Too good to be true? Water cures ulcers, high blood pressure and asthma

The story of how one man discovered the healing properties of water sounds like the makings of a medical thriller. It even has a mysterious hero – Dr. Batman, MD.

As he relates in his last interview with Mike Adams of Natural News, the late Fereydoon Batmanghelidj was a well-respected doctor in his native Iran, when the Iranian Revolution broke out in 1979. Dr. Batman was jailed at the infamous Evin prison for three years, along with other intellectuals and professionals who were considered a threat to the new regime. Conditions were barbaric and supplies were slim to nonexistent. At one point, he had to treat a man crippled from the pain of a peptic ulcer. Having no medication to treat him with, he gave the patient two glasses of water. After a few minutes, the man uncurled from the fetal position and stopped screaming. Doctor Batman was surprised, and prescribed him two more glasses of water at three-hour intervals. The man was pain free for the duration of his four-month stay at the prison. He continued testing his water treatment on over 3000 patients during his stay, and even refused early release in order to continue studying the effects of water on peptic ulcers and other stress related conditions.

After he was released from prison and sought refuge in the US, Dr. Batman applied his medical training to discover the scientific underpinnings of his findings. He found that most so-called diseases of the modern era are actually symptoms of chronic dehydration. When an area of the body becomes dehydrated, the body sends a warning signal in the form of pain. It also takes measures to preserve the remaining water resources. After years of substituting juice, tea, coffee, soda and alcohol for water, many people are chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it. According to Dr. Batman, one of the effects of chronic dehydration is that you gradually lose your thirst sensation.

Dr. Batman points out that modern medicine attempts to treat the symptoms of dehydration without understanding the cause. As a result, the condition steadily worsens, and most people find themselves on medication for the remainder of their life. Consider Dr. Batman’s explanations of a few modern epidemics:

High Blood Pressure

Conventional medicine

Cause: Cause of High Blood Pressure is unknown in 90-95% of cases

Treatment: Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blocking drugs, beta-blockers and diuretics are used to target the chemicals in your body that constrict blood vessels, and to decrease the volume of water in the blood.

Possible side effects: diarrhea, slow heart rate, rash, impotence, high cholesterol, dizziness, depression, suicide

Dr. Batman

Cause: When the body is dehydrated, the blood vessels constrict in order to pump water from the bloodstream into drought areas of the body.

Treatment: 2 quarts of water day, a half hour before meals and 2 and a half hours after.

Possible side effects: none


Conventional medicine

Cause: unknown

Treatment: Long term control and quick relief medications such as fluticasone, budesonide mometasone, triamcinolone, flunisolide, beclomethasone, montelukast, zafirlukast, and zileuton that target the chemicals that cause bronchial constriction.

Possible side effects: agitation, aggression, hallucinations, depression, suicidal thinking and increased risk of a severe asthma attack.

Dr. Batman

Cause: Every day, a quart of water is lost through respiration. When water resources are low, the body automatically constricts the alveoli in the lungs to prevent further water loss.

Treatment: 2 quarts of water day, a half hour before meals and 2 and a half hours after.

Possible side effects: none

The implications of Dr. Batmanghelidj’s studies are far-reaching, and maybe for some, far-fetched. But the beauty of his water cure is that anyone can test it. You don’t need a medical degree; you don’t need a prescription. Unlike most experimental treatments, it won’t put you in debt. It has no negative side effects, and accidental overdoses are not common.

Could it really be that simple? There’s an old principle of logic called Occam’s Razor which states, “the simplest answer is usually the right one.” Unfortunately, it is usually overriden by another principle called Corporate Interest, which states, “the simplest answer makes the least money.”

For more information, visit Dr. Batmangheldij's site.

BPA in canned foods

Ahhh...the occasional can of creamed corn. Maybe a French green bean eaten right out of the can cold for a snack. Sound too gross for you? How about using canned chopped tomatoes or tomato paste? Canned soup anyone? I think most folks use these in their cooking.

