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Processed meats (including bacon) and cancer

 
pollinator
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Here is an NYTimes article a friend forwarded me about deli meats. Looks hopeless - and I _like_ bacon!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/well/eat/is-eating-deli-meats-really-that-bad-for-you.html

I don't know that this is entirely a matter of taste, either. "Processing" traditionally was meant to extend a meat's shelf life. The article doesn't actually explain in detail what causes what and why, just points the finger at nitrites and nitrates. Most likely because we don't _know_ what the exact mechanisms are. Some nationalities are known for their love of "heavy" food which doesn't seem to bother them much.

Oh well. Calculated risk time.


Rufus


 
pollinator
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On the bright side, I heard somewhere that if the pork you eat is pastured it gets you back to the "normal" risk factor. For bacon, I'll take what I can!

When I get some time, I'll try to dig and see where I came across that.
 
pollinator
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It's possible to make really good bacon at home without any nitrates. All my homemade salt-cured meats are still good after 6 months, just at in an unheated room in my house. My recipes: https://thenourishinghearthfire.com/2018/07/15/curing-bacon-and-ham-without-nitrates/
 
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If you can’t self process your food, then the next best step is to read the labels. Many health food stores sell bacon without nitrates/nitrites.

 
pollinator
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In my experience, nitrate/nitrite-free cured meats taste decidedly different. Some people are fine with that, others not. Pick your poison.
 
Neil Stratton
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Stacy Witscher wrote:In my experience, nitrate/nitrite-free cured meats taste decidedly different. Some people are fine with that, others not. Pick your poison.



I agree. Once you stop eating nitrate/nitrites it changes the way food tastes. You have more or an appreciation of what real food tastes like when you go back to eating processed food.
 
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This ties into the topic. I believe some types of meat can contribute to cancer risk, but be very careful of trusting the media or the studies that they often misrepresent. I avoid burning meat, prefer nitrate free bacon and eat preserved food only when practical. I have a preference for storing food live or in a fridge/freezer.


This is not the video I was looking for but addresses some of the agendas and biased 'science' involved in many of the studies. This is clearly and openly disclosed as a biased pro meat video.

 
gardener
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Im getting ready for my first cow slaughter next september. While i dont buy meat anymore, i bought a brisket to play with cured meats. Call it a class project.

Corned beef is brisket rolled into a tube. Soak in a salt sugar spice brine for 10 days. Boil it. Done. Cure is optional. They say it keeps the meat pink whereas no cure it turns grey.

Omit the boiling, rinse it and smoke it and you have pastrami.

It seems that the boiling would remove a lot of the salt and sugar. There is no added salt in the water.

Thats my plan. First one will be ready friday. I plan to cut them in 3" thick chunks, slice those into thinner slices and freeze them in the 3" packs. I'll have homemade/homegrown sandwich meat weekly.

Bacon has been replaced with deer sausage. I take one and slice it down the middle. Put the cut side down on the hot skillet and get a good scald on it. We dont miss bacon. Getting the right sausage recipe is worth it longterm.
 
pollinator
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Most of the evidence as far as I am aware is due to compounds called nitrosamines, which are formed at high temperatures from anything that contains amines (amino acids and vit"amines" are two examples). The same can be formed in the stomach from dietary nitrates, but this appears to be a lower factor because the rate of GI cancers has not declined with wide use of acid-blocker medications.

The correlate is that nitrates are nitrates no matter the source. Celery and several other greens are quite high in nitrates, high enough you can cure sausage with them. Most "nitrate-free" cured meats have celery powder as a major ingredient for this reason. Many (I suspect most) "nitrate-free" cures cause the production of nitrates or nitrites enzymatically. I would make a blanket statement that nitrates (or nitrites depending on the temperature of the cure) are basically required to prevent botulism. I'm doing a couple deer prosciuttos one artificial and one natural, and if I can find a way to test it cheaply, it would be interesting to test the nitrate levels at the end for both. It is entirely possible the natural cure is higher!

When I started to learn about curing meats, this caused me some consternation, because I don't personally want cancer. There is some evidence that a healthy glutathione peroxidase system from a good diet can decrease that risk dramatically, which is largely a mineral-based enzyme family. Types of cooking are also important, for instance don't dry-fry bacon. The production of these nasty compounds is highest as the internal temperature of the meat goes up, so let it stay kind of floppy or finish it in the microwave (which isn't very permie). Try to cold-smoke meats (I do turkey at just over 160F for five hours and they are much smaller than domestic birds).

