Tag Archives: Red Meat

Red and Processed Meats Increase Colon Cancer Risk

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Red meat_bunch-of-steak-801548-mIf you eat a lot of red meat or processed meat, you may decide to think twice before the next time you partake. This is because research has shown that a diet high in red and processed meats is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. This post offers you a focused and updated outlook on some of the reasons for this association.

So, what are we talking about? Red meats include beef, pork, veal, and lamb. Processed meats include hot dogs, bologna, sausages, salami, ham, bacon, hamburger patties, and tinned meat. Colon cancer has been found to be more common among people who have a high daily intake of these kinds of meats. A high intake is considered a daily consumption of red and processed meats that exceeds 5 ounces (about 140 grams).

Why are red and processed meats linked to colon cancer?

1.  Cancer-promoting compounds in the meat:

The harmful substances in these meats are mainly animal-based proteins and heme. Animal-based protein may amplify the expression and activation of cancer-causing genes. Furthermore, red meat, but not veggies, contains heme iron that causes oxidative stress and facilitates the production of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds, which have been linked to cancer of various organs including the colon.

2.  Cancer-causing agents generated from cooking the meat:

Cooking meat at high temperatures (> 400oF) or on an open flame produces heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); both are potent carcinogens. These chemicals have toxic effects on the genes and on the metabolism of the large intestine.

3.  Cancer-causing aspects in digesting the meat:

Undigested proteins in the large intestine can increase bacterial fermentation and produce bacterial metabolites, disrupting a balanced and healthy colon cell lining and causing inflammation. The resulting damage to the large intestine significantly increases colon cancer risk.

There still remains much to be learned about exactly how red and processed meat consumption causes colon cancer, but there is some good news for meat lovers, which is that some meats are not linked to colon cancer. These include poultry meats (e.g., chicken, duck, and turkey) and fish (especially salmon, which may even reduce colon cancer risk). As for red meat, it is suggested that bison could be a healthier alternative to other red meat.


Reference: Kim E, Coelho D, Blachier F. Review of the association between meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer. Nutr Res. 2013;33:983-94.

Image credit: By koosswans

Is All Red Meat Bad?

There’s lots of “Red meat is bad” talk these days. What are your thoughts? Is there any good red meat?

Some red meats such as pork and beef are high in saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol, consequently increasing the risk of heart disease. Red and processed meats are also linked to several types of cancer, esp. colon cancer.

Bad enough…but don’t ban it too soon! For those meat lovers out there, I believe that there is an alternative healthy red meat, i.e. somewhat of a novelty — bison.

Bison_3677861237_b3b2af387e_mHere’s what makes bison a good choice:

Bison are indigenous to North America and raised on grass, so contain
-  No antibiotics
-  No growth hormones
-  No excessive human manipulation, as far as I know.
-  The meat is lean.
Sounds like a “natural protein” or “organic meat”, doesn’t it?

Importantly, bison offers health benefits, including
-  High in protein, low in fat, calories, and cholesterol.
-  Rich in iron
-  Great sources of antioxidants (such as selenium, conjugated linoleic acid or CLA), that help prevent cancer.

How about the taste? The consensus is: it tastes sweet and tender. However, as usual I would experiment with it, have fun and try different recipes.

For all reasons, eat bison with a real pride — It is America’s Original Health Meat!

If you want to find out more about bison or want to try a recipe, just check here.

By the way, nobody pays me to express my opinion. :)

Photo credit: by anyjazz65