KNOW THIS: Eating too much ham, sausages and bacon can cause cancer.
WHY? Processed red meats contain chemicals that generate N-nitroso compounds in the gut that damage the cells that line the bowel.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT? Keep processed and red meats to a minimum in your diet.
The meats to eat in moderation
Every time I read a headline about a cancer health warning I hear everyone groan. Another scaremongering headline to make us feel bad about our diets. But whether you believe the headlines or not, the fact is that modern science has made it easier to know what does cause cancer.
The World Health Organisation has released a report evaluating the link between the consumption of red and processed meat and cancer and as a result of these findings, classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans, and red meat as a ‘probable carcinogen’.
Carcinogens can cause cancer. Cancer is caused by changes in a cell’s DNA. While some of these changes may be inherited from our parents, others can be caused by carcinogens. Different carcinogens have different levels of cancer-causing potential – some may cause cancer only after prolonged, high levels of exposure for example.
With this in mind eating one bacon sandwich a week probably won’t do you any harm. However if you’re regularly eating sausage and bacon butties for breakfast, ham sandwiches for lunch, and red meat for dinner, you’re probably consuming unsafe levels of processed and red meat. Of course the risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including the person’s genetic makeup and the length and intensity of the exposure.
So why are processed meats carcinogenic?
It’s thought to be down to the chemicals used in the processing, such as nitrite preservatives, that generate N-nitroso compounds in the gut, and these have been found to damage the cells that line the bowel.
On top of this, cooking meat at high temperatures, such as grilling or barbequing, can also create chemicals in the meat that may increase the risk of cancer. These chemicals are generally produced in higher levels in red and processed meat compared to other meats.
Any kind of scaremongering sucks and I’m definitely an advocate in living life freely, the way you want to. But if you value your health it’s important to know the effect of the things you consume, so you can make informed choices in life.
Know what’s good. Know what’s bad. Live balanced. Enjoy life x