More Reasons to Avoid Processed Meats

A pair of recent studies have identified potential health problems related to the consumption of processed meats, including breast cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The consumption of red and processed meats was linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer, a connection that was particularly strong among postmenopausal women.

One explanation may be compounds produced when meat is grilled, such as heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that have been shown to promote tumor growth.

Another study of more than 7,000 patients -- most of them seniors -- showed that cured, processed meats like ham, bacon and sausage were connected to lower lung functioning and a much higher risk for COPD, even taking into account numerous dietary and other risk factors. Patients who consumed the most processed meats often ate fewer fruits and vegetables than others did as well, which may have compounded the problem.

American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 175, No. 8, April 15, 2007: 798-804

British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 96, No. &, April 10, 2007: 1139-1146 (Free Full-Text Study)

Reuters April 16, 2007


Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Here are a few more problems associated with processed meats, on top of all the other ones your butcher won't tell you about.

Remember, it's the kind of meat you're eating and the way it's prepared that are the real problems here. If you eat meat that is loaded with pesticides and hormones, and then cook it at high temperatures, you are asking for trouble.

That's why I limit my meat choices, whenever possible, to grass-fed or organic meats, cooked at low temperatures. I also consume the majority of my meat raw so the heterocyclic amines that form when you cook meat at high temperatures are completely eliminated.

The general strategy here, folks, is to eat minimally processed foods. The more processing you do to your food the less likely the food will nourish you and the more likely that it will actually contribute to your premature death.

This is even more of a problem when you add preservatives to "extend" the shelf-life of a food. Particularly problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats.

Also, please remember SOMEONE has to spend time in the kitchen to prepare your meals for you. If you rely on the convenience of a major industrial operation to do this please understand that this is seriously short-sighted. You are paying less now in time and money but most likely will seriously regret the future "bill" you will get. Frequently, that bill cannot be paid with money but only with years subtracted from your life and the vitality and energy that you need to really enjoy life.

If raw meat is something you don't want to try, there is less of a problem with heterocyclic amines if you briefly sear your meat on the outside and leave the remainder of the meat lightly cooked or nearly rare. This will improve the flavor and greatly decrease your risk. If you are using grass-fed organic meats the likelihood or risk of any infection is very small, as these types of animals are rarely contaminated with potentially infectious bugs.

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