Let’s Talk: Red Meat and Cancer

Let’s Talk: Red Meat and Cancer

Hi, everyone! So, I’m sure we all heard of the health report by World Health Organization (WHO) that circulated last week about red meat and cancer. According to WHO, studies shows that red meat increases the risk of having cancer. We have all in our lifetime heard about reports like this, or worse. And at the same time, we keep hearing vice-versa of how red meat is good for the body. As a result of this contradiction, many people remain confused about this dilemma. To clear the air, I will shed more light based on research and knowledge gained from my classes (yes!).

So, red meat is good for you, likewise any other food in nature. What is key about this controversial matter and that is mostly not read by many is moderation and quality. Red meat is normally protein packed, hence the need for a lean and light portion. An 8 oz. serving size of steak is equivalent to 24 cups of broccoli, but red meat has more nutrients i.e. protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B, and higher absorbing capabilities than broccoli. However, moderation should be emphasized because this is where red meat links to cancer due to high consumption rates. The quality of meats that we consume as individuals is also a major deciding factor. A grass-fed organic cow and its by-products cannot be compared to a genetically modified cow filled with antibiotics and hormones. It is always advisable when it comes to proteins and meat i.e. animal products to buy organic or products grown using natural farming practices with little to no processing and preservatives. That is the best form of nutrition for the body. Note that the moderation rule also applies to organic products. As a result of the many new breeds of today’s cow, the produced red meat can contribute and increase the risk for colorectal cancer and other cancer types.


Processed meat as discussed in the WHO report is another area yet to be well explored. Processed meats are simply and mostly red meat products that have been ‘refined’ or transformed into alternative forms either via salting, smoking, and curing. Examples are bacon, deli meats, ham, sausages, hot dogs, minced meat, corned beef, canned meat, beef jerky, meat-based sauces and frozen meals with meat etc. Processing usually comes with added ingredients to aid break down and preservation of raw meat. Some of the preservatives are nitrates, nitrites, acetates, sorbates, and sulphites etc. Although the chemicals may be little, but increased consumption of such meats increases the risk of cancer. When buying deli meat, make sure to read the back of the label and see that it is chemical free especially if not organic. Lastly, the medium through which our meats are cooked is yet another untackled aspect. I learned in one of my classes of how we daily increase the risk to carcinogens by not correctly cooking our foods right. Do you know that smoked, barbecued and grilled foods could be carcinogenic when not correctly cooked? These types of cooking involve slow smoking and grilling of meat, and not high-temperature cooking. The latter changes food chemically into Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAHs) and Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) carcinogen compounds.

To recap, red meat is a plus to our diet when coupled with moderation and good quality. Processed and nitrate-preserved meats should be eliminated from diet due to harms that correlate with findings. Incorrect cooking measures of meat increases cancer risk. For more information about WHO report, visit here the link attached: and read the report for yourself. For more breakdown and scientific interpretation of the report, visit here:  Chris Kresser Report  or here at: The Verge. With that said my friends, let’s have a chit-chat about this in the comment box below. Like, subscribe, comment. We want to hear from you!

Stay beautiful and healthy folks,




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