Carcinogens In Food

1. Carcinogens In Food

There are many carcinogens in food that is consumed by most Americans today. It is important that the general public be aware of these poisons so that they can make rational decisions when choosing food.

1.1 Fish

Fish are extremely sensitive to pesticides. They sicken or die at very low concentrations, much lower than for most living organisms. Concentrations as low as two parts per trillion of DDT were found to cause problems in the Great Lakes. The consumer can be harmed by eating fish that has been poisoned but not killed outright. Fish have been known to concentrate these poisons 2,000-fold over the amounts in the water where they were found.

1.1.1 Shellfish

In recent years, state and federal agencies that control oyster beds and their care have been pouring materials into the sandbanks to protect oysters from their enemies, such as starfish and other sea creatures. These materials are made of insecticide, and a chemical (orthodichlorobenzene) combined with sand. Sea animals, venturing into the treated sandbank, perish from the poisons in different ways.

A starfish, for example, goes into a spasm and disintegrates. An oyster drill, a member of the snail family, swells up to such an extent that it is forced out of its shell and either dies or is devoured by fish. A crab loses its sense of balance and goes into convulsions. You may well wonder whether the chemicals ultimately make the oyster poisonous to eat. Oysters are far away from our natural food and these chemical toxins give us double reason to eschew them.

1.1.2 Hatchery-Raised Trout

The feeds developed for trout were similar to those previously used for poultry. When the pellets were fed to baby chicks, the birds developed cancer. Later rainbow trout, raised in hatcheries, were given this feed in hopes of achieving maximum weight gains in the shortest period of time before being released into streams.

In the early 1960s, hatchery-raised rainbow trout that were fed this pelleted feed developed liver cancer in what leading cancer specialists considered epidemic proportions. In some hatcheries, 100% of the trout were affected. The outbreak seemed related to a cancer-inducing ingredient, still not completely identified, but present in the fat fraction of the feed. Upon investigation, moldy cottonseed meal in the dry feed was suspected as the most likely cause of the cancer. Dr. Hueper, one of the investigators, says, “The fact that at times carcinomatous involvement affects not only the liver and other internal organs not ordinarily used for human foods, but at times also the muscle tissue, provides an additional reason for caution against any laxity in the application and enforcement of existing laws.” The likelihood of strict reinforcement of these laws is very low. The best advice is to not eat any fish.

1.1.3 Fresh Fish

Fresh fish may be refrigerated in crushed ice containing preservatives such as sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, hydrogen peroxide, ozone, or chlorine to inhibit spoilage. In recent years, cases of illness and deaths were traced to excessive amounts of sodium nitrite added to fish by sellers’ who hoped to prolong even further the shelf life of their products.

1.2 Eggs

Eggs are vehicles for residues of a wide range of chemicals present in the diet and environment of laying hens. Antibiotics in feed may more than double the egg laying in low-producing hens. There is also pressure to include antibiotics in the drinking water of layers as well. Feed medicated with antibiotics must be withheld from birds when they are laying. But even when this recommendation has been followed, antibiotics have been detected.

Although the FDA has set “zero” or “negligible residue” tolerance levels for pesticides in eggs, there is no assurance that this food is uncontaminated. Poultry management and poultry feed may both contribute to pesticide residues in eggs.

1.2.1 Drugs

Drugs may be used with laying hens. A tranquilizer, used in conjunction with antibiotics in layer feed, was advertised as boosting egg production since it “calms birds, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, increases respiratory rate.” Experimentally, hens fed aspirin laid more eggs. Another drug has been found to be effective in reducing “laying slump”; at the same time it cuts feeding costs.

1.3 Poultry

1.3.1 Arsenic

Since 1950, small amounts of arsenic as arsanilic acid have been incorporated into poultry feed to stimulate early maturation, increase efficiency of feed utilization, produce more eggs, “improve” skin coloring and feathering, and yield more profits.

Currently 90% of all commercial chickens are raised with arsenic in their feed. The arsenic-containing feed must be discontinued long enough before slaughter for the birds to eliminate most—but not all—of it from their meat. Even though arsenic is listed as a carcinogen for man, the FDA allows tolerance residues of 0.5 ppm for it in chicken and turkey tissues, and twice that amount in the byproducts of these birds.

The liver is the detoxifying organ of animal and man. Dr. Manuel Schreiber, FDA toxicologist, stated that dangerous accumulations of arsenic have been found in chicken livers.

