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Red and processed meat and cancer risk.

(26 Posts)
shysal Mon 17-Jun-19 11:12:43

cancer risk
I was just wondering how many of you have heeded the warnings and cut down your consumption. I eat quite a bit of poultry and fish, but have always enjoyed beef dishes, sausages, bacon and ham. From this week I have replaced the ham with sliced chicken, beef mince with turkey and cut out most other processed meats. I shall still buy the occasional steak or bacon for a treat rather than weekly. It is really no hardship, but I hate all the recent scares which sometimes get contradicted as more research is carried out.

paddyann Mon 17-Jun-19 11:53:41

I'd have to go back to being vegetarian,I was for a long time .I dont eat fowl of any kind or pork.Only eat beef or lamb a couple of times a week and feel better for a small amount of meat in my diet .I wont be changing ,my OH likes a steak but eats mainly white meats .To be honest I take all the scares with a large pinch of salt they are often blazened across the press one week and all change the next .

humptydumpty Mon 17-Jun-19 12:06:47

I know it feels like that, but TBH the link between processed meat and stomach cancer was already around when I started working in epidemiology more than 40 years ago so I feel this scare may have legs...

Grandma70s Mon 17-Jun-19 12:11:34

I’m not happy any more with meat products and the way they are produced, but I haven’t given them up entirely. I will go for veggie products when possible, because I prefer them. My grandson, 10, became veggie about a year ago, and we are all tending to follow him!

Press reports are usually hugely over-simplified, unscientific and inaccurate, so should be treated with extreme cynicism.

EllanVannin Mon 17-Jun-19 12:29:44

I have fillet or rib-eye steak every now and again---to keep my strength up. I don't want to be getting anaemia which is worse for you than eating all the things you " shouldn't ". At least my surgery is keen on the well-being of the elderly making sure that they're eating well and not losing weight just through malnutrition.

Protein is vital for replenishing the cells in the body and keeping muscles and tissues working efficiently as well as for " repair work " and of course the blood. It's a vital component of nutrition. I'll keep eating meat, preferably lamb and steak, never bacon, rarely sausage and definitely no smoked foods.

Fennel Mon 17-Jun-19 12:38:19

As I've written before, we're very fond of liver and onions, which I believe is good for you.
Not everyone's 'cup of tea' I know.
I make a veggie main meal about once a week and we have various fish on about 2 days.
I do remember the research which showed that red meat is very slow to pass through the human digestive system so more likely to cause gut problems.

janeainsworth Mon 17-Jun-19 13:11:26

I agree with you ellanvannin about the importance of maintaining a good protein intake.

I looked at the link and what it doesn’t tell you is how much you reduce your risk when you cut down on red meat and processed meats. It also doesn’t tell you what the overall risk is, ie what proportion of the population develop bowel cancer.

Eating red meat isn’t the only risk factor for bowel cancer. Genetics and other things play a part too.

If stopping eating red meat reduced someone’s risk from 80% to 5%, obviously it would be worth considering.

But if it only reduced your risk from 10% to 7%, I think the benefits of eating meat would outweigh the risk.

Teetime Mon 17-Jun-19 13:13:39

We decided to cut out red meat and processed foods (not that we had many just bacon and occasionally sausages) after Xmas- We haven't noticed much difference to be honest but I feel there must be some basis in the warnings.

tanith Mon 17-Jun-19 13:15:48

I have cut down now eating beef, lamb and ham and bacon. I have bacon maybe once a fortnight, lamb once in a blue moon and beef maybe once a week no ham. Not sure if pork sausages count or not?

shysal Mon 17-Jun-19 13:22:48

According to the link, all meat from mammals is counted as red meat, so would include pork sausages with or without preservative.

janeainsworth Mon 17-Jun-19 13:24:05

My unhealthy lunch. Ham sandwich with salad in multigrain bread.

blondenana Mon 17-Jun-19 13:26:21

My daughter has Crohns disease and a professor at Cardiff University said the worst meat anyone could eat is beef, as it is full of toxins
Also yes Liver is good for certain people but i have an overload of iron so not good for everyone,and a lot of people don;t know this,as this disease is not in the usual blood tests
I am not supposed to eat red meat, and i rarely do anyway
I prefer fish

trisher Mon 17-Jun-19 13:44:11

I only eat meat about once a week and seldom processed meat. But my mother ate sausages regularly had a sandwich made with processed meat almost every day and loved a roast beef lunch. She lived to be 93!

Septimia Mon 17-Jun-19 14:53:12

Everything in moderation!

suzied Mon 17-Jun-19 15:06:43

No-one needs to eat meat or animal products. I haven't eaten meat since I was 10, am a healthy weight, and in good health - thats nearly 50 years or so. Before anyone says you can't live without the protein - yes you can plenty of protein in plants- look at the muscles and teeth of a gorilla - a herbivore. But its good that people are cutting down for lots of reasons- health, the environment, animal welfare etc.

