HEALTH MASTER

Red meat and processed meat products

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, under the World Health Organization (WHO), has previously published a report on the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat products. Processed meat products are classified as “carcinogenic to humans” (Grade 1) and red meat is classified as “more likely to cause cancer to humans” (Grade 2A). The agency’s latest review does not require people to stop eating processed meat products, but rather that reducing consumption can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. When arranging or providing meals, such as business lunches, annual dinners, etc., it is recommended to follow the principles of healthy eating and reduce the use of processed meat products. Fresh or frozen lean meat and non-fried soy products are healthy alternatives. For details, please refer to the Guidelines on Arranging and Serving Meals.

What is red meat and processed meat products?

According to the definition of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, red meat refers to the muscles of all mammals, such as beef, pork, lamb, horse meat and so on. Processed meat products are meats that have been salted, air-dried, fermented, smoked, or otherwise processed to enhance taste or improve preservation, such as ham, luncheon meat, bacon, sausage, corned beef, beef jerky, and the like.

Processed meat products are different from the cancer risk of smoking

The classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer refers to the strength of scientific evidence about whether a substance is carcinogenic, rather than assessing the level of risk. Although processed meat products are classified in the same category as smoking (“Cell Carcinogenic” Level 1), this does not mean that they are equally dangerous. About 34,000 cancer deaths worldwide each year may be caused by a large amount of processed meat in the diet. In contrast, approximately 1 million cancer deaths worldwide due to smoking each year.

The more you eat, the greater the risk

For individuals, the possibility of developing colorectal cancer due to consumption of processed meat products is still small, but as the amount of food increases, the risk increases. Experts estimate that eating 50 grams of processed meat per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%. An example of 50 grams of processed meat products is as follows:

Three-in-one cans of luncheon meat Two slices of ham One and a half sausage Two pieces of bacon
Three-in-one cans of luncheon meat Two slices of ham One and a half sausage Two pieces of bacon

Practice a healthy diet

  • A healthy and balanced diet is a diet that focuses on cereals, eats more fruits and vegetables, and eats milk, meat, and substitutes.
  • Foods with low oil and sugar and high dietary fiber should be selected in the daily diet. Therefore, it is recommended to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and reduce the consumption of processed meat products due to higher fat or salt.
  • The principle of healthy eating also emphasizes the choice of food, that is, the choice of different foods. In addition to red meat, meat also includes poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dried beans and soy products.
  • Refer to the Guidelines on Arranging and Serving Meals to arrange or provide meals for employees.

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