In the wake of the media hype surrounding the WHO report suggesting red meat and processed meat prop the risk of colorectal cancer, we should take a second to consider that perhaps it isn’t as alarming as it was presented.
The report of the World Health Organization is based on the results of an analysis conducted on 800 studies around the world by 22 scientists spanning 10 countries. The international team studied the association (not the causal link) between eating red meat and processed meat and cancer incidence.
The findings of the study yielded sufficient evidence for processed meat to be labeled as ‘carcinogenic to humans’. On the other hand, red meat was labeled ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. The evidence is there, yet it is limited. With processed meat it’s really understandable how it can be carcinogenic to humans. The smoking, salting, curing or the use of additives and preservatives involve a number of harmful processes and substances.
Take into consideration that there is a handful of other factors that contribute to an up in the risk of developing cancer. Among them age, gender, genetics, exercising and smoking contribute a great deal. What we eat is also important. While some foods act as preventives, others may indeed prop the risk of cancer. Nonetheless, the alarmist stance surrounding red meat is slightly overblown. As with most aspects of our lives, the key is in fact moderation.
Too much red meat consumption may significantly up the risk of colorectal cancer. However, it’s not news that the American Institute for Cancer Research has put a lot of effort into getting Americans to limit their consumption of red meat. The limit would reach 18 ounces per week. In addition, processed meats are to be avoided according to the same guidelines.
At the same time, the WHO report states that 14 ounces of red meat per week translates into 17 percent higher chances of developing colorectal cancer over a timeframe of 10 years. For processed meat the same amount consumed weekly raises the risk of cancer by 18 percent.
Thus, limiting the amount of red meat and avoiding processed meat is perhaps a better way to deal with the overwhelming news rather than the alarmist approach or the overly affected one. Make a point out of filling your plate with veggies at least by half when also having red meat. Limit the consumption of red meat by at least one day per week. And most importantly, know what you’re buying and where it’s sourced from.
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