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That's Why They're Saying "Meat is the New Tobacco"

That’s Why They're Saying “Meat is the New Tobacco[i]”…

Is meat really the new tobacco? Increasingly researchers are showing us that animal-derived products are harmful to the health of our bodies. Read on for an insight into some of this research.

Meat new Tobacco

Stroke - A stroke is when a part of the brain dies due to a blockage or break in the arteries. The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of stroke[i]. High blood pressure (HBP) was a primary or contributing cause of death for about 374, 698 Americans in 2008. [ii] Many studies have found that a vegetarian diet effectively lowers blood pressure and can eliminate symptoms associated with HBP[iii] -13[iv] [v] [vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x] [xi] [xii]

 Eyes – Study shows that compared to meat eaters who ate about 100g of meat daily (a small amount of meat), vegetarians
 and vegans had approximately 30% and 40% lower risk of cataracts respectively.[xiii]

Cancer – Cooked meat contains HCAs, a family of mutagenic and cancer-causing compounds. Plant-based foods contain either no or negligible amounts. It doesn’t matter if you fry, boil or grill your meat these substances still form.[xiv]-19[xv][xvi][xvii][xviii] Fish intake has been found to be associated with breast cancer incidence rate in a study involving 23,693 postmenopausal women.[xix]
Increased leukemia (the most frequent type of childhood cancer) has been found in people who eat cured/smoked meat and fish more than once a week. An intake of vegetables and soy-bean curd may be protective[xx]

Cholesterol - The liver makes all the cholesterol that the body needs. The WHO and other researchers agree that humans
do not need to eat any cholesterol.
[xxi],[xxii]Only animal products contain cholesterol (meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs).  Animal protein may also have an effect on cholesterol levels. When researchers replace animal protein with plant protein (and keep dietary fat and cholesterol constant) serum cholesterol levels fall.[xxiii] According to Dr William Clifford Roberts, high cholesterol is the most important factor in developing atherosclerosis[xxiv] (atherosclerosis is when plaque grows in the arteries which interrupts blood flow). Dr Clifford Robert’s is the Head of Baylor Cardiovascular Institute, author of 1387 scientific publications  author of over 12 textbooks on cardiology and has been Editor in Chief of the American Journal of Cardiology for over 25 years.

Cardiovascular Disease (CD): One of the major causes of death in Australia[xxv] and the USA[xxvi]. In 2004-05 approximately 3.5 million Australians had a cardiovascular condition[xxvii].  CD has been linked to animal product consumption[xxviii]. The American Heart Association has stated: “The evidence linking elevated serum cholesterol to coronary heart disease is overwhelming.”[xxix] Low-fat vegetarian diets have been used to successfully treat and even reverse coronary heart disease.[xxx],[xxxi] Other diets, including eating low-fat meats have not been shown to reverse heart disease[xxxii]

Diabetes – Research shows that vegetarians  have a 45% reduced chance of developing diabetes while those that eat meat 6
or more times a week were found to be four times as likely to develop diabetes[xxxiii]. Still more research confirms that following a low fat vegetarian diet may eliminate or reduce the need for a diabetic to take medication[xxxiv] [xxxv] [xxxvi] and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing nerve and retina damage [xxxvii] [xxxviii] [xxxix] and improve kidney health in diabetics. [xl] [xli]  Beef has been found to raise insulin levels more than whole grain pasta, fish more than porridge and cheese more than white pasta. Beef raised insulin levels 27 times higher than brown rice.[xlii] (The Insulin Index of a food can vary marginally from the Glycaemic Index)[xliii]                    

Intestines - Frequent consumption of meat (especially red meat) is associated with a higher risk of colon cancer.[xliv] [xlv] [xlvi] [xlvii]A review of  32 case-control and 13 cohort studies also concluded that meat consumption is associated with an increase in colorectal cancer risk, especially red meat and processed meat.[xlviii] Chicken and fish have also found to be associated with higher rates of colon cancer[xlix].            
Gastroenteritis: Researchers in Lancaster (U.K) traced the cause of “gastro” and found that livestock is the chief transmission with 97% of human disease from the bacterium C.Jejuni found to originate in farm animals.[l]

Prostate – A study of 175,000 men showed an increase in prostate cancer risk with consumption of both grilled and BBQ’d
meat[li]. Another study has found that men who ate the most eggs or poultry (with the skin) were twice as likely to have their prostate cancer progress or recur[lii]. Other studies implemented a plant-based diet and exercise and found a decrease in prostate cancer progression rates.[liii] Overall, consuming animal products too frequently has been shown to increase the risk of various other cancers including bladder, brain, breast, endometrial, kidney, lung, lymphoma, orophayngeal, ovarian, pancreatic, skin and stomach[liv]

