I’m talking about processed meats. Yep, those salty, tasty things like bacon, sandwich meat, pepperoni, hot dogs, etc. If you could take all of these out of your life for good, you’d likely be much healthier.
Too Dangerous for Human Consumption
WCRF International completed a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer. It’s conclusion? Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption.
Further, they advised that consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives.
Sound drastic? Here’s why the recommendation.
Examining the Evidence
Most processed meats are manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite. It’s a chemical that helps the meat look red, healthy, and fresh, and is also used to prevent spoilage. Unfortunately, it can form cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body, and this leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk.
Some more direct evidence:
- A 2005 University of Hawaii study found that processed meats increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67 percent.
- A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who consumed about one serving of processed meat per day had a 20 percent increased risk of death from diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- A report using data from an ongoing project by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund found that processed meats, including ham, bacon, and sausage, were associated with the biggest health hazard of all meats. People who ate 3.5 ounces a day had a 36 percent greater chance of developing colon cancer, compared to those who ate none. The more people ate, the higher their risk.
- A study published in the journal Cancer, based on dietary information from about 300,00 men and women between the ages of 50 and 71 found that those whose diets contained the highest amounts of nitrate and nitrate from processed meats had an almost 30 percent increased risk of bladder cancer compared to those who consumed the smallest amounts.
- According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, processed meat is so strongly linked with colorectal cancer that no one should ever eat it. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the world, and is highly preventable.
I could go on, but you can do more research if you like. And don’t forget the fact that most processed meats are full of sodium, with many of them high in fat. The bottom line is that processed meats are not only bad for your diet, they’re downright dangerous to your health.
Read labels, and avoid anything made with sodium nitrite or monosodium glutamate. Eat fresh produce with every meal, as the vitamin C may help prevent the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines, protecting you from the devastating health effects. The best option is to avoid processed meats entirely. Try to eliminate them from your diet for at least two weeks. My guess that after a short while you won’t even miss processed meats, and you’ll be doing your future a big favor.
- Beef Jerky
- Hot Dogs
- Sandwich Meat
- Frozen pizza with meat
- Canned soups with meat
- Frozen meals with meat
- Ravioli and meat pasta foods
- Kid’s meals containing red meat
- Sandwich meat used at popular restaurants
- Nearly all red meats sold at public schools, restaurants, hospitals, hotels and theme parks
Note: Beware of “nitrite-free” processed meats. Tests have discovered that even those meats labeled this way had nitrites-sometimes more than their conventional counterparts. Some use celery juice instead, which sounds natural enough, but celery has naturally occurring nitrites.
Try Instead These Great Sources of Protein:
- Marinated, roasted, or grilled meats-chicken, roast beef, pork-use leftovers from the night before
- Boiled eggs
Do you avoid processed meats? Tell us how you’ve changed your diet.
Photo courtesy Dinner Series via Flickr.com.
“Processed Meats Declared Too Dangerous for Human Consumption,” Natural Health Dossier, April 1, 2012, http://naturalhealthdossier.com/2012/04/processed-meats-declared-too-dangerous-for-human-consumption/.
Allison Aubrey, “Death by Bacon? Study Finds Eating Meat is Risky,” NPR, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/12/148457233/death-by-bacon-study-finds-eating-meat-is-risky.
Amie Ninh, “Study: Red and Processed Meats Linked with Colon Cancer Risk,” Time Healthland, May 27, 2011. http://healthland.time.com/2011/05/27/study-red-and-processed-meats-linked-with-colon-cancer-risk/.
Aina Hunter, “Red Meat & Cancer: Do Processed Meats Raise Bladder Cancer Risk?” CBS News, August 23, 2010. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20014374-10391704.html.
Dr. Barnard, “Enough is Enough: Processed Meat-Cancer Link Confirmed,” Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, May 24, 2011. http://www.pcrm.org/media/blog/may2011/enough-is-enough-processed-meat-cancer-link
“Your ‘Nitrite-Free’ Meats are Full of Nitrites,” Good Lifestyle, September 3, 2010, http://www.good.is/post/your-nitrite-free-meats-are-full-of-nitrites/.