Pancreatic Cancer, Processed Meat, and a Load of Bologna

I’m starting to wonder if the editors of medical journals schedule a yearly Meat Causes Cancer! issue …something like their own equivalent of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Our cover model this year is pancreatic cancer, folks — and as you can see, she’s a hot little topic!  We don’t want to start any rumors, but we have it on good authority she’s often seen in the company of some beefy hunks.

The hot little topic made a splash in the media last week, with headlines and opening paragraphs like these:

Bacon eaters warned of cancer risk

Eating two rashers of bacon or one sausage a day can increase the risk of a deadly form of cancer by almost a fifth, according to a new study.  New research by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has found that eating 50g of processed meat a day can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 19%.

Processed Meat Could Raise Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Some possible bad news for all the bacon lovers out there.

A new review in the British Journal of Cancer suggests a link between processed meats — like bacon and sausages — and an increased pancreatic cancer risk. In particular, eating an extra 50 grams a day of processed meat — or about a sausage — is enough to raise pancreatic cancer risk by 19 percent, BBC News reported, while an extra 100 grams of processed meat a day could raise the cancer risk by 38 percent.

“The authors of this study have suggested that one of the reasons could be that some of the chemicals that are used to preserve processed meat are turned in our bodies into some really harmful chemicals which can affect our DNA and increase the chance of cancer,” Jessica Harris, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, told Sky News.

Holy jumpin’ jiminy!  A 19% increase in risk – that’s almost a fifth!  Better drop that bacon right now, Mister.  You don’t want to mutate your DNA and roll the dice with a 19% increase in the odds you’ll die of pancreatic cancer.

I tracked down the full study, and it was pretty much what I expected:  a meta-analysis of several other studies, all of them based on food-recall surveys.  So let’s put on our Science For Smart People hats (mine is cone-shaped; you can choose your own) and ask some critical-thinking questions:

Q: Was this an observational study or a clinical study?

A:  It was a meta-analysis of 11 observational studies, the kind where the researchers pool the data and crunch the numbers.

Q:  Did the researchers control the variables?

A:  No, because they couldn’t.  They were dealing with data published by other researchers who may or may not have done a good job controlling their variables.  As the authors of the current study noted:

Our study has some limitations. First, as a meta-analysis of observational studies, we cannot rule out that individual studies may have failed to control for potential confounders, which may introduce bias in an unpredictable direction. All studies controlled for age and smoking, but only a few studies adjusted for other potential confounders such as body mass index and history of diabetes. Another limitation is that our findings were likely to be affected by imprecise measurement of red and processed meat consumption and potential confounders.

Let me put that into plain English:  Our findings are meaningless. The studies we analyzed were based on food-recall surveys that are notoriously inaccurate, and most of them didn’t control for body mass index or diabetes, which essentially means they didn’t control for intake of sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Okay, folks, move along; nothing here to see.

What, you’re still here?  Then we may as well continue.

Q:  If A is linked to B, is it possible that they’re both caused by C?

A:  Yes, of course it’s possible.  As the researchers noted above, “All studies controlled for age and smoking, but only a few studies adjusted for other potential confounders.”  Since processed meats are often served with a big wallop of refined carbohydrates – pizza, burritos, deli sandwiches, etc. – it’s entirely possible that people who consume more processed meats have higher rates of pancreatic cancer (if that’s even the case) because they also consume more white flour.

Q:  If A is linked to B, do we see that connection consistently, or are there glaring exceptions?

A:  We can answer that question by looking at the charts from the full study.  This one shows the change in the relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer from consuming an additional 120 grams of red meat per day:

A relative risk of 1.0 is neutral – no change in risk.  Below 1.0 means lower relative risk and above 1.0 means higher relative risk.  The horizontal bars represent the range of values that fell within the “confidence interval,” the black squares represent the average relative risk for each study, and the white diamond in the last row represents the overall average obtained by pooling data from all the studies.

The first thing that jumped out at me is that in four of the 13 studies analyzed, the relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer was lower for the people who (supposedly) eat a lot of red meat.  I wouldn’t call that a consistent result.  If some studies show higher risk and some studies show lower risk, I’d conclude that we’re looking at the wrong variables.

