Processed meat and red meat could cause cancer ?
What is Red Meat – It refers to all the mammalian muscle meat. It includes beef , pork, mutton, lamb ,goat etc.
What is processed meat – It is meat that is not sold fresh in the market . Instead it is transformed through salting , fermentation , smoking , curing or other processes to improve preservation and shelf life . It includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats.
It has been established that eating processed and red meat in large quantity causes colorectal cancer.
How processed meat causes cancer – During cooking processed meat produces heterocyclic aromatic amines as well as other chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons . These chemicals are suspected carcinogens. When you consume it , cancer causing compounds start residing in our body.
How does red meat causes cancer – In red meat problems seem to start when a chemical called haem – part of red pigment in the blood haemoglobin is broken down in our gut to form a family of chemicals called N nitroso compounds. These have been found to damage the cells that line the bowel . So other cells in the bowl lining have to replicate more in order to heal and it’s this extra replication that can increase the chance of errors developing in the cells DNA. This is the first step on road to cancer .
Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat are found eating fewer plant based foods. So they benefit less from their cancer protective properties.
How to avoid cancer -Meat is fine in moderation quantities , because it’s a good source of protein, iron ,zinc etc. So its fine to include a moderate intake of 65-100 g of cooked red meat, 3-4 times a week as part of healthy balanced diet . We should limit intake of red and processed meats to help reduce colon cancer risk and possibly the risk of other cancers . The occasional hot dog or hamburger is okay . But not in large quantities .Diet should be high in vegetables , fruits and whole grains.
Avoiding tobacco , getting to and staying at a healthy weight getting regular physical activity and limited alcohol can also help people lower their risk of getting many types of cancers.
Is fish and poultry are safe to eat – Poultry products are good to eat instead of red meat and processed meat. However eating fish may help to reduce the risk of bowel, breast and prostate cancer also.
Tips to cut down meat in your diet –
- Fill half your dinner plate with vegetables and do not think of meat as the main part of the meal.
- Use tuna and salmon fish to make a sandwich.
- Trim any visible fat off the meat before you cook it.
- Buy lean cuts of meat .
- For stir fries , reduce the amount of meat and add extra vegetables.
- Marinating meat first prevents foods from charring as well as keeping potential cancer causing agents down in the meat . It also keeps the meat tender and adds flavor to your meal.
NOTE – IARC – (International Agency for Research on Cancer ) is the cancer agency of World Health Organisation (WHO) . Their study group of 22 cancer experts from all over the world has classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans something that probably causes cancer ; but they have in a straight forward way classified the processed meat as carcinogen something that causes cancer.