The happy life of my thirteen year old brother, living on a western diet, filled with hamburgers, ham sandwiches, steaks, and video games. We call him the family carnivore.
So of course when I came home after reading research about how a high fat diet full of red meat is linked to breast cancer, I made sure to tell him- and he wasn’t exactly happy. On top of making him switch his shampoos, I was now telling him to limit his favorite foods. This proved to be an great lesson for me on how important sharing information is. Although he perfectly fit the criteria for greatest risk, due to being in puberty and not being obese despite his diet, he still didn’t want to listen to me. However, after telling him about the research he was slightly more convinced.
A high fat diet with fats from red meat has been shown to cause cancer, especially when combined with the timing of puberty. Puberty is a window of susceptibility where because our body is growing so quickly, we are more susceptible to endocrine disrupting compounds. A high fat diet, for example, contains endocrine disrupting compounds because fats in red meat mimic the natural hormones progesterone and estrogen. These two hormones are produced during, and help control, puberty. A disruption in these hormones can have many harmful effects in the long run, including breast cancer.
Even if you are not gaining a significant amount of weight from the fat, you might not be in the clear. Research has shown that high fat diets are more harmful for people that are NOT obese. So, even if you eat a high fat diet and don’t gain a lot of weight from it, you should still consider limiting the amount of fat from red meat that you consume.
While there may still be important nutrients in red meat, it may be wiser to eat it in moderation. After I shared all this information with my brother, although reluctant, he agreed to lower the amount of red meat he eats. In no way, does this mean a diet, but instead a healthy replacement that anyone can easily make. Simply by replacing red meat with chicken, legumes, nuts, and fish, you can lower your risk for breast cancer significantly and greatly increase your overall health in the long run.
By Sara Frawley