Carcinogenic Meat?

Published on 21 January 2024 at 15:00

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies substances based on their potential to cause cancer in humans.


Here's how red meat and processed meat fall into these categories, and how a plant-based diet avoids them:


Red Meat:

Classified as a Group 2a Carcinogen.


This means there is limited evidence that red meat itself causes cancer in humans, but there is strong evidence that it can increase the risk of certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.


Possible Reasons for the Link:


  • Heme Iron:

Red meat is high in heme iron, which can damage cells and promote the formation of cancer-causing compounds.


  • Nitrosamines:

When red meat is cooked at high temperatures, it can form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.


  • Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): 

These are also formed during high-temperature cooking of red meat and are considered probable carcinogens.



Processed Meat:

Classified as a Group 1 carcinogen.


This means there is convincing evidence that processed meat causes cancer in humans.

The risk is particularly strong for colorectal cancer.


Reasons for the stronger link:

  • Nitrates and Nitrites These are added to processed meats for preservation and color, and they can react with stomach acids to form nitrosamines.
  • Smoking, Salting, and Curing These processing methods can also introduce other carcinogens into meat.
  • Fat Content Some processed meats are high in saturated and unhealthy fats, which have been linked to an increased risk of various cancers.



Plant-Based Diet:

A plant-based diet naturally avoids both red & processed meat, eliminating the associated cancer risks.


Benefits of a plant-based diet:


  • Rich in Fiber, Vitamins & Minerals

Plant-based foods are packed with nutrients that can help protect against cancer, such as fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.


  • Low in Saturated Fat

Plant-based diets tend to be lower in saturated fat, which can reduce the risk of various cancers.


  • Promotes Healthy Gut Bacteria

A healthy gut microbiome is associated with a lower risk of cancer, and plant-based diets can help promote its growth.





  • It is advisable to limit your intake of red meat due to the potential risk and other health concerns.



  • Processed meat is a confirmed carcinogen, and a plant-based diet is the best way to avoid it completely.



  • Choosing plant-based foods offers numerous health benefits, including reducing cancer risk, improving gut health, and promoting overall well-being.



So, if you're looking for a way to reduce your cancer risk and improve your health, consider embracing a plant-based lifestyle!

Add comment


There are no comments yet.