Ever since the World Health Organisation’s ‘s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released the findings that classified processed meats as group one carcinogens there has been panic.
Certain people have been pulling that ‘I told you so’ card with great regularity, whilst many meat eaters have stood defiant and professed their undying love for the food staple.
Perhaps what we need is a sense of perspective, bringing in some facts that paint an interesting picture. Here’s one pearler from Health24:
They [IARC] stated that for an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer increased by 18 percent for every 50 gram portion of processed meat they eat each day.
Based on the WHO estimates, about 66 in every 1,000 people who eat a lot of red meat or processed meat will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime; by comparison, 56 of every 1,000 who eat very little meat, processed or otherwise, will develop colorectal cancer.”
Now that’s 50 grams, each and every day, and your chances of catching bowel cancer increase by 10 in 1000. I don’t know how lekker your maths is but that’s ONE in 100, which is an increase many would be willing to take for tucking into meat.
The same site’s health expert echoed the sentiments we have been hearing from many in the know for years:
Eat a balanced diet that consists of a variety of foods, and do not overdo your consumption of any one food or drink.
Then there are these tips from the International Meat Secretariat on how one should proceed when cooking meat:
- Stay by the grill or braai and flip the meat more often to avoid overcooking and possible charring of the meat surface.
- Avoid direct exposure of the meat to an open flame.
- Panfry red and processed meat over medium instead of high heat.
- Marinate meat in marinades containing citrus juice like lemon or lime and add spices such as garlic or onion.
We should also pay attention to avoiding heavily processed meats, where the animals are often stuffed in feedlots and pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. There are alternatives available where terms like ‘ethically sourced’ ring true, and many health experts often sing the praises of meat in its purest form.
Wherever you stand on the matter of eating meat one should at least be aware of certain facts before we scream from the rafters. You may take issue with the ethics involved in large-scale and intensive factory-farming methods, and we all should, but as for scrapping eating meat altogether that seems a much harder sell.
As long as you’re willing to take that one in 100 increase on the chin (and maybe some exercise, I didn’t want to bring it up) we should all calm down and take a deep breath. There you go, panic averted.
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