Last week, the World Health Organization announced that there is new evidence suggesting red meat is linked to the development of colorectal cancer. The main culprit is processed meat, however unprocessed meat was found to be no good either. Processed meat is any meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding chemical preservatives.
The study, which was carried out by researchers at the University of Oxford, involved more than 500,000 British men and women between the ages of 40 and 69. The researchers observed their dietary habits specifically related to meat consumption. The results showed that people who ate four servings of red meat a week were 42 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who had one serving or none at all. Furthermore, people who ate red meat at least twice a week were 18 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer than vegetarians.
The WHO are now categorizing processed meats as a known human carcinogen. They also concluded that each 50-gram portion of processed meat (less than 2 ounces) eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. For unprocessed red meat, the results were only slightly better. The WHO is categorizing unprocessed meat as ‘probably causes cancer.’
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. Among women and men combined, it is the second leading cause of cancer death. It is estimated that colorectal cancer will kill about 49,700 people in 2015. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20. This risk is slightly lower in women than in men.
How to reduce your risk for colorectal cancer
· Maintain a healthy diet. Eat a diet that consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
· Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you are overweight or obese. A health or normal weight is a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
· Stay physically active. This means getting exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
· Limit alcohol consumption. Either drink alcohol in moderation, or avoid it completely. If you choose to drink alcohol, try not to drink more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
· Avoid or quit smoking.
Avoid red meat. Processed and even unprocessed red meat is apparently no good for us. Red meat has been linked to various cancers including colorectal, prostate, kidney and pancreatic cancer. This includes beef, bacon, sausage, ham, etc.
Eat fruits and vegetables every day. Eat a wide variety of fruits and veggies such as broccoli and berries. Dark-green leafy vegetables are especially helpful in fighting cancer.
Add turmeric to your food. Turmeric is an Indian spice. It is also a polyphenol that has excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Include more fiber. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Did you know that every 10 grams of daily fiber intake reduces the risk of colon cancer by 10 percent? Aim for 25 grams of fiber daily.
Limit or avoid alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a risk factor for oral cancers. This includes esophageal, liver, colon, breast, and possibly pancreatic cancer. It is recommended that women drink no more than one drink daily and men drink no more than two drinks daily.
Eat more fish. Fish that are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon reduce inflammation, which is linked to cancer.
Eat organic. The development of at least nine different cancers is associated with exposure to certain pesticides. Buy organic.
Drink green tea. Green tea contains catechins which are also known as antioxidants. Antioxidants are great source or protection for our cells from DNA damage. They also strengthen our immune system and activate enzymes that fight off tumors.
Avoid foods with trans fats. Trans fat is often found in fried foods and sweets. Trans fat increases your risk for cancers including breast and prostate cancer.
Get enough vitamin D. More vitamin D in the blood is associated with lower rates of various cancers including colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, and prostate. Ask your doctor about a supplement, and whether you should eat more vitamin D rich foods, or get more sun.