The World Health Organization has announced that bacon, sausages, and ham cause cancer in the way that smoking and consuming alcohol do. Its cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), states that these processed meats are group 1 carcinogens, meaning they DEFINITELY cause cancer.
According to the IARC, each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer (colon/bowel/rectal cancer) by 18 percent. The agency clarifies that the chances of developing a cancer is "small." But because a number of people consume processed meat and do so frequently, "the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance." Meaning to say almost everyone is at risk and it should be a cause of concern.
And guess what's a group 2 carcinogen, aka "probably carcinogenic to humans." Red meat! Eating beef, pork, and even lamb has been linked to pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Sounds upsetting, doesn't it? To all you meat-lovers out there, or to those who just have to have meat (it is a source of protein), don't panic. The IARC doesn't advise people to stop eating meat, red or processed. The findings support LIMITING our intake of meat. IARC director Dr. Christopher Wild states "red meat has nutritional value. Therefore, these results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations."
For us here in the Philippines, we do have the Pinggang Pinoy, a visual representation of a healthy plate created by the Food and Nutrition Research Intistute. There's a portion for our protein source (the meat), although there's no specified amount. But perhaps we can tie that together with the advice of the World Cancer Research Fund that we eat processed meat as little as possible and have no more than 500 grams a week of red meat.
And let's not forget that there are other sources of protein for our balanced diet. There's fish, especially salmon and tuna, eggs, chicken, among others. Not bad for a "consolation prize" if you ask us.
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