A disclaimer: today’s post has absolutely nothing to do with roller derby. BUT, roller derby is a sport played mainly by women, and this post has everything to do with women’s health.
I’ll be up front here. I already eat a mostly-vegetarian diet, allowing myself what I call a “meatty-meat day” once a week or so, and occasional slips here and there (especially in the seafood department). I do this mainly for environmental reasons (in short, it takes far less land, energy, and CO2 emissions to feed me than an average, meat-eating North American), but not really for any particular health benefit.
There have always been lots of articles and books out there telling you of the healthy benefits of eating a vegetarian diet (lower body weight, reduced risk of certain cancers like colon cancer, healthier eyes/skin/hair, etc.). Recently though, more research is coming to light showing some serious health risks associated with eating meat. Your “healthy” grilled chicken salad appears to actually be promoting disease in your body – specifically, breast cancer.
Kathy Freston recently reported online at the Huffington Post about the discovery of the health threat posed by meat cooked at high temperatures. Compounds formed in meat during cooking are now being called “three strikes” carcinogens, “because they cause DNA mutations (strike one), and they promote cancer growth (strike two), and they also increase its metastatic potential by increasing cancer invasiveness (strike three). Most known carcinogens seem to act either as initiators, causing the initial development of cancer, or as promoters, facilitating the spread. But here we have a carcinogen that is covering cancer’s bases from all sides. Terrifying!
“Women eating more broiled, grilled, fried, barbecued, and smoked meats appear to have up to 400 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer.” It doesn’t get much more clear than that, folks.
I urge you to read the article and educate yourself about the threats. Share this with your sisters, moms, teammates, and daughters. Think about your own family history and other risk factors (smoking being a big one), and ask yourself if you can afford to ignore this information. After reading Ms. Freston’s writing, I know I’m going to start reducing the frequency of those meat-cheat days right away.
PS: Does moving to a vegetarian diet seem too inconvenient? Changing the food you buy and cook too scary or challenging? Think you can’t live without bacon? Post in the comments below and let me know what holds you back. Another article in the near future might just address your concerns.