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Just because something raises the risk of cancer doesn't mean it will cause cancer

Posted by Eric Anderson Nov 02, 2015

Extract from . . . .

Moderation is key when weighing cancer risk of meat 

LESLIE BECK
Special to The Globe and Mail
Last updated Monday, Nov. 02, 2015 3:18PM EST
 
 
 
Last week’s headlines tying some types of meat to colorectal cancer left many people wondering whether they should banish them from their diet altogether.
 
Is it finally time to give up that juicy steak? Should you trade in cold cuts for tuna?
 
To recap, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a subsidiary of the World Health Organization, ruled that processed meat causes colorectal cancer and red meat (e.g., beef, pork, lamb, goat) probably does.
 
The term “processed meat” refers to meats preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives.
 
Ham, bacon, corned beef, pastrami, salami, bologna, sausages, hot dogs, bratwursts, frankfurters and beef jerky are processed meats.
 
So are turkey (and chicken) sausages, smoked turkey and turkey bacon. However, most studies have looked only at processed red meats.
 
While the IARC’s conclusion means there is an established and scientifically valid association between red and processed meats and the risk of cancer, there’s no need to panic.
 
Just because something raises the risk of cancer doesn’t mean it will cause cancer.
 
Dose matters – how much meat you eat, how often you eat it and for how long you’ve been eating it. And, it’s important to note, other dietary and lifestyle choices will affect the risk, too.
 
You don’t have to stop eating red meat. It is a good source of high-quality protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. That said, if you eat red meat frequently and in large portions, you should cut back.
 
Based on an expert review of 7,000 studies that was published in 2007, the American Institute for Cancer Research advises eating no more than 18 ounces (500 grams) of red meat each week. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends a stricter limit of three servings – three ounces each – per week.

 
Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto.
 
 
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