Does Meat Cause Cancer?
This article takes a deep dive into the complex truth about the IGF-1 connection to cancer and heart disease. The quick answer to this question is 1) no, meat and animal protein does not necessarily “cause” cancer, and the truth is much more complex.
And 2) IGF-1 is a critically important hormone that can be good or bad depending on the context.
IGF-1: A Brief Summary
IGF-1 is one of our body’s most important anabolic hormones. Anabolic hormones are in charge of growth, and growth can be both good or bad depending on context.
Animal protein raises IGF-1 more than other foods, but this doesn’t mean meat is bad for you, or is “as bad as smoking cigarettes” as some headlines have proclaimed.
When IGF-1 levels are too high, some forms of cancer grow more easily(mainly prostate and breast). However, when IGF-1 levels are low, risks of cardiovascular disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and sarcopenia are all much higher. In fact, death to cancer is also much more common with low IGF-1 too, possibly due to increased risk of cachexia (muscle wasting).
While diseases associated with high IGF-1 levels are scary, the truth is that low IGF-1 levels are more likely to be of concern for many people. If you are worried about IGF-1 levels, perhaps the best action you can take is to exercise frequently. Frequent exercise cuts the risk of cancers associated with IGF-1 to a much greater extent than cutting animal protein does, and also doesn’t predispose you to the diseases associated with low IGF-1. In fact, the risk of all of the diseases associated with low IGF-1 are also reduced when you exercise frequently.