RSO Cookout Turns Up the Heat on Cancer Debate

By Elizabeth Green

The Razorback Reporter


Free hotdogs and hamburgers cooked on a grill donated by the American Cancer Society quickly became a source of heated irony at a Registered Student Organization’s recent cookout.

The Razorback Relay for Life RSO hosted the cookout Sept. 10 to meet students and encourage them to get involved.

Senior Matt Campbell, a nutrition major, contacted the RSO after learning that the group would be joined by the American Cancer Society in handing out hamburgers and hotdogs at its event. In his email, Campbell said he urged the club “not to literally serve cancer.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer released information from its evaluation of the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat, according to a 2015 release by the World Health Organization. The agency classified the consumption of red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans” while processed meat was classified as “carcinogenic to humans.”

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” Kurt Straif of the IARC said in the release.

After receiving no response, Campbell booked a table next to the RSO Monday and handed out copies of the IARC findings to encourage students not to consume red or processed meat.

“The WHO classified processed meat as a group one carcinogen; that’s the same group as asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking,” Campbell said. “The argument essentially is: if you wouldn’t hand out cigarettes, why would you hand out processed meat?”

Alie Bolling, the community development manager for the American Cancer Society, has a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and a master’s in community health promotion.

“Red meat can be a carcinogen when consumed in excess, but if you’re eating it about three times a week maximum at regular sized servings of about three to four ounces, then there’s no health issues whatsoever,” Bolling said.

Junior Mackenzie Lancey helped represent the RSO at the cookout.

“Consuming anything in excess usually has a negative effect,” Lancey said. “We would hope that people would consume red meat responsibly and pay attention to research.”

The cookout also raised awareness for Relay for Life, an annual event honoring cancer survivors. The Razorback Relay for Life is scheduled for 8-11 p.m., Oct. 5 at the HPER.

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