Did you know that processed meat is carcinogenic to humans?
Each 50 g of processed meat consumed daily (equivalent to 2 bacon rashers or 1 hotdog) was found to raise colorectal cancer risk by 18%! Colorectal cancer, the cancer of the colon or rectum, is one of the most common cancers affecting men and women in Singapore. These results were further validated by many publications.
What is Processed Meat?
Processed meat refers to meat that has been cured, smoked, added with salt or chemical preservatives to improve shelf-life or flavour. This include hot dogs, sausages, ham and bacon.
How Processed Meat could Increase Colorectal Cancer Risk?
Nitrates and nitrites are often used to preserve processed meats. They give these meat products their typical salty flavour and pink colour. However, it is the use of these chemicals that cause processed meat to be carcinogenic!
In processed meats, nitrosating agents from nitrate/nitrite can react with amines (derived from protein) to produce N-nitrosamines which have cancer-causing properties.
So What Should You Do?
You can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by:
- Selecting fish and poultry instead of processed meat and red meat
- Consuming more whole grains (Eating about 90g of whole grains a day lowers your colorectal cancer risk by 17%)
- Restricting your alcohol intake to a maximum of 2 drinks per day
- Staying physically active
- Avoiding smoking