by Tracy Rohland

Science continues to support the conclusion that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables is ideal for overall health and well-being. In contrast, new evidence is supporting the idea that high-meat diets can lead to cancer.

A recent study from the University of Hawaii revealed a probable link between processed meat consumption and pancreatic cancer. The multi-ethnic cohort study followed nearly 200,000 people for a seven-year period. It is the largest and most statistically significant study of its kind. In all, 482 cases of pancreatic cancer were reported. The results showed that those people who consumed large amounts of processed meat had a 67 percent higher risk of contracting pancreatic cancer. Additionally, those who consumed large amounts of pork and red meat were shown to have a 50 percent greater risk of this cancer.

Researchers suggest that the carcinogens produced during the processing of meat are responsible for this cancer link. Processed meat includes hot dogs, sausage, pepperoni, lunch meats, chicken nuggets, and of course, the king of processed meats, SPAM. Hormel, the manufacturer of this product, owes much of their success to the Hawaiian market. According to their statistics, "More than 122 million cans of SPAM are sold worldwide each year. In the United States , a can of SPAM is purchased every 3 seconds." On a per capita basis, Hawaii, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas and Alabama are the heaviest consumers of SPAM in the United States, and of these five states, Hawaii is the leader.

There are plenty of alternatives to hot dogs and pepperoni pizza that are free of carcinogens and will actually give you energy, rather than weighing you down or causing bloating. If you can not bear the idea of giving up hot dogs and burgers, try vegetarian hot dogs and burgers from Down to Earth. If you are into trying new ideas, we can suggest some great recipes. You can find these on the recipe section of our Web site. And check out this month's Health Tip for great meat alternatives.