IT’s OFFICIAL: Processed Red Meats Cause Cancer

This article appeared on NPR this morning.   It is an empirical finding by the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has deemed that processed meats — such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs — cause cancer.

In addition, the WHO says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are “probably carcinogenic” to people.

A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer, and concluded that eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Their evidence review is explained in an article published in The Lancet.

The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. This does not mean that they are equally dangerous, says the International Agency for Research on Cancer — the agency within the WHO that sets the classifications. And it’s important to note that even things such as aloe vera are on the list of possible carcinogens.

In a Q & A released by the IARC, the agency says that “eating meat has known health benefits,” but it also points out that the cancer risk increases with the amount of meat consumed. As we’ve reported, studies show that the heaviest meat eaters tend to have the highest risk.

The IARC says high-temperature cooking methods (such as cooking meat in direct contact with a flame) produce more carcinogenic compounds. However, the group says there were not enough data “to reach a conclusion about whether the way meat is cooked affects the risk of cancer.”

Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society says the society recommends “consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat,” she told us in a written statement.

The recommendation, Gapstur tells The Salt, is based on research. For instance, a systematic literature review on colorectal cancer published in 2011 by the World Cancer Research Fund found a statistically significant, 16 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer associated with each 100 grams of red and processed meat consumed. As the ACS points out, this is an amount of meat roughly equivalent in size to a deck of cards.

The Lancet paper points out that red meat also contains “high biological-value proteins and important micronutrients such as B vitamins, iron and zinc.” And the North American Meat Institute says lots of research points to the benefits of red meat consumption.

“Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health,” writes Barry Carpenter, president of the North American Meat Institute, in a statement on the new WHO classification.

Carpenter says it’s important to put this new classification in context. “IARC’s panel was given the basic task of looking at hazards that meat could pose at some level, under circumstance, but was not asked to consider any off-setting benefits, like the nutrition that meat delivers or the implications of drastically reducing or removing meat from the diet altogether,” the statement concludes.

Are you Depressed?

In my opinion,  psychiatrists should first test their patients for nutritional deficiencies before writing prescriptions for Zoloftor for  antipsychotics, like Zyprexa.  Conscientious doctors send patients to get lab work done prior to prescribing drugs or increasing dosages.  There are times when people do need antidepressants.   However,  other times  spinach would go far to eliminate the symptoms of depression.   Think Popeye.

If you haven’t ever tested your nutrition levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary-care physician. Supplements can be expensive, but you can make it back  by not having to see your psychiatrist as often. You should talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re on prescription drugs.

 

Vitamin D

According to my doctor, Vitamin D deficiency is a major epidemic that doctors and public health officials are just beginning to realize. This deficiency has been linked to depression, dementia, and autism. Most of our levels drop off during the fall and winter months, since sunlight is the richest source.   My doctor believes that we should be getting from 5,000 to 10,000 IU  a day.  However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends most healthy adults get only about 600 IUs daily.  Hence, the widespread deficiency and increases in depression.

Magnesium

I am forever extolling the virtues of Magnesium, because this, like Vitamin D, is deficient in most American adults, according to my doctor, and the symptoms are not pretty.  They can, in fact, set off a chain reaction of unpleasant symptoms. Our lifestyles decrease our levels of Magnesium.  Some of the things that contribute are excess alcohol, salt, coffee, sugar, phosphoric acid (in soda), chronic stress, antibiotics, and diuretics (water pills). Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the stress antidote, the “most powerful relaxation mineral that exists,” according to Hyman. It is found in seaweed, greens, and beans. The NIH recommends a daily intake of about 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women.  Magnesium Citrate can also act as a laxative, so buy your Magnesium accordingly….and time it well.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I was surprised when my results showed an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency because I eat plenty of salmon and take fish oil supplements every day. That shows you just how much fish — salmon, tuna, halibut — or flaxseeds and walnuts we need to consume to be at an optimal level. These essential minerals reduce inflammation and play a critical role in brain function, especially memory and mood. The body can’t make them, so you need to either eat them or take supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are just one of the supplements I take every day for depression

Vitamin B Complex

B vitamins like vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 can provide some incredible health benefits, including reduced stroke risk and healthy skin and nails. On the other hand, a vitamin B deficiency may impact your mental health. More than a quarter of severely depressed older women were deficient in B-12, according to one 2009 study.