There are lots of other places that nitrosamines can be found. Fermentation of vegetables with certain fungi (I want to say especially aspergillus) can lead to production of nitrosamines, this is likely the reason upper GI cancers are so prominent in largely vegetarian diets in Asia that use kimchi or similar methods. Aflatoxin from molds especially in peanuts are a big deal. Stir-frying many green veggies produces nitrosamines for sure. So there are pitfalls in several types of preservation/preparation. Canning is probably the safest due to the lower temperatures, but obviously for meat this has special caveats.

Everything can kill you, so modify the risks and move on.
 
master pollinator
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So what of dehydrated meats, as in, from a relatively low-temperature process like a solar dehydrator? Sure, any nitrite/nitrate-containing vegetables, like the aforementioned celery, will continue to contain them, but if the meat is dessicated, such that no enzymatic activity is possible, and so no carcinogens are formed by heat, shouldn't that produce a nitrite/nitrate-free preserved meat product?

-CK
 
pollinator
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Would that nitrates/nitrites were our only concerns. My hubby cures our meats - in fact, he does all our charcuterie. Bacon, corned beef, pastrami, sausages.. So I've a good idea just how much of the 'pink salt' goes into these items. About a pinch, in a 5lb batch of bacon, sausage, or ham, a tad more, in the corned beef & pastrami. Seriously. I agree that we should all be aware of what is in our foods, but I must admit that I'm far more concerned with the pesticides and herbicides that store bought foods - all of them, from our strawberries to our butter - are so fully saturated with.





(Edited for spelling, & to add the missing meat in question! )
 
Tj Jefferson
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So what of dehydrated meats



Chris, those are preserved by removing moisture. No one will eat my prosciutto (except the dog- maybe) if I remove that amount of moisture. Thick cuts means you need to osmotically remove moisture, with salt or sugar typically. The moisture has to be pretty low to make it not support butulism. But you don't need or produce nitrates by drying without heat.

This cuts are somewhat protected because botulism grown in low oxygen tension. When thin meats go bad you smell it or they look moldy.

I did 50# of biltong this year which became only about 10-15# dry weight. One batch had some mold. Mold isn't going to kill you. Botulism will.

Starting out with drying is the same way I started. It lets you learn the characteristics of the drying process and drying is part of curing, just not the whole thing, and it is less complete drying. I'm struggling to come up with a low-tech way of maintaining humidity actually in my curing. Next year I think I will rub with lard. It is on my list of skills to improve!  
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
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I must admit that I'm far more concerned with the pesticides and herbicides that store bought foods



That and nutrient density are the reasons I do this stuff. Honestly I think for me the nutrient density is the number one factor, if you consider the natural ability of the body to detoxify a wide range of nasty things in moderation with excellent nutrition versus the ability to detoxify as much as possible with poor nutrition, the answer to me is clear.
 
pollinator
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Carla Burke wrote:Would that nitrates/nitrites were our only concerns. My hubby cures our meats - in fact, he does all our charcuterie. Bacon, corned beef, pastrami, sausages.. So I've a good idea just how much of the 'pink salt' goes into these items. About a pinch, in a 5lb batch of bacon, sausage, or ham, a tad more, in the corned beef & pastrami. Seriously. I agree that we should all be aware of what is in our foods, but I must admit that I'm far more concerned with the pesticides and herbicides that store bought foods - all of them, from our strawberries to our butter - are so fully saturated with.



That is my gut reaction as well.

I watched forks over knives and magic pill documentaries. Similar outcomes in turning peoples health around, different approaches.

The china study referenced in forks over knives makes no distinction between grass fed organic meat and major supply chain meat.

Here is my laymans theory...meat is the top of the food chain and it concentrates the good and the bad from the food chain beneath it. The old you are what you eat addage.

So , good wild sourced meat is mineral rich, anti,flammatory, and good for us. Sprayed grain fed meat has concentrated toxins that overload our excratory system and damage our gut biome.

This, if true, would explain why tribal people who eat lots of wild meat, have low to no cancer.

Conclusion: eat more squirrels
 
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Processed meats and cheese are high histamines.  But if your diet and  your body are fully functional there is some histamine cancellation DAO or  something like that around the tail end of the gut tract.  I only have a ged, but if I were to try to guess what the cause would be I would guess histamines, goes into inflammation, goes into health problems.

 
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