Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Carcinogens, food poisoning and meat

Cancer-causing substances

Meat contains a number of carcinogens. These include the nitrites used in meat processing, and residues of the many antibiotics routinely used in modern factory farming. Hardly surprising, then, that vegetarians have a 30% lower cancer rate than meat eaters, although carcinogens are not the only reason of this great difference in cancer incidence between the two groups.

Plant foods contain several substances which are believed to protect against cancer. Indoles, lignans, isoflavones, protease inhibitors and others have all been shown to be potent anti-carcinogens and may play an important role in the lower cancer incidence among vegetarians.

In contrast, cooked meat and fish contains carcinogens known as heterocyclic amines (HAs). These are present at high levels in the urine of people consuming cooked meats and have been shown to be metabolically active in humans. Evidence suggests meat-derived HAs may play a role in breast, colon and pancreatic cancer (Snyderwine 1994).

Food Poisoning

Studies have demonstrated that 53% of bovine carcasses and 83% of pig carcasses were contaminated with E coli. 18% of raw chicken from Britain and 64% of imported poultry contained salmonella. In a 1996 study, more than half of UK-bred chickens purchased from retail outlets contained campylobacter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 20,000 E. coli infections from meat every year in the United States.

Meat and milk account for most of the food poisoning in Britain, some of which lethal. Bacteria, which become resistant to the antibiotics that are continually pumped into farm animals, are passed on from livestock to human consumers, along with foecal contamination. Many cows in Britain's herds are infected with mastitis, the catarrh-like discharge which is not curbed by antibiotics. British milk is among Europe's worst: a diluted solution of hormones, antibiotics and pus.

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