But through the magic of statistical analysis, the researchers pooled the results (from studies that often failed to control the variables) and declared that consuming 120 grams of red meat per day raises your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 13%.

Now here’s the change in relative risk from consuming an additional 50 grams of processed meat per day:

Nine studies, and in three of them the relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer was lower for people who consumed more processed meat.  Once again, that’s hardly a consistent result, but the researchers pooled the data in order to declare that processed meat raises your risk of pancreatic cancer by 19% — which leads to our final question.

Q:  What was the actual difference?

A:  Almost nothing.  That’s the short answer.  Now for the longer answer:

Scientists like to cite relative risk instead of absolute risk because relative risk sounds far more impressive.  Suppose that when I lived in sunny California, my odds of being struck by lightning were 1 in a million.  But now that I live in Tennessee, suppose the odds are 1.5 in a million.  That’s a 50% increase in relative risk … but a meaningless increase in absolute risk.  The actual difference — the change in absolute risk —  is 0.5 in a million.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the age-adjusted annual incidence rate of pancreatic cancer is 13.6 per 100,00 men and 10.3 per 100,00 women.  We’ll split the difference and call it 12.15 per 100,000 people.  Expressed as a percentage, here are the odds that you’ll be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year:


Just barely over one-hundredth of one percent.  Now … let’s set aside the fact that this meta-analysis was 1) based on observational studies that 2) used unreliable food-recall surveys and 3) produced inconsistent results.  Suppose we choose to believe that processed meat really and truly causes pancreatic cancer at the increased rate found by pooling all that data, but we keep on eating our bacon anyway.  Here are the odds, expressed as a percentage, that we bacon-eaters will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year:


And here’s the actual difference between those two numbers:


Well, maybe you’d prefer to deal with lifetime odds instead of annual odds.  Okay, fine.  According the National Cancer Institute, the lifetime odds of developing pancreatic cancer in the U.S. are 1.45%.  If eating 50 grams per day of bacon or other processed meat really and truly (and all by itself) raised the rate by 19%, your lifetime odds would be 1.70%.

Here’s the actual difference between those two numbers:


Enjoy your bacon.


84 thoughts on “Pancreatic Cancer, Processed Meat, and a Load of Bologna

  1. Davida

    This was the article on the local paper’s site about Paula Deen (although it is from the AP):

    The writer goes on and on about the amount of fat in her recipes, then mentions the definition of diabetes:

    “Roughly 23 million Americans are believed to have the most common Type 2 diabetes; patients’ bodies either do not produce enough insulin or do not use it efficiently, allowing excess sugar, or glucose, to accumulate in the blood.”

    Head. Bang.

    On. Desk.

  2. The Older Brother


    From the official Hormel SPAM page:

    Ingredients: Pork with Ham, Salt, Water, Modified Potato Starch, Sugar, Sodium Nitrite.

    If I recall from one of those History Channel shows, the processing consists of cooking the meat after it’s been sealed in the cans.

    We picked some up several months ago after realizing I hadn’t had any for years. The Oldest Son now regularly fries it for breakfast after sprinkling some of his BBQ seasoning on it.


    That’s not as bad as I would have guessed. It’s good with eggs, too … and inspired at least one Monty Python song.

  3. Colin T.

    Thanks! I have been interested in making my own dried sausage, but since practically all I eat is meat, I was very worried about nitrates. I’m already buying bacon from Whole Foods that is supposedly cured without added nitrates — unnecessary, I suppose, but since I eat 3-6oz of it every day, it helped my peace of mind at the time. I’ll be glad to start buying liver sausage more readily, too.

  4. Greta

    I used to make homemade dog treats for sale, and my label had to meet requirements of the state office that regulates animal feed. I listed wheat flour and white flour in my ingredients list, and they took exception, saying that they were the same thing. I think of that every time I hear someone say how much better wheat is over white.

    That’s kind of funny, actually.

  5. Mary

    Hi, Tom, great blog, long time lurker here, but I had to comment on this particular subject. One of my favorite singers, Robin Gibb is very ill with cancer and all the articles about him state he is a devout vegan…..I have thought for quite some time now that he had the look of someone who needs some bacon in his diet. I feel so bad for him and his family but I feel its too late for him. So so sad. Thanks for all you do, this blog is a real encouragement to many of us out here. Lovely wife, kids and farm by the way.