Elvive Mon 17-Jun-19 15:13:09

I have been vegetarian on and off but sometimes I feel tired and eat a little meat.

I don't know. A family member had a healthy diet and lifestyle and got bowel cancer. dont know what to make of it really.

Sara65 Mon 17-Jun-19 15:26:34

We eat chicken and fish but very little red meat, the odd delicious lasagna from the Italian restaurant, or the odd pork sausage, I’ve always been this way because I don’t like meat! We also now have quite a few vegetarian days,

luluaugust Mon 17-Jun-19 15:51:03

I am interested in how much red meat you would have to eat each week to really put yourself in danger of developing any particular cancer. How many weeks/months/years are you shortening your life by by having the odd sausage? Surely everything in moderation is the way to go. I have written before that because of a cholesterol reading I was told to cut right back on dairy food and later found myself with Osteoporosis, I now eat plenty of dairy. Eggs were vilified for years but are a whole food. We eat plenty of fish and also have vegetarian days but also red meat when we fancy it.

shysal Mon 17-Jun-19 16:22:57


humptydumpty Mon 17-Jun-19 16:25:27

In this context, individual stories of health following a lifetime of a particular diet aren't relevant - it's a statistical thing. We all know, or know of, people who've smoked like a chimney for decades but had no health problem as a result, but nevertheless it's accepted now that on a population level, smoking is incredible bad for health (current smokers in middle-age lose an average of 10y of life as result...)

MawBroonsback Mon 17-Jun-19 16:53:57

Nutrition myths debunked in today’s Telegraph!
I suspect it is protected by a paywall, so if you have the patience to plough through this, I have also cut and pasted!
Long story short - a little of what you fancy dies you good, I think!

Exposed: eight of nutrition’s biggest myths
From Paleo to the ‘power’ of turmeric, dietitians Rosie Saunt and Helen West say it’s time to ditch the food fads

Healthy lifestyle: vegetables, fruit and milk are all good for us, but some of the claims that have been made about certain foods stretch the boundaries of credulity Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images; Luxy
We all know that what we choose to eat can have an impact on our health – and right now, there’s no shortage of advice, from cookbooks, apps and Instagram health gurus.
But most of us are still walking about wondering things like: should I be cutting carbs? Or eating them, but just not the gluten-filled ones? Should I be vegan? Or Paleo? The simple act of eating has become a minefield of paradoxical “facts”.
Obviously, not everybody talking about nutrition on the internet is doing a bad job – and many of the people out there have good intentions. But as dietitians, and founders of The Rooted Project – offering up nutrition information based on facts, not fads – we believe that people with significant influence and followings have an ethical responsibility to get it right.
Here, we expose eight of the most popular myths we hear peddled in the world of wellness.
Coconut oil is better 
than olive oil
Along with being a cure for diseases from diabetes to Alzheimer’s, this “miracle” ingredient is claimed to promote weight loss by affecting our metabolism and appetite. It contains lauric acid, a fat belonging to a group called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have been found to have these effects. However, scientists now dispute whether lauric acid actually behaves like an MCT in the body.
Like all oils, coconut oil is a high-calorie food. One tablespoon contains about 120 calories, roughly the same as half a jam doughnut. So adding a lot to your diet could cause weight gain.

In terms of heart health, the best available evidence shows coconut oil increases cholesterol more than vegetable oils; it also contains 82 per cent saturated fat, whereas butter contains 63 per cent and olive oil 14 per cent.
Coconut oil is promoted as being a good oil to cook with as it remains stable when heated, however this is only the case with the refined variety. Refined olive oil, rapeseed oil and avocado oil are better choices for high-temperature cooking. Unless you are trying to increase your calorie intake, there is no need to add coconut oil to your coffee or cakes.
Low carb diets are best 
for weight loss
How many times have you heard that to lose weight you should “cut the carbs”? In simple terms, the theory is that carbohydrates are uniquely fattening because when we eat them our insulin levels go up, meaning we break down less fat and move more of it into storage.
However, we know from “metabolic ward studies” – where the participants live in a controlled environment, with food intake measured and recorded – that the percentage of dietary fat or carbohydrate in a diet makes very little difference to the amount of weight lost.
Real world studies have found the same thing.
Often, people who prefer low-carb diets state that they make them feel less hungry – which may be due to them eating more protein – and that they find they lose weight quickly in the initial stages, which is less to do with fat-burning efficiency and more to do with a loss of water weight.
After about 12 months, however, on average there is no difference between low-carb and low-fat diets for weight loss.
While following a low-carb diet may suit you, there is no one “best” dietary pattern for everyone. It’s better to find one that meets your needs, that you enjoy and that you can follow in the long term.
Sugar feeds cancer
Recently, amid claims that cancer cells ferment sugar, it has been suggested that cutting it out of our diet (and following a high-fat, ketogenic regime) could help to slow or even cure cancer. The picture is complicated. Although there are animal studies that suggest reducing carbohydrates in the diet might be beneficial for some cancers, human evidence is extremely limited, and scientists are still (rightly) sceptical.

