The cancer agency of the World Health Organization, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has found red meat and processed meat as a carcinogen (something that cause cancer). In October 2015, in order to review current evidence linking the risk of bowel and other cancers with red and processed meat, 22 scientists from 10 countries met at IARC. A press release on the results of the evaluation of the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat was also issued by it. It was found that the consumption of red meat is probably carcinogenic to humans and processed meat is carcinogenic to humans. The basis of these conclusions is mainly the findings of cohort studies which investigate the risk of colorectal cancers in high versus low consumers of red and processed meat. Red meat is a probable cause of colon cancer.
Hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage and some deli meats are called processed meat as they are treated by various processes including salting, cutting, fermenting and smoking in order to preserve or flavor them. Beef, pork, veal, lamb, mutton, horse and goat are different types of red meat. It was found by the experts that the risk of having collateral cancer is increased by 18% if you eat 50 grams of processed meat every day. 4 strips of bacon or 1 hot dog amount to this much of meat. The risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer is increased due to consumption of red meat. Cancer specialists can explain to you in details why red meat and processed meat cause cancer.
In red meat, the presence of high biological-value proteins and important micronutrients such as B vitamins, iron (both free iron and haem iron) and zinc can be found. There is also variation in the fat content of red meat depending on animal species, age, sex, breed, feed and the cut of the meat. Curing, smoking and some other meat processes can result in the formation of various carcinogenic chemicals including N-nitroso-compounds (NOC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Though there is an increase in the digestibility and palatability of meat due to cooking, some known or suspected carcinogens including heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAA) and PAH can be produced by it. Pan-frying, grilling or barbecuing are some processes of high-temperature cooking in which the highest amount of these chemicals are produced. Those meats tend to form more HCAs. There are high concentrations of HCAs in grilled or barbecued chicken and steak. PAH is formed as the result of various cooking methods in which meat is exposed to smoke. If HCAs and PHAs are metabolized by specific enzymes in the body by a process called “bioactivation”, they become capable of damaging DNA and this result in increased risk of cancer. That is why it is told that red meat and processed meat cause cancer.