In a report released Monday, the World Health Organization said that eating processed meats, which include bacon and ham, can cause cancer. The agency also said red meats can potentially cause cancer.
We now have people refusing to eat red meat because they think not only that red meat gives you cancer, but that not eating it will stop you from getting cancer – neither of which is accurate.
Firstly, I would really like to meet all these people who consume an excess of red meat, because in my daily dealing with people as a nutrition coach the two things people are lacking in their diet is protein in general, and red meat in particular.
That aside, let’s pour some water on the hysteria fire.
EXCESS consumption of processed meats may cause cancer – so don’t eat it in excess!!
According to the WHO, 50g per day may cause an 18% increase in the probability of colon cancer.
So don’t eat processed meats every day! You shouldn’t be doing that anyway, as a good diet includes a wide variety of fresh whole foods.
In the extremely unlikely event that my once-a-week Sunday bacon and eggs kills me, I will die happy. Red meat contains haem iron which is the most readily absorbed iron source at 15-18% as opposed to non-haem iron sources at 5%. Considering many women and athletes in particular are iron deficient (some from avoiding red meat), and many people are unable to take iron supplements (me being one of them) the WHO really needs to rethink the way they are presenting their findings.
According to the data, EXCESS red meat consumption may possibly contribute to cancer, however the evidence is INCONCLUSIVE.
So, as always despite these new findings, dietary advice remains the same. Eat a wide variety of non/minimally processed fresh whole foods.