Processed Meats: Dangerous for Human Consumption


The World Cancer Research Fund recently completed a detailed review of 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer. Upon conclusion it is evident that processed meats can be dangerous for human consumption and are strongly linked to an increase risk of bowel cancer.

What are processed meats?
Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, sandwich meat, packaged ham, pepperoni, salami and nearly all meat found in prepared frozen meals. Processed meats are usually manufactured with a carcinogenic (linked to promote and cause cancer) ingredient known as sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate is primarily used as a colour fixer by meat companies to make the packaged meats look bright red and fresh. Monosodium glutamate is also added on a regular basis to enhance the savoury flavour.

Sodium Nitrite has been strongly linked to the formation of cancer-causing nitrasamines in the human body, leading to a sharp increase in the risk of cancer for those consuming them. A 2005 Hawaii University study found that eating processed meats increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67%, whilst another study found that it increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 50%. These are scary numbers for those consuming processed meats on a regular basis. The more often your body is exposed to these nitrosamines, the higher your risk of cancer becomes.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a second dangerous chemical found in virtually all processed meat products. MSG is a dangerous excitotoxin linked to neurological disorders such as migraine headaches, Alzheimer’s disease, loss of appetite control, obesity and many other serious health conditions. Manufacturers use MSG to add an addictive savory flavor to dead-tasting processed meat products.

Food items to check carefully:

  • Beef jerky
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • Hot dogs
  • Sandwich meat
  • Deli slices
  • Ham
  • Frozen pizzas with meat
  • Canned soups containing meat
  • Frozen meals with meat
  • Ravioli and meat pasta foods

…and many more meat products

If its so dangerous to consume why are they allowed to sell it?

Unfortunately nowadays the food industry interests now dominate the actions of the government regulators. The USDA for example tried to ban sodium nitrite in the late 1970’s but were overridden by the meat industry insisting the chemical was ‘safe’. Today the food and agriculture corporations hold tremendous influence over the food industry and as a result  consumers have little protection from dangerous chemicals intentionally added to foods, medicines and personal care products.

Ways to avoid the dangers of processed meats:

  • Always read ingredient labels
  • Don’t buy anything made with sodium nitrite or MSG
  • Avoid eating red meats served by restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels or other institutions without asking for details
  • Eat more fresh produce and only purchase fresh meats
  • Avoid processed meats as much as possible
  • Spread the word and tell others about the dangers of sodium nitrite and MSG

Vitamin C naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to help prevent the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines, protecting you from the devastating health effects of processed meats. The best defence of course is to avoid process meats all together


Click to access Colorectal-cancer-CUP-report-2010.pdf

Please see original article:

174 thoughts on “Processed Meats: Dangerous for Human Consumption

  1. I have a bone to pick with the baby boomer generation. I find that its a bit hypocritical to call us what was it Ignorant? Your generation spawned the helicopter parent. I know that when you grew up the whole philosophy was “follow your heart wherever it takes you” but this is 2013 Honey. The helicopter parent taught us how to do absolutely nothing. Instead of teaching us skills, such as cooking, laundry, how to deal with bureaucracy, and how to support ones self. You sent us to schools where were bullied, then you put us on antidepressants which made us more anxiety ridden, suicidal and totally useless. When we got to college, you told us that we could major in anything that interested us. That we could go to a small liberal arts college and that it didn’t matter the price tag. Now we have graduated and we are 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 dollars in debt. There aren’t any jobs because we majored in anthropology, film studies, and wait for it classical studies. So we move back in with you. and break our backs at Jamba Juice. We have inherited a food system that gives us cancer, a planet that is so fucked up its in impossible to fathom and an economy that isn’t really going to recover because you had to have that 4 bedroom house in the suburbs. And now on top of that debt,(which we can’t declare bankruptcy on) we are paying for your social security check with that 7.25 dollar an hour job, you said we would never have. When we are your age. We won’t get one. So excuse me for being a little bitter. And I am not speaking for myself by the way. I am speaking for my generation.

  2. Some of this is correct but some not.
    – MSG naturally occurs in many foods and it is not dangerous for health. It’s found in tomatoes, mushrooms, other vegetables and breastmilk… should we stop eating these? (
    – Processed meats DO indeed have lots of research that they promote cancer and other health issues like cardiovascular disease.

    I’m a dietitian, here’s an article I write that reviewed some of the new independent research about fresh meat, processed meat and health:

  3. I agree it’s probably not good to eat processed foods, but this article doesn’t site any credible peer reviewed sources. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean its true.

