Expert Mariana Stern spoke with @LAmag's editor-in-chief @MaryMeltonLA about the new findings about carnivorism and cancer. Here's what she told us:
  1. What do you mean by processed meats?
    "Processed meats are meats that have been transformed by techniques like salting, curing, fermenting, or smoking. This includes bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and cold cuts."
  2. What about preserved fish?
    "That wasn’t included in the study. However, I want to mention that a previous evaluation from the WHO indicated that salted fish was a risk factor for nasopharyngeal cancer."
  3. Is wood-fire grilling hurting my health?
    "Meat cooked over flames is known to accumulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been linked to cancer. Also, meats cooked at high temperatures (flames or no flames) accumulate heterocyclic amines, which are powerful carcinogens."
  4. Isn't sausage just meat ground up and seasoned? How does that turn into a cancer-causer?
    "By the addition of nitrate salts and other chemical compounds. In the human body, nitrate salts are known to form powerful carcinogens called nitrosamines. Processed meats that are smoked may contain additional carcinogens."
  5. What about unprocessed beef and pork—are they harmful too?
    "One of the key mechanisms by which red meat may increase cancer risk is due to the presence of heme iron, a molecule that transports iron in blood. High doses of heme iron have been linked to several harmful effects in the body."
  6. What if I eat at a fancy restaurant that processes everything itself—is that better?
    "If they end up using a smaller amount of the nitrates for smoking, yes."
  7. I know that the study didn't outline dietary guidelines, but how much meat is safe to eat?
    "The World Cancer Research Fund advises limiting consumption of red meat to less than 500 grams per week, so roughly 71 grams per day, with as little as possible being processed meat. For comparison, a hamburger is between 66 to 85 grams."
  8. Has studying the potential effects of meat consumption changed the way you eat?
    "I have been studying the role of meat intake and cancer, and diet and cancer in general, for almost a decade now. And yes, it has influenced what I eat. I am currently a vegan."
  9. Still have questions? Read the full Q&A: http://bit.ly/1WhSMa9