Reduce your risk of cancer by eating less red meat and avoiding processed meat

processed meat

You may have heard late last month that the World Health Organization has classified processed meat as a known carcinogen (meaning it causes cancer) and red meat as probably carcinogenic.

(Even though this classification puts processed meats in the same category as tobacco, it’s important to remember that using tobacco is the most detrimental thing you can do to your health and remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada.)

This announcement supports the Canadian Cancer Society’s recommendation to limit red meat and avoid processed meat. We recommend that you limit red meat to 3 servings per week week (1 serving is 85 grams or 3 ounces cooked, which is smaller than the size of a deck of cards). We also recommend that you avoid processed meats, or save them for special occasions.

Red meats are beef, pork, lamb and goat.

Processed meats include ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages, which are preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives.

Here are some tips to help you eat less red and processed meat:

  • When cooking chili or stew, replace half the meat quantity with legumes such as kidney beans or chickpeas.
  • Choose poultry or fish more often, and make up the rest of your meal with vegetables and healthy grains.
  • Expand your pizza options. Instead of pepperoni, try chicken and lots of veggies.
  • Try a veggie wrap with hummus on whole grain bread for lunch instead of a sandwich with cold cuts.
  • Make at least one vegetarian supper each week.
The Canadian Cancer Society wants to help you prevent cancer. Go to our online, interactive tool It’s My Life! to answer questions about your lifestyle and get the information and tips you need to make healthy changes to reduce your risk of cancer.

Back to the November 2015 issue of Cancer Challengers