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Processed Meat 'May Be Bad for Asthma'

A 1,000-person study shows that consuming more than four portions of processed meats a week is a risk for aggravating asthma symptoms, BBC.com reports. Researchers suspect preservatives in the meats may be to blame.

It's well-established that food processing and food additives can create health hazards, and processed meats are no exception. Processed meats are those preserved by smoking, curing, salting or the addition of chemical preservatives.

So, if you’re suffering from wheezing, coughing, chest tightening and breathlessness and you regularly consume processed meats, you may want to think twice before you buy them again. Besides the asthma risk, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, as the evidence strongly shows it can cause colorectal cancer in humans.

Cooked red meat was classified as a 2A “probable human carcinogen,” with limited evidence suggesting it may raise your risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

I believe that while the risks of processed meats and cooked red meats are real, these risks can be mitigated. The key is to consider the quality and quantity of the meat, and the way you cook it. First, it’s important to limit your protein (meat) intake, as Americans eat way too much meat. Second, when choosing a meat, make sure that it is organically-raised and pastured, whether it’s chicken, pork or beef.

And third, minimize the health hazards of cooking by using indirect heat methods, such as stewing, steaming, braising or poaching, as they are the safest, and create the least amounts of toxic end products.
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