Processed meats may also trigger cancer in the prostate, lung, stomach and esophagus.
Processed meats include bacon, ham, pastrami, salami and hot dogs. Sausages and hamburgers can also fall into the category if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives.
The analysis also found that red meat raises the risk of bowel cancer, but to a lesser extent. Processing raises levels of cancer-causing chemicals called N-nitroso compounds, making bacon, sausages and other processed meats more deadly.
WCRF recommends people avoid eating all processed meats, although they say that at least eating smaller quantities would be beneficial.
According to estimates, if everyone cut down on red and processed meat, one in 10 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented. If you are currently hooked on processed meats, and are looking for a way to stop eating them, take a look at these up-close-and-personal photos of processed meats, such as salami and sausage. I’ll bet you won’t want another bite after seeing them.
This new analysis just puts more logs on the fire when it comes to the many burning reasons to give up processed meats in your diet. These meats, which include sausages, bacon, pepperoni, salami and other lunchmeats, hot dogs, and more, can:
- Increase your risk of colon cancer by 50 percent
- Increase your risk of diabetes by 50 percent
- Lower your lung function and increase your risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Increase your risk of bladder cancer by 59 percent
- Increase your risk of stomach cancer by 38 percent
If you have been reading this newsletter for awhile then you will likely understand that I am in no way opposed to eating meat. In fact, I’m a fan of it. But, the more processing you do to your food the less likely it is that the food will nourish you -- and the more likely it is that it will actually contribute to your premature death.
This is even more of a problem when you add preservatives to "extend" the shelf-life of a food. Particularly problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats as a preservative, coloring and flavoring.
The nitrates found in processed meats are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. Many processed meats also contain other additives like MSG and high-fructose corn syrup, which are two items that don’t belong in your body in any amount.
There is also something very unpleasant that goes into some processed meats called “mechanically separated meats” (MSM). If you see this on a label, put it back on the shelf.
MSM is actually "a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue," according to the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
MSM is supposedly safe to eat, but back in 2004 all mechanically separated beef was taken out of hot dogs and other processed meats because of concerns that it could cause mad cow disease. Mechanically separated pork, chicken, and turkey is still allowed, so buyer beware.
How to Choose Healthy Meat Options
I have to agree with the World Cancer Research Fund on their advice to avoid all processed meats. There are simply so many other higher quality, nutritious meats out there. But, if you are going to eat an occasional sausage or piece of bacon, here is what to look for and what to avoid:
- Choose organic meats that are grass-fed or free-range
- Look for “uncured” varieties that contain NO nitrates
- Choose varieties that say 100% beef, 100% chicken, etc. This is the only way to know that the meat is from a single species and does not include byproducts (like chicken skin or chicken fat)
- Avoid any meat that contains MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavor or artificial color
- Ideally, purchase sausages and other processed meats from a small, local farmer who you can ask about the ingredients
What is your healthiest option for eating meat? Well, first find out your nutritional type so you know whether your body does better eating red meats like beef, white-meat chicken, dark-meat chicken or a combination.
Next, choose grass-fed, organic meats that, ideally, come from a local farmer you can trust. Next, cook the meat minimally, at a low temperature (to avoid the toxic heterocyclic amines that form when you cook meat at high temperatures). Personally, I eat most of my meat raw, as the moment you cook most food you lose an important element of its vitality. But, I only consume raw meat from the highest quality sources where there is virtually no risk of infection
Many may cringe at this process but may not realize that steak tartar served in many high-end restaurants is raw ground beef.
However, if raw meat is something you don't want to try, there is less of a problem with heterocyclic amines if you briefly sear your meat on the outside and leave the remainder of the meat lightly cooked or nearly rare. This will improve the flavor and greatly decrease your risk of cooking byproducts.