A food associated with cancer risk

There are certainly many things that increase the risk of cancer. Among the most well documented are smoking, alcohol abuse, excessive radiation exposure, being overweight and lack of physical activity. From time to time we hear about specific foods being linked with increasing cancer risk. Recent studies have once again pointed toward one of the most commonly consumed foods in our society, red meat.

Red meat certainly contains more dangerous saturated fat than its white counterparts. It is well accepted that higher saturated fat consumption is a higher risk for cardiovascular problems and more and more evidence is pointing to increased cancer risk as well. Red meats can be divided into two basic categories. Unprocessed, which includes beef, pork and lamb, and processed which includes things like hot dogs, bacon and sausage. White meats include basically fish, chicken and turkey. Of the white meats, fish seems to be the healthiest choice. Of course, we are presuming that these meats are being baked, grilled or boiled instead of deep frying which can cause additional problems of its own.

A large recent Harvard study has now shown that women who consume a greater amount of red meat are at a significantly higher risk for breast cancer. In fact, the most effective way to lower this risk was to replace a daily serving of red meat with the white meats listed above, namely, fish, chicken or turkey. Another equally effective way to lower the risk was to substitute a daily serving of red meat with plant based protein sources such as beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

It is not known specifically how more red meat consumption can increase the risk of breast cancer but a couple of likely theories seem probable. First of all processed red meats contain nitrates which are a known cancer risk. Also when red meats are cooked with very high heat certain cancer causing chemicals are produced. Another possible theory is that hormones given to cattle to increase their growth may be increasing hormone levels in women which could increase the breast cancer risk.

For what ever reason, the very large Harvard study done with 89,000 women over a 20 year period showed that those who consumed the most red meat ( 1.5 servings a day ) were 22% more likely to get breast cancer than those who ate only one serving per week. Each additional serving over the 1.5 servings a women consumed per day also increased the risk by 13%. The good news is that the study showed by replacing one of the 1.5 daily servings of red meat with poultry the risk of breast cancer was cut by 17%.

Increased cancer risk is not the only beef with increased red meat consumption. Red meat consumption has not only been associated with increasing breasts cancer and cardiovascular disease. Alzheimer’s disease, elevated cholesterol, type two diabetes and colorectal cancer have also been associated with a diet higher in red meat.

So what is the conclusion of the matter? Cutting back on your red meat consumption could certainly start you in a healthier direction. Focusing on plant based alternatives as a protein source may be an even better choice. Whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds are the top plant based protein sources. Why not choose an INbar a day to replace a serving of red meat. It certainly would be worth a 17 % decrease in breast cancer risk. The full 10 grams of plant based protein in The INBar is matched with 10 grams of fiber, a combination which can fill you up for up to 4 hours and help avoid those junk food cravings. It’s just another way an INBar a day can help keep the doctor away!

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