It seems that a recent report on cancer and the human diet has created a lot of buzz, and at least one phony “astroturf” letter-writing campaign by anti-meat activists. The same exact letter submitted to the Herald News (“Diet, exercise aid cancer prevention,” Nov. 6) also appeared, word-for-word, in more than a dozen other newspapers this month.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

For the record, cancer rates in the United States are decreasing every year. Americans’ life expectancy is actually at an all-time high. India, arguably the most vegetarian country on earth, has a life expectancy five years shorter than ours.

There is no scientific evidence that vegetarianism is an effective cancer cure. And the single biggest study on the subject, a 2004 Harvard University project, found no link between meat eating and cancer diagnoses.

It’s understandable that save-the-cows activists will want to use recent news to convert another crop of vegetarians. But if they have to resort to organized form-letter campaigns to make a point, they don’t deserve to be taken seriously.