Bones: Studies have found a relationship between animal protein intake and increased risk of hip fracture[lv] and forearm fracture[lvi]. Elderly women with a diet containing a high ratio of animal protein to vegetable protein have been been found to experience more rapid bone loss and an increased risk of hip fracture compared to those with a lower animal protein to veg protein ratio.[lvii] Dr McDougall explains that when people eat high acid foods (cheese, red meat, poultry, fish, seafood & eggs) the body neutralises the acid with the bones which dissolve to release alkaline substances, then the kidneys release these bone minerals through the urine[lviii].                                                             

Arthritis: Common arthritis triggers include dairy products, meat and eggs.[lix] A study has shown that among people eating the most red meat, meat products combined and protein the risk for polyarthritis was higher.[lx] A higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis has been found with higher meat intakes. 56 [lxi]  Evidence shows that people on a vegan or vegetarian diet may have significant improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms along with improved laboratory values (rheumatoid factor, CRP).[lxii] [lxiii]  

Gout – Studies have found that people eating the highest amount of meat have an increased risk of developing gout.[lxiv] [lxv] An article in the New England Journal of Medicine states: “Higher levels of meat and seafood consumption areassociated with an increased risk of gout…Moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables orprotein is not associated with an increased risk of gout61

Lifespan -  Several studies have found that meat promotes premature death.[lxvi] [lxvii] [lxviii] A long-term study by the Harvard Scool of Public Health found that each daily serving of un-processed red meat increased risk of death by 13% and processed meat by 20%.[lxix] Certain high protein diets have been found to lower lifespan[lxx]. Lead researcher, Dr Theresa Fung stated: “A diet that is based on plant foods is a better choice than one that is based on animal foods”.

A flyer with this information can be downloaded for free at www.renewvitality.com.au (under education).

altEve Nguyen is a degree-qualified Naturopath, CPAP therapist and K.L stretch teacher with over 10 years experience in the field of health and Nutrition. In addition to teaching nutrition and cooking classes, Eve was chosen to be a Fairfield City Green Champion in 2010. As a vegan with a particular interest in environmental impacts on our health, Eve enjoys delivering information/ presentations to help people realise the link between the state of the environment and their own health.

[1] Kathy Freston, Health & Wellness Activist, Author. 5/3/12: “Meat is the New Tobacco” online article. Huffington Post:

Snapshot: “When I think about the effect of animal products on human health, I'm reminded of how quickly we've done a national about face on tobacco, and I look forward to the day when the Times magazine has a similar apology from someone who promoted animal products -- because the evidence is in and it continues to grow: Animal products kill a lot more Americans than tobacco does.

The West's three biggest killers -- heart disease, cancer, and stroke – are linked to excessive animal product consumption, and vegetarians have much lower risks of all three. Vegetarians also have a fraction of the obesity and diabetes rates of the general population -- of course, both diseases are at epidemic levels and are only getting worse”.
~ Kathy Freston

[i] Stroke Foundation Australia (as per their webpage on 2/10/12: : High blood pressure (hypertension) is the most important known risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessel walls, which may eventually lead to a stroke. You can control your blood pressure by changing your diet and lifestyle”.

[ii] Statistical Fact Sheet 2012 Update: American Heart Association and American Stroke Association http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_319587.pdf (accessed 2/10/12). Further reading for global blood pressure: Carlene MM Lawes PhD a, Stephen Vander Hoorn MSc a and Prof Anthony Rodgers. "Global burden of blood-pressure-related disease, 2001." The Lancet 2008; 371:1513-1518

[iii]  Rouse, I L, et al. Blood pressure-lowering effect of a vegetarian diet: controlled trial in normotensive subjects. Lancet 1983, 1:pp. 5 - 10

[iv] Donaldson A N. The relation of protein foods to hypertension. Californian & Western Medicine, 1926, 24:pp.328.

[v] Ophir O, et al. Low blood pressure in vegetarians: the possible role of potassium. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1983, 37:pp.755-62.

[vi] Melby C L, Hyner G C, Zoog B, Blood pressure in vegetarians and non-vegetarians: a cross sectional analysis. Nutr. Res 1985, 5:pp.1077-82.

