Sign in
Download Opera News App



Meat and cancer - what you need to know about eating meat

Meat and cancer

Many people claim that eating meat raises cancer risk. However, this probably depends on the type you eat and how it's cooked.

Is red meat bad?

Some observational studies link a high red meat intake to several types of cancer, including digestive tract, prostate, kidney, and breast cancers.

However, in nearly every study, the association was between cancer and well-done meat, PAHs, or HAAs, rather than red meat itself. These studies indicate that high-heat cooking had a very strong effect.

Of all cancers, colon cancer has the strongest association with red meat intake, with dozens of studies reporting a connection.

Aside from a few studies that didn't distinguish between cooking method and processed and non-processed meat, the increased risk seems to occur mostly with higher intake of processed and well-done meat.

In a 2011 analysis of 25 studies, researchers concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support an association between red meat and colon cancer.

Other factors that may affect cancer risk

While red meat cooked at high temperatures may increase cancer risk, white meat doesn't seem to have this effect. In fact, one study found that poultry consumption was linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, even when cooked to the point of charring.

Animal and observational studies suggest that, in addition to toxic compounds created during high-heat cooking, heme iron found in red meat may play a role in colon cancer development.

In addition, some researchers believe processed meat may potentially lead to inflammation in the colon that increases cancer risk.

In one study, adding calcium or vitamin E to cured meat reduced levels of toxic end-products in the feces of humans and rats. What's more, these nutrients were found to improve pre-cancerous colon lesions in the rats.

It's important to realize that because these studies are observational, they only show a relationship and cannot prove that red or processed meat causes cancer.

However, it seems wise to limit your consumption of processed meat. If you choose to eat red meat, use gentler cooking methods and avoid burning it.

Meat and heart disease

Several large observational studies exploring meat intake and heart disease have found an increased risk with processed products. Only one study found a weak association for red meat alone.

In 2010, researchers performed a massive review of 20 studies including over 1.2 million people. They found that consuming processed — but not red — meat appeared to increase heart disease risk by 42%.

However, these studies don't prove that a high intake of processed meat causes heart disease. They only show an association.

Some controlled studies have found that frequent meat consumption, including high-fat varieties, has a neutral or positive effect on heart disease risk factors.

Meat and type 2 diabetes

Several large studies have also shown an association between processed or red meat and type 2 diabetes.

A review of 3 studies found that consuming more than half a serving of red meat daily increased the risk of developing diabetes within 4 years by 30%, in part related to weight gain.

However, it's possible that those who developed diabetes had engaged in unhealthy diet habits, such as consuming too many refined carbs, eating too few vegetables, or simply overeating in general.

Studies show that low-carb diets, which tend to be high in meat, reduce blood sugar levels and other diabetes markers.

Meat, weight control, and obesity

Several observational studies link high intakes of red and processed meat to obesity.

In one study, researchers found that although there was a relationship between frequent red meat consumption and obesity, people who ate the greatest amounts also took in about 700 more calories per day than those who ate smaller amounts.

Again, these studies are observational and don't account for other types and amounts of food consumed regularly.

Although red meat is frequently linked to obesity and weight gain while white meat isn't, one controlled study found no difference in weight changes among people with excess weight who were assigned to eat beef, pork, or chicken for 3 months.

Another study in people with prediabetes found that weight loss and body composition improvements were similar among those who consumed diets based on animal or plant protein.

Consuming fresh, whole foods appears to benefit weight loss, regardless of whether meat is consumed.

In one study, 10 postmenopausal women with obesity followed an unrestricted paleo diet comprising 30% of calories from mainly animal protein, including meat. After 5 weeks, weight decreased by 10 pounds (4.5 kg), and belly fat decreased by 8%, on average

Benefits of eating meat

Eating meat has several health benefits:

Reduced appetite and increased metabolism.

 Many studies have shown that high-protein diets that include meat increase metabolic rate, reduce hunger, and promote fullness.

Retention of muscle mass.

 Animal protein intake is consistently linked to increased muscle mass. In one study in older women, eating beef increased muscle mass and reduced markers of inflammation.

Stronger bones.

 Animal protein may improve bone density and strength. In one study, older women with the highest intake of animal protein had a 69% decreased risk of hip fractures.

Better iron absorption. 

 Meat contains heme iron, which your body absorbs better than non-heme iron from plants 

How to maximize benefits and minimize negative effects

Here's how to ensure you're consuming meat in a way that's healthiest for you and the planet:

Choose non-processed products. 

Non-processed meat will always be healthier for you than processed varieties.

Give organ meats a try.

 Add organ meats to your diet to take advantage of their high nutrient content.

Minimize high-heat cooking.

 If you grill, barbecue, or use another high-heat method, wipe away drippings right away and avoid overcooking or charring.

Consume unprocessed, plant-based foods. 

  These are high in fiber, contain valuable antioxidants, and help make your diet well balanced.

Choose organic meat from small farms. 

This is more environmentally friendly and better from an ethical perspective.

Select grass-fed beef. Cattle that consume a natural diet of grass — rather than grain — produce meat that is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

However, if you don't feel right about eating animals, you can also stay healthy by following a well-balanced vegetarian diet.

Content created and supplied by: Durosky (via Opera News )


Load app to read more comments