Meat eating causes disease?

by (10)
Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 11, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Hi, I am a 1 year paleo lover, but have recently been doing my research and found a question i would love to know more about.. if anyone has insight please let me know!!

i have recently heard the argument many a time that meat eating causes colon cancer and heart disease.. i was wondering if these statistics are just completely untrue, or are they based on the population eating factroy farmed meats not grass fed, or is it dues to something else in their diet... which would be difficult as the study is based on the high consumption of meat..

so there it is.. EDUCATE me please

15515 · March 11, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Thanks for your post because I eat A LOT of meat and I am actually worried...

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3 Answers

12682 · March 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM

There are observational studies from the US that have found a link between (red) meat and colon cancer. Interestingly, this link is generally non-existent when looking at observational studies from europe:

Why is this the case? Maybe because red meat is often villanized here in the States and thus ends up being consumed less by health conscious people and more by health ambivalent people. Or maybe because European meat is more likely to have been raised on pasture and grass. I honestly don't know for sure.

Another interesting idea being found recently is that those American studies condemning meat aren't accounting for high heat cooking temperatures and its actually the harshly cooked meat fried at McDonald's or on your uncle Ted's grill that causes colon cancer. Again, it's hard to say for sure at this point but some evidence is pointing that way.

Oh yeah and some large studies have linked vegetarianism to increased rates of colon cancer:


Personally I think gently cooked meat from pastured animals is not going to increase my risk of colon cancer. I even think it may even decrease it, especially when paired in meals with vegetables (most vegetables contain chlorophyl, resistant starch, and/or polyphenols, all of which have been shown to reduce the potential oxidative stress from heme iron on the colon).

15515 · March 11, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Thanks for your post because I eat A LOT of meat and I am actually worried...

628 · March 12, 2013 at 3:43 AM
1232 · March 11, 2013 at 9:04 AM

A control factor worth considering when examining the link between meat-eating and disease: the majority of people eating high-meat diets presumably are not following a very healthful nor paleo protocol. They may be more likely to shun other nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables which would make them more prone to diseases caused not by eating meat per se but by a lack of other nutrients.

Something else worth pointing out: All foods, insofar as they can carry bacteria, can "cause disease". Different foods carry different sorts of bacteria and risk factors. It might be true in this sense that "x food causes disease" however this statement may be uncontroversial depending on the context of the term "causes disease". If there is a link between meat and disease, question how significant this link is compared to other foods.

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