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Processed Meat: Good or Bad?

A recent report from the World Health Organization labeled processed meat products as carcinogenic. Keep reading to learn more about the report and how it could impact your diet.

A report released in October had some pretty harsh words for fans of processed and cured meats like hot dogs, bacon and deli meat, labeling them as carcinogenic. What does this mean for you? And how should it affect your grocery shopping?

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer has now classified processed and cured meat products as group 1 carcinogens. What does that mean? It means these meat products are now considered as potentially harmful as tobacco, alcohol, arsenic and asbestos. Red meat -- beef, pork and lamb -- has gotten a new classification as "probably carcinogenic to humans." Daily consumption of processed meats was linked to a higher risk of colorectal or bowel cancer, while red meat has been linked to an increased chance of developing pancreatic or prostate cancer. 

This classification was the result of a year's worth of study by the international organization, which stressed daily consumption, as opposed to occasional as the cause for concern. According to The Seattle Times, 22 scientists coming from 10 different countries gathered in Lyon, France to debate the findings of more than 800 studies and came to this conclusion, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology.

While this new research may be alarming, it's important to remember the study pointed out eating red meat and processed meat once in a while isn't the problem. We're big believers in the 80/20 diet and consuming everything in moderation. Keeping your diet balanced with plenty of whole, organic foods is the best way to keep your health on track. Try avoiding processed meats of any kind from becoming a regular part of your diet -- use them as a treat, instead. As for red meat, consuming red meat in moderation is also advised --  shop for grass-fed, organic meats whenever possible. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends no more than 18 ounces per week. Cook your red meat on low heat for a longer period of time and keep the meat moist to reduce the development of carcinogenic compounds. 

To further lower your risk for cancer of any kind, experts recommend reaching and maintaining a healthy weight for your height, stopping smoking and avoiding consuming alcohol in excessive amounts. There is no 100 percent guaranteed way to prevent cancer, but looking after your body through diet and exercise is the best way to support your continued wellness and longevity.

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