinical study, women who consumed beef, lamb, or pork as a main dish at least once a day were more than 250 percent more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer than women who consumed meat as a main dish less than once a month.
Researchers at the Center for Health Research at Loma Linda University reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology in 1998 that colon cancer has “a positive association with … both red meat intake and white meat intake.”
A Swedish study published in the International Journal of Cancer states that “results also indicate that there is an association between meat consumption and colorectal cancer.”
A 1999 study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, concluded that the low prevalence of colon cancer among black Africans is related to the absence of animal protein and fat in their diet.
A 1990 survey and 1991 followup published in the International Journal of Cancer found that there were increased risks for colorectal cancer associated with consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs.
So, before you bite into that next burger, nugget, or slice of pepperoni pizza, consider this: Do you really want to spend your final days suffering from the pain and agony of colon, rectal, or some other lethal cancer? If not, grab a vegan cookbook and learn to live and let live with the help of great, tasty, and healthful recipes that you will love much more than that greasy box of nuggets and that slimy shake. Bon appetit!