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  • Men and meat intake: How to cut your cancer risk

    Men and meat intake: How to cut your cancer risk
    10 June 2019

    Did you know that men have a higher chance of both being diagnosed with and dying from cancer than women? This Men’s Health Week, Cancer Council SA is encouraging men to reassess their everyday habits and make positive changes to protect their future health. 

    More than 6,000 more men die of cancer than women every year in Australia. And while there are several contributing factors, what’s clear is that men simply don’t look after themselves as well as women do. 

    The most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australian men are prostate, bowel, melanoma and lung cancer. And for three of these four, we know that lifestyle factors play a major part.  

    One in two Australian men will receive a cancer diagnosis by the time they are 85. But whether you’re 20 or 60, it’s never too late to make some simple changes that will better your odds. 

    Limit red and processed meat intake 

    The consumption of red meat and processed meat is convincingly associated with a modest increased risk of bowel cancer. In fact, a recent Australian study found that in 2010, 18 per cent of bowel cancer diagnoses were attributable to consumption of red and processed meat. And the more you consume, the worse off you are. 

    For every 100 g of red meat you eat per day, the risk of bowel cancer is increased by 17 per cent. And consuming 50g of processed meat daily (that’s approximately the amount of ham used to make a roll), increases bowel cancer risk by 18% in the long term. 

    How much meat is too much? 

    Lean red meat is a good source of important nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, vitamins B12, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. 

    To strike the right balance between gaining nutrients and reducing cancer risk, limit yourself to three or four palm-sized serves per week, totalling no more than 455 g cooked/700 g raw. Try chicken, fish, or vegetarian recipes for the rest of your week’s meals.  

    There is no intake of processed meats that is considered completely safe. Try to save processed meats like salami and bacon for special occasions only. 

    7 more steps to cutting your cancer risk 

    1. Eat a healthy diet

    Limiting red meat and processed meat is only one part of eating well. Aim for a well-balanced diet packed full of variety. 

    2. Check for unusual changes and take part in regular screening 

    Some cancers, like bowel cancer, have screening tests available that help to catch cancer early. In fact, 90 per cent of cases caught early can be treated and cured. You’ll receive your first free test kit in the mail when you turn 50, or can speak with your doctor if you have questions. 

    Other cancers can be caught early when you self-report changes you notice to your doctor. Melanoma, for example, is likely to either present as a new spot, or a spot that has changed in colour, shape or texture. 

    Men who are concerned about prostate cancer can speak to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of test available. 

    3. Quit smoking 

    Over 90 per cent of lung cancers are attributable to tobacco smoking within populations with prolonged cigarette use. It’s never too late to quit smoking, and the sooner you quit, the more you cut your cancer risk. Quitline provides a free and confidential information and support service to help people to quit smoking. Call 13 4878 or visit www.quitlinesa.org.au 

    4. Limit alcohol 

    Even drinking moderate amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver and bowel. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake no more than two standard drinks on any day, and include alcohol free days across the week. 

    5. Be SunSmart

    Protecting yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation will help reduce your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. It’s as easy as Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide when UV is 3 and above. 

    6. Maintain a heathy weight 

    Cancer research shows that men with a waistline greater than 100 cm are more likely to develop cancer, particularly bowel and prostate cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is about getting the balance right between what you eat and drink, and how active you are. 

    7. Be physically active

    One hour of moderate activity or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended on five or more days per week to reduce your cancer risk. 


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