Photo courtesy hippyshopper.com
Research continues to mount on the link between processed meat consumption and cancer, particularly pancreatic cancer. A study from Sweden has linked 50 grams of processed meat per day to a 19% increase in pancreatic cancer. We have to read between the lines in this research, however, as it is not necessarily the meat in general that is at fault.
It’s the Preservatives
Grass-fed meat, the way nature intended us to consume it, is high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a fatty acid found primarily in beef and animal products that has been shown to help prevent cancer as well as undesired weight gain. Grain-fed and conventionally raised meats do not have considerably high levels of this beneficial fatty acid.
Processed meats, like lunch meats, bacon, and sausage generally are preserved with sodium nitrate or sodium nitrites, chemical additives that are directly linked to cancer in humans. In fact, these preservatives are known human carcinogens. Pretty scary, right? What’s scary is that they’re still pervasive in our food supply!
Don’t Fall for the Hype
I typically follow an eclectic eating plan. 1/3 Weston A. Price, 1/3 paleo/primal, and another 1/3 raw. I don’t consume a lot of meat or animal products, but when I do I always make sure that it is either organic, raw (butter, milk), or grass-fed, if I can get it.
You don’t have to give up bacon or sausage for an every-now-and-then treat for fear of its strong link to pancreatic cancer. It would be wise to just choose better options that will ensure a lower risk of developing these life-threatening, nutrition-related diseases.
Choose Nitrate-Free Options
While it may seem difficult to give up your favorite processed meats, like bacon, keep in mind that you don’t have to. Look for nitrate- or nitrite-free lunch meats, bacon, and sausage at your local supermarkets. It baffles my mind as to why there aren’t more brands getting on the nitrate/nitrite-free bandwagon, but some brands do exist. Again, I don’t believe eating bacon, sausage, or lunch meats to be extremely healthy as much as pure beef, chicken, or even fish (low-mercury); however, the preservative-free options are much better choices.
Also, if you choose to grill or cook meat, like sausages or hot dogs, burning or charring them may create carcinogenic compounds in the meat. It’s best to just cook thoroughly instead of making them super well-done. Adding antioxidant-rich blueberries or spices, like turmeric, to the cooked meat may be protective against any carcinogens produced during the cooking process.
For now, this is The Healthy Advocate.