Everything we eat causes cancer…sort of
First, he noted that for 80% of the ingredients his methodology identified there was at least one study examining its cancer risk. That’s forty ingredients, which he helpfully lists: veal, salt, pepper spice, flour, egg, bread, pork, butter, tomato, lemon, duck, onion, celery, carrot, parsley, mace, sherry, olive, mushroom, tripe, milk, cheese, coffee, bacon, sugar, lobster, potato, beef, lamb, mustard, nuts, wine, peas, corn, cinnamon, cayenne, orange, tea, rum, and raisin. He also notes that these ingredients represent many of the most common sources of vitamins and nutrients in a typical US diet. In contrast, the ten ingredients for which no study was identified tended to be less common: bay leaf, cloves, thyme, vanilla, hickory, molasses, almonds, baking soda, ginger, and terrapin. One wonders how almonds aren’t considered under nuts, but that’s just me being pedantic.
In other words, there are lots of studies out there that claim to find a link, either for increased risk or a protective effect, between this food or that ingredient and cancer, but very few of them actually provide convincing support for their hypothesis. Worse, there appear to be a lot of manuscript-writing shenanigans going on, with the abstract (which usually means, I note, the press release) touting a strong association while the true weakness of the association is buried in the fine print in the results or discussion sections of the paper. Given that most scientists tend not to read each and every word of a paper unless they’re very interested in it or it’s highly relevant to their research, this deceptive practice can leave a false impression that the reported association is stronger than it really is.