Now a new study by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice in New York City recommends forgoing canned food altogether due to their findings that 92% of canned foods tested contain BPA leached from the inner can lining: . The study calls for a Federal ban on Bisphenol A (BPA), a common chemical used in the metal linings of some canned foods and ubiquitous in plastic products, including baby bottles and sippy cups.

BPA has come under scrutiny lately, with studies linking it to a host of health and developmental problems. One linked BPA to diabetes and heart disease:

Dr. Sarah Jannsen, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Franciso, said that "in animal studies, exposure to BPA is associated with reproductive harm, alterations in behavior and brain development, increased risk of prostate and breast cancer, and an earlier onset of puberty."

And, she added, "The fact that BPA causes such a side range of effects at low doses is really very concerning." [1]

Laura N. Vandenberg, a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, said BPA is an estrogen-like hormone that can cause reproductive problems.

"BPA has been linked to so many different diseases and dysfunctions that it's not safe," she said. "It's not safe in any aspect of that word."

Foods tested included fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, soups and tomatoes. "Potential exposure to BPA, not just from one can, but from meals you prepare over the course of a day with canned food, can actually expose consumers to potentially harmful levels of BPA," said report co-author Mike Shade.

Of course the canned food industry took issue with the report, saying no alternative safe technology exists to protect consumers against the food-borne illnesses the BPA is supposed to inhibit. However, Eden Foods has been offering food in BPA-free cans for more than 10 years, and Muir Glen, a subsidiary of General Mills, is planning to take BPA out of its canned tomato cans, Shade added.

The goal of the report's writers is to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban BPA in food packaging and drink containers. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), is proposing just such an amendment to the Food Safety Act currently being considered in Congress.

Shade noted that the ban is needed because BPA is in so many products that consumers are bound to buy products that contain the chemical. "Unfortunately, we can't shop our way out of this problem, because BPA is widespread in many different consumer products and that's why we need Congress to take action to ban BPA," he said.

The FDA has decided to take another look at BPA, which it has continually maintained is safe for human consumption. In January 2010, the FDA and other U.S. health agencies pledged $30 million toward short- and long-term research aimed at clarifying the health effects of the chemical.

So what can you do to lower your exposure to BPA? Choose other packaging options, including glass and non-toxic plastics. Consumers can also switch from canned foods to fresh and frozen foods. Reach out to the manufacturers of the products you like and tell them that you want your cans to be free of BPA.

The Environmental Working Group last year conducted an analysis of BPA in various canned foods and found the amount varies widely depending on the food: Condensed milk, for instance, has relatively little BPA, while infant formula has a lot more--about one fifth the safe dose limit set by the Food and Drug Administration. Of course, the potential risk also depends on how much you consume.

Here are some good rules of thumb for reducing your intake of BPA.

  1. Buy your tomato sauce in glass jars. Canned tomato sauce is likely to have higher levels of BPA because the high acidity of the tomatoes causes more of the chemical to leach from the lining of the can. Think beyond plain tomato sauce to any canned pasta -- like ravioli and those fun-looking kids' meals.
  2. Consume frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned. In addition to their BPA-free benefit, fresh and frozen produce usually have more nutrients, which often get lost in the process of canning. Eden Foods offers canned beans that are BPA-free.
  3. Purchase beverages in plastic or glass bottles. Canned soda and jice often contain some BPA. As far as BPA, you don't need to worry about disposable plastic water bottles. Most don't contain it, and those that do are usually marked on the bottom with a number 7 recycling code.
  4. Use powdered infant formula instead of ready-to-serve liquid. A separate assessment from the Environmental Working Group found that liquid formulas contain more BPA than powdered brands. We all know breast is best, when possible.)
  5. Think in terms of moderation. You don't need to avoid all canned foods. Just consult the chart in the EWG's full report on canned foods and follow a sensible approach, eating less of those foods that are high in BPA.

As always, fresh is better. Ready to start that summer garden yet? I bought more seeds today to add to my ongoing collection of self-harvested seeds. ;-]


1. As reported in Health Buzz by Megan Johnson of U.S. News and World Report.

Minding weight at the movies and in the sky

As an aid to keeping you healthy, movie theaters and airplanes, among others, will soon be posting calorie counts of their food offerings.