[vii] Melby C L, et al. Relation between vegetarian/non-vegetarian diets and blood pressure in black and white adults. American Journal of Public Health 1989, 79:pp.1283-88.

[viii] Rouse I L, et al. Blood pressure-lowering effect of a vegetarian diet: controlled trial in normotensive subjects. Lancet 1983, 1:pp.5-10.

[ix] Rouse I L, Beilin L J, Mahoney D P, et al. Nutrient intake, blood pressure, serum, urinary prostaglandins and serum thromboxane B2 in a controlled trial with lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. Journal of Hypertension 1986, 4:pp.241-50.

[x] Rouse I L, Beilin L J, Mahoney D P, et al. Nutrient intake, blood pressure, serum, urinary prostaglandins and serum thromboxane B2 in a controlled trial with lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. Journal of Hypertension 1986, 4:pp.241-50.

[xi] Margetts B M, Beilin L J, et al. Vegetarian diet in mild hypertension: a randomized controlled trial. Br Med Journal 1986, 293:pp.1468-71.

[xii] Lindahl O, et al. A vegan regimen with reduced medication in the treatment of hypertension. British Journal of Nutrition, 1984, 52:pp.11-20.

[xiii] Appleby, Paul. N., Allen, Naomi E., Key, Timothy J. (2011). Article Title: “Diet, Vegetarianism and Cataract Risk”. American  Journal Clinical Nutrition 93:1128-35.
Snapshot: “We showed that vegetarians and vegans had a significantly lower risk of cataract than did meat eaters, predominantly in the elderly, with a progressive decrease in risk in parallel with the amount of meat and other animal products in the diet”

[xiv] Sullivan KM, Erickson MA, Sandusky CB, Barnard ND. Detection of PhIP in grilled chicken entrées at popular chain restaurants throughout California.
     Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(5):592-602

Snapshot: Meat naturally contains protein and the amino acid creatine. When meat is grilled, a certain combination of amino acids and creatine form HCAs (heterocyclic amines). The major classes of HCAs: amino-imidazo-quinolines, or amino-imidazo-quinoxalines and amino-imidazo-pyridines (PhIP). Within these families, MeIQx and PhIP are the compounds found most abundantly in cooked meats. Testing has found HCAs in grilled chicken cooked for just three minutes on each side. HCAs can pose a cancer risk even when consumed in small amounts.
~ Dr N. Barnard

[xv] Skog KI, Johansson MAE, Jagerstad MI. Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in model systems and cooked foods: a review on formation, occurrence, and intake. Food and Chem Toxicol. 1998;36:879-896.

[xvi] Robbana-Barnat S, Rabache M, Rialland E, Fradin J. Heterocyclic amines: occurrence and prevention in cooked food. Environ Health Perspect. 1996;104:280-288.

[xvii] Thiebaud HP, Knize MG, Kuzmicky PA, Hsieh DP, Felton JS. Airborne mutagens produced by frying beef, pork, and a soy-based food. Food Chem Toxicol. 1995;33(10):821-828.

[xviii] Sinha R, Rothman N, Brown ED, et al. High concentrations of the carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo-[4,5] pyridine [PhlP] occur in chicken but are dependent on the cooking method. Cancer Res. 1995;55:4516-4519.

[xix] Stripp C, Overvad K, Christensen J, Thomsen BL, Olsen A, Moller S, Tjonneland A.  Fish intake is positively associated with breast cancer incidence rate.  J Nutr. 2003 Nov;133(11):3664-9. 

[xx] Chen-yu Liu, Yi-Hsiang Hsu, Ming-Tsang Wu, Pi-Chen Pan, Chi-Kung Ho, Li Su, Xin Xu, Yi Li, David C Christiani and the Kaohsiung Leukemia Research Group. Title: Cured meat, vegetables, and bean-curd foods in relation to childhood acute leukemia risk: A population based case-control study. BMC Cancer 2009, 9:15 
Studies have suggested that increased consumption of cured meat is associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. On the other hand it is thought that consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of various cancers including:  breast, colon, lung, pancreas, bladder, larynx, stomach, esophageal, and oral cancers.

[xxi] Moncada S, Martin J F, Higgs A. A symposium on regression of atherosclerosis. European Journal of Clinical Inv. 1993, 23:pp.385-98

[xxii] Willett W, Sacks F M. Chewing the fat - how much and what kind. New England Journal of Medicine 1991, 324:pp.121-3.

