So I feel like this blog series could not come at a better time. I have been meaning to blog again and I honestly have not had the time to do so, unless I wanted to pull an all-nighter. So here we are, it’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This month is all about raising awareness for colorectal cancer. Raising money for research, educating everyone about it, and just the overall fight against the SECOND deadliest cancer in the nation.

You can help from the comfort of your home or get out there and run a fundraising event, either way you WILL make a difference in this fight. One particular organization that is near and dear to my heart is Fight Colorectal Cancer, aka Fight CRC. Please check them out if you haven’t already!

So I am going to touch on some dietary questions that have been brought to my attention the last couple of days by caregivers, survivors, and colorectal cancer fighters. As someone with a passion for nutrition and dietetics it kills me that more emphasis isn’t put on carcinogenic dietary factors. I’m going to get a little nerdy, so bear with me. If you have ANY questions please use the contact page, leave a comment, or hunt me down on twitter/instagram and shoot me a message.

The first topic that I want to discuss in this series is: red and processed meat. I want to stress this, this one is extremely important. I’m not telling you to NEVER eat red or processed meat again but I AM saying the research speaks for itself. The evidence is insane, in the last THIRTY years there has been growth of colorectal cancer in those who are eating more red meat. Researchers believe there are several reasons why this could be occurring. I thought if you KNEW the reasons why this was happening you would be able to have a better understanding. Anyone can say: “hey, you shouldn’t eat that because it can cause cancer”. How many people will be able to tell you WHY it can cause cancer? Not too many, and now you can be one of them.

  1. The combination of increasing fat and meat intakes.
  2. Cooking meat at high temperatures: this produces a compound called HAA.
  3. Consuming nitrites and nitrates in processed meats: these are added to foods as preservatives and produce N-nitroso compounds.

Both HAA and N-nitroso compounds (or N-nitrosoamines) are what is known as genotoxic. This means that they act directly on the DNA when they are produced in the body, either by causing mutations in the DNA or deleting/inserting the DNA sequence. This knowledge is especially important when we look at the numbers:

  • Those who eat 100g per day of red meat OR 50g per day of processed meat will increase their risk of colorectal cancer by 15-20%.
  • When we raise intake to 160g per day we see risk increase by 35% (compared to someone consuming 20g per day).
  • When looking at 20g per day of processed meat intake in addition to those 160g per day of red meat, this can increase the risk by almost 50%.
  • If red meat is consumed more than once a day, risk increases up to 37% for colon cancer and up to 43% for rectal cancer respectively.
  • When consumed only once per day, risk is increased by 21%. That’s a solid 16-22% difference.
This little graphic I found gives an idea of how much meat you may be consuming.


With this information in mind, you can decrease your risk by cutting down on both red meat and processed meat intakes. If you find that you can’t live without steak or a big juicy burger: try to cut that down to something you only eat once per week (or even every 2 weeks) and try having chicken/turkey burgers instead. There are also many awesome vegetarian options that can be used: tofu, tempeh, etc. If you’re interested in a detailed list of veggie options I can write about that in the future, just leave me a comment/contact me!

I hope this helped y’all understand a little bit more about why red and processed meat can increase colorectal cancer risk! As always, thank you for reading! 🙂