Cured meat popular despite WHO study

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Ed Hitchins
Life Reporter

When it comes to breakfast, Humber College General Arts professor Teresa Cheng is extremely specific with her preferences.

“I always wake up and have a bulletproof coffee,” says the general arts professor. “I’ll fry up about half a dozen slices of bacon and the smell is what really wakes me up.”

Cheng says she loves red meat and she consumes a lot of it. Her meat preferences includes prosciutto, ham, as well as bacon. She estimates that in a 30-day period, most of her meals involve processed foods.

She said the recent news regarding carcinogenic properties of those foods isn’t what it seems.

“There weren’t enough factors used in the report (which) didn’t really throw other factors in like exercise and balanced diets,” said Cheng.

The World Health Organization (WHO) study states there is a correlation between processed meats, such as bacon, with bowel cancer. It suggests that just 50 grams of processed meat – the equivalent to two slices of bacon – per day increases the chance of developing cancer by as much as 18 percent.

Culinary Management student Martine Haller says when it comes to feeding herself, there is only one constant factor: cost.

“The thing is, a lot of people will go and eat these processed meats because it’s a lot cheaper,” said Haller. “I have a job, but I’m only getting minimum wage. I have a lot of other stuff to pay for. I have tuition and books to pay for. Amongst all that stuff, I have to eat as well,” she said.

Yet, diet and food nutrition program coordinator Tracie Sindrey says that even so, processed meat can be prepared in a healthy way, even on a budget.

“Try steaming your meat instead of frying, using orange juice or alternate oils,” Sindrey said. “Red meat is a great source of iron and protein. The key is lean cuts, prior to cooking.”

Meanwhile, Cheng said the report doesn’t change her love of a favourite breakfast meal.

“I will continue to eat cured bacon and ham,” said Cheng. “I have the knowledge. I am very privileged and know how to balance my diet. It is all about balance.”

“If you eat wings or drink a whole load of beer, don’t feel crappy about it. Hopefully you have the discipline to eat vegetables for three days after,” she said.

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