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Monday, October 26, 2015
Bad Day For Bacon: Processed Red Meats Cause Cancer, Says World Health Organization
The World Health Organization has deemed that processed meats — such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs — cause cancer.
In addition, the WHO says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are "probably carcinogenic" to people.
A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer, and concluded that eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Their evidence review is explained in an article published in The Lancet.
The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. But this does not mean that they are equally dangerous, says the International Agency for Research on Cancer — the agency within the WHO that sets the classifications. And it's important to note that even things such as aloe vera are on the list of possible carcinogens.
In a Q & A released by the IARC, the agency says that "eating meat has known health benefits," but also points out that the cancer risk increases with the amount of meat consumed. As we've reported, studies show that the heaviest meat eaters tend to have the highest risk.
The IARC says high-temperature cooking methods (such as cooking meat in direct contact with a flame) produce more carcinogenic compounds. However, the group says that there were not enough data "to reach a conclusion about whether the way meat is cooked affects the risk of cancer."
Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society says the society recommends "consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat," she told us in a written statement.
The recommendation, Gapstur tells The Salt, is based on research. For instance, a systematic literature review on colorectal cancer published in 2011 by the World Cancer Research Fund found a statistically significant, 16-percent increased risk of colorectal cancer associated with each 100 grams of red and processed meat consumed. As the ACS points out, this is an amount of meat roughly equivalent in size to a deck of cards. npr