[xxiii] www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=2260 (accessed 2/10/12). Further info: Food Sources of cholesterol (taken from the University of California San Francisco Medical Centre website www.ucsfhealth.org/education/cholesterol_content_of_foods/index.html on 2/10/12):


Cholesterol (mg)


Cholesterol (mg)

1 egg


Ground lean beef (99g)


Crab (99g)


Chicken (no skin – 99g)

85 (more than beef!)

Tuna in water (99g)


Ham (99g)


[xxiv] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1312295/ Twenty Questions on Atherosclerosis (accessed on 2/10/12). 
Answers provided by Dr William C. Roberts. Dr Roberts is Head of Baylor Cardiovascular Institute, author of 1387 scientific publications, author of over 12 textbooks on cardiology and has been the Editor in Chief of the American journalJournal of Cardiology for over for 25 years. Reference cited in article: Keys AB. Seven Countries: A Multivariate Analysis of Death and Coronary Heart Disease. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press; 1980. p. 381.
Dr Clifford elaborates: “For plaque progression to cease it appears that the serum total cholesterol needs to
be lowered to the 150mg/dl area. In other words the serum total cholesterol must be lowered to that of the
average pure vegetarian” (AM HEART J 1995;130:580-600)
[xxv] Australian Bureau of Statistics:  www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4821.0.55.001 (accessed 2/10/12) -  
Cardiovascular Disease in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05

[xxvi] National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics Reports: United States, 2002. Vol. 53 No. 17, March

[xxvii] Australian Bureau of Statistics:  www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4821.0.55.001 (accessed 2/10/12) -  Cardiovascular Disease in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05

[xxviii] Linda E. Kelemen, Lawrence H. Kushi, David R. Jacobs, Jr, James R. Cerhan. Associations of Dietary Protein with Disease and Mortality in a Prospective Study of Postmenopausal Women Am J Epidemiology 2005;161:239-249

[xxix] Marcus, Erik. Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, (McBooks Press 1998). Pages 8-9.

[xxx] Esselstyn C. Resolving the coronary artery disease epidemic through plant-based nutrition. Prev Cardiol 2001;4:171-177.

[xxxi] Ornish D, Brown S, et al. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet 1990;336:129-133.

[xxxii] Lancet 1990; 336: 129-33 Ornish D, et. al., Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? And Gould KL, et al. Changes in myocardial perfusion abnormalities by positron emissiontomography after long-term, intense risk factor modification. JAMA. 1995 Sep 20;274(11):894-901.

[xxxiii] Snowdon D A, Philips R L. Does a vegetarian diet reduce the occurrence of diabetes? American Journal of Public Health 1985, 75:pp.507-12.

[xxxiv] Anderson J W et al. Metabolic effects of high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diets for insulin-dependent individuals. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1991, 54:pp936-43.

[xxxv] Barnard R G et al. Long-term use of a high-complex carbohydrate, high-fiber, low-fat diet and exercise in the treatment of NIDDM patients. Diabetes Care 1983, 6:pp.268-73.

[xxxvi] Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, Jenkins AL, Augustin LS, Ludwig DS, Barnard ND, Anderson JW.  Type 2 diabetes and the vegetarian diet.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):610S-616S.

[xxxvii] Munoz J M. Fiber and diabetes. Diabetes Care 1984, 7:pp.297-300.

[xxxviii] Crane M G, Sample C J. Regression of diabetic neuropathy on total vegetarian (vegan) diet. Journal of Nutritional Medicine 1995.

[xxxix] Roy M S et al. Nutritional factors in diabetics with and without retinopathy. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1989, 50:pp.728-30.

[xl] Raal FJ, Kalk WJ, Lawson M, Esser JD, Buys R, Fourie L, Panz VR.   Effect of moderate dietary protein restriction on the progression of overt diabetic nephropathy: a 6-mo prospective study.  Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Oct;60(4):579-85.

[xli] Cupisti A. Vegetarian diet alternated with conventional low-protein diet for patients with chronic renal failure.  J Ren Nutr. 2002 Jan;12(1):32-7.

[xlii] Holt, Susanne H.A.; Brand-Miller, Janette Cecile; Petocz, Peter (1996.11.21). An Insulin Index of Foods: the Insulin Demand Generated by 1000-kj Portions of Common Foods. Am J Clinical Nutrition 1997 66(5): 1264–1276.