I noted here on September 6, 2010 about coming calorie counts on restaurant menus and in vending machines (, required by new federal guidelines. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports, "The expansion stems from provisions in the health-care overhaul enacted in March ( The government wants calorie listings posted to make it easier for consumers to select healthier options."

In preliminary guidelines released last month, the FDA said the scope of the law stretches beyond restaurants to encompass airlines, trains, grocery-store food courts, movie theaters and convenience stores that qualify as chains. Within grocery stores, the agency said, it is considering including salad bars, store bakeries, pizza bars and delicatessens for chains with 20 or more stores.

Health advocates say the change could be a powerful tool in fighting the obesity epidemic, which is a top initiative in Washington since first lady Michelle Obama made childhood obesity her signature cause in February. As expected, those chains affected aren't embracing it as positively.

"People don't go to movie theaters for the primary purpose of eating," said Gary Klein, a vice president for a group representing theater owners. "Why aren't ballparks covered? You think the food served at ballparks is healthy?" reported the WSJ. Stadiums aren't covered as they aren't chains.

The FDA plans to make official who is covered, and how, in December.

Perhaps greater awareness will lead to people making healthier food choices. We shall see.

Pop Quiz: For Breast Cancer Prevention, Collards, Carrots, or KFC?

Over the last month, while the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign was in full swing, some have questioned the effectiveness of what they call “pink washing,” or slapping everything from lipstick to a Ford Mustang with a pink ribbon and selling it in the name of breast cancer advocacy.

We might be hesitant to criticize companies for what appear to be well-intentioned efforts to raise awareness about a disease that will affect 1 in 8 women in America. However, when KFC starts selling pink “Buckets for the Cure,” we have to ask whether these companies really have the best interests of women at heart. Many ingredients in cosmetics have been linked to breast cancer, as have pollutants found in car exhaust. And the link between buckets of fried, tumor-ridden, estrogen-pumped chicken breasts and breast cancer should be obvious. Even the National Cancer Institute warns on its website that many studies, "have shown that an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried or barbecued meats."

Meanwhile, the American Institute for Cancer Research reports that 60 to 70 percent of all cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Their number one dietary recommendation is to: "Choose predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes and minimally processed starchy staple foods."

Three recent and reassuring studies released in the past month support the finding that lifestyle changes centered on healthy diet and exercise are the best way to prevent breast cancer. Here’s a roundup:

A team of Harvard scientists reviewed data from over 95,000 women gathered over a 20 year period and found that women who regularly take brisk walks are 15% less likely to get breast cancer than women who walk less than one hour a week. The study’s author, Dr. A. Heather Elliassen, noted that while there is a growing body of evidence that women who are highly physically active are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer, this study was encouraging because it suggested that women do not have to engage in vigorous work outs. It is enough to simply walk roughly three to four miles an hour, at a pace where it is harder to hold a conversation than when casually strolling.

Two studies in China have found that women with a higher intake of soy experience a lower risk of death or recurrence from breast cancer after menopause. These studies were conducted on women who had been eating soy for most of their lives. Doctors in the U.S. stressed that there was no evidence to suggest that women who have never eaten soy should begin after diagnosis. However, the China studies do suggest that women may experience a benefit from integrating soy into their diet as a preventative measure. Soy foods are rich in compounds called isoflavones, which affect estrogen metabolism. In the most current study, women with the highest soy intake consumed more than 42 milligrams of isoflavones per day, roughly equivalent to one and a half cups of soy milk.

Researchers at Boston University found that eating lots of carrots and cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and collard greens, could lower risk of breast cancer. The study focused on an aggressive type of breast cancer called ER-negative that is resistant to estrogen therapy. The researchers found that women who ate at least two servings of vegetables a day had a 43 percent lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer compared with women who ate fewer than four servings of vegetables each week. The data was particularly significant for African American women, who are often diagnosed with this type of breast cancer. The author of the study, Dr. Deborah A. Boggs, noted that her earlier work showed that a diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables led to a lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer in African American women.

