Just say “No” to processed meats
August 18, 2009
A new report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) confirms that adults and children who consume processed meats (meats preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives – ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, as well as hot dogs and some sausages) are at risk of developing cancer and other significant health issues.
The collective scientific evidence linking processed meat consumption to cancer and other health issues is so overwhelming that the American Institute for Cancer Research(AICR) recommends, not just consuming less, but avoiding processed meats altogether.
The latest report stresses consumer awareness and, with the start of a new school year, encourages parents to choose healthier alternatives.
Why the concern:
- According to the WCRF and the AICR, risk of colorectal cancer increases, on average, by 21 percent for every 50 grams (1.7 oz) of processed meat consumed daily. A 50-gram serving is approximately the size of one typical hot dog.
- Americans eat 20 billion hot dogs a year – an average of 70 hot dogs per person.
- Sixty-two percent of all Americans eat smoked ham, bacon, or some form of processed pork—the average person eats 32 pounds of it a year.
- Just one ounce of processed meat per day increases the risk of stomach cancer 15-38 percent.
- A Harvard study of more than 40,000 health professionals showed that those who ate hot dogs, salami, bacon, or sausages two to four times per week increased their risk of diabetes by 35 percent. Those who ate these products five or more times per week experienced 50 percent increased risk.
- Other health issues involved – Doctors are seeing more thickening of the arteries in children, particularly those who are obese or have high cholesterol.
- More than 16 percent of children and adolescents are overweight. One in three will develop diabetes at some point in his or her life.
- Lifetime cancer risk is now one in three for women, and one in two for men.
Men, especially middle-aged men, eat more processed pork than women. Higher-income Americans eat less of it than middle- and low-income citizens. Rural Americans eat more than urban Americans. Blacks eat more than whites. And Midwesterners eat the most per capita.
As well as recommending people avoid processed meat, WCRF also recommends limiting intake of red meat to 17 oz. (cooked weight) per week. This is because there is also convincing evidence that red meat increases risk of bowel cancer.