1.3.2 Drugs

Another group of “anti-infective” agents, the bacteriostats, are incorporated routinely in poultry feed to control the growth of “undesirable” bacteria. These include drugs which can result in dermatitis in man when applied to the skin, and others which are toxic. Little is known about the general effects of these materials, when eaten frequently in small amounts.

1.3.3 Caponettes

Hormones in poultry production have been used even longer than with livestock. The estrogenic female sex hormones, especially stilbestrol, were first used to caponize birds chemically. The use of stilbestrol was extended to include the treatment of all types of table poultry of both sexes, being highly profitable to the poultrymen. It put weight on birds quickly, and could even give old birds the appearance of youth, with plumper, more attractive flesh.

Since the cancer-inciting nature of stilbestrol was established, the FDA was forced to take action. The agency chose a course least upsetting to the economics of poultrymen, by persuading the industry to “voluntarily” discontinue the use of stilbestrol implants.

Despite this agreement, hormonized birds continued to be shipped by individual poultrymen. In New York City. 25,000 pounds were seized by the Department of Markets. The shippers complained that New York City is “the only city in the country where the FDA ban is being rigidly enforced.”

Although the stilbestrol pellet implants were banned, the use of stilbestrol was, and still is permitted in poultry and livestock feed. In addition, a U.S. patent was granted to allow stilbestrol as an additive to the drinking water of poultry, to increase “meat-producing efficiency.”

1.3.4 Pesticides

In 1965, the USDA tested 2,600 poultry samples in every federally-inspected plant throughout the nation, and found all birds contaminated with pesticide residues. No one section of the country was better than another. Primary sources of infection were traced to sprayed grain and animal tallows in the feed and to poor husbandry practices. No seizures were made, nor did the USDA divulge specific results, such as the most common contaminant or levels of pesticides found.

1.3.5 Cancerous Chickens

Until 1970, the USDA’s policy had been to condemn the entire carcass of the chicken if any organs or sections of the bird showed signs of leukosis. The poultry industry considered this to be an economic hardship and it pressured for lowering the standards for condemning birds. The USDA appointed a panel of veterinarians and animal-disease specialists to review the problem. Although the panel recommended continuing the policy, of condemning birds whose internal organs show active signs of leukosis, it suggested that chickens bearing cancer be allowed on the market if they “do not look too repugnant.” The USDA endorsed the proposals. Officials from the agency said that if tumors were detected on the wing of a bird, the wing could be cut off and used in products such as hot dogs, while the rest of the bird could be cut up as chicken—all without posing a threat to human health.

If one portion of the animal shows signs of disease, the entire bird is in a diseased condition. Hiding the worst sections in such products as hot dogs does not make the meat acceptable for consumption. Just because people do not die immediately from ingesting these products does not mean that they are not being harmed by them.

1.4 Hamburger

Toxins are prevalent in ground beef. This popular food item offers many opportunities for economic frauds, such as additives and illegal extenders. It may be adulterated with coal-tar colors, cochineal, and sodium nitrite or benzoate of soda. Dr. Freese at the National Institute of Health has strongly recommended that sodium nitrite be banned from use in foods. In the human stomach, sodium nitrite is converted to nitrous acid, which is mutagenic in a variety of lower organisms. Sodium sulfur is another additive, can mask the smell of deteriorating meat, and give it a fresh-meat redness. Such meat is injurious, especially if eaten rare. Sodium sulfite is a poison that destroys vitamin B, and is capable of causing considerable damage to the digestive system and other organs. Yet tested samples of ground beef purchased as ready-chopped hamburger, or sold at hot dog stands, cafeterias, and restaurants, frequently shows adulteration with this chemical. Hamburger meat served in restaurants often contains sodium nicotinate to preserve its bright red color. Although this chemical is illegal in some municipalities, 37 states permit its use. Several outbreaks of poisoning have been traced to this additive.

Eating grilled or pan-fried hamburgers may result in cancer. Chopped meat cooked on a metal surface at temperatures higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit produces mutagens (substances that cause genetic change). The particular mutagens in fried hamburgers have not yet been identified, but 90% of all mutagens ever tested cause cancer in laboratory animals. These hamburger mutagens represent a risk of cancer in people. The longer the cooking, the more mutagenic the hamburger. Further analysis revealed the new mutagen is distinct from two other carcinogens previously identified in cooked meat—benzopyrene, similarly mutagenic and produced by cooking meat over a high heat, and pyrolyzed amino acids from the charred surface of meat cooked directly over a flame.

