Ham and hot dogs hoo-ha

So the news is out that highly processed meat and red meat could be as lethal to our health as smoking.

This perspective has been murmured about for a while now, and it’s really interesting reading a variety of people’s takes on the subject.

Lots of news articles are writing off those who eat red meat or processed meats regularly as being doomed to succumbing to cancer. Not all that helpful in my opinion.

Something I find fascinating about the science of nutrition is epigenetics.  Epigenetics looks at how genes can be ‘switched’ on and off by a wide variety of environmental factors. These environmental factors could include emotions, stress, pollution, and yes of course – nutrition!  They all play a key part in determining how your genes respond to their environment.

So with epigenetics in mind, what if some people who eat large amounts of red and processed meat consistently for a long period of time are more likely to be susceptible to cancer because of a wide variety of other lifestyle factors?

Zoe Harcombe’s blog post from a couple of years looked at this exact perspective and she delved into the studies intended to establish a relationship between eating red and processed meat and cancer.

Let’s compare two people.

Person 1 eats a largely plant-based diet, with a broad spectrum of colours. Maybe a couple of times a month when eating out or with family, they’ll have a steak or a wholegrain ham sandwich. They train hard a few days a week and meditation is an integral part of their daily life.

Person 2 mainly lives on fried chicken, pre-packed ham sandwiches, caffeine, cigarettes and nervous energy. They live a stressful life spending little time on themselves and exercise once in a blue moon (and that’s probably including running for the bus or train!).

These two people live polar-opposite lives. Person 1 is calm, in control and choosing to nourish their body with love. Person 2 lives in a highly stressed state the majority of the time and quite probably chastises themselves a fair bit.

Despite the World Health Organisation’s studies generating sensational headlines such as ‘processed meats do cause cancer’, ‘OMG! Bacon causes cancer’ and ‘Processed meat and cancer link: Just two rashers of bacon per day increases risk of bowel cancer, says WHO’, the WHO admits that the cancer risk from processed and red meat is “not yet fully understood”.

So whilst we don’t have any clear recommendations as to how to mitigate the possible risk of meat-related cancer, this is surely a great opportunity for people to take a closer look at what they’re eating and how we can better nourish our amazing and fascinating bodies.


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