Red meat is any meat that is dark red in colour before it is cooked such as beef, lamb and pork and processed meat is meat such as bacon , sausage, hot dogs, ham, salami and peperoni that has been cured, salted, smoked or otherwise preserved. Both these are differentfrom chicken, turkey and fish that are classified as white meats.
How does processed meat cause cancer?
It is not the quality of the meat or where it is bought from. Evidence suggests it is probablythe processing of the meat orchemicals naturally present in it that increases the cancer risk, and the main culprits seem to be the chemicals found in the meat itself. Processed red meats contain chemicals such as nitrite preservatives that generate certain compounds in the gut that can cause cancer. Cooking meat at high temperatures- grilling and barbecuing, can also create chemicals in the meat that may increase the risk of cancer. These chemicals are generally produced in higher levels in red and processed meats when compared to other meats.
Other research suggests iron in red meats could play a part and gut bacteria might play a supporting role.
How much should we eat?
Red meat is a good source of some nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. So how much should we include in the diet? The risk of cancer is lower the less you eat so cut down on the amount of red meats and try to avoid processed meats. People who eat more than cooked weight 90 g of red meat should cut down to 70 g or less.