Bacon lovers: you may need to sit down for this one. This week, The World Health Organization has officially claimed processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, and bacon, to be cancerous. In fact, they were even placed in the same category for cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. While the International Agency for Research on Cancer clarified that this does not mean that they are equally dangerous, they had noted that the more processed meat is consumed, the greater one’s risk of cancer.
While there are numerous studies out finding the link between foods, beauty products, and certain household items to cancer, it is important to keep in mind that quantity of meat (and other such cancer-causing products) is the key. It’s about consumption over time, and how much meat you’re taking in. Reduce your preservative load as much as possible in order to decrease your risk. Here are the top list of preservatives that may be lurking in your food, and the health implications of each:
- BHT and BHA: large doses have been shown to promote the growth of tumors.
- Sodium Nitrate: high levels linked to brain tumors, leukemia and nose and throat tumors in children.
- Potassium bromate: found in bread products, this preservative is harmful to the digestive tract, even small doses.
- Monosodium glutamate: (MSG) inhibits natural growth hormone and promotes irreversible obesity.
- Brominate vegetable oil: (BVO) reduces immune defenses and depletes histamine, leading to allergic reactions.
Don’t let this list scare you, but instead serve as a reminder that we need to be more mindful of what we put in our bodies and how they can affect us. Remember, it’s all about reducing your overall toxic load little by little. Here are two tips I want you to takeaway from this latest health headline:
1. Limit the amount of processed, nitrate-laden meat in your diet: bacon, deli meats, and cold cuts.
2. Include more fish in the diet, specifically low-Mercury fish (whitefish, catfish, sole), white meat (chicken and turkey) to replace some of the traditional red meat that Americans rely on. An easy, classic switch to make: sub ground turkey for ground beef.
3. Opt for grass-fed beef and farm-raised, organic chicken instead. This will reduce your preservative load, and may even taste better than your go-to meat brand.