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Risk of Colon Cancer increase by 17% for every 100 grammes of red meat consumed on a daily basis, with risk of Bowel Cancer up by 20%

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the risk of colon cancer may increase by 17 per cent for every 100 grammes of red meat consumed on a daily basis. This data also places the risk of contracting bowel cancer at 20 per cent.

This information from the WHO serves to further entrench what nutritionists and dieticians have said consistently that consumption of red meat should be done in moderation.

According to clinical nutritionist and dietician Josephine Mbuthi, red meat contains considerable levels of myoglobin which is the red protein that potentially promotes carcinogens-substances that causes cancer.

In Kenya, cancer is estimated to be the second leading cause of Non-Communicable Disease related deaths. They account for seven per cent of the overall national mortality and are second to cardiovascular diseases.

Existing evidence shows the annual incidence of cancer is close to 37,000 new cases, with an annual mortality of over 28,000.

According to Dr. Catherine Watta, consultant oncologist at The Karen Hospital, the most affected are people in the middle and high income groups, because of their high consumption of red meat.

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“The ideal is to reduce frequency of meat consumption to once a week. This should be prepared in healthy ways such as boiling and stewing as opposed to deep frying and roasting,” Mbuthi says further noting that six cubed pieces, in one serving, are enough.

It is however, not enough to just eat less red meat as Mbuthi also notes foods and drinks with processed sugars also contain cancer causing substances.

“For optimal health, one should eat foods rich in vitamins A, C and D, zinc and selenium. Foods such as brown bread, brown rice, those rich in fiber like fruits and vegetables, fish and beans, should be consumed regularly since they help neutralize cancer causing substances,” she says.

Dr. Watta also notes an inactive lifestyle has been identified as predisposing people to cancer especially when accompanied with consumption of alcohol, tobacco and such like harmful substances.

Apart from watching one’s diet, she says early screening of cancer is a key preventive measure that should not be ignored.