Not long ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine), the active component in the widely used herbicide Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. It has been leaked that the agency is preparing to place processed red meat in the same category. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has refused to confirm or deny this report; stating the detail of its evaluation which is a meta-analysis of previous studies will be released on October 26, 2015 to coincide with the publication of the information in the journal The Lancet Oncology.
As discussed in detail in my recent book The Fallacy of Tthe Calorie: Why the Modern Western Diet Is Killing Us and How to Stop It (Koehler Books, 2014), there’s a substantial difference between wholesome, fresh, unprocessed foods and their industrialized, adulterated counterparts. Although for many years, lumped together as a single entity for consideration, red meat is no exception. Previous studies including a large European study (EPIC) and a well-done Harvard-based meta-analysis suggested this link as far back as 2010. These researchers present strong evidence for association between the consumption of processed red meats and an increased risk in the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and early mortality. Importantly, the same meta-analyses did not show any correlation in the ingestion of fresh red meat and such disabilities and diseases at any level of consumption.
While the final analysis will have to await publication and review of the WHO report, the purported findings are in agreement with a growing body of evidence demanding that we move beyond an oversimplified, qualitative based approach to food and health (e.g. calories). The data requires that we incorporate a qualitative approach into our equation that determines food value. While much needs to be learned regarding the relationship between what we choose to consume and its effect on our bodies, our gut microbiome and our health; the prescription for success is simple. Choose the wholesome, real and authentic foods that nature has offered us with as little man-made manipulation as possible. That solution is as scrumptious as it is salubrious.