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Twelve things you may not know about red meat

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Red meat and cancer

The WHO recently released a statement that red meat can lead to cancer. Eating red meat has raised concerns of pancreatic, stomach and colon cancer. The question is, what do we really know about health risks associated with eating meat?


In a recent Q&A, the World Health Organization clarified any muscle meat from an animal is considered red meat. Following their statement that meat might be carcinogenic the internet was bombarded with backlash from meat eaters, journalists and medical experts, which was likely due to headlines that might mislead carnivores.

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There are several things consumers should know about eating red meat that are worth consideration, including the potential that meat is likely carcinogenic.

  1. Meat consumption is increasing worldwide, which makes what we eat a public health concern.
  2. High consumption of red meat is linked to just a slight increase in cancer risk according to the WHO international advisory committee evaluation.
  3. Though the risk of cancer from red meat may be small, coronary artery disease, the most common cause of death in the industrial world, remains preventable by eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables.
  4. Red meat can cause mysterious allergy that you may not even recognize.
  5. Factory farming methods that bring meat to your table can be cruel and even disgusting. Consider the number of food borne illnesses and deaths that occur each year from contaminated meat.
  6. Red meat that is processed is found to contribute to 34,000 deaths annually, with the highest risk being colorectal cancer.
  7. Barbecuing, pan frying or using other high heat methods to cook your meat is thought to boost your risk of cancer, but has not been proven.
  8. The World Health Organization found only a possibility that eating 50 grams of processed meat daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%.
  9. There is no conclusion as to how much meat is safe to eat.
  10. Eating a vegetarian diet was not compared to eating meat in the WHO study that included 22 experts from ten countries.
  11. Unless you buy meat from a butcher you are likely to get more salt than you bargained for along with other chemicals including artificial coloring and meat that is pumped with carbon monoxide to give it the appearance of freshness.
  12. Eating fish and poultry may be just as risky to health as eating red meat – or maybe not. No one knows for sure. Poultry has been found to contain arsenic, but so do many foods, including wine. Fish contains mercury and other contaminants. Even farm raised fish may be contaminated with pesticides and laden with antibiotics that, according to some reports.

Also see: Organic ground red meat vs regular red meat.

Updated 3/18/2016