Eating Less Red Meat -May Help Prevent Colorectal Cancer


Lanu Pitan

The news that was widely circulated a few years ago, it was a staggering warning on eating less red meat. The International Agency for Research On Cancer, the research agency of The World Health Organization, concluded that eating less red meat may probably prevent colorectal cancer.

Activists warned that because the announcement has the word, ”PROBABLE”, it is not certain that red meat causes cancer. They argued that cancer is such a complex illness with many risk factors that can due to other risk factors than red meat. This website is not to instruct people whether to eat red meat or not, but to present the facts, the pro and cons of eating red meat, and therefore let the individual decide.

First of all, what are classified as red meats? They are beef, lamb, goat, horse, veal, venison, and pork. According to W.H.O., the announcement was made after careful research on about 478,000 adults over five years of study. The result was that out of those who ate more than five ounces of red meat a day, 1,329 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. 34,000 deaths are attributable to cancer deaths due to people eating red meat. The case for colorectal cancer is high, with the less or much lower extent to pancreatic and prostate cancer.

What Is In Red Meat That Made It Bad For Our Colon?

This research was carried out by Wageningen University in Netherland discovered that red meat contains a type of protein compound called ”HAEM”. This haem together with other compounds present in red meat like saturated fat produces a kind of DNA synthesis, cell proliferation, increase insulin-like growth, hormone metabolism that promote free radical damage that attacks the protective covering of the large intestine (colon). The research was carried out by feeding rats haem continuously for two weeks.

In other to counter the effect of this damage, some of the rats were given antibiotics. The antibiotics destroyed some bacteria in the colon, preventing the heam to get to the walls of the colon. So it was concluded that the destruction to the wall of the colon depends on the type of bacteria in the colon. Some bacteria might actually ward off the damage if present in the colon.

A Typical Example Of Processed Meat

The Issue For Processed Meat

Processed meat is meat (both red meat, fish and poultry) that has been cured, fermented, salted and or smoked during preservation. W.H.O. did remove ”PROBABLY” from this, and said categorically that ”CONSUMPTION OF PROCESSED MEAT CAUSES CANCER.” It includes among others, canned beef, (corned beef), hot-dogs, bacon, salted fish/meat, sausages, cold cuts, and luncheon meats made from turkey, chicken or red meat.

I believe the issue here is the additives and preservatives that are added to the processed meat. The mode of preparation, and or preservation has a lot to do with how safe is processed meat to eat. It says the causal effect on consumption of about 100gm of red meat is about 18%. Processed meat consumption has higher incidences of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers, and to a lesser extent COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases) and other malignancies.

Other Risk Factors

Cancer is a complex illness with many genetic and environmental factors like obesity, smoking, alcohol and sugar consumption, dietary fibre, physical exercise old age and any underlying illnesses.

The Question Of Iron

The issue of people getting adequate dietary iron is one of the reasons W.H.O. is not recommending vegetarianism to people. Red meat is a good source of proteins, vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium and zinc. Vitamin B12 particularly is obtainable from animals source, W.H.O. said to limit red meat intake, and get dietary vitamins and minerals from other sources like, nuts, eggs, legumes and breakfast cereals, (most of which are fortified).

Eat As Natural As Possible

The W.H.O. advises eating as natural as possible, making your plate to contain 80% plant-based meal. This is because most cancer incidences are largely due to diet and to a lesser extent other risk factors. Think of plant protein as an alternative to animal proteins. Moreover, the micronutrients in plants are vital for cell regeneration, so they aid healing as well. Reduce red meat intake by eating it less often, and reducing portion size each time you eat it.

All that W.H.O. is to be wise in your choice of food, make food the basis of your health. Remember that you are what you eat, eat well, live healthily. At the end of the day, you are the one who will benefit.

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