    I’m sorry to hear about Robin Gibb. So much for the T. Colin Campbell theory that the key to avoiding cancer is giving up meat.

  6. Jim

    43,478 = NNT (how many people must give up processed meats to save one life)

    Now, Tom, you forgot the rest of the important distortion of statistics which can be brought up, and how to point it out loudly.

    Number Needed To Treat

    Pretend that NOT eating processed meat is really a drug, and so that by taking the NOT eating processed meat (NEPM for short). you reduce your chances of pancreatic cancer from the NEPM drug.

    You have have calculated the absolute risks associated with normal behavior (EPM or Eating Processed Meat) and NEPM, and the difference in absolute risks.

    So, the NEPM drug provides an absolute risk reduction of the 0.0023% or .000023, as you have calculated.

    So, in order to save one patient life with the NEPM drug, you have to treat 1/.000023 patients or 43,478 patients is the NNT or number Needed To Treat.

    I have never heard of anyone seriously thinking of going to the expense of developing a drug with such a miserable almost vanishingly small benefit.

    I propose that you and I and whoever else we can drag into this mess with even more stature (just being taller may help too, I’m only 5’6″) may convey to the participants just how foolishly small and meaningless this sort of research is.

    We could establish a prize for the worst statistical observational studies of the year, as well as worst meta analysis of the year, and present the award along with the IgNoble award ceremony.

    All good ideas.

      1. Jim

        Just recently, we have had a rebirth of the “Red Meat Causes Cancer” story, courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO).

        The claim was that eating red meat was responsible for 3 specific digestive cancers per 100,000 individuals.

        That works out to a number needed to treat (NNT) of about 33,000.

        That is right in the ballpark of the 43,478 = NNT cited above.

        The more things change, the more they remain the same. Stupidity with statistics remains the same, but the studies change.

  7. Craig

    RE: Paula Deen’s pancreas

    We are all going to need padded desks to get through the media coverage of this one. But it is a valuable opportunity to get people talking about blood sugar and its role in the diseases of civilizations. We’re going to be in for plenty of garbage like this:

    With quotes like these:

    “Heredity, according to the American Diabetes Association, always plays some part. ‘You can’t just eat your way to Type 2 diabetes,’ said Geralyn Spollett, the group’s director of education. But, Spollett added, Southern cooking, as often practiced, can be particularly hazardous to those predisposed to the disease. ‘There’s no denying that Paula’s food has a lot of what we call the deadly triangle: fat, sugar and salt,’ she said.”

    When did fat and salt start affecting blood sugar? And “You can’t just eat your way to Type 2 diabetes”???? Seriously? Remind me how many type 2 diabetic hunter-gatherers Weston A. Price encountered.

    And on Victoza, the drug she is using to stimulate insulin production:

    “The drug’s only drawback, he said, and the reason it is not a first-line diabetes medication, is its high cost: about $500 a month at the normal therapeutic dose.”

    Jimmy Moore did a great blog post on Paula Deen’s situation and the side-effects he lists for the drug sound like more than just “high cost.”

    Indeed, this episode has sent the bologna flying so far.

  8. AndreaLynnette

    You were probably thinking what most people think, which is “imagine how much WORSE she would be if she WASN’T dieting!”

  9. Tanja A.

    I totally agree! 🙂
    Did you ever read this article?

    I think they totally jump to conclussions because they have no control whatsoever over what these people are eating and they have no idea of the environment the people live in, but still… It scares me a little. 🙂

    Read it and wrote about it:

  10. C

    My best friend just wrote a persuasive speech about why the government should limit powers of the corporations. She said corporations have way too much power, and are constantly bribing the government to do things that will benefit not the people, but the corporations.

    Yet she refuses to believe there’s anything wrong with the government’s nutritional standards.


    What you friend fails to realize is that the corporations actually have very little power. The government has the power, which is why corporations bribe government officials to rig the game in their favor. Take away the power, and bribery goes away with it.

