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  1. Recently I discovered that almost all processed meat products contain phosphates in them, to make them look more red and juicy. I tried to look for the info about phosphates in meat, but there are so many articles, some saying that it is dangerous, some that it is ok. It is really hard to understand what it really is. I like the articles on this website, they are concise and seem to be unbiased. Would you be so kind and write an article on phosphates in meat? I hope community will support my proposal with votes, this is a question concerning everyone who likes meat.
  2. Phosphorus is an essential dietary element and may be either organic or inorganic. They are required for bone and teeth formation, involved in the utilisation of carbohydrate and fats, and are critical for the maintenance, repair and growth of all cells and tissues.[1] Naturally occurring organic phosphorous compounds are not completely absorbed by the body and do not pose any known risks for health. In fact reducing intake of these natural phosphates may even result in protein malnutrition.[2] However inorganic food-grade phosphates, usually in the form of either sodium or potassium salts, are readily absorbed and may present a risk to health.[2]  Inorganic phosphates are used as additives in many meat and poultry products such as sausages, hams and salami, but are not used in fresh meat. They serve many purposes including pH stabilisation, increasing water retention capacity, shelf life extension and the improvement of texture, colour, juiciness and flavour.[1] There is also a suggestion that these added phosphates are beneficial in that they provide an additional supply of essential phosphorous to the diet.[1] [3] However another, more worrying view is that the impact of phosphate additives on general public health has been underestimated, as high phosphorus intake may be associated with a increased risk of mortality.[2] [4] Indeed several studies verify the harmful effects of these food additives, which include an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and the progression of vascular calcification and plaque development within the arteries.[2] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] Elevated phosphorous levels have also been shown to promote bone loss and disordered mineral metabolism.[8] [9] In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or on dialysis, an excess of phosphorous can be dangerous[2] [5] [10] and contribute to renal impairment.[6] [7] [8] In fact one study showed that 12% of deaths in patients with advanced CKD (who have an annual mortality rate of 20%) were attributable to elevated serum phosphate.[2]  Lower socioeconomic groups may be more susceptible to these damaging effects, as they consume more “fast” and processed foods, known to have high phosphate content.[2] Between 1987 and 2007 average phosphorus consumption in the USA increased by 10–15%,[11] and as a result of recent concerns regarding health impact on the population, research is being carried out to find natural organic alternatives. The role of phosphate additives in meat products is largely commercial, enhancing visual ‘quality’, extending shelf life and enabling more water to be injected into the product. However these commercial benefits come with significant health risks. To avoid excessive phosphate intake, it is advisable to eat fresh meat instead of processed and avoid products containing phosphate additives whenever possible.     [1] Long, N. et al. (2011) Use of phosphates in meat products. African Journal of Biotechnology, 10(86), 19874-19882. [2]  Ritz, E. et al. (2012) Phosphate additives in food - a health risk. Deutsches Arzteblatt International, 109(4), 49-55. [3]  Carrigan, A. et al. (2014) Contribution of Food Additives to Sodium and Phosphorus Content of Diets Rich in Processed Foods. Journal of Renal Nutrition, 24(1), 13-19. [4] Chang, A. et al. (2014) High dietary phosphorus intake is associated with all-cause mortality: results from NHANES III. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(2), 320-327. [5] Sullivan, C. (2007) Phosphorous Containing Food Additives and the Accuracy of Nutrient Databases: Implications for Renal Patients. Journal of Renal Nutrition, 17(5), 350-354. [6] Kuro-o, M. (2011) A phosphate-centric paradigm for pathophysiology and therapy of chronic kidney disease. Kidney International Supplements, 3(5), 420-426. [7] Calvo, M. et al. (2014) Assessing the Health Impact of Phosphorus in the Food Supply: Issues and Considerations. Advances in Nutrition, 5(1), 104-113. [8] Calvo, M. (2013) Public health impact of dietary phosphorus excess on bone and cardiovascular health in the general population. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(1), 6-15. [9] Giachelli, C. (2009) The Emerging Role of Phosphate in Vascular Calcification. Kidney International, 75(9), 890-897. [10] Takeda, E. et al. (2014) Increasing Dietary Phosphorus Intake from Food Additives: Potential for Negative Impact on Bone Health. Advances in Nutrition, 5(1), 92-97. [11]  Noya, C. (2008). Evaluation of a High PH Solution as an Alternative for Phosphate Meat. (1st ed.). USA: ProQuest.
