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April 7, 2009 • Cancer Prevention, Healthy Eating & Nutrition, Healthy Living

More Bad News for Red Meat

The largest study ever to look at the effects of red and processed meat on a broad range of cancers found that those consuming the most red meat, equivalent to a quarter pound hamburger or a pork chop per day were at higher risk of a number of cancers including colo-rectal, esophageal, liver, and lung (PLoS Medicine, December 2007). There are a number of biologically plausible reasons by which red and processed meats can increase cancer risk including exposure to potent carcinogens (HCA’s, PAH’s, nitrosamines) in addition to large amounts of saturated fats and iron, both linked to cancer. New guidelines issued as a result of the most definitive review to date of diet and cancer risk recommend that we “limit the intakes of red meat and avoid processed meat” (Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer, 2007). My advice is to limit red meat to 2 servings (3 ounces each) per week and to rarely eat processed meats. And there is no need to fret over this when there are so many other healthy and delicious proteins to choose from like poultry, fish, shellfish, low-fat dairy products, beans, etc.