Red Meat - To Beware or Not To Beware?

It is time to dispel yet another medical misconception that is repeated to us time after time and has no actual relevance. I’m talking about the supposed link between red meat and colon cancer. It seems to be a well known fact that the more red meat that you consume, the higher the incidences of colon cancer you can expect. All that you have to do is look at the studies more closely to see that it isn’t the meat itself but the way that you cook it that matters.

Many studies have shown that how you cook your meat can have dramatic effects upon your health. In fact people who like their meat well done have a 29% increase over people who eat the same amount of meat cooked rare. (According to a study of colorectal adenomas conducted at the National Naval Medical Center.) Very little evidence points towards any and all red meat leading to cancer. It is the meat that is cooked well and “burnt” that gives you the problems.

The reason for this difference comes in the nasty chemicals produced when cooking meat at high temperatures. Carcinogenic chemicals called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are created at high temperatures and can lead to the formation of not only colon cancer but other cancers as well. Unfortunate as it is, grilling and high frying your meat leads to the formation of these nasty chemicals.

The most common come back that I get from people who cook their meat well done is their concern over E. Coli contamination. Though E. Coli can be a serious condition to acquire it is very uncommon in the actual meat of the animal. You might find this bacteria present in ground meat which comes from as many as 100 animals and is subject to less than optimal packing environments, but when talking about a nice porterhouse steak is it very unlikely to get sick from rare cooked meat. Actually more E. Coli infections are transmitted by dirty fruits and veggies than meat. How’s that for irony? Now compare that to the numbers of cancer in today’s society and it is easy to see which you should be more concerned about.

For those of you that might just be sickened by rare meat may I suggest fish instead. In this case there is no room for the squeamish. Take my advice and cook your meat rare or medium rare at best. You might just help keep cancer at bay and enjoy a great steak to boot!

As a quick side note… I want to reiterate that just because rare meat is less cancer causing that is no reason to believe that the meat you are eating isn’t causing you harm! Unless you are buying good grass fed organic meat you are still getting plenty of hormones and antibiotics that have been given to the cattle. These chemicals do end up in your body as well. The bottom line is that when buying meat, be as picky as your budget allows. Stop giving your money to the mega chain coffee houses and give it to back to yourself in the form of good clean food!

Eat well and be happy and healthy!