  11. NM

    I think your delineation between powerful government and powerless corporations is largely false. They’re one wheeling-dealing entity, as the revolving doors between regulators and corporations indicates. The issue is vested power, and the degree to which individuals can oppose or influence it. One doesn’t need our current notion of the centralised state for this to occur, as enormities like the Dutch East India Trading Company demonstrated.

    This is what annoys me about libertarian rhetoric sometimes: it assumes that treating one particular manifestation of power concentration (corrupt central governments) will eradicate the possibility of such dangerous concentrations reasserting themselves elsewhere and elsehow. The propensity to oppressive power is strong, and can channel itself in myriad ways beyond a simple central government.

    Without leveraging the power of a government that can legally apply force, what can a corporation do to you? Take government out of the equation, and a corporation can only try to persuade you to buy its products.

    The Dutch East India Trading Company was granted a government-enforced monopoly … by government.

  12. Darren Doyle

    Am I reading that first chart right? To me it looks like you left out the Isaksson study (there’s no box because it’s off the chart in the preventative side. That would take the numbers to 5 out of 14 studies indicating a decreased risk.

    Also, from what I can tell from the original article/study, the Lin, Coughlin, and Stolzenberg-solomon studies were each a single study that divided risk among men and women. The latter two of those place men at increased risk, but women at an even greater decrease in risk. If you apply their own averaging maneuvers, then shouldn’t those end up in the pro camp? That would make it 5 out of 11 (almost half!) in the pro-camp.

    If you divide out the men and women, then there are more studies showing a decrease of risk in women (5 out of 9), although they do average to 1.02 (slight increase, but pretty negligible).

    Am I doing this right?

    I also looked up a few of those studies indicating an increased risk. Every one that I saw used food questionnaires asking the participants to indicate the types and amounts of food they’d had in the last year. How is that reliable data at all—especially since people tend to extremely underestimate how much those little dietary “cheats” and snacks really add up to…

    I took the charts directly from the study PDF. I did have to shrink them to fit.

  13. Jannes Kleintje

    Great blog and a great way to present all this. But please be careful with the way you use percentages. Claiming that somebody has X % chance of attracting a certain disease is precisely what is being used by the medical establishment to spread fear (which sells better then anything else).
    Isn’t it that, if an individual does not develop a certain disease or condition that this individual would have had zero percent chance of developing it? So why worry in that case. And if that individual does develop a disease or condition would that person not have a 100% chance of developing this disease or condition to begin with? I once started to add up how much chance I would have to develop a raft of diseases using the official figures from patient groups. By the time I was over 5000 % I decided that I had had enough of it all. I now simply stick to a sort of healthy life style as I see fit and forget about these percentages. I believe that it is a crime to turn percentages obtained from (tweeking) large scale population based statistical figures against individuals.

  14. Hilary Kyro

    Tom, I didn’t know about Extreme Couponing…thanks, now I do! OMG! What a cheap rush for a recessionary Era! You can Gain hundreds of pounds of Chex, sugar and flour for Nut ‘n Honey, but the devotion to demand your children steal the flyers from your neighbor’s mailbox. Co-inka-dinkally, there are more and more coupons to be found for Rx drug samples and painless Smart Meters for blood sugar.
    Paula Dean is publicly-pleasing because she gives motherly permission to our childish indulgences and hard-core dope-pushers. What a wonderful world of white-coat wisdom; all you need to do to have your cake and eat it too is spend $500 a month on drugs. Paula Dean informs us that “diabetes isn’t a death sentence”, no dear, it’s a darn sweet livin’ if you are taken under Oprah’s batwing of cellulite.

    I watched one of those coupon-queen shows, but only once. I could feel my glucose level spiking just watching her load up on cereals.

  15. cancerclasses

    @Craig & all Re Paula Deen & the purpose & function of the human pancreas. You may be surprised to learn that the major function of the pancreas is NOT the production of insulin and glucagon, that is the major function of ONLY the beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans which are only a small portion of the pancreas.

    From Science of Health Index here –> Scroll down a bit from top of the page. (While you’re there go ahead & read everything else on the entire site. 🙂 Or just bookmark it.)

