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How much processed meat should a person eat?
Cancer is a dangerous disease that affects more and more people worldwide. There have been several studies in the past that have indicated that consuming processed meat can lead to cancer. Researchers have now done a major analysis of the results of these studies.
The scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, when examining existing research, found that the consumption of processed meat is clearly related to the development of cancer. The doctors published the results of their meta-analysis in the English-language journal "International Journal of Cancer".
What makes processed meat so unhealthy?
A review of the available evidence on the relationship between processed foods and the development of cancer confirms this relationship, but it was not possible to determine exactly how high the consumption of such foods should be. Processed meat typically contains salts and other preservatives to extend shelf life and change taste and texture. These salts and additives interact with the protein in the meat and can form toxic compounds that damage cells in the gut, the researchers say.
Sausages and bacon increase the risk of breast cancer for women
Eating processed meat, such as sausages and bacon, increases the risk of developing breast cancer by around nine percent, the study authors explain. The experts from the internationally recognized Harvard University examined the data of more than one million women who came from 15 different studies. The results confirm that women who consumed the most meat were at greatest risk. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) had previously warned of the increased risk of cancer from eating processed meat, the researchers say the results for breast cancer were inconsistent. Previous research has linked increased risk of some cancers to higher meat consumption, and this latest meta-analysis also suggests that eating processed meat may increase your risk of breast cancer, study author Dr. Maryam Farvid from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Is red meat carcinogenic?
The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned that red meat is likely to be carcinogenic, although there have been two studies in this area that have not shown such an obvious effect.
Processed meat especially increases the risk of colon cancer
However, people who eat processed meat, which can include smoked products, for example, are clearly at an increased risk of developing cancer, especially colorectal cancer. This prompted the WHO to classify such foods as carcinogenic.
What is the maximum amount of red meat that should be consumed per week?
Many questions on this topic remain unanswered. Even the latest research has not been able to determine exactly how much consumption of processed meat is harmful. Some studies have set the threshold for increased cancer risk at nine grams per week. It is likely that people who eat processed meat regularly tend to live healthier. For example, the lack of consumption of fruit and vegetables or less exercise could increase the risk, the doctors suspect. The role of certain foods, such as bacon, is really hard to unravel, as everyone consumes a wide variety of foods and the diet can change over time, the experts explain. (as)