DIET & HEALTH
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:
More veggies, less fat fights cancer
WASHINGTON D.C.–– A 20-member National Research Council panel reported
February 16 that about a third of the 1.35 million new cancer cases detected in the U.S. each
year are attributable to diet; that excess calories and fat are far more likely to contribute to
cancer than either natural or synthetic chemicals in food; and that the best way to avoid cancer
is to eat more fruits and vegetables, but less fat.
That’s a tall order for meateaters, as recent studies have found that fat is the part of
meat they most crave. The National Cancer Institute reported in January that U.S. children and
teenagers eat the right volume of vegetables, but that french fries account for a third of their
consumption, while intake of dark green and yellow vegetables with cancer-fighting properties,
such as spinach and carrots, tends to be low.
The NRC report was critical of the use of animal studies to predict human health risk
from chemical consumption, pointing out that test animals typically ingest far more of a suspect
substance in a short time than most humans would ever encounter.
The European Prospective Investigation on Cancer and Nutrition, examining the
relationship between diet and cancer in 400,000 volunteers, should clarify matters when completed
in 1997. Sponsored by the European Commission, the study began in 1990.
Preliminary data from 200,000 people, 1990-1993, indicates that Germans, eating a meatcentered
diet low in fiber, have high rates of stomach cancer. Greeks, eating more fruits and
vegetables than other Europeans, have little stomach or breast cancer.
The NRC findings were released six weeks after the USDA stated approval of vegetarian
diets for the first time in so many words––providing that vegetarians take care to get
adequate zinc, iron, calcium, and B vitamins––in the fourth edition of the official USDA
Researchers from the French
National Public Health Research unit
reported in a recent edition of the B r i t i s h
Medical Journal that salmonella-tainted
cheese apparently caused a 1993 fever outbreak
that afflicted 270 people, killing one.
Children who eat less fat absorb
less lead, according to a study of 296 innercity
preschoolers by Susan Lucas and colleagues
at the University of Maryland School
of Medicine. The study appeared in the
January edition of Pediatrics.
A recent comparison of the diets
and growth of 50 matched pairs of vegetarian
and meat-eating children by Indira
Nathan of Liverpool John Moores University
found that “The vegetarian children grew at
least as well as the omnivore children and had
a significantly larger mean height increment.
They also showed a tendency to be leaner.”
The Center for Science in the
Public Interest on March 13 warned that a
USDA-proposed division of microbial testing
responsibility with the slaughter industry
might threaten human health. “I don’t trust
Congress to give the USDA the resources they
need,” said CSPI food safety director Carolyn
Smith De Waal. Under the new rules, in
negotiation since 1993, the slaughter industry
would test for E. coli bacteria, a frequent
indicator of more harmful contamination,
while the USDA would test for salmonella,
originally also proposed as an industry duty.
The Japan Hospital Association
reports that only 18% of a sample of 2.1 million
Japanese who had full medical checkups
in 1994 got a clean bill of health, down from
30% in 1984––and links the change to rising
consumption of animal fat. The number of
Japanese with kidney and high cholesterol
problems doubled in the past decade.
Despite a January 27 U.S. protest
to the World Trade Organization, a f t e r
years of threats, European Union farm ministers
voted unanimously two days later to keep
an eight-year-old ban on the import of meat
produced with the use of growth hormones.
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand support
the U.S. position that the hormone ban is in
effect a “process standard,” existing not for
health and safety reasons but rather to act as a
trade barrier on behalf of EC producers.
Britain is the only EC member aligned with
the U.S., while Italy is pushing to add to the
hormone ban a ban on meat produced with the
use of another class of chemical, beta agonists,
as well as to strengthen enforcement.
Millions of Americans unaware
that Jell-O is an animal byproduct w e r e
tipped off in February by Associated Press
reporter Robin Estrin, who reported on neighborhood
objections to the sporadic stench
resulting from the process of converting cattle
hides to gelatin at the Kraft Jell-O plant in