Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Meat panic

In case you haven't heard, the WHO recently said that processed meats are in the same category of carcinogens as smoking cigarettes and asbestos. Popular processed meats include sausage, jerky, bacon, hot dogs, and kebabs, along with everyday lunchmeat such as ham, salami, corned beef, pastrami, and bologna, as well as canned meats and packaged meat-based sauces. Also, red meat "probably causes rectal cancer."

Granted, I haven't done a ton of research on this. But I'm a little confused about how big this risk actually is. And how panicked should I be?

If it were just me, I wouldn't panic. I eat very little red meat or processed meat. But my younger daughter eats nothing but processed meat. All she wants to eat are chicken nuggets, hotdogs, or ham. If those things weren't available, I'm pretty sure she would just starve. One article suggested making my own chicken nuggets, but not only will she not eat my homemade chicken nuggets, but she will only eat chicken nugget from Tyson and they have to be circle shaped. God forbid we get chicken nuggets shaped like a dinosaur. They are inedible.

So my question is, how much is it worth panicking? Is anyone making any real changes to their diet? Or should we all just go about our lives as usual?


  1. They haven't nailed the mechanism. Base rate is low. NPR has a good FAQ on their website. Consume in moderation, just like before.

  2. Agree with above. This is not new information, and studies are mostly correlative. It's not going to change much for me.

  3. I think it raised risk of colon cancer from 0.6 to 0.8% or somethhing equally low. And since colon cancer is easily detectable in its early stages, I say "boooo" to the media freakout.

  4. Risk is not large. Still, use moderation. Try to get kids to eat tofu, fish, and other protein sources. Here's a good summary (you have to click on the bottom to go to the next page to get most of the info)

  5. I'm not under the impression that the risk even applies to chicken nuggets. The Lancet Onc paper specifically says "Processed meat refers to meat that
    has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation"
    Chicken nuggets are chicken that has been ground, breaded and cooked. That's not processed for these purposes

  6. Thanks everyone for your input. It probably is old news. I mean, who thought hotdogs were actually healthy?

    Regarding chicken nuggets, I heard it did apply to anything that is processed meat.

  7. I think it applies to any processed meat with the highest risk being for highly processed read meat. I agree with EMMomma - it slightly raises the risk of something that can be easily found early on. No changes here, and I eat ham every day and bacon on Sundays. I do. Really.


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