    “Structure of pancreas & pancreatic system: 99% of the pancreas is devoted to handling the digestion of FATS & PROTEIN while only 1% is devoted to handling sugar. Reference: Scientific Foundations of Biochemistry in Clinical Practice, David L. Williams, Vincent Marks, Butterworth-Heinemann, September 1994, ISBN: 0750601671.””

    And from Wikipedia:

    “The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine (i.e., hormone-producing) cells. (insulin, glucagon, etc.) The islets of Langerhans constitute approximately (**ONLY**) 1 to 2% of the (total) mass of the pancreas.” “There are about one million islets distributed throughout the pancreas of a healthy adult human,” and in rats “ONLY 65–80% of those Beta cells are devoted to producing insulin and amylin.”

    Don’t know what percentage of human beta cells are utilized for insulin production compared to rats, but after learning this how comfortable do you feel about sitting down in front of a huge plate of pasta & potatoes to carbo load for your next marathon? Think your pancreas and/or beta cells will stand up to a lifetime of that kind of eating?

    This simple and crucial but little known physiological fact of the pancreas being primarily designed for the digestion of fats & proteins is why a high carb diet leads to beta cell burn out & diabetes. Simple, but vastly under disclosed to patients by medical & nutritional professionals who should know better & who should be doing a better job of informing the public as to the physiologically correct diet & nutrients to eat.

    The small percentage of insulin producing beta cells in the human pancreas is a major clue & evidence that humans are NOT designed to consume mass quantities of carbohydrates of any kind, whether in the form of natural grains or in processed “foods.” Food for more thought.

  16. Mie

    “The small percentage of insulin producing beta cells in the human pancreas is a major clue & evidence that humans are NOT designed to consume mass quantities of carbohydrates of any kind, whether in the form of natural grains or in processed “foods.” Food for more thought.”

    An obvious fallacy. You might as well argue that the fact that the brain requires at least some glucose is a major clue and evidence that humans are not designed to cope with low carb -diets (which has, of course, been used as an argument against low carb, despite the fact that it is utterly irrelevant in this aspect).

    What matters is observational evidence. Do we have evidence of “mass quantities” (whatever that means, I suggest that you try & quantify it better) of carbs being detrimental to health? Depending on dose and context, yes. However, the same goes with mass quantities of fat, check out e.g. this one

    which shows that a large dose of fat doesn’t exactly cause the ideal inflammatory response. (And yes, high fat & high sugar is even more detrimental).

    I’d say the conclusion is that it’s not a good idea to make a meal of 75 grams of fat from whipping cream with only 6 grams of protein.

  17. cancerclasses

    @Mie: An obvious false analogy, and a dumb one at that. I’m with Tom on his conclusion of your cited “study”. And no, I would never, Ever, EVER! argue that the brain’s glucose requirement is evidence that humans are not designed to cope with low carb-diets because that’s biochemically & physiologically incorrect.

    Humans do, can and are designed to cope with low carb diets because of the body’s built in feed back and fail safe glucose mechanisms. It is a well established fact that the human body’s real and actual daily glucose requirement is ZERO!

    The bottom line, and the one fact that every authoritative source & article about the body’s need for carbs and glucose that virtually EVERYONE misses, is that the body will burn and use glucose from carbs for metabolic processes ***ONLY IF YOU FEED IT CARBS.*** If you feed your body fats, protein and even alcohol which has 7 calories per gram the body can, will & does adapt to use those substrates for energy, and the **TINY** bit of actual glucose the body requires can be manufactured by the body via gluconeogenesis. That’s why serious hard core alcoholics can drink all day long & keep going without eating.

    From “How many carbohydrates do we need each day?

    The answer is (drumroll please…)



    Thats right: NOTHING.

    Let me repeat that:


    The book “Nutrition for fitness and sport” by Melvin H. Williams answers this. From what the nutritional experts, the government, and physicians have told us for decades, we would expect the answer to be “lots of carbohydrates”, but it isn’t. In fact, the answer is shocking:

    “The body can adapt to a carbohydrate-free diet and manufacture the glucose it needs from parts of protein and fat.”

