When the World Health Organisation warns about the dangers of processed and red meat consumption, then we might need to sit up and take notice. At the end of October, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the arm of the World Health Organisation, comprising 22 experts from 10 countries, which investigated the cancer-promoting effects of meat, collated all the scientific evidence and concluded that both processed and red meat consumption increase cancer risk, especially bowel cancer. Pancreatic, stomach and prostate cancer are also on the hit list with pancreatic cancer being especially lethal, as once this diagnosis is made the trajectory towards a terminal state is tragically swift.
Processed meat would be the bacon, salami or sausage variety, as well as hot dogs, ham, corned beef, canned meat, meat based preparations or sauces and biltong or beef jerky. Red meat includes beef, veal, mutton and pork.
Curing and smoking, as well as cooking at high temperatures by panfrying, grilling or barbecuing generate carcinogenic chemicals that might be the source of meat’s woes. Red meat increases DNA damage which can be mitigated by calcium.