[xliii] Professor Brand-Miller: The New Glucose Revolution (New York: Marlowe and Company, 2003). Pages 57-58:

Snapshot: “There are some instances, however, where a food has a low glycemic value but a high insulin index value. This applies to dairy foods and to some highly palatable energy-dense "indulgence foods." Some foods (such as meat, fish, and eggs) that contain no carbohydrate, just protein and fat (and essentially have a GI value of zero), still stimulate significant rises in blood insulin”.

[xliv] Singh PN, Fraser GE. Dietary risk factors for colon cancer in a low-risk population. Am J Epidemiol. 1998;148(8):761-74.

[xlv] 26. Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Ascherio A, Willett WC. Intake of fat, meat, and fiber in relation to risk of colon cancer in men. Cancer Res. 1994;54(9):2390-2397.

[xlvi] Santarelli RL, Pierre F, Corpet DE. Processed meat and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic and experimental evidence. Nutr Cancer. 2008; 60(2): 131-144.

[xlvii] Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Rosner BA, Speizer FE. Relation of Meat, Fat and Fibre Intake To the Risk of Colon Cancer in a Prospective Study Among Women. N Engl J Med 1990;323:1664-72.

[xlviii] Norat T, Riboli E. Meat consumption and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Nutr Rev. 2001;59(2):37-47.

[xlix] Singh PN.  Dietary risk factors for colon cancer in a low-risk population. Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Oct 15;148(8):761-74.

[l] Wilson DJ, Gabriel E, Leatherbarrow AJ, et al. Tracing the source of campylobacteriosis. PLoS Genet. September 26, 2008;4(9):e1000203.

[li] Sinha R et al. Meat and meat-related compounds and risk of prostate cancer in a large prospective cohort study in the United States. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Nov 1;170(9):1165-77. Epub 2009 Oct 6.

[lii] Richman EL et al. Intakes of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs and risk of prostate cancer progression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Dec 30. [Epub ahead of print]

[liii] R. W.-L. Ma, K. Chapman. A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. J Hum Nutr Diet, 22, pp. 187–199 

[liv] Dr Joel Fuhrman. Eat for Health – The Anti-Cancer Diet (on-line article). www.drfuhrman.com/library/article24.aspx

[lv] Abelow BJ, Holford TR, Insogna KL. Cross–cultural association between dietary animal protein and hip fracture: a hypothesis. Calcif Tissue Int. 1992;50:14–18.

[lvi] Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Protein consumption and bone fractures in women. Am J Epidemiol. 1996;143:472–479.

[lvii] Sellmeyer DE, Stone KL, Sebastian A, Cummings SR, for the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group. A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73:118–122.

[lviii] Dr McDougall. Resisting the Broken Bone Business: Bone Mineral Density Tests and the Drugs That Follow. The McDougall Newsletter October 2004. Read more here: www.nealhendrickson.com/mcdougall/2004nl/041000puosteo.htm

[lix] Barnard, Neal MD. Foods That Fight Pain. Publisher: Three Rivers Press, New York 1998

[lx] Pattison DJ, Symmons DP, Lunt M, et al. Dietary risk factors for the development of inflammatory polyarthritis: evidence for a role of high level of red meat consumption. Arthritis Rheum. 2004;50:3804–3812.

[lxi] Grant WB. The role of meat in the expression of rheumatoid arthritis. Br J Nutr. 2000;84:589–595.

[lxii] McDougall J, Bruce B, Spiller G, Westerdahl J, McDougall M. Effects of a very low–fat, vegan diet in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2002;8:71–75.

[lxiii] Hafstrom I, Ringertz B, Spangberg A, et al. A vegan diet free of gluten improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: the effects on arthritis correlate with a reduction in antibodies to food antigens. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001;40:1175–1179.

[lxiv] Choi HK, Liu S, Curhan G. Intake of purine–rich foods, protein, and dairy products and relationship to serum levels of uric acid: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arthritis Rheum. 2005;52:283–289.

[lxv] Choi HK, Atkinson K, Karlson EW, Willett W, Curhan G. Purine–rich foods, dairy and protein intake, and the risk of gout in men. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:1093–1103.

[lxvi] Fraser GE: Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:532S-538S.

[lxvii] Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, et al: Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med 2009;169:562-571.

[lxviii] Key TJ, Fraser GE, Thorogood M, et al: Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:516S-524S.

[lxix] Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, et al: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results From 2 Prospective Cohort Studies. Arch Intern Med 2012.

[lxx] Teresa T. Fung, ScD; Rob M.Van Da, PhD; Susan E.Hankinson, ScD; Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH; and Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD. Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality Two Cohort Studies. Annals of Internal Medicine 2010;153;5:289-298. 



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