Offering poultry facts you need to know before buying chicken at the grocery store. Do you know what to look for?
Cooking from scratch is so much healthier than buying prepackaged food, frozen food, fast food and ready made food. So you want to buy the healthiest ingredients don't you? I do. I am going to let you in on a few chicken facts that are hidden from consumers and you can now make your own informed decision on what to buy.
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Chicken. We are told it is an awesome protein-rich source and naked chicken breasts (no bone, no skin) is the perfect diet food. Is it? It depends where it came from, how it was raised and processed. Now you are looking at it in the grocery store to purchase. What do you look for?
Before I go into that, I want to share with you chicken truths that you may or may not know and need to know before you buy chicken. This is an article on how poultry is affecting people that raise and handle them (alive and in packaging) and what diseases are currently plaguing poultry and causing cancer and disease.
Don't Go Into the Chicken Business and Here's Why...
To see if something is
carcinogenic, you study those who have the most exposure. That’s how we learned
about the potential cancer-causing dangers of asbestos, and that’s how we’re
learning about the potential cancer-causing dangers of poultry viruses.
Scientists have talked about the excess mortality in poultry workers associated with these wart-causing chicken cancer viruses that may be transmitted to those in the general population handling fresh or frozen chicken.
The largest study to date at the time, confirming “the findings of three other…studies that workers in poultry slaughtering and processing plants have increased risk of dying from certain cancers,” and adding death from male genital cancer to the risks linked to poultry exposure. That was looking at 20,000 poultry workers. Well, we have yet another study, looking at 30,000.
The purpose of the study was to
“test the hypothesis that exposure to poultry [cancer-causing] viruses that
widely occurs occupationally in poultry workers [not to mention the general
population] may be associated with increased risks of deaths from liver and
They found that those who slaughter chickens have about 9 times the odds of both pancreatic cancer and liver cancer.
Just to put that in context, the most carefully studied risk factor for pancreatic cancer, one of our deadliest cancers, is cigarette smoking. Even if you smoke for more than 50 years, though, you only about double your odds of pancreatic cancer. Those that slaughter poultry appear to have nearly nine times the odds.
For liver cancer, it’s more alcohol. Those that consume more than a four drinks a day have triple the odds of liver cancer, whereas poultry slaughtering appears to increase one’s odds nine-fold.
Why don't we know about things like this?
There’s a cancer-causing herpes virus in poultry. The question is, does it pose a public health hazard? Researchers used DNA-fingerprinting techniques to test the blood of about 200 people, and 20% had the viral DNA in their bloodstream: one in five.
So, researchers looked at poultry workers. That’s how we figured out how other farm animal diseases jumped to humans—not to mention the discovery of the carcinogenic nature of things like asbestos and benzene. You study the workers who are exposed day in and day out. If they don’t have higher cancer rates, then, presumably, the viruses are harmless. But, unfortunately, they do.
Those at “high exposure to poultry [cancer-causing] viruses” do have “increased risk of dying from several cancers.” So, “the relative ease” by which some of the viruses can infect human cells, and infect and cause tumors in primates in laboratories, may be of public health significance—particularly given the increased risk of cancer among meat workers, and the evidence that we may, indeed, become infected.
Even if poultry workers are at risk, though, doesn’t mean people who just eat chickens or eggs are. Just because those who kill chickens may be “6 times more likely to die from brain cancer,” for example, they’ve got live birds flapping in their face. “The intensity of exposure to these viruses in the general population” is presumably nowhere near that “experienced by poultry workers,” though “the general population is nevertheless widely exposed” to the viruses
just because we do eat so many chickens and eggs.
This is supported by data showing that it’s not only the factory farm workers that are at higher risk for brain tumors, but also butchers or meat-cutters who have no exposure to live birds—especially those that don’t wear gloves, apparently, and who frequently have cuts on their hands. And, for other cancers as well.
Those who handle meat for a living also have higher rates of non-cancer mortality, like increased death from heart disease. Could the viruses be involved there, too? Some of the poultry viruses don’t just cause cancer in chickens, but also atherosclerosis. That cancer-causing herpes virus also triggers the buildup of cholesterol crystals.
Okay, but that’s in chickens; what about in people? “Because chickens infected with Marek disease virus…develop atherosclerotic lesions after infection[s],” researchers “looked for the presence of [any] herpes virus…in human artery wall tissue,” and found it—though any role viruses play in human heart disease remains speculative.
But, here we were all along thinking that the substances present in animal foods increasing risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease were like, you know, heme iron, saturated fat, cholesterol, dioxins, cooked meat carcinogens.
But, we didn’t think about the animal viruses, which were “important not only for supermarket workers, but also because the general population is exposed” as well. Indeed, that study that found the chicken cancer virus DNA circulating in people’s bloodstreams found about the same rates in office workers as they did in chicken slaughterhouse workers.
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