    Dr. Williams uses the word “adapt”, to a minimum carbohydrate diet. I maintain a minimum carbohydrate is your body’s NATURAL STATE and it’s unnatural state is carbohydrate overload. Everyone has it backwards.

    How much carbohydrate is in you?

    “Student Companion for Stryer’s Biochemistry” makes it clear: ONLY A MERE 1% OF TISSUE WEIGHT IS CARBOHYDRATE. Almost nothing!!

    A high carbohydrate diet makes no scientific sense unless you want to fatten yourself up like cattle before the slaughter. Always remember, science relies on facts, not feelings. While it may sound good to have a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, it makes no scientific sense, given how our bodies operate.”

    Is that healthy? Sure. Read the Wikipedia page & Google Vilhalmer Steffanson & the all protein & fat diet —>

    Is that boring? Sure, even I like an occasional cinnamon roll with my Bulletproof Butter coffee now & then just for variety, the flavors & the taste.

  18. cancerclasses

    And what about the brain’s requirement for glucose? Even Wikipedia has the facts right in stating:

    “The body uses glucose as its main metabolic fuel ***if it is available.*** About 25% of the total body glucose consumption occurs in the brain, more than any other organ. The rest of the glucose consumption fuels muscle tissue and red blood cells.
    Glucose ***can*** be obtained directly from dietary sugars and carbohydrates. In the absence of dietary sugars and carbohydrates, it is obtained from the breakdown of glycogen. Glycogen is a readily-accessible storage form of glucose, stored in small quantities in the liver and muscles. The body’s glycogen reserve can provide glucose for about 6 hours.
    After the glycogen reserve is used up, glucose can be obtained from the breakdown of fats. Fats from adipose tissue are broken down into glycerol and free fatty acids. Glycerol can then be used by the liver as a substrate for gluconeogenesis, to produce glucose.”

    And “Although its mass constitutes only 2% of the entire body weight, it consumes 50% of the carbohydrates ingested over a 24 hour period. This corresponds to 100 g of glucose per day, or half the daily requirement for a human being. A 30 year-old office worker with a body weight of 75 kg and a height of 1.85 m consumes approx. 200 g glucose per day.”

    Again, this is only true if you feed your body glucose, period, end of story!

    You can study studies, or you can do what the MD’s that are lending weight to the current low carb & paleo diet movement have done to correct their health: I suggest you go back & crack open the old & dusty biochemistry, physiology & medical textbooks and study the real science. Studying studies is like studying a particular religion to learn what’s in the bible, all you get is some jerk’s INTERPRETATION of what he thinks is in the bible.

    Sorry to belabor a point but I thought the opportunity was ripe for some serious learning.

  19. LaurieLM

    Pancreatic cancer is correlated with hyperinsulinemia……..
    “Hyperinsulinemia Predicts Fatal Liver Cancer but Is Inversely Associated With Fatal Cancer at Some Other Sites
    Beverley Balkau, PHD1, Henry S. Kahn, MD2, Dominique Courbon1,Eveline Eschwège, MD1 and Pierre Ducimetière, PHD”
    “A number of studies have examined cancer incidence (or mortality) and hyperglycemia, diabetes, and central obesity, but they have been unable to establish the biological mechanism underlying the epidemiological associations. All of the site-specific cancers cited in these studies (pancreatic, kidney, colorectal, prostate, liver, biliary tract, stomach, and genital) showed a positive association with diabetes, except for the negative association found for lung cancer in men in one study (5).”

    Not terribly surprising, but I didn’t look into this until Stephanie Seneff pointed out vegetarians have an intriguing pancreatic cancer connection. Steve Jobs was a black-belt vegetarian, fruititarian. He just passed away….from pancreatic cancer.

    A biological mechanism may not be established, but we can guess at one: cancer feeds on glucose and fructose. Whatever causes cancer cells to mutate in the first place, we sure don’t want to provide them with extra fuel.

  20. cancerclasses

    The biological mechanism underlying the formation of ALL cancers has been known since at least 1928 when it was discovered by German M.D., PhD. & biochemist Otto Warburg, for which he was awarded the 1931 Nobel Prize for his work in discovering the prime cause of cancer. This is another one of those hidden crucial facts of life & health that you will NEVER hear from your doctor, nutritionist, pharmaceutical manufacturers or the heart, cancer, diabetes and medical associations & societies that constantly hammer the public for money to help them find “the cure” for all human ills.

