MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After decades of research, the World Health Organization announced on Monday that processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts raise the risk of cancer.

They also announced that red meats may contribute to the disease, too.

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Since so many of us love to grill out, how much red meat should we be eating?

Experts say the new study doesn’t mean you should stop eating red meat, cold turkey.

“Red meat can fit in a healthy diet in moderation,” said Debra Sheats, an assistant professor at St. Catherine University who specializes in nutrition. “I think that’s the key thing people need to understand.”

She said that red meat has some of the highest levels of iron, B vitamins, and it’s a great source of protein.

“Just keep it in moderate portions,” Sheats said.

Instead of making half your plate red meat, half of it should be fruits and vegetables, Sheats advises. The other half should be split between grains and meat.

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“A serving of any kind of meat for example, would be the size of a deck of cards. About 3 ounces,” Sheats said.

Sheats recommends 3 ounces of meat at lunch and dinner. Maybe even a little less for breakfast.

She also said it’s a good idea to look for leaner cuts of meat. With sirloins, you can trim the fat, and with hamburger, she recommends 93 percent lean.

“Just watch the moderation,” Sheats said. “It’s moderation. It’s portion control.”

Sheats said red meat would qualify as beef, pork, lamb, because they all have similar nutrient content.

The meat industry protested Monday’s news, saying that cancer isn’t caused by a specific food, that other factors are involved, like lifestyle and the environment.

Sheats said she agrees with that.

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She said these studies show association, but that doesn’t mean causation.

John Lauritsen