Can Processed Meats Actually Cause Cancer?

Giving Up Bacon Would Be Tough On Anyone

One of the most common things that you hear about general health would be that red meats and processed ones increase the likelihood of you contracting some really serious diseases. To answer the title of this article, YES, eating processed and red meats can actually increase the likelihood that you will develop certain medical conditions.

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), you can increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer if you constantly eat processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and canned goods. Eating red meats like ground beef and steak can also increase the chance of you getting such a disease (and other forms of cancer as well).

The World Health Organization has reviewed hundreds of studies and they’ve concluded that eating even just 100 grams of red meat per day can contribute to a 17% higher risk of contracting colorectal cancer. 100 grams of red meat is equivalent to eating a steak that is just the same size as a deck of cards.

In addition, people who eat at least 50 grams of processed meat per day can also increase the risk of contracting the condition by as much as 18% as well. 50 grams of processed meat is roughly equivalent to two full-sized bacon strips.

In a study that was released in October 2018, it was found out that high consumption of processed meats can contribute to the likelihood of women getting breast cancer by about 9%.

Other studies have shown that eating such meats can also lead to pancreatic, prostate, and stomach cancers as well.

Which Meats Are Classified As Processed Meats And Red Meats?

The things that are considered to be “Red Meats” are Veal, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Horse, Mutton, and Goat.

Processed meats are a little bit more complicated, but they usually consist of meats that are rich in preservatives and other flavorings. It also undergoes certain processes such as curing, salting, smoking, and fermentation.

Some of the most popular examples of red meats are ham, hot dogs, bacon, sausages, deli meats, beef jerky, corned beef, and many other things.

Why Is There A Connection Between Eating Processed/Red Meats To Cancer?

Although there have already been studies that indicate that there is a connection from eating red/processed meats to cancer, there is still little information that could indicate the exact reason. However, there are some theories to help explain this.

First, there is a theory that introducing red meats to high temperatures could make it carcinogenic. According to Dr. Jeter, cooking red meats can convert some of its compounds into carcinogenic ones. To be more specific, the heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) can form when certain meats like pork and beef are cooked on an open flame. These agents can contribute to changes in the DNA which can ultimately lead to the formation of certain cancers. Also, on a non-lethal but still worrisome note, as red meat has a reputation of clogging up arteries and veins, it’s viable to assume that erectile dysfunction/premature ejaculation could occur.

As for processed meats, these meats contain sodium nitrite which is an additive that is meant to preserve the meats for quite some time. The problem with this compound is that it can turn into N-Nitroso compounds that can prove to be carcinogenic as well.

What Is The Recommendation For Eating Certain Meats?

This is not to say that you cannot consume any of the aforementioned meats, but caution and controlled portions would be necessary to ensure good health.

As a rule of thumb, you can eat as much as 18 ounces of red meat per week. If you can, do not eat processed meats.