    “Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.” — Dr. Otto H. Warburg in Lecture

    In a nutshell, the prime cause of cancer is cellular hypoxia. Warburg discovered that ANY human tissue can be made to become cancerous by a mere 35% reduction in oxygen flow into the cell, from ANY cause. The 35% reduction of oxygen is a critical threshold point below which the tissue cells lack the oxygen required to engage & utilize the aerobic respiration process of oxidative phosphorylation to produce energy.

    At this critical point of hypoxia the weaker cells die, but as a survival strategy the tougher cells revert to and engage the ancient alternate energy production process of glycolysis, the fermentation of sugars by AN-aerobic respiration. Warburg discovered that at this point all intelligence in the cell dies, the cytoplasm & mitochondria, etc., the cells become “dumb”, de-differentiated, and that the switch from aerobic ox-phos to anerobic glycolysis is permanent & irreversible. At this point the only thing the cell “knows” to do is eat sugars and replicate, and the proliferating mass of cells then exhibit the characteristics that fit the commonly known classical definition of cancer.

    The irreversible switch to glycolysis and the tumor cell proliferation is why cancers have such large glycolytic demand and create the large vascular networks needed to deliver the sugars it needs to survive, from wherever in the body it can find them. The first & easiest source is the host person’s high carb diet, since ALL carbs reduce to glucose molecules. If denied that source the cancer will compete with the body’s other processes to meet it’s nutritional demands and will digest the body’s own tissues, this is the cachexia common to end stage cancer patients.

    So the sequence works like this: cellular irritation, aggravation and damage causes inflammation, inflammation causes hypoxia, sustained hypoxia FROM ANY CAUSE past the critical 35% threshold point causes the switch from ox-phos to glycolysis, cellular glycolysis causes unregulated proliferation, which equals cancer.

    Pancreatic cancer is preceded by inflammation. Remember that any word ending in -itis means inflammation which is a response to a direct cellular injury, exposure to toxins, or a deficiency of essential nutrients such as oxygen & fatty acids. Sugar is inflammatory, and high blood sugar is a direct cause of arterial endothelial cell damage, inflammation & hypoxia.

    Since they don’t eat animals, vegans & vegetarians (& anyone avoiding fats) are notoriously deficient in the saturated fats and cholesterols the body requires for proper cellular structure, and along with the population in general are usually also deficient in the primary essential omega-6 linoleic acid and omega-3 alpha linolenic acid phospholipids needed for proper cell membranes. The membranes are the gatekeepers for nutrient flow into and waste product flow out of the cell, and they need to have the correct balance of stiffness & flexibility. Too much polyunsaturates makes the membranes too “leaky”, trans fats make them too stiff and literally block oxygen flow into the cell, and the adulterated, oxidized omega-6 vegetable oils are inflammatory.

    The consumption of soy products common to vegan/vegetarians aggrevates & can cause pancreatitis. Soy inhibits trypsin, an enzyme produced by the pancreas for the digestion of proteins in beans & vegetables which already only have 25% of the protein found in 1 pound of meat.

    Vegans/vegetarians with low stomach acid and who eat large quantities of high nitrate vegetables are at risk of a form of nitrate toxicosis called methemoglobinemia.

    Methemoglobin is an oxidized form of hemoglobin that has a decreased affinity for oxygen, resulting overall reduced ability to release oxygen to tissues. When methemoglobin concentration is elevated in red blood cells, tissue hypoxia can occur.

    Sugar, soy, hypoxia, cancer. The process is so clear it’s a wonder many of us have made it this far.