It might be that, in the future, we learn that a diet lower in carbohydrates could work alongside chemotherapy for some types of cancer. However, as of yet, we just don’t know. Undertaking a diet like this with a cancer diagnosis (or not) is not without risks and has the potential to make things much worse.
Dairy leaches calcium 
from your bones
The rise of veganism has seen a rise in conspiracy soundbites like this. People who promote this myth state that milk is “acidic”, and causes calcium to leak out from your bones to neutralise the threat, making them weaker.
Some observational studies have seen that the countries with the highest intake of dairy products also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis.
However, this theory falls down in a number of places. First, dairy foods are rich in calcium, protein and minerals, all of which are clinically proven to be essential for good bone health. Secondly, it does not acknowledge the role your kidneys play in maintaining blood pH; they filter out any “acidic” compounds and you pass them out in your urine – your bones aren’t involved in this process.
An alkaline diet is healthier
Popular in the UK thanks to the backing of celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow, this diet removes “acid-forming foods” and replaces them with “alkaline-forming foods”.
When you metabolise foods they produce waste, which can be either acidic or alkaline and is often referred to as “ash”. The alkaline diet is based around the idea that acidic ash can cause diseases such as depression, cancer and osteoporosis.
The trouble is that your body’s inbuilt regulatory systems (lungs and kidneys) keep your blood pH very tightly controlled, and it isn’t possible to change your body’s pH with diet. You can, however, change the pH of your urine, which is what often draws people into the diet.
Most of the foods suggested on the alkaline diet are fresh fruits and vegetables, and many on the “avoid” list are things like sweets, cakes and biscuits, etc, so followers may see an improvement to the quality of their diet. But this is nothing to do with acidity, and avoiding “acid-forming” foods like meat, fish and lentils could mean you miss out on beneficial nutrients.

Turmeric is anti-ageing
Putting turmeric into drinks and tonics is currently a big thing in the wellness industry. It’s claimed that its anti-inflammatory effects promote healthy brain ageing and decrease your risk of chronic health conditions like diabetes and even cancer.
The part of turmeric thought to possess these beneficial properties is a compound called curcumin. Turmeric only contains teeny amounts (maximum 5 per cent, but often as low as 2-3 per cent) which is very poorly absorbed from the spice.
Studies in test tubes have shown that turmeric has some potential as an anti-inflammatory/anti-cancer agent, but so far we have very few human experiments. Regularly using it in curries or having a turmeric latte may have a beneficial effect on your health over the long term – who knows? – but it’s not a cure-all and certainly shouldn’t replace modern medical therapies that have been shown to work.
Maybe curcumin will be used along with conventional cancer treatment one day, but at the moment it’s way too early to tell.
Meat causes cancer
Although scientists are fairly certain that people who eat larger amounts of red meat, particularly processed meats, have a higher risk of colorectal cancer, the level of risk is fairly small. Cancer is a complex disease that doesn’t have one single cause, and can be influenced by many different factors. It’s also likely from a dietary perspective that your actual risk of cancer also depends on your diet as a whole, rather than the inclusion or exclusion of meat. This was reflected in the Oxford EPIC study, which found a small reduction in risk of all cancers in vegetarians, but a higher risk of colorectal 
Grains are toxic for the gut
Grains, such as wheat and rice, get a bad rap, with many people claiming that they are toxic and can cause damage to our gut lining, in turn causing “leaky gut”. This has been blamed on lectins, an indigestible protein found in grains and other foods, such as legumes, vegetables and eggs. As 
they travel through our digestive system unchanged, it’s thought that they could be damaging to the gut wall.
However, we don’t eat lectins in isolation or in large enough amounts for them to be a problem. Uncooked grains and legumes have high amounts, but as long as you’re cooking and preparing your food properly, they’re nothing to worry about.
Grains do contain lectins, but they also contain gut-loving fibre and antioxidants, so the benefits far outweigh the risks. Diet patterns that are high in whole grains, like the Mediterranean diet, have been linked with healthy and long lives.”

MawBroonsback Mon 17-Jun-19 16:54:38

does not “dies” grin

Gonegirl Mon 17-Jun-19 17:06:43

Thank you for posting that Mawbroonsback. Very interesting.

suzied Mon 17-Jun-19 17:14:40

its not just about health though,-there are other concerns - the environmental aspect and animal welfare issues around intensive industrial stock rearing which are other reasons why people should consider cutting down on meat.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Mon 17-Jun-19 17:22:07

I think some of these cancer risks are just 'chance' - I rarely eat red meat but got lymphoma anyway. You can only do your best. My dear late husband did all the right things but died in his mid-fifties of something rare and incurable - what good did it do him? None at all. I take much of this advice with a pinch of salt.