Research on the health effects of red meat began in the 1990s. Over time, several studies have indicated that red meat is linked to cancer. Studies have also shown that red meat and diabetes are associated. Further, it has been found that men are more prone to pancreatic cancer and women to breast cancer when their red meat consumption is high. Other complications linked to red meat include: liver, lung and esophageal cancer.
Different fields of study define red meat in different ways. Some believe that red meat refers to meat that has darker hues of red, while others believe that all mammal meat is red meat. Despite the varying descriptions, the United States Department of Agriculture or USDA categorizes all livestock as red meat. There are several types of red meat commonly used these days such as pork, lamb and beef.
Red Meat and Cancer
There are several components in red meat which can cause cancer. An example of such is haem. Haem refers to a pigment found in the hemoglobin. It is responsible for the red color in your blood. Recent research revealed that when haem is digested and broken down, chemical compounds such as N-nitroso are produced. Consequently, N-nitroso can damage DNA and destroy the digestive lining. When DNA is damaged, cancer can develop. Also, when digestive lining gets damaged, the tendency of the body is to speed up cell division to compensate for the damage. Hastened cell division increases the risk of cancer developing.
Another component that emphasizes the risk of cancer in red meat is its iron content. Too much iron in the body provides conditions that are conducive for cancer cells to grow. People can absorb as much as 80 to 90 percent of the iron in red meat.
Factory Farmed Meat
Risks are further increased when the animal source of the meat is from a factory farm. Most animals in these farms are fed pesticide-laced feeds. They are also often given medication (antibiotics) to help prevent diseases. This is a completely different setup in organic farms where animals are free to roam outside and eat natural plants.
Other Health Complications
Aside from cancer threats, eating red meat is generally considered unhealthy because of its strong acidic nature. There are many disease causing organisms thriving in such condition. For instance, diabetes, osteoporosis and even heart disease may arise from high red meat consumption.
Recommended Meat Consumption
Health experts recommend that allowable quantities of red meat in a week extend only up to 18 ounces. Men are at high risk if they consume 3 ounces of meat daily, and women, at 2 ounces daily. Experts also suggest that limiting red meat consumption to less than 1.5 ounces a day can help lower the risks of colon cancer in men. In women, it is suggested that red meat consumption be lower than 1 ounce daily to lower breast cancer risks and other similar threats. Aside from significantly lowering health risks, lower consumption of red meat also helps weight management. Weight gain can be controlled better when meat is substituted with other food products, such as fruits and vegetables.