So, next year when October rolls around, let's start calling it Breast Cancer Prevention Month rather than Breast Cancer Awareness Month. KFC, Estee Lauder, L'oreal and Ford have all succeeded in making us very aware of the prevalence of breast cancer. Unintentionally, their efforts have also made more people aware of their contribution to breast cancer. But awareness is not enough. Prevention is what we need. We don't need pink buckets of fried chicken and pink-striped gas guzzlers. We have science on the side of health.

Do we really have to choose between health and a healthy economy?

You may have noticed an article floating around the web recently with the provocative headline <a data-cke-saved-href="" href="/%3Ca%20href%3D"">" target"="">“Eat a Carrot, Hurt the Economy? Sometimes.”

Reporter Maria Cheng went on to describe a recent study apparently demonstrating that a global initiative to promote a healthy diet could result in dramatic losses for the economies of meat-exporting countries like Brazil. It was a typical attention-grabbing over-simplification for an author writing about a very thoughtful, technically involved research paper. If you dig a little deeper, the reality is more complex, and more interesting.

Six risk factors associated with nutrition account for 19% of all deaths worldwide. In descending order, these are: high blood pressure, high blood glucose, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and low fruit and vegetable intake. Researchers and doctors are beginning to make the connection that the majority of these risk factors are caused or exacerbated by a meat-based diet. The World Health Organization, which compiled the above statistics, has started a global health initiative to encourage people to reduce consumption of animal products and increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Some researchers have pointed out, however, that it’s not enough to simply recommend that people change their diet. You need to follow up with concrete policies that will address the root cause of the issue. Virtually no studies have been done about the impact of trade and agricultural policies on diet. To fill this gap, analysts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied the economies of Brazil and the UK and modeled what might happen if people followed the WHO’s recommendation: (Free registration required to access the full text of this article).

In fact, they did find that the Brazilian economy, which is heavily meat dependent, would take a hit. But that conclusion by itself isn’t very surprising – what the study authors are really after is a description of exactly how it would be affected, for the purpose of better designing trade and agricultural policies that support a healthy diet rather than work against it.

They set the stage in their introduction by explaining how market interests (read: profit), rather than health concerns, have dominated agricultural policies since the 1980’s. Barriers to international trade have been struck down and large transnational agribusiness corporations have secured a growing monopoly on the production and distribution of food.

The sudden rise in the global consumption of sugar and saturated fat is due to the increasing reach of these agribusiness corporations and the fast food outlets that feed off them. It is virtually impossible for small farmers to compete with multinational conglomerates on price, so organic food has become a specialty niche, a luxury in a market dominated by fertilizer-fed, pesticide-doused, nutrient-depleted, processed food, loaded with empty calories, fat and salt.

It’s not enough to tell people to stop eating food that’s not healthy for them, when that’s all they can afford, and when they’re making a living supplying the industrial food machine. You have to couple that recommendation with policies that support local agriculture and small farmers.

In her article, Cheng includes a quote from Richard Smith, a professor of Health System Economics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: "We are not suggesting people not eat a healthy diet. We're just trying to point out that healthier eating can have unintended consequences. In an ideal world, we would all have a perfect diet. But it's also desirable that everybody has a job."

By not giving context, Cheng makes it sound as though Smith is recommending that governments strike a balance between physical health and economic health, as though there were some perfect middle ground from which we could continue to grow the industrial food economy and halt the rise of chronic disease simultaneously.

From my reading, however, that’s not what the authors are saying at all. One of the bulleted key messages in the beginning of their paper states quite clearly, “The transition to diets high in saturated fat and sugar is causing global public health concern, and a major global health emphasis is needed to develop and implement policies to secure a healthy diet.” Their research helps to predict the obstacles that might arise if people try to follow these guidelines, which in turn helps us to address the root cause of the problem.

Unfortunately, just as we’ve become accustomed to a diet of cheap, fast food, we’ve also become accustomed to a media diet of frothy, insubstantial stories. Cheng missed an opportunity to highlight an important study. Hopefully, those in a position to change agricultural policy are attuned to better news sources.