The best sources of vitamin B-6 are poultry, seafood, bananas, and leafy green vegetables. For vitamin B-6, the NIH recommends a daily intake of 1.7 mg for adult men, and 1.5 mg for adult women. Vitamin B-12 is found in animal foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk) and shellfish, such as clams, mussels, and crab. Most adults should need to consume 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12 daily, according to the NIH.

Folate

People with a low folate level have only a 7 percent response to treatment with antidepressants. Those with high folate levels have a response of 44 percent, according to Hyman. That is why many psychiatrists are now prescribing a folate called Deplin to treat depression and improve the effectiveness of an antidepressant. I tried it and it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference; however, I have several friends who have had very positive responses to Deplin. You need not try the prescription form of Deplin. You could just start taking a folate supplement and see if you get any results. Your daily recommended folate intake depends on your gender, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and age. However, most adults need at least 400 mcg daily. You can also get your daily folate requirements by consuming foods high in folate, including dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, and citrus fruits and juices.

 Amino Acids

Amino acids — the building blocks of protein — help your brain properly function. A deficiency in amino acids may cause you to feel sluggish, foggy, unfocused, and depressed. Good sources of amino acids include beef, eggs, fish, beans, seeds, and nuts.

 Iron

Iron deficiency is pretty common in women. About 20 percent of women, and 50 percent of pregnant women, are in the club. Only three percent of men are iron deficient. The most common form of anemia — an insufficient number of red blood cells — is caused by iron deficiency. Its symptoms are similar to depression: fatigue, irritability, brain fog. Most adults should consume 8 to 18 mg of iron daily, depending on age, gender, and diet, according to the NIH. Good sources of iron include red meat, fish, and poultry. If you really want to get more red blood cells, eat liver. Yuck.

 Zinc

This one is SO important!  Zinc is used by more enzymes (and we have over 300) than any other mineral. It is crucial to many of our systems. It activates our digestive enzymes so that we can break down our food, and works to prevent food allergies (which, in turn, averts depression in some people, since some of our mood disruptions are triggered by food allergies). It also helps our DNA to repair and produce proteins. Finally, zinc helps control inflammation and boosts our immune system. The NIH recommends a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc for adult men and 8 mg for adult women.

 Selenium

Like iodine, selenium is important for good thyroid function. It assists the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone, T3. It also helps one of our important antioxidants (glutathione peroxidase) keep polyunsaturated acids in our cell membranes from getting oxidized (rancid). Most adults need about 55 mcg of selenium daily. The best food source of selenium is Brazil nuts, which contains about 544 mcg of selenium per ounce.

Iodine

Iodine deficiency can be a big problem because iodine is critical for the thyroid to work as it should, and the thyroid affects more than you think: your energy, metabolism, body temperature, growth, immune function, and brain performance (concentration, memory, and more). When it’s not functioning properly, you can feel very depressed, among other things. You can get iodine by using an iodine-enriched salt, or by eating dried seaweed, shrimp, or cod. I take a kelp supplement every morning because I have hypothyroidism. The daily recommend amount of iodine for most adults is about 150 mcg.

Blood Moon

 blood moon

 

Dallas was one of the lucky cities that had a front row seat last night as the blood moon began to change from its silvery shade into a beautiful rose color.  We had about 10 minutes of clarity here in Portland, when the heavy cloud cover slid aside to afford us photographers a moment of glory.   The phenomenon  would have been more aptly named “Rose Moon” but that wouldn’t have been as dramatic. Right?  Just goes to show you how powerful words are.

 Just before the moon began to slide into the shadow of the earth, my friend and I were talking on the phone, half way across the USA from one another.  We both  looked at the moon at the same time.  “In stereo…” he said, and that was nice.   He “gets it”.

 Some Christians attribute prophetic significance to the Blood Moon of April 15, because it was the first of a lunar “tetrad” — four total lunar eclipses in a row, that will occur in 2014 and 2015 — and because each of those eclipses falls on an important Jewish holiday, Passover or Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). The phenomenon will repeat itself three more times in six-month intervals ending in September 2015.  Miss those, and you’ll have to wait until 2032–33.  What caused this beautiful phenomenon? In a total lunar eclipse, the moon gets a red sheen as it passes behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow).

“Since Earth’s umbral shadow is darker in the center than at the edge, the moon’s appearance will likely change dramatically with time as the total phase progresses,” NASA said in a statement.