  3. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), dietary factors are thought to account for as much as 35% of all cancers.[1] The most noticeable correlation between diet and cancer is the fact that people who do not eat meat are much less likely to develop the disease.[2]  As shown by large studies, vegetarians are approximately 40% less likely to develop cancer than subjects who eat meat.[3] Another study investigated the link between meat consumption and cancer by observing cancer incidence in Seventh–Day Adventists, a religious group whose members avoid alcohol and tobacco. Approximately half of the population are vegetarian and half still eat meat, allowing for observations regarding the effects of meat-eating, separate from other lifestyle factors. Results indeed demonstrated that there was a significantly lower colorectal cancer risk in the vegetarian subpopulation than in the meat-eaters.[4]  A number of hypotheses have been suggested to explain the connection between meat consumption and cancer risk. Meat is devoid of fibre, and other nutrients, that have a protective effect against cancer. It is also high in animal protein and saturated fat, which form carcinogenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) during processing and/or cooking.[5], [6] The major classes of HCAs include amino-imidazo-quinolines and amino-imidazo-quinoxalines (collectively called IQ-type compounds) and amino-imidazo-pyridines such as 2-amino-1-methyl-6- phenylimidazo(4, 5-b)pyridine (PhIP). IQ-type compounds and PhIP are formed from creatine or creatinine (found in all meats), specific amino acids and sugars.[7] These HCAs are formed as meat (including chicken and fish) is cooked, even under normal grilling, frying or roasting conditions, and their formation increases with higher temperatures, and longer cooking times.[8], [9], [10], [11] One study that included 952 subjects with rectal cancer and 1,205 control subjects found that men and women with the highest consumption of processed or well-cooked meat had an increased risk of rectal cancer.[12] Other research has shown that the high fat content of meat (and other animal products) can increase hormone production within the body, thus increasing the risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.[13] One study found that consumption of a Western diet (especially large amounts of chicken, eggs and meat) increased the serum concentrations of estradiol, a hormone implicated in breast cancer.[14] The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published a review in 2007 of the major studies on food, nutrition and cancer prevention.[15] For cancers of the oesophagus, lung, pancreas, stomach, endometrium, and prostate, it was determined that red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meat consumption possibly increased cancer risk. For colorectal cancer, a review of the literature determined that there is convincing scientific evidence that red meat, processed meat, saturated/animal fat, and heavily cooked meat all increase cancer risk.[15]  The evidence is therefore clear that eating meat, particularly if processed or well cooked, increases the risk of developing cancer. The best option for cancer prevention through diet, therefore, is perhaps to become vegetarian, but this is not acceptable to many people. In which case a decrease in meat consumption (especially processed meats), and a reduction in meat cooking times are more viable options for reducing the risk of cancer development.   [1] Anand, P. et al. (2008) Cancer is a Preventable Disease that requires major lifestyle changes. Pharm Res. 25(9). 2097-116. [2] Lanou, AJ. & Svenson, B. (2010) Reduced cancer risk in vegetarians: an analysis of recent reports. Cancer Manag Res. 3. 1-8. [3] Sinha, R. et al. (2009)  Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med. 169(6). 562-71. [4] Orlich, MJ. et al. (2015) Vegetarian dietary patterns and the risk of colorectal cancers. JAMA Intern Med.  175(5). 767-76. [5] European Commission. (2011) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - Factsheet. Retrieved November 2016 from,  [6] Knize, MG. et al. (2002) Factors affecting human heterocyclic amine intake and the metabolism of PhIP. Mutat Res. 506-607. 153-62. [7] Schuirmann, E. & Eichner, K. (1991) [Formation of IQ-compounds in meat and meat products]. Z Ernahrungswiss. 30(1). 56-64. [8] Skog, KI. et al. (1998) Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in model systems and cooked foods: a review on formation, occurrence and intake.Food Chem Toxicol. 36(9-10). 879-96. [9] Thiebaud, HP. et al. (1995) Airborne mutagens produced by frying beef, pork and soy-based food. Food Chem Toxicol. 33(10). 821-8. [10] Sinha, R. et al. (1995) High concentrations of the carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo- [4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) occur in chicken but are dependent on the cooking method. Cancer Res. 55(20). 4516-9. [11] Murkovic, M. (2004) Formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines in model systems.J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 802(1). 3-10. [12] Murtaugh, MA. et al. (2004) Meat consumption patterns and preparation, genetic variants of metabolic enzymes, and their association with rectal cancer in men and Women. J Nutr. 134(4). 776-784. [13] Henderson, BE. & Feigelson, HS. (2000) Hormonal carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis. 21(3). 427-433. [14] Sanchez-Zamorano, LM. et al. (2016) The Western dietary pattern is associated with increased serum concentrations of free estradiol in postmenopausal women: implications for breast cancer prevention. Nutr Res. 36(8). 845-54. [15] AICR.(2007) Food, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Retrieved April 2016 from, 
