Today is World Cancer Day, an opportunity to raise awareness of the causes of cancer, one of the world’s biggest killers. In an article in The Independent, Dr Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, explains that eating meat is up there with smoking as a lifestyle choice that increases our risk of developing this devastating disease.
Going vegan is one of the most effective ways to protect our health. The following key points help explain why:
1. Unlike foods from plants that enhance our health, meat and dairy products have the same hazards as cigarette smoking, including increased risks of suffering from strokes, heart disease and cancer.
2. According to the World Health Organisation, dietary factors account for at least 30 per cent of all cancer in Western countries and up to 20 per cent in developing countries.
3. Studies in Germany and the UK have shown that vegetarians are about 40 per cent less likely to develop cancer than meat-eaters.
4. Processed meat, such as bacon, sausage and ham, is so strongly linked with bowel cancer that no one should ever eat it, according to a recent report by the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research.
5. Countries with a higher intake of fat, especially fat from animals, such as meat and dairy products, have higher rates of breast cancer.
6. The high fat content of meat and dairy products boosts hormone production, which increases the risk of hormone-related cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer.
7. Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and many vegetables, may lower the risk of developing cancer of the oesophagus and stomach by neutralising cancer-causing chemicals formed in the body and blocking the conversion of nitrates to carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach.
8. Carotenoids, the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their colours, have been shown to help protect against lung cancer and may help prevent cancer of the bladder, mouth, larynx, oesophagus and breast as well.