Meatheads: MD Anderson grilling scare won't cure cancer or cover up failure

The University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center can’t “make cancer history” through treatment so it’s decided to blame meat?

The Center issued a media release today entitled, “Keep Cancer Off the BBQ Grill.”

MD Anderson recommended the following:

1. Avoid processed meats.

Skip processed meats like bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, sausage, hot dogs and pepperoni.

Cancer-causing substances form when these meats are preserved, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. And, eating these meats can damage a person’s DNA, increasing the risk of colorectal cancer.

2. Limit red meat.

Eating too much red meat like pork, lamb and beef (including hamburgers) can raise a person’s cancer risk. Try grilling skinless chicken breasts and fish instead.

Insist on red meat? “Limit yourself to three, six-ounce (cooked) servings per week,” Scroggs says. “One serving is the size of two decks of cards.”

3. Don’t char or burn meat, poultry or fish.

Charring, burning or grilling meat, poultry and fish over high temperatures causes heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to form. These HCAs can damage a person’s genes, raising the risk for stomach and colorectal cancers.

To avoid HCAs:

Stick with fish. Fish contains less fat and cooks faster than meat and poultry.
Lightly oil the grill. This keeps charred materials from sticking to your food.
Pre-cook food. Cook meat, poultry or fish in the microwave or oven for two to five minutes, then finish them on the grill. Less grill time means less exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
Lower the temperature. For a charcoal grill, spread the coals thinly or prop the grill rack on bricks. This reduces the heat by increasing the distance between your food and the coals. And, use barbecue briquettes and hardwood products, such as hickory and maple. They burn at lower temperatures than softwood (pine) chips.
Scrub the grill. Cleaning the grill after each use prevents harmful chemicals from building up and transferring to your food.

4. Use a marinade.

Marinating meat in vinegar, lemon juice and herbs such as mint, rosemary, tarragon or sage can reduce HCA formation by as much as 96%. Just 30 minutes can help.

5. Trim the fat.

Cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form in the smoke when fat from meat, poultry or fish drips onto the heat source. That PAH-filled smoke then coats your food.

Curb exposure to PAHs by trimming fat from meat before grilling. Or, choose cuts labeled “lean.”

6. Showcase fruits and veggies.

No barbecue should be a meat-only affair. Grilling fruits and veggies is a great way to load up on vitamins and nutrients that help your body fight off diseases like cancer.

“For some grilling enthusiasts, these changes might initially be a lot to stomach,” Scroggs says. “But updating how you barbecue may mean you continue to enjoy grilling for many summers to come.”

There is, however, no evidence that any of these actions will have make any difference whatsoever to anyone in terms of cancer risk. Aside from the weak association epidemiology and dubious toxicology studies behind MD Anderson’s nonsense, there is no credible evidence that vegetarians are any healthier or experience less cancer than carnivores.

While there’s no shame in the reality that the “war on cancer” has largely failed, the cancer industry ought not convert that failure into a scam — or are we too late? 🙂

For further reading, check out’s Debunkosaurus where we’re collecting resources on the meat and cancer scare.

25 thoughts on “Meatheads: MD Anderson grilling scare won't cure cancer or cover up failure”

  1. I had to leave this comment based on some things that bug me when people have the meat vs. veggie debate.
    1. We are not herbivores, nor are we carnivores, we are omnivores, this is a scientific fact.
    2. Excess will always harm or kill, even pure water, food, and air.
    3. People always focus on the food, they ignore the activity. Lack of proper (not excessive) exercise does more harm than all the bad diets combined. My great grandma lived to 92, ate a mix of meats and veggies, and walked most places all her life. when she was no longer able to walk anymore, she only lasted 3 more months.
    So get your facts straight, use the scientific method, swallow your pride and ego, and eat what nature provides.

  2. Its more dangerous to your health to be sedintary, stay inside, and consume carbohydrates as the base of your diet. It has only been a recent trend (in terms of our evolutionary journey) for human beings to consume grains in such high quantities while simultaneously removing animal protein and fat from our diet and being so inactive. And according to all the “experts” cancer, diabetes, and heart disease rates have never been higher.

  3. blah, blah, blah, blah .. charred red meat cause of cancer ,, justification for grants .. these “scientists” don’t get $ without a bit of alarmisms ..
    oh, ‘n by the way, lack of spellin’ skills ‘n such ain’t an indication of a dull mind .. how ’bout lay off the arrogance ‘n see the wisdom…

  4. PhilJourdan,

    Please, take care that the cardboard that you eat is unbleached. In case you missed it, EPA concluded that bleached paper contains dangerous amounts of dioxins and furans and that your bleached paper picnic plate might cause you to get cancer.

  5. Moderation is the key in all things, but boring. My mother is 94, can still play a great game of scrabble, but has been a vegetarian for 50 of those years. I think it is the first 44 that have sustained her. I do my own science every day. I have a Manhattan before dinner, a chunk of meat or fish and potato or rice, vegetable, salad, dessert. Glass of wine with dinner, cigar after. My experiment is working well. I’m 61 and loving life. If I die tomorrow, I have no regrets.

  6. Back in the early to mid 70’s Scientists were absolutely positive beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Earth was heading into an iceage. I wish they would make up their minds. Either way I got all the bases covered. I have both artic survival gear and lots of suntan lotion.

  7. This is a repost Of an earlier posting. I have corrected both the grammer and spelling and clarified the points that I was trying to make

    Back in the mid 80′s, it seemed that every other week some crackpot scientist or another was announcing another cause of cancer. At the time I made a joke that someday some jackass would make the claim that sex caused cancer, and if that was the case, that I was going to die of cancer because I refused to give up sex. Then in the early 90′s as I recall, that was exactly what some nitwit scientist claimed.

