Anti-meat message shuns science affirming its safety

From Janet M. Riley, senior vice president, American Meat Institute:

“If there's one phrase that virtually guarantees you'll make it onto the Letters to the Editor page, it's ‘As a cancer survivor, I feel ...'”

That comes from Simon Chaitowitz of the pseudo-medical animal rights group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an ally of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. That her column ran in the Observer (“Eating right is one of best ways to prevent cancer,” July 18 Viewpoint), proves her strategy works.

Chaitowitz suggests that because Tony Snow died of colon cancer, meat caused it. In fact, his mother also died of colon cancer at 38. The American Cancer Society says having a first-degree relative with colon cancer doubles your risk; if a parent developed it before 50, the risk is higher.

As a mom, I know nothing scares us more than thinking something we do could hurt our kids. But dozens of studies affirm meat's role in a healthy, balanced diet. Meat contributes vitamins, minerals, protein and helps control hunger. This month, a New England Journal of Medicine study found low-carbohydrate diets among the most effective for weight loss, and reducing obesity is something we can all agree upon.

While Chaitowitz warns against nitrite-cured meats, many new studies out of the National Institutes of Health and other institutions show that nitrite can help control blood pressure, promote wound healing, help in organ transplants and prevent pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. Further, 93 percent of the nitrite Americans consume comes from vegetables and the body's own saliva.

The “landmark” report she cites has been called into question by a long list of experts and fails to consider findings from a 14-country Harvard study which found no link between red or processed meat and colon cancer.

Although I never knew Tony Snow, I think he'd stand up for the facts, not the fear PCRM serves up – on a bed of tofu.