Too much Bak Kwa may be REALLY bad for you, according to WHO!

Too much Bak Kwa may be REALLY bad for you, according to WHO!

Do you love Bak Kwa? The amount of calories in each slice may not be the only thing that should deter you from overeating

Bak Kwa - the ever popular Chinese New Year snack, despite containing high calories. It is a favourite among many, from your parents to even your kids.

This Chinese New Year, you have another reason not to over-indulge in these barbecued pork slices (no, afraid of piling on the kilos isn’t one of them) and lup cheong (Chinese sausage), another processed food commonly eaten during the festive period, are now reportedly considered carcinogenic.

Last October, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer announced that it considers processed red meat a Category 1 cancer-causing substance.

Dr Wong Seng Weng, medical director and consultant medical oncologist at The Cancer Centre said, "The scientific evidence linking the consumption of processed red meat with increased risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer, is definite and conclusive”.

Opting to go for organic goods may not help, according to Dr Wong, as he states that the use of nitrate-containing chemical preservatives may also lead to carcinogen formation.

"It is a myth that non-chemical means of curing meats is safe as chemical reactions involving the inherent fat and protein content of the meat will also lead to carcinogen formation," he said.

He added that the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry may make no difference to human cancer causation. "The use of growth hormones is potentially problematic in theory, but this has never been scientifically proven to raise cancer risk in reality," said Dr Wong.

There isn’t a safe limit for consuming processed red meat, though it will not harm you as much as smoking will. Dr Wong stated that you do not have to abstain from Bak Kwa or other processed red meat, but you should eat it in moderation as the “risk rises progressively with increased consumption”.

"The WHO estimated that an average consumption of an extra 50g of processed red meat a day will raise the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18 per cent. That is not a lot; only a few slices of Bak Kwa will touch 50g," he said.

The same report from the WHO also classified unprocessed red meat as a Category 2A carcinogen, which means that it could be considered as carcinogenic. Dr Wong said that the report mentioned that high-heat methods of food preparation, like grilling and deep frying, are more likely to lead to the formation of carcinogenic substances, as compared to low heat methods like steaming and boiling.

"Processed red meat cooked by grilling would potentially be a double whammy," he concluded.


News Source: The Straits Times

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Written by

Claudia Chia

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