It’s not surprising that meat causes cancer


| Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Millions of Americans indulge in salty, fat-filled processed meats every day. I’m talking about bacon, sausage and ham. Despite the popularity that these foods have they aren’t conducive to a healthy life.

A report this week by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer suggested that processed meats belong in the same nominal category of carcinogens as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.

Kurt Straif of the International Agency for Cancer Research said that the risk of developing colorectal cancer from eating processed meat remains small, but rises with the amount consumed. Consuming red meat was also linked to pancreatic and prostate cancer, but the link was not as strong, the IARC report said.

“In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” Straif said.

This discovery should lead many to question dietary habits, especially those students who look to grab fast food or anything convenient.

Although many deem a vegetarian diet as strict and inconvenient, it’s actually not as difficult, even for a student who is busy and running around between classes, social events and work.

“Students can eat at Chipotle, Taco Cabana, and even Burger King has a veggie burger,” said Fitness 19 personal trainer Melisa Fernandez. “It’s not hard to get an adequate amount of protein by substituting meat with unsalted nuts, beans (and) legumes, among other things.”

Fernandez encourages those with health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease or those who are overweight to change to a mainly vegetarian diet, along with an appropriate amount of exercise.

Estimates suggest 34,000 deaths from cancer every year could be down to diets high in processed meat, which is in contrast to one million deaths from cancer caused by smoking and 600,000 attributed to alcohol each year.

Red meat has nutritional value and is a major source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. But, the WHO said there was limited evidence that 100 grams of red meat a day increased the risk of cancer by 17 percent. To put things in perspective, an eight ounce steak is 225 grams.

Taking away unnecessary meals with intakes of processed meats isn’t going to kill you, but avoiding the facts just might. The information is there, students can access it any time and learn about what we should already know.

Eating healthy isn’t just a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

Opinion columnist Rebekah Barquero is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

  • Too much of anything is not healthy but lets not jump here. Anyone else remember the saccharine scare way back in 1977 when lab reports showed it caused cancer, then years latter it was shown that the amount of saccharine that would need to be ingested was almost impossible for a human?
    The fact is the leading cause of death is life, if you are alive you are going to die of something. Moderation seems to be the key to being healthy and happy so enjoy your steak, veggie burger or whatever just don’t go overboard.

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