  4. annoyedofignorantpeople says that “it really comes down to where you live, how you were raised, common sense, and genetics”. Tell me how they aren’t issues passed down from the previous generation. The previous generation raised this generation on convenience. Sure, they were sold a bill of goods, but then they became cheerleaders for the goods and brought up the younger generation with that attitude. To be sure, blaming generations won’t solve anything and ignores many other problems, but the older generation can’t just say dismiss the younger generation; they raised them!

  5. I must disagree. I am 35 & cook healthy food for my family all of my days & nights. most all of my friends do the same. Also its the older generations that grew up during the depression that have many processed foods just to survive. Yes many younger adults are lazy and get fastfoods & boxed meals but its a lack of education. Most young adults I know are eating healtier compared to when I was younger. My family was poor and we had no other choices

  6. A million times yes to this. One can get 2 servings of name brand soup in a can for about $1/$1.50. I’ve seen Healthy meals are called “cheap” at around $4 or $5 per serving. That’s about 8 times as expensive, plus the opportunity cost of the time that it takes to make and clean up. Eating fresh and healthy can mean having to cut out elsewhere in life, with the reduction in both time & money. It’s a winning equation for processed foods, and it would be great if at least money could be eliminated as a factor.

  7. This debate over which generation is to blame for YOU eating YOUR processed food is distracting from the real problem here… if YOU know the truth, and YOU continue to make poor food choices, it doesn’t matter when the microwave became popular.

  8. You can’t solely blame the government for “shoving it down our throats”. YOU control what you buy and what you eat. Yes, the government makes it convenient for you to get these foods, but no one is forcing you to buy them or consume them.

  9. You people do understand that numerous foods have monosodium glutamate in them naturally, right? If you’re going to eat parmesan cheese or any other hard cheese, it probably has more MSG in it than a pack of cheetos. The same goes for meat, asparagus, tomatoes and mushrooms, no matter how organic it is.

    Sorry, but I fail to see how a natural protein that our bodies themselves produce every day mixed with ordinary salt is so dangerous. It has been used in Asia for a hundred years, and they don’t seem to have a problem with obesity last time I checked. Alzheimer’s is just as common in Asia, and migraine is even slightly less common than in western society.

    It’s good to be careful for what you eat, but there isn’t that many additives that have been used as long as MSG without any problems, and I have not yet read a single study that actually proves it has any ill side-effects.

  10. When I was diagnosed with migraines at the age of 19, it was a revelation — I had been suffering from chronic, debilitating headaches and nausia lasting for 3-4 days on a regular basis (every few weeks) since I was in 8th grade. So 25 years ago when my doctor told me to avoid junk meats like hot dogs because they contained nitrates, which can cause migraines, I listened. High on the same list of foods to avoid for migraine reasons was MSG. So I avoided that, too. Just those two changes to my diet moved the frequency of my migraines down to once per six months and the duration down to 1 to 2 days. About 10 years ago I started taking a really good multi-vitamin. All of that together now means I have a migraine maybe once a year!

    You can’t tell me nitrates and MSG are good for ANYONE…even if people have developed tolerances to them.

    One more thing. It isn’t just MSG. The “business end” of MSG is “free glutamic acid” — which means that chemically autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed vegetable protein are essentially the same as MSG (they have the exact same effects on flavor stimulation a la excitotoxins). Also, some forms of citric acid also contain “free glutamic acid” — especially those made from corn because it follows a process similar to making hydrolyzed vegetable protein. There is really no way to know if citric acid is from a benign process vs. one that is full of “free glutamic acid.”

    In my book an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — better to be safe than sorry.

  11. Well I dun no wat everyone is complainin bout. My mama done made me all the good stuff like bacon ham sanwices hot dogs on the Forman grill cause she say it a bunch more healthier and all that other stuff they say not to eat and I is alright! I’m as strong as a rock some people say

  12. Actually, everything you eat increases the risk that you will get cancer. If you discontinue eating altogether, you will not get cancer in your lifetime …your very short lifetime.

  13. Interesting that you didn’t cite the actual study, just webpages biased in your direction….

  14. Personally I don’t think the problem is a generational one. I think it all depends on how you were raised. I’m 28, married with 4 kids. I cook 90% of our meals from scratch. My kids are not picky in the least. We are fortunate enough to live on a farm, so we raise our own cows and chickens. We also put in a huge (over an acre) garden every year and can/freeze for the rest of the year. To be perfectly honest raising/growing your own food tastes better than any store bought groceries!

