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Why Red Meat Is Bad For You?

Is Red Meat Bad For Health?

The question on whether red meat is bad for your health is about moderation? Back in the 1970’s people ate a lot more red meat, many people even ate it in every meal, especially in rich, first world countries. The irony of this is that with all the food at their disposal they were making their bodies toxic with too much of a good thing!

This article explains the ins and outs of eating red meat and how much is too much. Also what should we eat instead now our once staple food is removed from our diet?

On the extreme of having no red meat a person can get very sick with anemia due to not having enough Iron. You see for them to eat the equivalent of Iron in meat they have to eat an awful lot of lentils or vegetables containing Iron. Also for many people they need some meat in their diet. It just is a staple for them and without it they get sick.

steakHowever there is no doubt about it the type of meat (fatty and stodgy) that we consumed a lot of in the boom 1960-1980’s, partly in ignorance was not healthy for us. Many people now are paying the consequences for choosing to eat meat-rich diets in those years.

Some are now in hospital wards across the world with heart disease, cancer and in severe cases no longer with us.

The likes of John Wayne and Elvis Presley found out too late their lifestyles of high consumption of red meat ultimately led to unhealthy colons which actually caused their demise!

Now we have painted a background picture of how we used to see meat and how famous people have died from excessive consumption, lets look at the discoveries on the bad aspect of eating meat or too much of it.

Bad Effects Of Red Meat

#1. Some meats are very high in fat

This means eating a lot of them can lead to heart disease, there is no doubt about that.

#2. Cancer

Lets investigate. When you eat fatty meat it takes longer to digest. This means it can stay in your digestive system earlier, specifically your lower intestine and your colon. Now this is where there is potential for higher cancer risk. If the meat is not properly digested and a person eats a lot of it, the build up of toxins in the lower colon can possibly increase cancer risk. This is because there are more toxins gathering, the colon is not cleansed properly and is not operating efficiently.

These toxins are the NOC’s or the N-Nitroso compounds that researchers found in the colons of people who have eaten red meat. It is these NOC’s that are actually cancerous so there is now thought to be a direct causal link between red meat eaters and cancer. Vegetarians did not have the NOC’s and low red meat eaters had lower NOC levels in both their colon lining and their test stools.

To add complexity to the already contentious debate, since many people still don’t believe there is a link, it turns out 1 in 3 people have a particular gene variation that actually makes them susceptible to colon cancer if they ingest red meat or a lot of it! Mentioning it briefly, this gene is dubbed rs4143094. Even more scientifically revealing the gene occurs on exactly the same chromosome position, region 10 which has a GATA-3 gene linked to many other types of Cancer.

red meat
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#3. Processed Meats

Specific red meats that do also tend to increase cancer risk are what we call processed meats. These include salted, curing or smoked meats such as hot dogs, some sausages, ham, bacon, salami and pastrami. All of these of course were consumed in high volume 2-3 decades ago. Now many people tend to either eat leaner versions or have cut them out of their diet altogether.

The reason process meat or eating food additive-laden meat, which alarmingly is sold in most supermarkets, increases cancer (now proven) is that somehow there is an increased incidence of cancer causing compounds when the salt or curing ingredients react with the meat. This makes cells vulnerable to cancer growth.

Image Source: http://www.keevilandkeevil.co.uk

#4. Haem

Red meat has a red compound in it called haem. Scientists now believe this haem actually damages the wall of the human bowel!

An alternative is to select chicken or when it comes to protein you can have lots of eggs in your diet or grilled fish.


The main thing is to cut down your red meat to just 2-3 days maximum and even make sure it is unprocessed meat as explained earlier. Also get more savvy on food additives in meat since many supermarkets are oblivious to the rising consumer health concerns on the effect of preservatives in meat.

Of course they want their meat to last as long as possible on the shelf. They are not scientists nor do they care what happens once the produce leaves their store! So start looking more carefully at the ingredients of meat, whether they have additives and what they are. You can always look them up on the Internet.

#4. Chips

chipsIn the past there has been a trend to have chips with red processed meat. Ironically this only adds to the cancer equation. Research now indicates that the temperatures at which highly processed chips are cooked or more specifically the temperature of the fat they are cooked in leads to cancer causing fats.

Generally speaking many chips cooked in cafes, restaurants and fast food chains served along with processed meats are cooked about the 120c, the dangerous temperature at which cancer-causing Acylamides form. The WHO (World Health Organisation) has expressed real concern at this finding. 

The fact that chips are often eaten at the same time as red, processed meat may also explain the cancer link between people who have a high red processed meat diet. Often this will have been in conjunction with chips and other meats like hot dogs, possibly bacon and salami.

Might it be the case that the synergistic effect of having lots of these in one’s diet plus the genetic mutation that makes one susceptible to cancer actually results in cancer? The reason this might be the case is that otherwise everyone who ate red meat would surely be at risk of cancer?

chicken and saladSo we have established that there is a high probability that eating a diet high in red, especially processed meats is not good for a person. More importantly that new research is establishing a definite link between this and the incidence of cancer, especially bowel and lower colon cancer.

Where we might ask does that leave us as a consumer of red meat? Well we can cut down consumption to 2-3 times a week, steer clear of processed meat and that includes additives and preservative-laden meat in supermarkets!

Also we can replace the protein from eating red meat by switching to eggs, fish, white meats such as chicken and turkey. Also duck and game are more healthy.

In other words we will all get used to not having those huge meat servings with chips and live longer to tell the tale!