Information for the General Public
Red Meat Causes Colon Cancer Not   so   long   ago   WHO   reported   that   cured   and   processed   meat   causes   cancer. The   present   report   focusses   on   processed   meat   like   ham,   sausage,   hot   dog   etc. The   group   of   22   scientists   from   WHO's   International   Agency   for   Research   on Cancer    in    Lyon,    France    evaluated    more    than    800    studies    from    several continents   about   meat   and   cancer.   Based   on   that   evaluation,   they   classified processed    meat    as    "carcinogenic    to    humans"    and    red    meat    as    "probably carcinogenic." For   very   many   years   we   have   known   that   bowel   cancer   is   more   common   in   the West    than    in    the    East.    We    often    wondered    if    this    was    because    the    rich Westerners   ate   a   lot   more   meat   compared   to   the   poor   Easterners.   There   was however no conclusive proof until now. As   expected,   the   North   American   meat   industry   is   protesting   about   this   report,   arguing   that   cancer   is   a   complex   disease not   caused   by   a   single   food.   WHO   estimates   that   a   50-gram   portion   of   processed   meat,   eaten   daily,   increases   the   risk   for bowel   cancer   by   18   percent.   The   report   also   links   red   meat   to   cancer.   It   classifies   beef,   lamb   and   pork   as   "probable" carcinogens. Several   years   ago   Harvard   Health   published   important   information   about   the   effects   of   long-term   meat   consumption.   It indicated   that   a   high   consumption   of   meat   is   linked   to   an   increased   risk   of   cancer   in   the   lower   colon   and   rectum. Conversely it also reported that the long-term consumption of large amounts of fish and poultry appeared protective. The   best   evidence   on   the   topic   comes   from   two   studies   published   in   2005,   one   from   Europe   and   the   other   from   the   United States.   The   European   research   tracked   478,000   men   and   women   who   were   free   of   cancer   when   the   study   began.   The people   who   ate   the   most   red   meat   (about   5   ounces   a   day   or   more)   were   about   a   third   more   likely   to   develop   colon   cancer than   those   who   ate   the   least   red   meat   (less   than   an   ounce   a   day   on   average).   Their   consumption   of   chicken   did   not influence   risk   one   way   or   the   other,   but   a   high   consumption   of   fish   appeared   to   reduce   the   risk   of   colon   cancer   by   about   a third. A   study   from   England   showed   that   large   amounts   of   red   meat   can   produce   genetic   damage   to   colon   cells   in   just   a   few weeks,   but   it   does   not   prove   that   red   meat   causes   cancer.   None   of   the   cells   were   malignant,   and   the   body   has   a   series   of mechanisms   to   repair   damaged   DNA.      Still,   the   research   fits   with   earlier   epidemiologic   data   raising   a   red   flag   about   red meat. Instead of counting on your body to repair your damaged DNA, do everything you can to prevent damage in the first place. Dr.   Kurt   Straif   Epidemiologist   at   the   International   Agency   for   Research   on   Cancer   said   in   a   statement   -“For   an   individual, the   risk   of   developing   colorectal   (bowel)   cancer   because   of   their   consumption   of   processed   meat   remains   small,   but   this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed”. With   increasing   wealth   in   China   the   consumption   of   red   meat   there   has increased   considerably.   Although   India   is   different,   as   the   middleclass numbers   rise   the   consumption   of   red   meat   is   also   likely   to   increase.   The message    now    is    clear,    you    don’t    have    to    give    up    red    meat    to    stay healthy,   but   you   would   be   wise   to   limit   your   consumption.   Choose   meat which   is   not   fatty   and   avoid   charring   your   meat   on   a   grill.   Meat   cooked on   a   barbecue   can   be   charred   easily.   Limit   processed,   cured,   and   salted meats as much as possible. K. Badrinath