Limiting red meat intake is one of the key messages I talk about for cancer prevention. Red meat significantly increases risk of colon cancer and may also increase risk of lung, esophageal, stomach and pancreatic cancers. We aren’t exactly sure why (and it probably varies for different diseases). One possible reason are the risks associated with eating charred meat in particular (which I talked about in this video that significantly decreased the number of invitations I get to holiday BBQs!).
But, as with many of the things you can do to lower your cancer risk, eating less red meat isn’t just about cancer. Eating red meat also increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. The good news is that making a simple switch can change that risk. Faculty Harvard recently reported that replacing just one serving a day of red meat with nuts, low fat dairy or whole grains can lower diabetes risk.
What does this add to our knowledge? We’ve known that red and processed meats increase disease risk and the Harvard data adds to that, but few studies have been able to examine the effect of changing the risky behavior. The Harvard study modeled the change to see what happened to diabetes risk. And risk went down.
So what’s the take home message? Regardless of what you’ve been doing to now, you can change what you’re doing and change your risk. So go nuts for nuts (or whole grains).