The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) new guidelines for cancer reduction were revealed recently and it’s no surprise that they recommend avoiding or reducing meat intake.
The ACS is advising the public to consume far less processed and read meats while shifting to more plant-based whole foods.
Published in the CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians on June 9th the new ACS guidelines say that a “healthy eating pattern” and regular exercise can decrease the risk factors for multiple types of cancer.
They note that healthy eating means limiting or removing lamb, “beef”, and “pork” along with processed flesh meats like hot dogs, “bacon”, and lunch meats.
Alcohol, sugary drinks, and refined grains are also listed as foods they advise against eating.
In the guidelines the do advise consuming nutrient-rich, high in fiber foods like vegetables, whole grains, beans, fruits, and peas. “Eat the rainbow” as we’ve all heard for years.
These new guidelines follow in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) stance released in 2015 where they famously classified red meats as a Group 2A carcinogen that was “probably carcinogenic to humans”. They referenced studies that lined consistent consumption of red meat to colorectal cancer.
The WHO also classified processed meats (hot dogs, sausage, lunch meats, etc.) as a Group 1 carcinogen which put it on par with cigarettes since this classification means there’s evidence from studies that connect it strongly with cancer risk.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research released a study in 2018 that found red meat consumption increased the risk of pancreatic, nasopharynx, stomach, lung, and colorectal cancers.
That same 2018 study found processed meats to also increase the risk of contracting esophageal, stomach, lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers.
Professor Martin Wiseman, WCRF International’s Medical and Scientific Adviser said about the WCRF study:
“The evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut. The data show that no level of intake can confidently be associated with a lack of risk,”
Just like the conclusions of the American Cancer Society the WCRF also suggested consuming a diet predominantly made up of whole plant-based foods to help reduce or eliminate the risk of cancer associate with animal flesh consumption.
“Our evidence suggests the greatest risk is for people who consume no or hardly any vegetables or fruit,” said Dr. Rachel Thompson, WCRF’s Head of Research Interpretation.
Not only are multiple types of cancer linked to red and processed meat consumption but heart disease (the number one killer of Americans) is linked to their consumption too.
The American Heart Association (AHA) also suggests whole food plant-based vegan diet to protect people’s heart health.
An AHA study done over nearly three decades analyzed four dietary patterns from Americans starting in 1987 and ending in 2016.
Their study found that the participants that consumed the largest amount of “healthy plant foods” showed lower risks of heart disease.
They concluded from their data that plant-based vegan diets “were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality.“
The new study released from the ACS, however, has several obvious things people should do to stay healthy:
Get to and Stay at a Healthy Weight Throughout Your Life
- If you are overweight or obese, losing even a few pounds can lower your risk for some forms of cancer (and other serious health problems).
- The best way to get and stay leaner is to combine a healthy diet with plenty of physical activity. Aim for the right weight by learning about your body mass index (BMI). Even if you don’t reach your ideal weight, eating well and being active can improve your health, help you feel better, and help protect you against cancer.
Knowing your BMI can tell you if your weight is healthy for someone of your height. You can find your BMI by using a simple chart, such as the one online at cancer.org (search for “BMI calculator”), or by asking your doctor.
Move More and Sit Less
Physical activity can lower your risk of several types of cancer by helping you get to and stay at a healthy weight and by affecting the levels of some hormones that contribute to cancer formation. Long periods of sitting can have opposite effects.
- Adults: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. More activity is even better, and 300 or more minutes of moderate activity (or 150 or more minutes of vigorous activity) is ideal. You can also choose a combination of moderate and vigorous activities—1 minute of vigorous activity can take the place of 2 minutes of moderate activity. For example, 150 minutes of moderate activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, and a combination of 100 minutes of moderate activity plus 25 minutes of vigorous activity count as the same amount.
- Children and teens: Get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous activity each day.
- Spend less time sitting or lying down while engaged in screen‐based entertainment. This includes looking at your phone, computer, or TV. Avoid long periods of sitting or lying down.
Have Fun and Be Fit
- You can be active by walking briskly, swimming, gardening, doing housework, or even dancing! Practical activities like walking or biking as transportation instead of driving also count as physical activity.
- If you have children, grandchildren, or pets, be active with them.
These are things we can all do even if we are vegan and on a healthy diet so that we can live long and healthy lives. It also allows us to be good examples for the non-vegans we meet.
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