  4. What is healthy cooked meat The health risks resulting from the cooking and consumption of charcoal grilled meat, poultry and fish have been acknowledged for several years. There is a lack of compelling evidence directly linking the act of charcoal grilling to cancer, as the exposure would need to be significant and of long duration. That being said, the risk obviously varies with both behaviour and general health, as some families do frequently cook food in this way, and an individual’s susceptibility to cancer is very variable. A more major concern, is that the chemicals produced within the food that is charcoal grilled have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. One large study of over 3,000 participants discovered that postmenopausal women who consume large quantities of grilled meat had a 47% increased risk of breast cancer.[1] BBQ smoke contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a group of over a hundred different chemicals found in the smoke emitted from the charcoal grilling of meat.[2] As a BBQ heats from below, the fat drips onto the coals and burns, creating smoke that is high in PAHs, which can cause lung damage and have been linked to lung and bladder cancer.[3] PAHs have the ability to damage cellular DNA, converting a normal cell to a cancerous one, and are therefore classified as carcinogens.[4] In addition to PAHs, flame-grilled meat also produces heterocyclic amines (HCAs).[5] HCAs are also classified as carcinogenic compounds, which are produced when amino acids (present in protein), and creatine (present in muscle) react at temperatures over 300͒ F (approx. 150͒ C).[6]This reaction commonly occurs during BBQing, where temperatures immediately above the flame can reach 500-1000͒ F (approx. 260-540͒ C). Research has revealed an association between HCAs and increased risk of prostate, pancreatic and colorectal cancers in adults.[7] [8] [9]   BBQing food can also cause the formation of nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic compounds produced by the reaction of nitrogen oxides and amines or amides contained in food.[10] These cancer-causing compounds are particularly concerning, as foods that are traditionally cooked on a BBQ are also those that are highest in amines (found in protein); meat and fish. BBQ cooking often includes meat, which is high in both protein and fat.  At high temperatures, a further chemical reaction occurs, producing toxins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs),[11]which are responsible for causing much of the damage caused by diabetes.[12] These toxins are linked to the imbalance of pro- and anti-oxidants, which can lead to significant inflammation within the body. This increased inflammation and oxidative stress can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.[11] [13] Given the harmful chemicals that charcoal grilling of meat produces, it may therefore prove sensible to not only limit the consumption of BBQed meat, but to also choose cuts and cooking methods that require minimal BBQing time, as the shorter the meat is grilled for, less harmful toxins are produced, reducing the risks to health.   [1] Steck, SE. et al. (2007) Cooked meat and risk of breast cancer- lifetime versus recent dietary intake. Epidemiology. 18(3). 373-82.   [2]European Commission. (2002) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - occurrence in foods, dietary exposure and health effects. Retrieved April 2016 from,   [3]Mastrangelo, G. et al. (1996) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and cancer in man. Environ Health Perspect. 104(11). 1166-70.   [4]Mordukhovich I. et al. (2016)  Polymorphisms in DNA repair genes, traffic-related polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure and breast cancer incidence. Int J Cancer. 139(2). 310-21.   [5]  Knize, MG. et al. (2002) Factors affecting human heterocyclic amine intake and the metabolism of PhIP. Mutat Res. 506-507. 153-62.   [6] National Cancer Institute. (2016) Chemicals in meat cooked at high temperatures and cancer risk. Retrieved April 2016 from,   [7]Anderson, KE. et al. (2002) Meat intake and cooking techniques: associations with pancreatic cancer. Mutat Res. 506-507. 225-31.   [8]Tang, D. et al. (2007) Grilled meat consumption and PhIP-DNA adducts in prostate carcinogenesis. Cancer Epedemiol Biomarkers Prev. 16(4). 803-8.   [9]Cross, AJ. et al. (2010) A large prospective study of meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk: an investigation of potential mechanisms underlying this association. Cancer Res. 70(6). 2406-14.   [10] Douglass, ML. et al. (1978) The chemistry of nitrosamine formation inhibition and destruction. J Soc Cosmet Chem. 29. 581-606.   [11]Uribarri, J. et al. (2010) Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet.  J Am Diet Assoc. 110(6). 911-16.   [12] Zhao, J. et al. (2014) Molecular mechanisms of AGE/RAGE-mediated fibrosis in the diabetic heart. World J Diabetes. 5(6). 860-7.   [13] Jones, DP. (2006) Redefining oxidative stress. Antioxid Redox Signal. 8(9-10). 1865-79.