Health experts have ruled that bacon, burgers and sausages are as big a cancer threat as cigarettes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to list processed meat as among the most cancer-causing substances, putting it on a par with asbestos and arsenic, according to reports.
Fresh red meat is also due to join the ‘encyclopaedia of carcinogens’ and is likely to be ranked as only slightly less dangerous than the preserved products.
Meat fuels disease that claimed 150,000 lives
The classifications, by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, come amid mounting concern that meat fuels the disease which claims more than 150,000 lives a year in the UK. They are believed to have agreed processed meat is ‘carcinogenic to humans’.
Processed meat is made by smoking, curing, salting, or adding chemicals and it includes ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, burgers as well as hot dogs and some sausages.
Is this going to kill you?
‘The burger and red meat may kill you’ was the finding of an exhaustive 28-year study of more than 120,000 people by the Harvard School Of Public Health, which suggested that anyone eating a burger-sized daily serving of red meat has an 18 per cent increased chance of dying from heart disease, and is 10 per cent more likely to die from cancer.
Red meat associated to heart disease, strokes
“Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating large amounts of red meat, which has been associated with heart disease, strokes and certain cancers,” said An Pan, lead author of the Harvard report. Ever quick to help, scientists dissecting the results have worked out that a daily burger equates to shaving half an hour off every day of the rest of your life. Or, if you prefer, it will have the same effects as smoking 14 cigarettes a week.
High saturated in fat
Health writer Elizabeth Lee explains why: “Some red meats are high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol,” she says, pointing out that high levels have been proved to increase the risk of heart disease. The intimation that the meat between those two buns will all-too-quickly lead to the pearly gates should be enough to make even the most dedicated burger-lover start avoiding the butchers.
Health hazards associated to burgers
You will gain weight if you consume more calories than you expend, and burgers are high-calorie foods. A double hamburger with mayonnaise contains 942 calories, and your meal can be even higher in calories if you order onion rings or french fries, with 480 calories per large order, and a regular soft drink. A single-patty hamburger without mayo fits better into a diet for weight control, since it has only 232 calories. Another way to limit the calories in your burger is to skip the bun.
Burgers can be high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. Dietary cholesterol and saturated fat can raise levels of cholesterol in your blood and increase your risk for heart disease. A double hamburger with mayo contains 21.6 grams of saturated fat, or 108 percent of the daily value, and 172 milligrams of cholesterol, or 57 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Burgers can be high in sodium, with a double hamburger with mayo containing 1,081 milligrams. A small one-patty burger without mayo has only 258 milligrams of sodium. A high-sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Burgers can displace healthier foods in your diet, and selecting burgers instead of more nutritious options can lead to poorer overall diet quality. A common healthier lunch option at fast-food restaurants is a green salad with pecans, almonds or walnuts.
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