A recent study indicated that people who eat a single serving
of red meat per day developed an increased risk of pancreatic
As reported in the British Journal of Cancer, Swedish
researchers discovered that people who consume four ounces of
processed meat daily (including such delicacies as sausage and
four slices of bacon) had a 19 percent increased chance of
contracting pancreatic cancer.
"Right now, your lifetime risk of getting pancreatic cancer is
1.4 percent," Dr. Richard Besser told ABC News. "If you have a
serving of processed meat per day, your risk would go up to 1.7
percent -- still very small."
Pancreatic cancer is relatively rare, affecting only one of 65
people, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Defenders of the white meat would point out that eating pork
is not the problem at all -- rather, the true culprits are the
nitrites and nitrates used in the proccessing of meats (all types
of meat). Indeed, processed meats have also been connected to
bladder and colon cancers.
Nonethless, the eating of pork has long been banned by at
least three of the world's major religions, Judaism, Islam and
The prohibition on eating pigs stretches back to antiquity
and, of course, it was not implemented due to cancer fears.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Book of Leviticus
states: "And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be
cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he [is] unclean to
you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye
not touch; they [are] unclean to you."
Similarly, Deuteronomy advises: "And the swine, because it
divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it [is] unclean unto
you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead
In the Holy Quran, it is written: "He has only forbidden you
dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over
which the name of other than Allah has been invoked."
With respect to Hinduism, eating pig is not specifically
forbidden -- rather, all flesh and meat-eating is considered
taboo. Culturally, pork was never a popular (or cheap) food
alternative in India. Observant Hindus shun pork, as much as they
avoid beef, alcohol or tobacco. While cows are considered sacred,
pigs are generally considered unclean (as they are by Muslims and
Interestingly, pork is also forbidden (or considered taboo) by
such diverse groups as Seventh-Day Adventists, the Ethiopian
Orthodox Church and even some Scottish Highlanders.
However, eating pork is extremely popular in China - even
though some ancient Chinese texts discouraged the practice. The
Confucian Book of Rites from 3,000 years ago said: "A gentleman
does not eat the flesh of pigs and dogs."
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the average
Chinese person eats about 100 pounds of pork per year (double the
rate as Americans).
"When someone says they're eating 'meat' in China, they mean
they're eating pork," Feng Yonghui, an industry analyst, told the
"Most people can't live without it."
China is also the biggest pork producer on the planet, with
460-million pigs (half the global total).
According to the China Association of Science and Technology (
), the risk of pancreatic cancer has been increasing in China in
"For example in Shanghai, in 2000, the incidence rate reached
10.0 per 100,000 persons, an increase of 1.5 times higher than 20
years ago," CAST stated.
"In 2008, 1,800 new cases were reported among the regular
inhabitants in Shanghai city proper. Since 2010, the rate has
risen to 11.0 per 100,000 persons"