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Why Eating Even Small Red Meat "Increases Cancer Risk"


Even small amounts of processed red meat – like a slice of bacon or pork a day – may increase the risk of colon cancer.

This is the conclusion of a new study from Oxford University, funded by the NGO Cancer, UK, which adds evidence of the damage done by eating red meat.

But how big is the risk? How much is just a lot of red meat? And what is causing it harm?

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After analyzing information of about half a million people for six years, the researchers found that 2,609 people developed colorectal cancer.

It is estimated that consuming 3 slices of bacon a day in one place may increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 20%.

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For every 10,000 people (who participated in the study) who consumed 21 grams a day of red and processed meat, 40 were diagnosed with colon cancer.

The figure corresponding to those who consumed 76 grams a day was 48.


It is estimated that one of the proteins in red meat (the one that gives it the red color) can damage the intestines when it is processed.

According to the British National Health Service (NHS), 76 grams of cooked red meat is the equivalent of sirloin steak (cut the meat from the lower back) of a little more than 250 grams.

A slice of pork or bacon is 23 grams of processed meat.


The researchers are not clear on what amount can be considered so much. According to cancer research, 5,400 cases of colorectal cancer out of 41,804 listed each year in the UK can be prevented if people stop processed meat.

However, the organization recognizes that smoking poses a much greater risk, and is the cause of 54,300 cases of cancer in the country annually.

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The British Department of Health recommends that those who eat more than 90 grams of red meat processed a day, reduce consumption of 70 grams.


Nevertheless, the NHS indicates that consuming red meat has advantages – it provides us with iron and proteins, for example – it must be balanced with its risks.

We can eat meat and be healthy.

What makes it dangerous?

Processed meat – including sausages, bacon, sausages and salami – are updated to extend their expiration date or taste.

The main methods used in this process are smoking, healing or adding salt and preservatives.


Increased fiber intake reduces the risk.

He believed that the chemicals involved in these processes could increase the risk of cancer.

The high temperatures that come during cooking, such as barbecue, can also create carcinogenic substances.

In the case of red meat such as beef, lamb and pork, it is estimated that one of the proteins (the one that gives them the red color) can damage the intestines when it is processed.

But researchers are still trying to understand this connection more deeply.

What do experts say did not participate in the study?

Gunner Connell, a professor at the University of Reading in the UK, believes the study is a detailed analysis of the relationship between consumption of red and processed meat and the increase in colon cancer.

"The results confirm previous findings that red and processed meats increase the risk of colon cancer."

"The 20 percent increase in risk of an increase of 50 grams of processed red meat is consistent with what was previously reported and confirms these findings."

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"The study also shows that a high-fiber diet reduces the risk of colon cancer, and an increase in fiber consumption, as shown by this study, provides a significant advantage."

According to Carrie Ruxton's Advisory Meat Advisory, the body is funded by the meat industry, "Red meat provides important nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, vitamins D and B".

He added: "It is known that several lifestyle factors have a significant effect on the risk of colorectal cancer, especially age, genetics, dietary fiber deficiency, inactivity and high consumption of alcohol."

BBC World

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