  15. Ultimately I think you also have to look at the reason that the market for these foods exists. It’s not just because this is all there is. There are a number of factors that have given rise to the ‘need’, I’ll use that term roughly, for processed foods.

    Demographically speaking most people in the US don’t farm, because of that the need for food to be available instantly and keep for a longer period of time than originally intended is increased. Cities create a large demand in a centralized location that small local farms can never hope to singularly support, so industrialized farming comes into the picture. Long distance transport is required. I think you get the gist there.

    In the constant need to continually pay to live (property taxes? rent? inflation?), and pursue the American Dream of more stuff we have to work harder. That creates a cycle where for a company to survive they have to continually grow. This means most of the time they have to innovate new products, convince the public they ‘need’ them, and go through that process to try to keep up, or stay ahead of, competition. This in turn causes a high pressure to build on companies to get max productivity out of workers. When you look at an average work week I believe it is up to something around 60 hours for many folks, and in most families all the parents work. The question then is how do you shop for and prepare, from scratch, the food you need to eat. Obviously not impossible, but exponentially more difficult.

    While bad food is bad food, I can understand why these things have made it in and stayed in. Unfortunately in many cases the issue is not merely an issue of food, but of the way of life that we currently engage in. There is a cycle that has arisen where we try to save more time with gadgets and technology, in the goal of maybe having more time for us as humans, but we automatically fill it back up with other things.

    I could keep going but there are a lot of systems and circumstances that conspire together to cause much of this. Unfortunately it’s not just the food, drug, ag, and chemical companies. It really is more the culture of dissatisfaction that drives a greedy and frenetic lifestyle for most of us.

  16. This article skews the results a bit. If you read the reports at the links in the sources, the experiments were based off of the increase of g/day of intake. That means eating it everyday. What’s obvious is that, if you eat too much of ANYTHING, you can die. Too much of any one thing will kill you, no matter what it is. Too much water can kill you, lol. Who would eat 3 packs of hot dogs every single day?

    It’s great to become more aware of what you’re eating, just don’t skew up the data to scare people who don’t understand is all I’m saying.

    Another thing is that, even if one were to take these statistics of the increase in cancer, in these experiments there seems to be little to no constants/variables. There are other things that factor into how much the risk of cancer increases, such as how lazy they are, their daily exercise/non-exercise routines, and etc.

    In other words…. don’t intake too much of anything, and fear will kill you before cancer does. Live life, and enjoy it.

  17. I agree that processed meats are bad, but your statistics are very misleading. Saying that the chance of getting pancreatic cancer raises 67 % means that your chances go from about a 1.3% to 2% which isn’t incredibly significant. Colon cancer goes from about 5% to 7.5% chance. These are still bad increases, but not the life threatening 67 percentage points that most people think it is.

  18. You must be crazy. We throw away more food in the US than what is required to feed the world. There’s plenty of arable land to go around. There’s plenty of shallow ocean to anchor hydroponic farms. We don’t have to eat the poison they’re selling us.

  19. Angelina please tell me you live in Brisbane!!!!! That creme brulee sounds to die for. Organic is the way to go.

  20. None of your own links support your claims about MSG. MSG has never been linked to migraines, alzheimer’s, loss of appetite control, obesity, or any health complications (serious or otherwise). Claims of supposed sensitivities to MSG have never been reproduced in a double blind test.

    MSG is naturally occurring in lots of things like cheese, meat (not processed), tomatoes, olives, fish, eggs, and is even a vital chemical for the function of your own brain.

    Nitrites and nitrates, however, in large quantities have indeed been proven to have links to cancer, alzheimer’s, and even parkinson’s. The effective dose has not been determined, but in moderation is not considered a risk.

  21. So if you LOVE sandwiches, what are you supposed to do here. Is there any way to eat “fresh” deli meats? How do you know the difference? Sandwiches are my favorite food and I’m not going to give them up completely, but I’d like to know how to eat them in a healthier manner.

  22. So what if sandwiches are your FAVORITE food? I’m not giving them up completely. Is there a way to purchase so called “fresh” deli meat? Where? How will I know?

  23. We all know ANY processed food is not healthy, But I start to question articles such as this when they aren’t even aware that Sodium NITRITE is the additive and not NITRATE, as so often mentioned.

  24. Yeh ! Well, you are only 16 !!! Did you know that when the body is exposed to carcinogens it actually takes years for that cancer to erupt in the body in the form of tumors, etc.. Wait till you are middle age. You won’t be singing about the healthy foods you ate when you where 16 !!! if meat is the main ingredient of your diet.