Participation in Meatless Monday Can Help Fight Antibiotic Resistance and CAFOs

It's Monday again and time to start another healthy week! Going meatless today is a great way to accomplish that as more bad news for meat surfaces.

You may have caught wind of the big health news recently as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported for the first time the amount of antibiotics that were injected into or fed to U.S. animals destined for slaughter: 29 million pounds in the year 2009. That's 70% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. that year.

As the UK's Meat Free Monday so aptly put it: "The figures would still not be known had Congress not declared in 2008 that all meat producers have a legal responsibility to declare usage – information whose release the meat industry fought hard to prevent.

Antibiotics are routinely used on healthy animals in large-scale factory farms in the US in order to promote growth and guard against diseases that would otherwise decimate such densely housed populations of animals. Factory-farming would be unsustainable without the heavy use of antibiotics."

This astonishingly large figure comes at a time when the FDA is aiming to curb the increasing growth in antibiotic resistance. In June of 2010 the FDA released Draft Guidance on, "The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals". While the draft did move the debate forward, it was only intended to seek comment from stakeholders, rather than establish regulation. Hopefully, the recent confirmation of such extreme antibiotic use will serve to support the need for regulation.

Excerpts from that report explain the main ideas:

"Because antimicrobial drug use contributes to the emergence of drug resistant organisms, these important drugs must be used judiciously in both animal and human medicine to slow the development of resistance. Using these drugs judiciously means that unnecessary or inappropriate use should be avoided....

In regard to the use of antimicrobial drugs in animals, concerns have been raised by the public and components of the scientific and public health communities that a significant contributing factor to antimicrobial resistance is the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals for production or growth-enhancing purposes."

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has taken up this issue and the Food Safety Network (FSN) regularly reports on it.

For more information on this important topic, see the articles below. Remember, when you ingest meat treated with antibiotics, you're ingesting those antibiotics within the meat. If you don't want them, and/or you don't want to contribute to antibiotic resistant disease, going meatless today or any other day is voting with your fork.

For Details, see:

To help you with that laudable goal, here is a meatless holiday main dish that's also tofu-free for those who want variety or are averse to tofu. It's based on chickpeas, or garbanzo beans.

Healthy Holiday Mock Turkey This is a recipe from "Kathy Cooks. Naturally."


  • 2 C. chickpeas, cooked and mashed
  • 2 C. brown rice, cooked soft
  • ½ C. vegetable bouillon liquid
  • 1 C. finely diced breadcrumbs
  • ½ C. whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 C. chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • ½ tsp. vegetable salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. sage
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. asafetida


  1. Cook and mash chickpeas.
  2. Cook and cool rice.
  3. Dissolve bouillon in hot water.
  4. Toast spices in butter.
  5. Combine all ingredients and mix and mash together well.
  6. Shape into slices or patties. Place on oiled baking sheet, sprinkle with paprika and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until browned.

Mock Turkey Gravy


  • ¼ cup butter or oil
  • 1 cup garbanzo flour (chickpea)
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast


  1. Combine first five ingredients, stirring constantly over medium-high flame until lightly toasted. You may have to mash it with the backside of the spoon.
  2. When toasted, gradually add water, whisk constantly to prevent lumping.
  3. When blended, add last ingredients, mix well, and stir until desired consistency.

Yield: 1 quart

Today's Veggie Quote:

"Even minor tampering with nature is apt to bring serious consequences, as did the introduction of a single chemical (DDT). Genetic engineering is tampering on a monumental scale, and nature will surely exact a heavy toll for this trespass."

Dr. Eva Novotny

Astrophysicist, formerly from Cambridge University, and spokesperson for Scientists for Global Responsibility

Happy Monday and Happy Holidays!

FDA gains power to regulate Big Tobacco

In front page news today is a story about a landmark victory over the tobacco industry. The article “Senate grants FDA power to regulate Big Tobacco”, published by the Honolulu Advertiser, tells of how the federal government will likely soon have the power to regulate the manufacturing and marketing of cigarettes, and will gain the power to stop the addition of things like “cherry” flavoring to cigarettes, and the use of marketing targeted towards young people, such as the infamous Joe Camel. Quoting from the article:

WASHINGTON — Capping a half-century battle with the tobacco industry, the Senate overwhelmingly approved landmark legislation yesterday that would for the first time give the government far-reaching power to regulate the manufacturing and marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The legislation, which was approved by the Senate 79-17 and is expected to pass the House today, would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate ingredients in tobacco products and ban the marketing of "light" cigarettes.

