Good news!!!! Meat – red, processed, or otherwise – is not associated with the development of gastric cancer, leukemia, lymphoma or melanoma. You can have all you want and not worry that each bite is strengthening one of those life-altering, painful diseases.
The bad news? You may get colorectal, lung, bladder, liver, esophageal, endometrial or laryngeal cancer instead.
In the largest study of the effects of red and processed meat on cancer, researchers found that high meat consumption significantly raises the risk of several cancers. Those who consume the most red and processed meat have a 20 percent greater likelihood of developing colorectal cancer and a 16 percent greater likelihood of developing lung cancer, regardless of smoking habits. By itself, red meat heightens the risk of endometrial, esophageal, liver and laryngeal cancer while processed meat worsens the risk of bladder cancer and myeloma. And it doesn’t take much of either to do the trick. The equivalent of a quarter-pound burger or small steak, and about four pieces of bacon a day are all that’s needed to maximize danger. If you’re an ardent meat lover, that could be a distressing revelation.
But, as usual, don’t take these findings and dive mouth-first into a vegetarian lifestyle (unless of course you really want to). No one food can give you cancer. Many factors play a part in its development. The best way to minimize risk is to maintain a balanced diet and eat appropriate serving sizes. This means you should have plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables with your daily protein fix, and rather than having the Italian hoagie, complete with no less than four types of meat, have a sandwich that boasts only one variety. You don’t need to eat an entire side of beef every day. In fact, please don’t. Try to find healthy sources of lean protein and enjoy them in moderation.