    I now ask 4 questions concerning any health claim,
    1.) Is it fun?
    2.) Is it pleasurable?
    3.) Is it fattening?
    4.) Is it immoral from somebody’s point of veiw?

    If the answer is “Yes” to any one of the above questions, I disregard their warnings as the BS that it is until there is conformation of at least 2 peer reviews..

    By the way I happen to be 62 yrs old and don’t have cancer of any type, including prostrate cancer.

  8. I have to agree with Ted. My dad lived to 90. My Uncle Jack is 93 in a week. They (and the rest of the family) eat fried, roasted, and grilled meats of all kinds. In addition we eat salami, baloney, and all the other common processed meats. We have no history of cancer. None of our friend do either.

    This is just rewarmed BS that has been cycled through the news circuit regularly.

  9. Back in the mid 80’s, it seemed that every other week some crackpot scienyist was announcing another cause of cancer. At the time I made a joke that someday some jackass would make the claim that sex caused cancer, and if that was the case, that I was going to die of cancer because I refused to give up sex. Then in the 90’s as I recall, that was exactly what some nitwit scientist claimed.

    I now 4 questions concerning any health claim,
    1.) Is it fun?
    2.) Is it pleasurable?
    3.) Is it fattening?
    4.) Is it imoral from somebody’s point of veiw?

    If I answer “Yes” to any of the above questions, I disregard their warnings as the BS that it is.

    By the way I happen to be 62 yrs oldand don’t hace cancer of any type, including prostrat cancer.

  10. Its seems a lot of annoying vegetarians nut cases are hanging out here at the moment.
    I believe that Mr Milloy has it straight.
    We have these statements from these institutes, but there is no real proof except to state what is believed to be an ideal diet. Perhaps with the possibility of now eating radioactive fish.
    With the damaging carbon 14 being mentioned, maybe we could sell a geiger counter with each meal. (Sorry thats marketing)….

  11. I have done some deep thinking as a result of this post. I have discovered the cure for cancer. It’s so simple, I don’t know why nobody has thought of it before: stop eating. If people would just stop eating, they would not die of cancer. Guaranteed.

  12. I think he may be drunk. Correction, I hope he is. If he is sober, that speaks even more volumes about his education.

  13. Steve, the “evidence” is clear. Most people I know eat meat. Lifespans continue to increase. What other information do you need that meat is bad for people?

  14. I see this opinionated indoctrination of the masses causing more side effect problems than in my mind it would ever fix – it seems that even now many people are running into deficiencies resulting in some cases of serious anemia. We are carnivores despite any protestations to the contrary and without a meaningful intake of red meat then anemia is a potential for poor health.

  15. Maybe they are just po’d because they didn’t get the cell phone scare first. Getting desperate.

  16. I don’t think that rallying against suggested healthy practices has the effect of discrediting other things this site has to say.
    In the last decade several unfortunate campaigns have unleashed that have the following in common:
    – They attempt to reduce our standard of living.
    – They discredit our meanwhile traditional modern life style that developed in the course of the industrial revolution.
    – The conclusion of the campaigns favor more government control of daily lives and business activity over individual liberty and economic liberty.

    Two of those campaigns are
    – global warming aka climate change. It may have started no later than with the 1996 Kyoto protocol, but it reached new heights with the 2006 “An Inconvenient Truth” campaign by Al Gore.
    – the stories about healthy and unhealthy lifestyle including the respective descriptions of healthy and unhealthy nutrition.

    It should be that supporting several of those campaigns is a descrediting factor, not rallying against.

  17. We need an ignore feature. Looks like one of the numb skulls from Daily Kos has stumbled his way to

  18. The only known commonality in all types of cancer is damage to the nuclear DNA. When all known factors that can damage DNA are evaluated for absolute potency as mutagens, the most damaging (amd mos ubiquitous and inescapable!) is natural radioactivity from the 1 part-per-billion of the carbon atoms *incorporated directly into the DNA molecules*.
    When these natural C-14 atoms decay, they are 100% effective at causing DNA damage.
    Because they target DNA at point-blank range, as Dr. Asimov pointed out back in 1974, they are orders of magnitude more effective than any other mutagen.
    Our best hope of protecting ourselves from this most powerful cancer-causeiong agent is to raise all our food in an environment wherein *all* the CO2 comes from sources free of radioactive carbon-14.
    Fossil fuels and carbonate minerals (from which the CO2 has been released by acidity) would be ideal, as they have been protected from contamination by new C-14 for many half-lives, so all their inherent C-14 has already decayed.

  19. Sounds like the MD Anderson Cancer Center wants us to switch to a Japanese diet, except Japanese have higher rates of stomach cancer than Americans. This directive sounds like all directives coming from government-related universities: preach to the masses as if they are children. Anybody with common sense, or grade-school scientific knowledge knows that too much of anything is bad for you. If you don’t want burned char red remains on your meat, clean the grill before you barbecue, and pay attention while grilling. Most people don’t! You can also burn fish or chicken on a grill so this announcement from MD Anderson Cancer Center really does not make much sense.

  20. My father grilled throughout his life when steaks were big and the only thing bigger were the flames to cook ’em over! Lived until 84 years old when killed, no, not by stomach cancer, but by being hit by a car! Thank you, Steve. Keep up the good work!

  21. Hey Scott, either you’re joking or you are the joke yourself! Which is it? If you are not joking, your spelling says volumes about your education.

  22. Feel free to define “healthy” and what evidence you have that suggests eating meat is not “healthy.”

  23. Don’t you realize that railing against suggested healthy practices has the effect of discrediting other things you have to say? Claiming that the dissemination of information by cancer researchers who see reason to issue cautionary press releases is self serving and fraudulent makes you look like an unreasonable scaremonger, yourself. You must be part of the hyperbole-prone attention-cravers industry.

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