So besides the toxins already present in meat, plus those added to the hamburger, there are additional risks when the meat is fried or charcoal broiled, which is the usual method of preparation. The traditional summer picnic including charcoal broiled hamburger is best left in the past. Substitute fruit picnics and your health will improve rather than decline.

1.5 Hot Dogs

Preservatives similar to those in ground beef may also be used in frankfurters. Other, additives may also be present, such as antioxidants to retard rancidity, or tenderizers. A coal-tar color (Red No. 1) was commonly used in the casings of frankfurters until banned by the FDA after this material produced liver damage in experimental animals. Casings are still dyed with artificial colors, and proof of their safety is not conclusive. Although regulations prohibit the use of coloring if it penetrates the produce, on occasion dyes on frankfurters have been found to penetrate as much as one fourth of an inch into the meat.

1.6 Pork

Results of a nationwide survey revealed that “whether the sausage came from a federally-inspected packing plant or from the meat grinder of a local butcher, it was often sour or rancid and frequently contaminated with an overabundance of bacteria. Some of it was contaminated with filth. Not one sample, out of the packages tested for quality and flavor, could be judged really outstanding.”

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Pigs raised commercially are diseased. Many die before the farmer gets a chance to market them. Those that do survive are sick and toxic. These toxins are transferred to the people who eat the pork.

1.7 Other Toxins in Meat

1.7.1 Federal Label

Labels for federally-inspected, canned, packaged, or frozen meat must list all the ingredients, common name of the produce, name and address of the processor or distributor, mark of approval and accurate weight. However, meat can be processed legally with sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sodium ascorbate, and many other chemicals sanctioned by the FDA.

Presently in the United States, up to 500 ppm of sodium nitrate, and up to 200 ppm of sodium nitrite are permitted in certain meats and meat products (and in certain fish and fish products, poultry, and wild game). Far lower limits are set in Europe.

“Nitrites should be immediately reduced or eliminated as food preservatives, especially on meat and fish.” This recommendation was made jointly in February of 1970, by Dr. Samuel S. Epstein of the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation of Boston and Dr. William Lijinsky of the college of medicine at the University of Nebraska. Noting that nitrosamines—which include nitrites—can produce mutagenic changes, the researchers suspect that by similar pathogenic processes, these agents are carcinogenic and teratogenic as well.

1.7.2 Stilbestrol

Medications in feed are used to increase weight rapidly. The most sensational gains are achieved by adding hormones and hormone-like substances to the feed. Stilbestrol is used extensively. Currently, it is estimated that 80 to 85% of all beef cattle are being fed on feed containing stilbestrol. It is also used in the feed for sheep and lambs.

Stilbestrol has been acknowledged by scientists as a potent carcinogen, and has been labeled “biological dynamite.” Quantities of stilbestrol as small as 2 ppb are toxic in diets of experimental mice. Cancers in these test animals have been induced by daily doses as low as 7/100,000,000 of a gram (one fourth of a hundred-millionth of an ounce). It can also cause leukemia and cysts in animal organs. In human beings, it has resulted in breast cancer, fibroid tumors, and excessive menstrual bleeding in women, sterility and impotence in men, and arrested growth in children. The Medical Officer, an English journal for government health officers, reported that hormone traces in the meat of chemically-fattened livestock are causing British school girls to mature at least three years earlier than in the past.

More important than an occasional large dose of stilbestrol is the danger of repeated small amounts. Since consumers may be ingesting small amounts repeatedly in food consumed over a period of years, this is a factor of prime importance.

The use of stilbestrol for livestock is permitted by the FDA as long as no “detectable” residue of it is found in the edible portions. Stilbestrol fed to experimental rats broke down into four or five products, and they were found in areas of the animals’ bodies not previously known to contain such residues. Using a radioactive tracing technique, the breakdown products were found in the muscles, livers, kidneys, lungs, and skeletons. Such materials also may be present in treated livestock.

Despite the hazards of this hormone, the FDA doubled the amount of stilbestrol permitted in the feed of beef cattle in late 1970.

Besides hormones, antibiotics, tranquilizers and pesticides are fed to meat animals. Injections are also given to animals on the hoof before they are slaughtered to tenderize the meat.

