Deli Dilemma: Students should be aware of deli meat’s negative effects

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January means New Years and New Years resolutions, where the cliché resolution of eating healthier seems to be common. In our school, our cafeteria offers us a wide variety of lunch choices— some may be more healthy or more delicious than others, but all in all, there is a complete list of options where anyone can surely find something to eat on any given day. However, it’s worth noting that the menu also includes many processed meats, a food whose health impacts may not be widely considered by students.

Processed meats include sliced turkey, bologna deli meats, bacon, ham and hot dogs. They are defined by meats that have been smoked, salted, cured or have a preservative added. As a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies substances in relation to their cancer-causing pathogenicity as the following: Group 1 means the substance is carcinogenic to humans, Group 2A means the substance is probably carcinogenic to humans, and so on.

In 2015, the IARC declared processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen and red meats to be a Group 2 carcinogen. Group 1 includes tobacco and asbestos, but this does not mean that processed meats are as likely to cause cancer as tobacco and asbestos—only that processed meats along with tobacco and asbestos are “known to be human carcinogens.”

Leading studies, including a study by the Imperial College London led by researcher Doris Chan, find that “intake of red and processed meat is associated with significant increased risk of colorectal, colon and rectal cancers.” In fact, almost all studies unanimously link consumption of processed meats with namely, colorectal or bowel cancer.

Because of these health risks, CHS should consider limiting serving deli meats and sausages. More importantly, in their day-to-day lives, students should also consider eating less red and processed meats. Obviously, indulge as need be, but in light of our resolutions, we should all take steps to better our health.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Anushka Dasgupta at adasgupta@hilite.org.

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