Nitrosamines, which are present in some meats, including bacon, are known to cause bladder cancer. But most studies on the subject before this one did not attempt to determine the effects of different kinds of meat.
Heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic chemicals formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures, are also a likely causative factor. Cooked chicken with skin is known to contain a smaller amount of heterocyclic amines than skinless chicken.
People who frequently indulged in bacon and other processed meats were also more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise.
Bacon is among the worst processed meats you can eat. And adding one ounce of processed meat to your daily diet elevates your stomach cancer risks by as much as 38 percent. Among the likely contributors: Nitrates, along with excess salt and smoking that extend the shelf-life of such products.
Meat cooked at high temperatures can also contain as many as 20 different kinds of heterocyclic amines, or HCAs for short. Many people feel that it is important to cook food well in order to avoid bacterial infection, but these same people do not realize that cooking meat, poultry, or fish at high temperatures for long periods of time can also be dangerous to your health.
In one study, researchers found that those who ate their beef medium-well or well-done had more than three times the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate their beef rare or medium-rare. Other studies have shown that an increased risk of developing pancreatic, colorectal, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried, or barbequed meats.
According to strict nutritional typing guidelines pork does well for protein types and mixed types. Ideally, it should be from non-farm-raised animals fed organically. I personally avoid most pork but primarily base this on Levitical guidelines, which clearly may be flawed.
Additionally, many of our patients seem to do well on clean pork products. Ultimately, it is a decision each individual needs to make for themselves.
If you're eating meat loaded with pesticides and hormones, then cook it at high temperatures, you're asking for trouble. That's why I limit my meat choices when possible to grass-fed and organic meats.
Vital Votes reader Jim, from Massachusetts, comments:
Rich, from Massapequa, New York, adds: