The latest classification of meat as a carcinogen is obviously bad news for meat-loving carnivores. However, this claim has come under recent scrutiny, and from my professional perspective, we need to cover some basics in order to suss out the truth. Be assured there is a healthy place between binging on bacon and avoiding meat all together.
Just to be clear, processed meats include sausage, hot dogs, canned meats, and any other meat that is fermented, cured or salted. The study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a department of the World Health Organization) recently stated that processed meat is carcinogenic and linked to colorectal cancer.
Red meat includes all mammalian muscle meat such as beef, lamb, veal, and pork (yes, “the other white meat” is actually RED meat in disguise). Red meat is classified as “probably carcinogenic” because the process of cooking it releases toxic substances.
Simply put, processed meat is bad and red meat is probably bad. This means that cooked processed red meat (like beef franks or bacon) is really bad by providing a double dose of danger.
However, keep in mind that some people eat cooked processed red meat every day and don’t have cancer, whereas some staunch lifelong vegans will develop the disease. This is because certain individuals have different genetics and thresholds for cancer-causing triggers. Considering all the factors, my best health advice is: everything in moderation.
Personally, I won’t be giving up meat altogether anytime soon, but I do try to create a healthy balance. If you also want to continue to eat meat, this is what you can do to maintain optimal health:
- Avoid processed meats! They are loaded with unhealthy additives (nitrates), cholesterol, fat, and high sodium
- Substitute chicken and fish because of their benefits to heart health
- Make sure the meat is high quality–from grass fed, free-range animals
- Limit meat intake to once or twice a week
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limit unhealthy habits (no tobacco and limit alcohol)
So for now, you can continue to have your bacon and eat it too; as long as you try to limit the quantity, improve the quality, and don’t neglect other health habits.
Read Allysen Kelly’s post about deodorant and it’s possible link to breast cancer HERE.