1.7.3 Unhealthy Animals

An average of 10 to 30% of beef livers at slaughterhouses are condemned because of abscesses. USDA records showed that during a one-year period, Americans ate millions of pounds of beef from cattle that had “cancer eye” or similar tumorous disorders. The diseased parts were merely cut out and the remainder of the carcass was permitted to be marketed. Agriculture officials claim that such localized tumors pose no threat to human beings eating meat from other portions of such animals. A government report showed that more than 10% of the 30.1 million cattle carcasses approved by federal inspection underwent some post-mortem cutting for removal of diseased parts.

Another report showed that 2,400,000 cattle whose cancerous or tubercular livers were discarded had the rest of their carcasses sent on to be processed for food.

You can see now, why cancer is so prevalent among meat eaters.

1.8 Sugar

The refined-carbohydrate diet is blamed by Dr. Denis F. Burkitt as the single most important cause of large-bowel cancers, occurring on a worldwide scale when people forsake their traditional dietary
habits and consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates.

Avoid sugar, advises a famous English nutritionist, and you are less likely to become fat, run into nutritional deficiencies, have a heart attack, develop diabetes or dental decay or a duodenal, ulcer, and possibly reduce your chances of getting gout, dermatitis, some forms of cancer, and in general increase your life span. It is important to realize that by the mere omission of a single common food, and beverage ingredient such as sugar, so many benefits may result, and that its excessive use can contribute, at least in part, to so many desperate conditions and diseases.

1.8.1 Brown Sugar

The commercial brown sugar color isn’t from molasses residue. Virgin sugar is rinsed to remove molasses residue, then put into a centrifuge where it is separated from the crystals. This is melted, filtered and boiled repeatedly with animal-bone charcoal to concentrate and form crystals. Molasses is added back to sugar to achieve its brown color.

Dr. W. C. Heuper, M.D. in an experimental study for Cancer Research warns that sugar manufactured with this animal-bone charcoal process may be carcinogenic (cancerous).

1.9 Fats and Oils

1.9.1 Hydrogenation

How is the liquid oil or soft fat hardened? It is exposed o a high temperature and placed under pressure. Hydrogen is then bubbled through the oil in the presence of nickel, platinum, or some other catalyst.

The hydrogen atoms combine with the carbon atoms, and the produce becomes saturated or hardened.

There is no assurance that nickel, if used as the catalyst, leaves no residue in the product. This element, even in minute quantities in the diet, is suspected of being a carcinogen.

As evidence has mounted revealing the menace of hydrogenation, some shortening processors have attempted to change their methods to avoid economic losses. They proclaim their products “high in unsaturates” but adding that they “stay freshly sweet at room temperature.” These products may contain antioxidants, in addition to emulsifiers, defoamers, and artificial colors and flavors. Artificial antioxidants in fats are considered possible carcinogens.

1.9.2 Heated Oils

Prolonged heating and reheating at high temperatures produce harmful substances suspected as cancer-inciting or oils. Deep-fat frying is favored in many short-order diners and also in “good” restaurants for economy, speed, and convenience. It is a method also used extensively in processed foods like potato chips, doughnuts, baked goods, serve-and-heat dishes, as well as in many homes. Consumers Research recommends that deep-fat frying should be avoided. Also be shunned are all burned fatty foods and charcoal-broiled meats. All charred, blackened, or burned portions of meats or other fatty foods are carcinogenic.

1.10 Caffeine

Caffeine has been shown to result in genetic and chromosomal changes in animals, bacteria, and higher plants. A retrospective study showed that men who drank cola beverages containing caffeine have a significant increase in bladder cancer compared to noncola drinkers. Other studies’ which implicate coffee and caffeine as mutagenic include discussion of genetic effects and effects on chromosomes of human lymphocytes.

1.11 Alcoholic Beverages

Consumption of alcoholic beverages entails an increased risk of developing cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, and esophagus according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization. The evidence is that the increase in cancer of the esophagus is proportional to the amount of ethanol consumed. In all four cancer sites, the role of tobacco is also important, and the ill effects of these two factors—drinking alcoholic beverages and smoking tobacco—tend to multiply when they act together. Ethanol may act as a cocarcinogen by enhancing the role of other cancer-causing agents. Ethanol is an excellent solvent for chemicals that are themselves cancer-causing agents, such as polycyclic hydrocarbons and nitrosamines. The presence of these chemicals has been detected in some commonly-consumed alcoholic beverages drunk in areas where esophageal cancer is common.

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