The science of red meat and cancer – what does it say?

ingredients for delicious lunch with meat and vegetables

Over the past few years, there have been numerous stories about whether red meat increases the risk of cancer and other diseases. Well, the science on this is extremely complicated and nuanced, something doesn’t play well with clickbait headlines. People want to know The Truth™ about meat.

A few years ago we were flooded by memes, articles, and tropes laughing at us carnivores because the World Health Organization stated that eating red meat increases the risk of cancer.

Then recently, we were flooded by new memes, articles, and tropes when an article was published to tell us that red meat was safe, and did not cause cancer. Of course, that was followed up by even newer memes, articles, and tropes that that new article was junk, and red meat causes cancer. 

Even those of you with good scientifically skeptical minds (which includes a lot of vegans, who might have wanted to point fingers at us carnivores) are wondering if anyone knows anything about red meat and its relationship to any disease, let alone cancer. So I sliced some excellent salami and ate it with my GMO crackers – this old avian dinosaur did what he is supposed to do, he read the underlying scientific articles.

So, should you worry whether red meat increases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases? I agree that there are a lot of issues about people eating beef, pork, and chicken for our individual health and for the health of the planet. But that’s outside of my bailiwick, and it will garner an incredible amount of yelling and screaming.

But I’m going to be brave (or not) and just try to answer the simple question of whether red meat increases the risk of cancer. And here we go.

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Do not feed your cat vegan food – they are obligate carnivores

vegan cat food

While writing an article about dog food myths as the Skeptical Canine, I ran across something that flabbergasted me – vegan cat food. I was literally going to scream at my computer screen, then I decided I’d redirect my thoughts to a post about it. 

Time for the Skeptical Feline.

The ridiculous thoughts about pet care have caused some pet owners are avoiding vaccines for their pets because they believe it may cause them to become autistic. Let me remind the world that there is no scientific evidence of any link between any vaccine and the autism spectrum disorder. 

I’m troubled by well-meaning, but scientifically illiterate, individuals trying to anthropomorphize their pets by pushing their beliefs about their own health (almost always wrong) onto their pets. This vegan cat food trend is just plain wrong for the health of their cats.

Continue reading “Do not feed your cat vegan food – they are obligate carnivores”

Grain-free dog food is not good for your pet – Skeptical Canine speaks

Now, for something completely different, the Skeptical Raptor is giving way to the Skeptical Canine (not really) to discuss grain-free dog food fad. It is based on pseudoscience and harms our pet dogs. I wish humans would keep their nutrition nonsense away from their pets, as the new fad of giving cats only vegan food. So, this article is here to give you some science about dog food.

I have no idea where this grain-free dog food fad began, but we can assume it started like all other human food crazes with about 1% science and 99% myth, misinformation, pseudoscience, and outright lies from those who want to profit from it. Wait, that sounds like cancer cure and anti-vaccine scam artists

Anyway, the Skeptical Canine is here to talk about grain-free dog food, and whether it’s healthy for dogs. Well, I hate giving away the plot, but no, it’s not. We’ll try to explain why.

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Bananas do not prevent cancer – another internet myth debunked

I wrote this article many years ago, debunking the claim that bananas prevent cancer, and it remains the most popular article I’ve ever written. It probably gets so much traffic because of the ongoing memes about how bananas will cure every cancer known to man. 

Too many individuals see these memes on Twitter and Facebook, then they accept them as scientific facts. They rarely are. That’s why critical thinking is necessary. 

But if a meme is going to make an extraordinary claim, like bananas prevent cancer, then that claim ought to be backed by extraordinary evidence. But this wild belief about bananas is not even supported by ordinary evidence. It is supported by zero evidence.

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Do supplements prevent cancer or heart disease? No evidence

Do supplements prevent cancer or heart disease

One of the undying beliefs of some people is that a handful of expensive supplements prevent cancer and heart disease. Outside of a few cases where there is a diagnosed medical need for supplements, the only result of taking them is very expensive urine.

I’ve written a lot about various supplements and their potential to treat or prevent cancer and heart disease, and the evidence is sorely lacking. There are good ways to prevent cancer, like not smoking and getting the HPV vaccine, but not a single one of them includes swallowing a bunch of vitamins.

Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued draft recommendations on supplements – they were unable to give a single recommendation to any of the supplements that they examined. And as we do here, let’s take a look at what they wrote.

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Turkey, tryptophan, and sleep – the myth that keeps on giving

turkey tryptophan sleep

The old turkey, tryptophan, and sleep myth appears every year on the fourth Thursday in November, the United States celebrates a holiday called Thanksgiving. You’ll hear about it over and over and over.

Basically, after eating mountains of food, including turkey, one of the guests at the table (which shouldn’t happen this year) will pontificate about how eating turkey, which they claim is high in tryptophan, makes everyone want to sleep after the meal. 

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High fructose corn syrup – myths and claims debunked by real science

People demonize food additives all the time. Just see monosodium glutamate, as just one example. And there’s high fructose corn syrup, a sugar that is blamed for everything from cancer to diabetes to climate change. OK, maybe not climate change.

High fructose corn syrup is just sugar, but because it has a complicated name, it must be bad. It’s part of the “chemophobia,” the fear of anything that sounds like a chemical.

The so-called Food Babe has made a lot of money endorsing a belief that all chemicals are evil. Of course, such claims ignore the simple fact that all life, the air, and water are made of chemicals.

They want us to believe that man-made chemicals are more dangerous than “natural” chemicals, but that betrays several things about science:

  1. Many “natural” chemicals are dangerous.
  2. Those “natural” chemicals didn’t evolve for the benefit of humans, so they are not inherently better for humans.
  3. Nature isn’t always better.

And high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is considered one of the evil “chemicals” that are destroying humanity. But is it? Let’s answer that question.

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Colon detoxification – more pseudoscientific health nonsense

colon detoxification

The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 6 – the colon detoxification myth. 

In addition to the commercials hawking insurance with talking geckos, promoting treatments for erectile dysfunction, and, exhibiting the coolest, fastest, most fuel-efficient car, you will eventually hear or see the reason for all that ails you – your failure to use colon detoxification to fix your problems.

Colon detoxification or, sometimes, colon cleansing is one of those strange alternative medicine ideas that hang around without one single bit of evidence supporting it. We’re going to take a look at it with the avian dinosaur’s skeptical eye. Continue reading “Colon detoxification – more pseudoscientific health nonsense”

MSG myth debunking – science shows that it’s just an amino acid

msg myth

The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 10 – the MSG myth. 

Food additives are one of the most passionate issues amongst people who eat (which would be everyone). AspartameHigh fructose corn syrup. GMO‘s. Salt. Sugar. Trans fats. Polysorbate 80. But the MSG myth is one of the most pervasive in the food pseudoscience world (yes, I’m going to make that a thing).

Of course, these additives cause angst in people because of their scary chemical names. Or nonsense on the internet. Or random neurons firing.

Obviously, there is stuff, created by the beauty of natural sunlight and goddess blessed sweet waters from the Alps, that is better than these man-made evil chemicals. Well, no. Everything in nature is made up of “chemistry” –  25-hydroxyergocalciferol is a scary chemical name, right? Except it’s the metabolic product of the conversion of vitamin D in the human liver. It’s natural!

But let’s get back to MSG – how many times have you seen “No MSG” in a sign Chinese restaurant? Is it because China, who has been using MSG in their cuisine for centuries, has been conspiring against Americans since the first Chinese restaurant starting serving up kung pao chicken to unaware Americans?

It’s time to look at the MSG myth – is it real, or does it need a good debunking?

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Chili peppers may be the key to long life and healthy cardiovascular system

chili peppers

A recently published paper describes how regular consumption of hot chili peppers may decrease overall mortality risk plus decrease risks for cardiovascular events. So pour your favorite hot sauce (I have several that I love) on your pancakes and through extra habañero peppers into your favorite meals.

Before you decide that taking the ghost pepper challenge with 1 million Scoville units every day of the week, let’s take a step back and allow your favorite feathered dinosaur to take a look at this study. As a warning, I think all nutritional studies should be taken with a grain a salt (pun intended). And this one is the same. Continue reading “Chili peppers may be the key to long life and healthy cardiovascular system”