I'm not really all that mysterious

Everything Causes Cancer

Crazy headlines like these might make you want to throw up your hands and just start smoking cigarettes and inhaling asbestos…

Research links cancer to fruit and vegetables • 2002 Feb 17 • Robin McKie • Science Editor • The Guardian

…but behind the hysterical link bait, there is an actual putative mechanism:

Glasgow University team links increased use of nitrate fertilisers to rise of gullet cancer in UK

Coupled with the IARC reclassifying processed meat as a known carcinogen (primarily because of N-nitroso compound content, but also because of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines), I don’t think it’s particularly surprising that excessive nitrate concentrations could be problematic.

But this does increase my skepticism that massively industrialized agriculture is the One True Way™ to avoid a Malthusian catastrophe (nevermind that I think Malthusian catastrophes are overhyped1.)

It appears that the mass production of vegetables in the Western world since the last world war may be the underlying factor that has led to such huge increases in this form of cancer.

Prof. Kenneth McColl, Glasgow University

And lest I be painted as a organic-woo Luddite…

…it was unlikely that organic food would be any healthier, because it also contained substantial levels of nitrate, some of which came from natural fertilisers such as manure.

Meat and vegetables might give you cancer, but I think you can still eat fungi and phytoplankton! (crossposted on Facebook){. metadata }

And just in general:

All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.

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