In a bid to deter new smokers, the bill also imposes strict limits on full-color advertising for cigarettes, bans billboards close to schools and requires packages to carry larger warning labels.

"Joe Camel has been sentenced and put away forever," said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., referring to a youth-oriented cartoon figure long used to promote Camel cigarettes.

The Obama administration and congress are seeking ways to extend health care coverage and to reduce the massive health care costs in the US that accounts for almost 10% of GDP, way more than in any other industrialized country. Controlling and reducing the smoking of tobacco products is one way to reduce health care costs and help people avoid crippling and unnecessary diseases and the consequent debilitating personal, family, and societal costs.

Actually, much of these huge health "care" costs are for the treatment of unnecessary and preventable diseases caused by the consumption of unhealthy meat based diets, the use of products such as tobacco and alcohol, and the living of unhealthy lifestyles.

At Down to Earth we promote the living of a healthy "down to earth" lifestyle consisting of a healthy vegetarian diet comprised of natural and organic foods, regular exercise, the drinking of clean water, breathing fresh clean air, and the avoidance of intoxicants. Please visit our stores and our website for further information on how to adopt a healthier vegetarian diet.

Rising obesity is both costly and deadly

A recent study predicts that the effects of increasing obesity in the US are forecast to outweigh any benefits from continued reductions in smoking rates over the next decade.

The major cause of the obesity epidemic is not hard to identity, it is the eating of a poor diet - based on the eating and drinking of sugar-laden, highly processed, and usually artificially-flavored and colored, junk foods. Another significant factor contributing to rising obesity levels is the lack of exercise and the sedentary lifestyle practiced by many. School physical activities are being slashed due to lack of funding, and at home children often spend their free time on the computer playing games or watching movies and don’t develop the exercise habit in their formative years. As a result they will likely end up becoming sedentary adults. Often these two factors go together, i.e., children and adults sit in front of the TV or computer while consuming copious quantities of unhealthy foods; and we wonder why there is an obesity epidemic? It is not rocket science, poor diet and lack of exercise are the two main causes of obesity, and the solution is is to be found in better diets and regular exercise.

The obesity epidemic needs to be addressed by major education efforts, the making available of healthier choices in all food stores (not just natural foods stores), school cafeterias, vending machines, etc. Great tasting healthy foods exist; they simply need to be made more readily available and promoted. Gradually people’s palates will adjust to a less sugary, salty and processed food taste.

The current medical cost of treating obesity related disease is estimated at 10% of total annual medical spending, or $147 billion. Incorporating more school exercise, providing healthier food choices, and increased education efforts about nutrition and physical activity will help significantly cut the cost of treating obesity. The money saved on treating obesity related disease could be used to help provide medical insurance for all.

The current debate on health care does not address solutions to the cause of disease, in fact, that is not even discussed, the debate is solely about how to give everyone the opportunity to get medical treatment for disease. This is a good thing, but how about we make it so less people get disease, that would be a better goal, and an achievable one.

Meat Linked to Increased Bladder Cancer Risk

In a recently concluded 12-year study, scientists found that people who eat meat regularly, especially meat that is well done or cooked at high temperatures, may have a higher chance of developing bladder cancer.

Surprised? I didn’t think so. The study, undertaken by scientists at the University of Texas, joins previous research linking meat with bowel, pancreatic and colon cancer. So while I’m glad these studies are making headlines and getting coverage, it’s worth pointing out that this “news” is not exactly new.

Many people I know, who profess to be concerned with their health and the health of the planet, are so jaded by the constant discovery of new carcinogens that they shrug them off, saying, “yeah well, these days what doesn’t cause cancer?”

