I’m sure most of you have read in the media the new evidence about processed and red meat being cancer causing, which was found by a new study released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the study, done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), it concluded that processed meats were classified as “carcinogenic to humans,” and, based on sufficient evidence in humans, the consumption of processed meats causes colorectal (bowel) cancer. It stated that for every 50-gram portion of processed meat consumed, it increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
Dr. Kurt Straif, Head of the IRAC Monographs Programme, said: “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.”
However, red meat was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer. The limited evidence refers to that there is an association between red meat being eaten and it being related to causing cancer; however, there could be another reason for the cancer forming.
With this new evidence it has me thinking:
Are there any processed or red meats that are reasonably safe to eat?
Nutritionist & Naturopath Sheridan Genrich CGP said in an email to Vision Times that there are 3 main issues to consider:
- Conventional animals (beef, pigs, and lambs) are grain fed and given antibiotics. So anytime when we consume standard red meat, we are also taking in a certain amount of antibiotics that disrupt the balance of our own gut bacteria.
- A diet high in red meat is often accompanied by a low-fibre diet. Having adequate fibre in the diet is very important for good colon health and healthy gut bacteria.
- Standard processed meats (bacon, ham, sausages, and hot dogs) frequently contain sodium nitrate or nitrites. Nitrates function as preservatives, helping to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria on the meat. They also add a salty flavor and improve the appearance of the packaged meat product, as a color fixer, giving them a red or pink color. Unfortunately, sodium nitrate also results in the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body. This leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk in those who eat them.
In the U.S., there was an attempt by the USDA to ban sodium nitrate in the late 1970s. But their decision was overridden by the meat industry. Sodium nitrite appears predominantly in red meat products (you won’t find it in chicken or fish products).
Genrich has provided a short list of food items to check carefully for sodium nitrite and monosodium glutamate (MSG), another dangerous additive:
- Beef jerky
- Hot dogs
- Sandwich meat
- Frozen pizza with meat
- Canned soups with meat
- Frozen meals with meat
- Ravioli and meat pasta foods
- Kid’s meals containing red meat
- Sandwich meat used at popular restaurants
- Nearly all red meats sold at public schools, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and theme parks
Genrich’s solution — eat grass-fed red meat no more than 5 times a week; ensure a daily diet full of high fiber foods like green-leafy vegetables and seeds; drink plenty of clean water; have some days where protein comes from eggs, chicken, wild-caught fish (not farmed), and some legumes. If you want to buy processed meat, and being able to “bring home the bacon” is just too hard, then source a local butcher who sells “nitrate-free” bacon. It does exist and is becoming more widely available.