Last week an article was published which blew up the Internet, in the article they had stated that eating processed and red meat was as bad as smoking… Smoking?… Really?
The article was written because a new paper by the World Health Organization (WHO) was released classifying processed meats as a “definite” cause of cancer or a Group 1 carcinogen (the same group as smoking and alcohol) and red meat as a “probable” cause of cancer or a group 2a carcinogen (the same group as hairdressers and shift workers). This may sound scary but lets keep this in perspective. The WHO’s grouping shows how confident they are that red and processed meat cause cancer but not how much cancer they cause.
The type of cancer that the WHO claims it causes is colorectal cancer, which has an incident rate of 50/100 000 people in the Canadian population. So although colorectal cancer is deadly the risk factor for the disease process is low.
The epidemiological portion of the paper is taken from food frequency questionnaires. If I asked you how much red and processed meat you had eaten last month could you tell me? How about the last year? I could take a guess but would it be close? Another flaw to this paper is something we call the unhealthy user bias. The population that is out there eating processed and red meats with every meal are also the ones not exercising regularly or eating other healthy foods that can counteract some of the effects of those meats.
The mechanisms for carcinogenicity in cured and red meats do exist but can be mitigated by some simple steps. Marinating your foods with spices and vinegar before grilling. Eating green vegetables with your meats like broccoli or kale. Eating antioxidant rich foods like berries, dark chocolate and green tea. Eating prebiotic fiber rich foods and resistant starches like cold potatoes and green bananas and last but not least choose healthier sources of meat like grass fed, organic and pastured.
So the take away from this paper is yes eating cured meats everyday is probably not good for you but if you follow some of the steps written above you can lessen most of the negatives of eating cured and red meats as a regular part of a healthy diet. As for smoking you should never do that that shit will kill you.
Chris Klesser – Read Meat & Cancer Again
WIRED Magazine – Bacon causes cancer?
Dr. Joel Richards D.C., is a wellness expert, doctor, coach and entrepreneur. He’s a husband and father of two young, vibrant boys. Dr. Joel grew up in a small Ontario town before studying Chiropractic at Parker University in Dallas, Texas.