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Are carcinogens the major factor in cancer ?

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:17 GMT

Author: Alan Chalk
Position: Dr (PhD)/retired
Institution: No affiliation was given
E-mail: ajchalk@comcast.net
Submitted Date: December 11, 2007
Published Date: December 12, 2007
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

The authors attribute the cancers resulting from eating meat to the carcinogens produced by cooking.

T. Colin Campbell (Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University) has challenged this viewpoint in his book "The China Study" (see specifically chapter 3 which contains 55 references to the scientific literature). He shows that carcinogens such as aflatoxin have little effect on a low protein diet. Only when protein levels in the diet are raised from 5 to 20 % does cancer become a significant result.

In the present authors' paper, the effects of carcinogens and protein are inseparable, so no conclusions can be drawn relevant to Campbell's conclusions. If Campbell is correct however, the implicit recommendation of the present authors to use cooking methods that minimise carcinogen formation will have little effect on the occurrence of cancer.

Competing interests declared: none