Could this be a sign of the Apocalypse?  Most Blood Moon prophecy advocates — Texas megachurch Pastor John Hagee, for one — won’t commit to specifics, preferring instead to speak in terms of a “world-shaking event” or “the end of an age.” Other Christians aren’t so sure the Blood Moon tetrad has any biblical significance at all.  I just thought it was pretty.  I’m shallow that way.   🙂

Happy (and ok, sleepless, too…) in Seattle

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I have just returned from my morning walk where the apple, cherry and magnolia blossoms left a delicate carpet along my path.  Springtime in Portland is indescribably beautiful.  However, this is not another post about Portland.  As I walked, I reflected upon the trip I took to Seattle a couple of days ago, and I smiled.  I had finished my school term (officially) on Thursday morning.  Anticipating the beginning of the next term, which starts today, my daughter, Sarah, her daughter, Ingrid, and my puppy, Beatrix and I, all piled into her new car and headed for the Emerald City.

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It rained hard both going there and coming back, but we had sporadic spots of sunshine that made it all worth it.  (Besides, it takes more than a little rain to slow me down!)   My daughter is a college professor.  Between her job and mine, and my being in grad school, we have little or no time for recreation together (or apart), so this trip meant the world to me.  To be able to share it with my dear friend, Sheryl, and another of my granddaughters, Maya, will cause this trip to go down in my personal history as a most memorable occasion.

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We stayed with my friends, Sheryl and Dylan and their two gigantic boxers, Ella and Abel. Our first stop was at their big metal shop where they create the most incredible artisan furniture and artwork!  Sheryl specializes in patinas and Dylan bends steel and welds it.  The work they do is absolutely beautiful!  The above photo is of Ingrid greeting Abel as Dylan looks on.  It was love at first sight.

Our next stop was to pick up Maya. Oh, how I love that girl!  I was so happy to see her!  This is a picture of Ingrid with Maya’s dog, Louise.

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We went to dinner at The Hi Life in Ballard.  It is a nice restaurant that is situated in what used to be a fire station.  The makeover respected the integrity of the original architecture and really turned out nicely.

the high life

The food was delicious and the strawberry jalapeno margaritas were even better!  My only complaint was that the noise levels were a little high.  Other than that, I really enjoyed it, and I think everyone else did, too.

This trip, we did a lot of the more tourist-y things for the benefit of Ingrid, but we also spent some quality time with Sheryl who was a superior hostess. She is always such a kind and generous friend.  All of us are crazy about her.  For instance, she got up early the next morning and made us an amazing breakfast. It was fantastic!

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This is Ingrid and Maya, having an early morning chat. Maya, at age 17, towers over us at almost 6′ tall!

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We went out and about to a number of different places in Seattle, including a trip to the piers where we rode the old carousel in the noisy indoor arcade that had a creaky wooden floor.  This was the fastest carousel I’d ever seen.  I think it freaked Ingrid out a little bit.  I was happy for the rain because this place is usually so jam-packed with people that it can be a real drag.  This was actually pleasant.

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I had taken Maya to the top of the space needle when she was 4, so I was determined to take Ingrid as well.  She was a good sport, even though she was a little bit worried about the height.  This picture was taken on the outer deck where she insisted upon looking for the “day moon”.

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We rode the mammoth Ferris wheel that went out over the ocean.

ferris wheel 2

Ingrid was a brave 4 year old!

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Her teenaged cousin, Maya, was very patient as Ingrid asked question after question after question.  I love it that Ingrid is so inquisitive, and I love it that she can talk so freely to her older cousin.  They were comfortable together.  That made my heart soar.

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I’m not sure I was as brave as my granddaughters….but I truly did enjoy myself.

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At night, the Ferris wheel helps transform Seattle into a magical wonderland!     Ok…that might be a stretch, but it is very pretty….majestic.

ferris wheel seattle

 

The view was spectacular from every direction!

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 The best part of the trip was our all simply hanging out together.   My heart is still happy from the experience.  It was so much fun.

maya stacy sarah ingrid

 

I went with Maya to a talent show at her high school.  There were belly dancers and singers and poets.  All very talented young people.

Seattle is a beautiful and exciting city with a lot of fun things to do.  It has a “faster” vibe than Portland, and is decidedly more cosmopolitan.  I love it there!

seattle city center

Of course, the pirates and Trekies were out in full force!  What else would one expect?!

ster trek

My heartfelt thanks to my darling friend, Sheryl, without whom this trip would not have been possible.   Friends like Sheryl are rare.  I am so grateful to her for everything she is and for everything that she does for my family .  Much love to you, Sheryl, from all of us.  Thank you for the perfect 2-day vacation!  xoxo

stacy and sheryl