Processed Fish May be Carcinogenic

The weekend has finally arrived and whether you are puttering in the garden, out cycling on the local trails or enjoying time by the water, a slower pace away from work and stress is a treasured break.  But before you start shopping for Sunday’s brunch (or making reservations), you may want to read about new research on cancer-causing foods. 

According to a recent New York Times report, The American Institute for Cancer Research considers smoked and cured fish to be in the same category as a carcinogen as processed and deli meats.  If bagels and smoked salmon are a staple brunch food in your home, it might be time to rotate in some other alternatives that don’t include preserved meats. 

Processing in order to improve flavor or preserve meats like ham, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, jerky or hot dogs is linked with an increased risk for cancers of the colon and possibly the pancreas and the prostate.   Smoking, salting and fermenting techniques used to preserve meats was found by the World Cancer Research Fund to be associated with an increased risk for colorectum, nasopharynx and stomach cancers, supported by strong evidence. 

And fish preserved with smoking or salting, like lox or smoked salmon, may also contribute to an increased risk for some cancers.  The World Health Organization also classifies red meat at a probable carcinogen, but more research is necessary to determine if eating more smoked or brined fish in place of red meat would be beneficial.  In the meantime, small amounts of smoked or salted fish occasionally are probably fine, and limiting other processed meats is recommended.  Fresh, grilled fish or chicken and plenty of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits combined nuts, beans and olive oil are still the best choices for a healthy lifestyle. 

The takeaway?  Enjoy a bagel with cream cheese, lox and capers once in a while but cutting down on all highly processed foods, especially smoked or otherwise preserved meats and focusing on fresh, in-season foods will be a win for your blood pressure, your heart health and your waistline!