Is My Christmas Ham a Processed Meat?

Simply put? Yep.

“Processed meat” is any meat that’s preserved by salting, smoking or curing, or by adding chemical preservatives. That means sausage, bacon, cold cuts like pastrami and salami, hot dogs and, yes, ham.bigstock-Dinner-Festive-4350476

Why does it matter whether or not ham counts as processed meat? Because the evidence on processed meat is different than the evidence on red meat, so our recommendations are different, too.

AICR’s expert report and its updates have consistently and convincingly shown that diets high in red meat are a cause of colorectal cancer. This is why we recommend moderating red meat intake to keep it below 18 ounces (cooked) per week. In studies, consumption at or below this threshold is not associated with increased risk.

When it comes to processed meat, the evidence is just as consistent and convincing — but a good deal more stark. That’s because the evidence on processed meat suggests that no “safe threshold” exists. A modest increase in risk for colorectal cancer is seen with even occasional consumption of processed meat, and continues to rise as consumption increases. Continue reading


Heart Healthy Living: It’s Also Cancer Prevention Living

Don’t be surprised if the next time you get your cholesterol tested, your doctor talks to you about a plant-based diet – vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. New guidelines released yesterday for heart healthy living highlight that how you eat and move for heart health are what we know can also help you prevent cancer. dreamstime_xs_32027497

These new evidence-based  guidelines for preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) include lifestyle, drug and obesity management recommendations. They come from expert task forces convened by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

For the first time, the recommendations for heart healthy eating focus on overall eating patterns, rather than just saturated fat or sodium. That’s good news, because examples they give, such as DASH and Mediterranean diets, are plant-based eating patterns. They also align with AICR’s recommendations for cancer prevention, including limiting sugary beverages, red meat and salt/sodium.

Here are key take-aways from the new heart health guidelines: Continue reading


What’s in Your Processed Meat? Finding How it Increases Cancer Risk

If you choose to eat red and processed meats, just how often do you bite into that bologna sandwich or hot dog? What type of pork and beef do you eat? Is it low fat? What brand?

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These are the kinds of answers that studies need in order to better understand how processed meat increases the risk of cancer, says Amanda Cross, speaking at our research conference today.

Cross, a scientist at Imperial College London, noted that the research clearly shows  even small amounts of processed meat — and high consumption of red meats — increase risk of colorectal cancer. A study by Cross also suggests that processed meat increases risk of lung cancer; while diets high in red meat risk increase risk for esophagus and liver cancers.

Historically, the questionnaires used in studies of dietary intake only asked a couple questions on how much red and/or processed meats people typically ate. Now the science needs more.

When it comes to processed meat, researchers are looking closely at nitrate and nitrite. These chemicals, added to many processed meats, lead to potential carcinogens known as N-nitroso compounds. For burgers and other red meats, grilling and broiling them well-done can form heterocylic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hyrdocarbons (PAHs), also potential carcinogens. Continue reading