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Discusses Women's Health

I haven’t eaten red meat in 30 years. I stopped when I read an article that showed that in the large Nurses Study, red meat consumption significantly increased risk of colon cancer. I decided, hey why don’t I try stopping and see how I feel. I immediately lost 8 pounds, felt great (although I missed lamb chops) and I’ve been off ever since. Many other studies have been published about the correlation between red meat consumption and colon cancer and a new one just came out and was mentioned in the December 15th Issue of JAMA. I thought I would share this with you and sort of pat myself on the back (or my abdomen).

Twenty two public health and cancer experts convened by the World Health Organization found that eating processed meat, such as bacon and hot dogs and to a lesser extent unprocessed red meat was definitely associated with a higher risk of colon cancer.The panel assessed more than 800 studies across the globe.They considered meat processed if it was modified through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes. Red meat included unprocessed beef, pork, veal, horse (I know it seems disgusting but some people do eat this), goat or mutton that is usually cooked.

They did a Meta analysis of 10 large studies and found that there was an 18% increased risk of colorectal cancer for every 50g of processed meat consumed per day. They also found an association with stomach cancer. Red meat was also positively associated with colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers although the evidence was a little less definitive.

I hate to give a negative meat message before a holiday dinner. (It does appear, however, that latkes are OK for Chanukah.) If you want to consume that roast beef or ham on Christmas you don’t have to proceed to a colonoscopy. The data really shows the increase in cancer with regular consumption of processed meat and red meat.

But based on these ongoing studies I’m going to continue my no meat diet. It’s actually not that hard…. some of you might like to try it in the New Year.

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