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Sausage, Bacon and Canned Food Will Give You Cancer, Nutritionists echo WHO report


The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week released a report revealing that processed meats lead to cancer.

According to the report, 50g of processed meat a day which is less than two slices of bacon increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

The body has now placed processed meat in the same category as plutonium, but also alcohol as they definitely cause cancer.

ENCOMIUM Weekly sought the thoughts of nutrition experts and they explained how…



What is processed meat?

Processed meat is one that has gone through one process of preservation or the other, be it curing, smoking or salting to keep it for a longer time. It is not as fresh as the normal meat you buy in the market.

The word “processed” implies that it is definitely not fresh.

Where do we find processed meat, the most common sources?

The most commong sources of processed meats are porks (bacon), sausages, ham; different companies have various products, whether in can or whatever packaging.

What makes processed meat cancerous?

Try this experiment, cut a piece of meat and keep it covered not in the refrigerator, by the third day, it won’t be palatable. It would have started growing different types of micro organisms and would give an offensive smell. So, what these people do is that they add different forms of chemicals to preserve it. Apart from the regular methods like salting and smoking, they add chemicals like nitrites. Normally, we get nitrites from our foods like vegetables and it is good for us, but when it is used to preserve meat, overtime, it becomes a very deadly chemical called n-nitruoso” and that’s what makes it cancerous, it’s carcinogenic. And research has shown that processed meat is responsible for about 21 percent incidents of bowel cancer. It’s a different thing to consume it once in a while, but for some people, it’s part of their breakfast. When you consume, it leads to dangerous health conditions.

Is it just processed meat or all processed foods that are cancerous?

Putting science and nutrition aside, it is logical enough that fresh foods are more palatable than one that has been preserved for a long time. So, whether it’s all these canned mixed fruits that are used for fried rice, canned meals or even baby foods, as long as it is processed, it means it is not fresh. It has gone through different methods of preservation including adding chemicals so that when it would be consumed, it would be palatable enough. So, it is not just processed meat, I think all processed foods. It all boils down to too much of everything is not good, moderation is key. Fruits and vegetables should be the highest foods you should consume in a day, more than carbohydrate, protein and the rest. They are high in fibre and help in detoxifying the system. Fresh food is the best.

What are the options you recommend in place of processed meat?

Like I have said, it’s not just about having processed meat or food, but having it in excess. Some can’t do without having sausage in a day!

If you’ve been having about 100g or 90g, cut it down to about 60g. For example, if you’ve been having up to three sausages, ham or bacon in a day, reduce it to one and take a lot of water, and include fruits and vegetables in your diet.  Meat is good, it contains protein, zinc, iron but too much of anything is not good – that’s the point that should be driven home; go with a lot of high fibre foods. Let’s explain things in a layman’s term and leave all the grams and measurements. If you’ve been taking five, reduce it to two or one.  I’m not recommending that people should stop, but rather they should cut it down.

Research has also shown that people who are found to consume these things in significant quantity are people who don’t take their health serious, they are the ones who smoke, who consume a lot of alcohol, who don’t exercise.

My recommendation is cut down on intake of these processed foods, and instead have some fresh foods with fruits and vegetables and drink a lot of water.


JOSHUA OGULEDO, Food Scientist

What constitutes processed meat?

Meat becomes processed after chemical additives like preservatives, colouring, etc are added to it keep for a longer time.

Where do we find processed meat, the most common sources?

Most canned stuffs that you buy from supermarkets.

What makes processed meat cancerous?

The additives such as preservatives which I mentioned; also the method of processing all make it cancerous.

Is it just processed meat or all processed foods that’s cancerous?

All processed foods put one at risk of cancer, not just meat.

What options would you recommend in place of processed meat?

People who live in rural areas live longer than those in urban areas because they don’t eat processed foods. There are other ways of processing your meat that it won’t put one at risk of cancer; one of them is roasting and use of salt solution. Note that anything roasted can last a long time.

Also, the main aim of processing meat is to increase its shelf life (that is, preservation) which is why all the chemicals are used, but in rural settlements, roasting is used. Let’s shun the use of chemicals.

Instead, cook your meat; avoid red meat (which is from goat, cow, dog), instead go for white meat and sea foods. As much as possible, eat natural things which is what was obtainable before civilisation came and spoilt many things. In those days, you hardly hear of someone having cancer.

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