It may not come as a surprise, but red meat likely causes cancer, and processed meat definitely does, at least according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Processed meat (bacon, sausages, hot dogs, etc.) has been deemed as carcinogentic
- It was linked to an 18% increased risk of colorectal cancer
- Red meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc.) has been labeled as probably carcinogenic
- It was associated with pancreatic and prostate cancer
There are risks of cancer everywhere, and we may be entering an age when that is literally the case. Numerous reports have spoken against the risks of consuming red meat, processed meat, or just meat in general, including nutrition experts. However, the issue has been avidly debated, in terms of benefits and drawbacks.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO), has officially added processed meat (bacon, sausages, hot dogs, etc.) on their list of 1,000 suspected carcinogens. The numbers have been growing since the 1970s, when their investigation first started. Red meat, on the other hand, has been labeled as ‘probably carcinogenic’ to humans.
The report released by the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC), has backed public recommendations to reduce the daily intake of meat. Processed meat, which was defined as products that were salted, smoked, or fermented, were met with a definite claim that it increases the risk of cancer. There was no ‘may’, ‘probably’, or ‘likely’.
This was due to the researchers who have found a definite link between colorectal cancer and processed meats. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer death occurring in the United States, claiming over 50,000 people in 2012. Now, it has been determined that each extra 50 grams of processed meat per day increases the risk of developing the ‘bowel cancer’ by 18%.
According to Dr. Kurt Straif, head of the WHO study, this gradually increases depending on the amount of meat consumed. It has also been linked to heightened risk of breast cancer, and may have a negative impact on prostate cancer.
Red meat refers to unprocessed mammalian meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, goat, or horse. It was associated with increased risk of prostate and pancreatic cancer. On the same matter, however, WHO did not make dietary recommendations. The organization did not mention what is the safe amount to consume.
Needless to say, the meat industry was not at all happy with the decision to include certain meats as ‘dangers for cancer’. The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) have protested and called out on the decision being a “dramatic and alarmist overreach”. Others have noted that WHO did not gain an unanimous vote on their suggested recommendations. It was settled by a majority.
According to Betsy Booren, vice president for NAMI, the scientists at WHO manipulated the data in order “to ensure a specific outcome”, thus challenging the legitimacy of their findings.