Anti-meat activists have thrown down their gloves. First we saw the callous attempt by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to use the late Tony Snow as a political football for vegetarianism. Then, a creepy ad campaign surfaced featuring children posing as adults while lamenting their allegedly processed meat-induced cancer. And this week, school districts across the country were outraged when they received failing nutrition “report cards” for serving students processed meats.
These stunts are the latest episode in a campaign by the Cancer Project, a PCRM spinoff, to ban such meats from schools. The rationale, according to the misnamed group, is an alleged link between processed meats and colorectal cancer. But just how solid is the science behind this cancer claim?
Given what the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has said about the ubiquitous “good food vs. bad food” approach to health, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Cancer Project’s War on Processed Meats is a stack of bologna. As the ADA explained in its journal last year:
[N]o single food or type of food ensures good health, just as no single food or type of food is necessarily detrimental to health.
This common-sense statement alone could be enough to put processed meats in the clear. But Harvard researchers have found even more reason not to let vegan sensationalism stand between you and a little bacon.
Apparently the World Cancer Research Fund study, on which these activist claims are based, omitted some crucial information. Namely, the largest-ever study examining the link between meat consumption and colorectal cancer. According to STATS, a nonpartisan research organization affiliated with George Mason University,
The World Cancer Research Fund did not include the largest ever pooling study to consider the relationship between colon cancer and meat. Preliminary details of “Meat and fat intake and colorectal cancer risk: A pooled analysis of 14 prospective studies,” by Eunyoung Cho, and Stephanie A. Smith-Warner for the Pooling Project of Prospect Studies of Diet and Cancer Investigators, were published in 2004 and there was no association between higher red meat consumption (including processed meat) and a higher colorectal cancer risk among 725,258 subjects. (emphasis added)
Clearly the recent scaremongering by PCRM and the Cancer Project is based on little more than shaky science and a vendetta against hot dogs and pepperoni. But there’s one question we can’t help asking: If children and dead journalists aren’t off-limits, who or what is?