  25. In actual fact Australian statistics show a large portion of the 65+ age bracket consume more pre packaged meals such as frozen dinners etc. while they may not be queued at KFC or the like they have freezers filled with pre packages meals! The survey suggested that it is due to single lifestyle and convenience. As for the assumption of younger generations eating crap and not being able to cook, are you serious?? There is a “clean eating” epidemic going on in the world and more and more of the <40's are in this ban wagon of eating healthy home cooked meals!! It is actually "your" age group that prepare meals at home that are over the correct portion size ei; huge steak that takes up the plate etc and boil veggies till there is nil nutritional benefits left in the plate…. I am sure that you yourself have consumed a whole lot more sausages then myself at 32! Oh and the Devon sangas……

  26. My sympathies to you, Shelly, for all the backlash to your comment. You DID say “I don’t think there are too many people…”, and not “there aren’t any…”. Apparently there aren’t too many people who know how to differentiate themselves from a generalization. I hardly think the readers of a health blog represent the masses; of course many of THEM cook from scratch. But would they really consider themselves the majority?

  27. I like McDonnald’s Burgers.. Hmmmm… Yum!

    Geez.. Chill out people. We are always so quick to point fingers and generalize, classify and judge. “Judge not, lest ye be judged..” 😛

    We’re all in the same sinking boat, just trying to survive.

  28. While this vegetarian/nearly-vegan is glad to see people being warned about the carcinogenic properties of meat, the warnings about MSG are misguided at best. You might be interested in a few reading links:

    The WHO doesn’t issue the dire warnings everyone thinks they do about MSG. In fact, it has been so intensely scrutinized that it has been found perfectly safe. There is MSG or one of its cousins in everything from breast milk to parmesan cheese, and MSG is one of the five basic tastes now. The origins of the myth are steeped in racism and the Chinese Exclusion Era. Here’s a little more background on it:

  29. I don’t know why you are so defensive,if you are buying and cooking the right kinds of food then you shouldn’t have a problem with her comment right?Just something to think about.and as far as you not knowing a single person that can cook as well as you can,than maybe you should give them a few lessens in cooking.This not a competition in cooking!!I The information provided in the article is designed to inform individuals who, care about their health.

  30. I completely agree with you! Everyone reads the front of the package or the box, if they knew what the back said or meant they might change their mind. With the rules (or lack of them) that we have on labeling, they can pretty much say whatever they want on the front of the box…my favorite is no MSG* then you see in the fine print, other that what is naturally occuring in yeast extract. Yea…you need to look for more than just MSG, because it hides in so many things. My daughter is extremely sensitive to MSG, and it is practically impossible to find food with out it in there. Shop local, shop the farmers markets and co-ops. If you can’t read it don’t eat it.

  31. Is it really that the earth is over populated that people starve or is the greed of the powerful nations? I love our country but we account for roughly 6% of the world’s population yet roughly 40% of the world’s goods. I would think that is more telling of starvation than anything

  32. I think the writer meant Sodium Nitrite in stead of Sodium Nitrate…..

    Nevertheless it is absolutely ridiculous the things they put in our food. In a normal super market (grossary store) it is a real challenge to find unprocessed food!

  33. You are so right……I am 49 and it is/was largely MY generation. The government lets all this crap happen and approves things it should NOT. It is then marketed as wonderful. However I have to say I rarely by anything packaged and my kids grew up on salads and fruits more than fast food. It is sickening what some people feed their kids, no wonder we are plagued with disease!! I grow my own food now, big veggie garden. I cook from scratch, and we eat very little meat, only fish or chicken and no red meat.

  34. I have to agree. I try to avoid processed meats at all costs. It’s so funny because once you start eating healthier its as if you can taste some of the chemicals.

  35. This issue is not about what generation caused the problem of fast foods, processed foods and other non-nourishing unsafe foods. The awareness we need to pay attention to is the facts in the article that processed foods are unhealthy and have a strong potential to cause severe health issues if consumed on a regular basis. That’s all, no judgement, no ego, no praise, no blame…just a scientific study meant to educate and teach. We are what we eat and the more responsibility we take individually in choosing healthier foods the healthier we all will be.

  36. Don’t blame anyone but yourself if you eat the wrong food. Read your labels, all of them..if you eat processed food, skip them if you eat fresh ones..

  37. Your generation is lazy, and whiney. Your generation didn’t have a problem taking your parents money, time, unlimited praise,or living in their 4 bedroom house. If you have college debt it is of your own choosing. We also paid in to the Social Security system (and hated it just as much) and we won’t see of penny of it either. So buttercup, life if not fair, suck it up.

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