I understand how overwhelming it can be to feel surrounded by toxins in our environment. We take comfort in food, and we want to imagine that our dinner, at least, won’t kill us. However, if we look around at the rising rates of morbid obesity, heart disease and cancer, we can see that our dinner, if it includes meat, is killing us. We can hide behind the fatalistic argument that we’re all going to die anyway, or we can make the basic changes to our diet that will alleviate the risk of cancer, and improve our quality of life.

The distinctions are not that difficult to make. Study after study confirms that meat is not good for our health. To date, I have yet to find a study saying sweet potatoes are not good for our health. Ditto on taro, papayas, bananas, pineapple, kale, collard greens, bell peppers, tomatoes or cucumbers - and that’s just what’s growing in my garden right now. Switching to a plant-based diet is the single most important thing a person can do for their health. You don’t have to be fatalistic or jaded about the risk of cancer. Just plant a seed.

The most recent study found that people who consumed the most red meat were 48% more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who consumed the least. The report further studied the effects of high temperatures on meat. They found that “medium” meat was linked to a 46% increased risk of cancer while “well done” meat was lined to a 94% increase in risk, compared to meat that was “rare.”

I found it odd that the study only compared people who ate lots of meat to people who ate less meat. What about people who ate no meat? It might be useful, for example, to know that a heavy smoker cuts eight years off his life expectancy compared to a light smoker, but wouldn’t it be more useful to know the life expectancy of someone who never smoked at all?

This particular study didn’t include any data from vegetarians, but there are plenty of other examples from previous studies. One 11 year long study from Germany found that people who eat no meat are less than half as likely as the mainstream population to develop any kind of cancer.

In the University of Texas study, the scientists looked at the way meat was cooked, and concluded that chemical reactions between amino acids (the building blocks of protein and creatine (a chemical found in muscles) react under high temperatures to form heterocyclic amines (HCA’s), which are carcinogenic. The authorities stopped short of recommending a vegetarian diet, however, issuing the following statement instead:

“The UK Food Standards Agency says people can reduce their risk from chemicals that may cause cancer by…cooking at lower temperatures for a longer time, but warns that undercooked meat can cause food poisoning.”

So, cooked meat gives you cancer and uncooked meat gives you food poisoning?

Pass the sweet potatoes, please.

Vegetarian Diet Can Reduce Chemicals in Your Body

A recent study suggests that even five days of vegetarian eating significantly reduces potentially harmful chemicals in the body. Yet another benefit of a plant-based diet!

In “Influence of a five-day vegetarian diet on urinary levels of antbiotics and phthalate metabolites: A pilot study with ‘Temple Stay’ participants”[1] in the May 2010 issue of Environmental Research [2], twenty-five adults stayed for five days in a Buddhist temple in Korea, living as the monks did, following a vegetarian diet. Before beginning, urine samples taken showed high levels of antibiotics and phthalates.

As reported in, presumably the antibiotic levels were due mainly to meat consumption. Phthalates can also be absorbed through meat consumption, however, they are also found in abundant supply in the manmade environment, mainly found in plastics, like food containers, shower curtains, floor tiles, personal care products, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and many other applications. (Research about the potential health effects of phthalates on humans is ongoing.)

The researchers found antibiotic and phthalate urinary levels dropped very much after the study participants completed their vegetarian retreat. One, because they were no longer consuming foods high in those chemicals, but also because the body apparently can release some of its ingested, accumulated chemical residues.

The results may come as little surprise for people already mindful of exposure to industrial chemicals through food and interacting with plastic products.

The study provides some hope in the fact the body can release unnatural chemicals to some degree, and also indicates a vegetarian diet limits exposure to potentially damaging chemicals from our environment. We already know that following a plant-based diet reduces ones risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, prostate and colon cancer. Now it appears it can help us detoxify too, providing us a weapon against the daily environmental onslaught of modern life.

So eat your veggies!! (Preferably organic!)

  2. Environmental Research: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Environmental Sciences, Ecology, and Public Health publishes original reports describing studies of the toxic effects of environmental agents on humans and animals. The principal aims of the journal are to define the etiology of environmentally induced illness and to increase understanding of the mechanisms by which environmental agents cause disease.