bloating, bologna, calories, cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Dr Summaiya Syed-Tariq, fat, Frankfurters, glucose levels, heart disease, Hotdog, hypertension, insulin, nitrates, nitrites, nitrosamines, nuggets, pancreatic cancer, processed meat, reduce life expectancy, salt, sodium, sodium blood vessels, sodium nitrite, stomach cancer, water retention, weight gain
A typical day begins with frankfurters and eggs for breakfast, followed by nuggets in the children’s lunch boxes and maybe a bologna sandwich or burger as the evening snack. Who said life is not convenient?
But convenience comes with a price. Processed meat, which refers to meat that has gone through salting and various chemical processes to extend its shelf life, is bad for your health. According to a recent study, high consumption of processed meats can reduce life expectancy and here is why:
- Processed meats are high in calories, fat and sodium. Served with heaps of mayonnaise and French fries (and quite often a soft drink), the meal causes your system to slow down and leads to weight gain.
- Excessive salt in processed meat causes water retention and bloating. A single hotdog has more than three times the amount of sodium in comparison to a homemade meat sandwich. Sodium weakens your blood vessels and leads to hypertension, thus beginning a chain of events that may eventually cause heart disease.
- High levels of nitrates and nitrites in processed meats are linked to decreased insulin secretion which affects the body’s blood glucose levels. A recent Harvard study showed that just one serving a day of processed meats (two slices of salami or four chicken nuggets) increases the risk for diabetes by 29%. More specifically, sodium nitrite (a colour enhancer used to make processed meats look fresh) is a known carcinogenic that leads to the formation of cancer causing nitrosamines in the body.
- Another study that monitored participants for seven years revealed that people who regularly consumed processed meat had a 67% greater risk of pancreatic cancer and an increased incidence of stomach and colorectal cancers than those who ate it infrequently.
- A detailed review of 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer has declared processed meats as a dangerous dietary option.
So you need to make the final decision. Is it going to be convenience or your health?
– Dr Summaiya Syed-Tariq
The writer is a senior forensic practitioner at the Police Surgeon Office, Karachi.
First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 24, 2013.