Red Meat Boosts Cancer Risk

Red MeatIn a study involving almost 500,000 men and women, researchers determined how much red and processed meat participants ate during the previous year. Red meat includes beef, pork, and lamb, and processed meat is bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs.

During the following eight years, people who ate the most red meat had a 20 to 60 percent higher risk of developing cancer in their esophagus, colon, liver, or lungs than those who ate the least. In addition, those who ate the most processed meat increased their risk for colon cancer by 20 percent and lung cancer by 16 percent.

Other recent research has linked:

  • Red meat to pancreatic cancer and certain types of breast cancer
  • All meat to new and recurring colon cancer

Red and Processed Meat Consumption Should Be Minimal 
The U.S. government recommends that adults eat 5 to 6 ounces of protein a day. Sources of protein include:

  • Meat, poultry, or fish
  • Cooked dry beans
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts or seeds

For the healthiest diet, make most of these ounces lean meat such as fish or skinless chicken or vegetarian choices like beans, nuts, and seeds. In addition to boosting your cancer risk, most red meat is higher in saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol and risk for heart disease.

Replace Red Meat with Protein-Rich Alternatives
Forgo the beef and bacon and try the following options instead:

  • Veggie versions of your favorite meat-based dishes, like black bean burgers and soy-based breakfast patties or hot dogs
  • Bean-based dishes, such as lentil burgers or falafel (spicy patties made from ground chickpeas)
  • Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios
  • Other animal products, including eggs and milk

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