American Cancer Society Attacked Over "Cattle Barons'" Galas - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/12/04 - Tyler

American Cancer Society Attacked Over "Cattle Barons'" Galas

It raises thousands of dollars every year for the prevention of cancer -- The American Cancer Society's Cattle Barons' Ball.

But now, a group of doctors says the event promotes cancer because the name "Cattle Baron" allegedly supports the consumption of red meat.

"Cancer. It's what's for dinner at the Cattle Baron's Ball."

That slogan on a website -- even a mobile billboard -- is the campaign of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine.  They urge people to write the American Cancer Society and tell them not to "sell out" to the beef industry.

Terri Smith and Andy Dixon are organizing this year's gala in Tyler. Both lost parents to cancer.

"We have a committee of over a hundred people who have worked hours upon hours strictly working, hoping to make life better for someone else, so for someone to come at us and think we're trying to harm somebody is really aggravating," she says.

So what's in a name? The Cattle Baron's Ball goes back 17 years in Tyler. Smith says it started as a western-themed fundraiser and promoting beef sales has never been a thought.

"They wouldn't have to wear black tie, they wouldn't have to dress up, it would be a little bit of a different spin than some other things in our community," Smith says.

Dr. Rafael Gallardo is an oncologist at UT Health Center at Tyler. He says cancer is caused not by beef, but by a fatty diet.

"Western societies have higher rates of colon cancer because of fat consumption."

As a cancer doctor, Gallardo says lean beef can be part of a healthy diet.

"It's important to get iron. If you don't eat beef, you won't get enough iron," Gallardo says.

Smith says those who come to the Cattle Baron's Ball can eat beef, chicken, or have a vegetarian meal.

"It's really a name. It's a western themed party in the Texas community," she says.

And she says the name "Cattle Baron" doesn't endorse diet, but is a virtual trademark for an event that helps save lives.

The American Cancer Society says it has no plans to change the name of the Cattle Barons' Ball.

The galas are a tradition in Tyler, Longview, Palestine, Athens, and many other cities across the country.

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