If meat is the cause of cancer, what fights it?

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by Dr Paul Palmer, Plant-Based Nutrition Expert – Sustainable Self

Following the announcement by the World Health Organisation, it is important for people to understand what cancer actually is. Cancer occurs when your own cells have mutated and start to divide at an unnatural rate and begin to occupy space that was previously required for normal body function.

Cancer tumours need to reach a certain size before they will affect health, and we now know that animal foods play a huge role in increasing the growth rate of tumours in humans. There are various mechanisms behind this phenomenon including the role of the hormone IGF1 and the amino acid called methionine in growing tumours. This announcement about processed meats is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg so to speak. I believe these announcements against animal foods will continue. This will increase in the near future as medical science actually starts to play a role in the worlds’ nutritional recommendations.

The science itself is clear about this when the entire body of evidence is taken into consideration. It shows that animal foods as a food group promote cancer and plant foods have been proven to protect against and fight cancer. When choosing meat alternatives a major concern for most is the role of soya in cancer development. However, studies conducted as far back as the ’90s have directly compared animal protein against soya (and wheat) protein in cancer development.

Animal protein was the only protein that caused tumour development and soya actually had a protective role. The more the public understands how animal foods cause cancer growth, the more effectively we can tackle the cancer issue. A new paradigm is upon us where the factors that grow cancer will be more important than the factors that initiate the onset of cancer.

Dr Paul Palmer is a Chiropractor and the leading plant-based nutritionist in South Africa.  He strives to educate all his patients about the importance of a healthy lifestyle incorporating chiropractic, plant-based nutrition and exercise.

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Last week, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO), announced that they were going to classify processed red meat as carcinogenic to humans “based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”

Globally, public and media reaction was immense and overall there is a sense that humans need to rethink their meat consumption. Whether a flexitarian or passionate meat eater – moderation and conscious consumer buying behaviour can now be seen as active health benefits in the fight against cancer.


Says Tammy Fry, International Marketing Director of Fry’s Foods. “As a family, we have been vegetarian for over two decades.  My parents started Fry’s Family Foods in their kitchen in 1991 in an attempt to find healthy, delicious meat-free alternatives.  They knew then that a meat-heavy diet was not good for your body or for the environment. Science is now agreeing with them.”

Fry’s Family Foods’ product range is entirely vegan and is made from grains and legumes.  As complete proteins, they contain all 8 essential amino acids.  They are also NON-GMO and have zero cholesterol.  The fact that they are tasty and appeal to non-vegetarian palettes is an additional bonus.

“I believe that WHO’s report had a massive impact on everyday consumers around the world because it dealt specifically with processed red meat,” says Fry. “People lead increasingly busy lives and convenience food has become the norm.  But convenience doesn’t have to mean unhealthy eating.  Fry’s products and recipes are specifically designed for ease of use and versatility.  Our food is easy to prepare and delicious.  For example, our quick meal section on our website has loads of recipes, like this Delicious Deconstruction, which is an epic burger designed to satisfy the most-meaty of hungers,” she adds.

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) also emphasizes the role that diet and leading a balanced lifestyle plays in reducing your cancer risk. They recommend eating five portions of fruit and vegetables while limiting your intake of meat. Instead of eating meat, CANSA recommends you rather eat more beans, lentils and soya products.

In the developing world cancer kills more people than AIDS, malaria, TB combined and it is predicted that those numbers are just going to increase. A study published by the medical journal Lancet predicts that South Africa could see an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030. The same study listed Prostate Cancer as being the number one cancer diagnosed amongst South African men.

“The timing of the WHO report and the fact that we are currently in ‘Movember’ means that this is the perfect time to show South African men in particular that eating less meat does not make them less-manly,” says Fry.  “In fact taking control of one’s health is a very powerful thing to do.  And it can start with choosing to make an epic, meat-free burger.”

Try the Meat Free Movember Challenge. Go Meat-Free for November and spread awareness about health on your plate and your face! Check our Eat Better section to download ecookbooks, meal plans and more to help you go Meat Free!