Processed meats are once again under fire, and this time, it might be the final cut movie Hannah. We’re not the biggest fans of processed meat, because it contains a lot of salt, which could lead to heart attacks, hypertension and stroke, but according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it looks like red and processed meat may harm you in another way.
The World Health Organisation released a report saying that there’s a proven link between bowel cancer and processed meat. It’s scary to hear that a staple food in many people’s diet is bad for them. According to their research, if people eat 50g of processed meat every day, such as two slices of bacon or ham, then their risk of developing bowel cancer is increased by 18%. This number could be higher if you eat more than 50g per day.
So what does that mean for you?
Don’t panic! This report doesn’t suggest that you become a vegetarian. It also does not suggest that processed meat cause cancer. In fact, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what the link between the meat and the cancers are. It could be the nitrites that are used to preserve the meat. It could be the process of smoking some meats, which lead to an increase number of cancer-producing chemicals in the meat. So far, evidence is weighing in on the nitrates.
However, eating red or processed meat is still not as high a risk for developing disease as being overweight, or not exercising.
We recommend you keep processed meat to a minimum, and try to eat less than 500g of red meat per week. But this is not news at all – we’ve always recommended a Mediterranean-type diet as the best proven foundation for a healthy mealplan.
Other, more important things to do to lower your cancer risk:
- Quit smoking. There’s more than enough proof to show you that smoking causes cancer. If you’re a smoker then it’s time to kick the butts and let your lungs breathe.
- Drink less alcohol. Excessive alcohol use and binge drinking does raise your risk of cancer. Cut back on the amount you drink. If you’re not sure how much, just stick to the legal driving limit.
- Lose weight and eat healthily. Obesity is a big problem and is also linked to cancer (among other diseases). If you want to lower your risk, start by shedding the kilos with a healthy diet and lots of exercise.
- Go for regular check-ups. Early detection saves lives. You can lower your risk as much as possible, but there’s always a chance, no matter how small, that cancer will develop. This is why it’s so important for you to get checked by a doctor once or twice a year.