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Disclaimer:  This information is not meant as direct medical advice. Readers should always review options with their local medical team. This is the sole opinion of Dr. Meakin based on literature review at the time of the blog and may change as new evidence evolves.

Meat or No Meat: A cancer patient's dilemma

healthy meal with meat

Cachexia, often known as wasting disease, accounts for upwards of 40% of all cancer patient deaths.(1) Present in localized and metastatic cases alike, cachexia is clinically characterized by progressive weight loss, inflammation, insulin resistance, fatigue, and muscular degeneration.(2) Because few medications can counteract these deleterious changes, nutritional choices are especially important in clinician efforts to optimize outcomes. Although the carcinogenic effects of processed meat are well-established, significant controversy still surrounds red meat and fish as staples in Western diets.(3) Few foods garner more derision, with detractors inclined to cite public health officials’ testimonies linking meat to heart disease and cancer.(4) Such health concerns, in part, may be fueling the rising interest in veganism; the number of U.S. consumers identifying as vegans increased by 600% between 2014 and 2017.(5) While the vegan population remains a minority, the explosive growth of the movement warrants investigation, along with claims of meat acting as a source of cancer.

Seminal studies linking red meat with inflammation are largely observational in nature, which means that associations between findings do not necessarily establish causation. Unlike double-blind, randomized controlled trials, the standard in clinical research, observational studies have a