  21. LaurieLM

    Absolutely, Otto Warburg was correct.
    I just want to point out one additional bit of information about the study I mentioned. If you root around in the title Abstract and introduction information, you see this. TItle first: (sorry I am repeating)
    “Hyperinsulinemia Predicts Fatal Liver Cancer but Is Inversely Associated With Fatal Cancer at Some Other Sites”
    And further it states
    “All of the site-specific cancers cited in these studies (pancreatic, kidney, colorectal, prostate, liver, biliary tract, stomach, and genital) showed a positive association with diabetes” (i.e. hyperinsulinemia)
    ” Baseline hyperinsulinemia, was significantly associated with fatal liver cancer.”
    What are the NON- associated cancers referred to in the title? (Putting aside the horror of pancreatic, kidney, colorectal, prostate, liver, biliary tract, stomach and genital?)” In contrast, fasting hyperinsulinemia was inversely associated with fatal lip, oral cavity, and pharynx cancer and larynx cancer.”

    I don’t know about anything else, but it really matters how you say things.

  22. cancerclasses

    Agree, and in further reply to @Mie I should also add that there’s one simple reason my assertion about the physiology of the human pancreas is not a fallacy, which is this:

    Unlike the mechanism that protects the body from an UNDER intake of carbohydrates, it’s readily apparent and obvious that there is NO all powerful over riding mechanism to protect the body & it’s organs from a chronic, unabated OVER intake of carbohydrates. Yes there is a primary system to protect the body from moderate carbohydrate intake, but the cascade of diseases caused by a high carb diet are proof that the body’s carbohydrate mechanism and organs are fragile, not fail safe and can be & is EASILY overwhelmed leading to organ destruction, failure and death.

    If there were an all powerful over riding feedback mechanism to protect the body from chronic, physiologically excessive carbohydrate intake we wouldn’t see the destruction caused by even moderate intakes of carbohydrates: excessive triglyceride & small LDL particle formation & arterial endeothlial cell damage from elevated serum glucose levels, muscle tissue insulin resistance, pancreatic beta cell burnout leading to Type 1 insulin dependent diabetes, glycation of proteins and on & on.

    The absence of a mechanism to prevent the destruction of the body’s primary carbohydrate compensation system caused by high carb intakes is another one of those inconvenient and under reported facts of human physiology that is rarely elaborated succinctly & clearly in the discussions about carbs vs. protein & fats.

    “What matters is observational evidence”? Naw, not so much, observational “evidence” to support even the wildest wild ass assertions can be generated, see the China “study” and Ancel Keys lipid theory of heart disease. Before Copernicus & Galileo it was “obvious” that the earth was the center of the solar system, but nobody could explain & draw out how it all fit and worked together. What matters is whether observational evidence works with and is congruent with all the other established facts. That reminds me of the old question: “What’s more important in life, knowing how to think or knowing what to think about?” One answer is that if you don’t know how to think it doesn’t matter what you think about, all your conclusions will probably be wrong.

    I’m not gonna argue quantities & levels of carb intake, there’s plenty of readily accessible info that’s been written about that. But since you seem to be like most people out there who are much more impressed with “studies” and the alphabet soup behind peoples name than they are with common sense, see this article by Dr. Ron Rosedale wherein he states “…all sugars, and foods that convert into sugar, will have a detrimental effect if eaten, and therefore the fewer non-fiber carbohydrates that a person has, the better.”

  23. George Henderson

    Supposing processed meat IS bad for you; why isn’t that due to the gluten, soy protein, and sugars? “processed meat” isn’t just bacon, but all sorts of vege-extended Franken-furters. They contain crap we already know is toxic, never mind meat or nitrates.
    Control for the variable of vegetable contaminants, then come back and tell me that meat is bad.


  24. Science Before Conclusions

    Anybody actually read the China Study?
    It is revolutionary.

    If you consider cherry-picking correlations that support your preconceived conclusions and ignoring other correlations that dispute those conclusions to be “revolutionary,” then I guess you have a point.

  25. Tami

    I abused my position of power today, and told my listeners exactly what the bacon risk entails. Thus the perk of owning your own radio station 🙂

  26. Evin

    @The Older Brother I had a teacher in high school who does the same thing. He loves Spam so much he smothers it in barbecue sauce and grills it. And interestingly enough, his father died of pancreatic cancer shortly after I finished the class. I don’t know how much Spam he ate, I only wish I’d been able to warn him. 😛

    Anyway, there actually is evidence that putting high-sugar sauces and dressings on meat before grilling produces more carcinogens. But of course, it hasn’t been proven conclusively.


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