As you may already know, I’m a big fan of watching YouTube-videos and recently I’ve come across a guy called “Furious Pete“. He’s a bodybuilder, a competitive eater with 9 guinness world records and also has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube. Unfortunately, Pete has recently been diagnosed with cancer again for the second time, which he talks openly about on his channel. In the midst of all this, there are these vegans that really piss him off, he says, because they say he got cancer from eating meat. I find this topic very interesting and since I’m vegan I wanted to share my opinion. Since this post is very researched-based, I’ve added links to a few sources. Note that some sources are in Norwegian.
What is cancer and how does it occur?
Cancer is a very scary disease that many of us probably have experience with either through family members, friends, or perhaps ourselves. It’s caused by failure in tissue growth regulation and in order for a normal cell to transform into a cancer cell, the cell needs to be altered.
Only about 5-10% of cancers are cause by inherited genetics and the remaining 90-95% are due to environmental factors (1). Environmental factors can be stress, physical/mental abuse, diet, exposure to toxins, hormones, pathogens, radiation, and chemicals. (1 & 2)
The different cancer types
Cancer is so complex and diverse that eliminating a couple of risk factors will not make you cancer”proof”. Different cancers have different triggers. Smoking and lung cancer is highly correlated with each other. Between 30-50% of smokers will die because of smoking and 90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The more you smoke, the higher the risk (3, 4 & 6). A high salt intake likely increases the chances of stomach cancer. (3) Lack of fiber and/or a high intake of red meat and other meat products increase the chances of colon cancer (3). Alcohol increases the chance of cancer in the breasts, colon and probably the liver (3). Strong sun on light skin increases chances for skin cancer (3). The list is pretty much endless and it can be very daunting for cancer patients to find information in a jungle of contradicting research, like Patty explains in this interview (5).
If you want to reduce your chance of getting cancer, getting rid of the risk factors seems to be a pretty good to start. Also exercising for 30-60 minutes a day and an increased intake of fiber, fruits and vegetables reduces the chances of multiple forms of cancers. (3) In fact, fiber is only found in plants, which is most likely why vegetarians/vegans tends to have a lower cancer-rate than non-vegetarians/non-vegans. (7)
When it comes to testicular cancer, like Pete has, the causes are unclear. According to the Norwegian Medical Online Encyclopedia there are certain risk factors that are connected to the development of baby boys while still inside the womb (8). Based on this information, saying that animal products cause testicular cancer, is to me very irresponsible.
When you lay your feelings bare for the public to see in a world of internet trolls, someone will eventually say something off-topic and very upsetting. No matter how “perfect” your lifestyle is, people will always find something to blame. I hardly know anything about Pete’s lifestyle or what he eats. Even if he stayed away from alcohol, salt, meat, tobacco (maybe he already does, I don’t know) and exercised for 30-60 minutes a day, ate fruits and so on, people would still find “reasons” as to why he got cancer. They’d probably come up with something else, like not using the “right” oils, not eating organic, watching TV, singing, snowboarding or whatever…
I think encouraging people to stop smoking, reducing their intake of red meat, salt and alcohol has a right place and time, but no matter how “well” you do things and how much you try and prevent something, the bottom line is that we are all humans and can all get sick; vegan or not. Having a “told-you-so“-attitude towards someone who’s sick is, in my opinion, just tasteless and does more harm than good. Therefore I encourage fellow vegans out there to show compassion towards all animals, both humans and non-humans.
I wish Pete all the best during his treatment and I hope he gets well soon.
-Best wishes from Kim
Sources: (all gotten 25th of August, 2015)
- Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer#Diet_and_exercise
- Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_disease
- Norwegain Institute of Public Health, http://www.fhi.no/eway/default.aspx?pid=239&trg=List_6212&Main_6157=6263:0:25,6183&MainContent_6263=6464:0:25,6188&List_6212=6218:0:25,6189:1:0:0:::0:0
- Norwegian Institute of Public Health, http://www.fhi.no/tema/royking-og-snus/fakta-om-royking-og-snus
- Interview with Patty Falo, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3rNchB3hTc
- Store Norske Leksikon (snl.no), https://sml.snl.no/r%C3%B8yking
- Helsenorge, https://helsenorge.no/kosthold-og-ernaring/vegetarisk-kosthold/naringsrik-vegetarkost
- Store Norske Leksikon (snl.no), https://sml.snl.no/testikkelkreft