World Health Organization Declares Bacon and Other Processed Meats Carcinogens
Monday, October 26, 2015
October 26th, 2015
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new report today classifying ham, bacon, sausage and other processed meats as "carcinogenic to humans" based on hundreds of studies.
A panel of 22 scientists from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France looked at over 800 studies spanning multiple continents to reach their conclusion. The verdict? Processed meats are carcinogenic to humans, leading to colon, stomach and other cancers.
Meat industry groups immediately went on the offensive, categorizing the results as biased and misleading. According to the North American Meat institute, “cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods”.
The WHO report found that eating just 50 grams of processed meat per day can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18% (processed meat has been salted, cured, smoked, or otherwise transformed to boost flavor or preservation). These products were placed into the same category as smoking and asbestos due to the certainty of a link with cancer.
Foods such as hot dogs, sausages and bacon have been the subject of scientific scrutiny for decades, with health experts repeatedly suggesting that there is a link between consuming them and developing cancer. Today’s announcement by the WHO, however, takes the idea a step further. It says that these foods definitely cause cancer, and that red meat “probably” does as well.
“These results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations,” said Christopher Wild, head of the WHO’s cancer agency, in a statement.
The IARC report, released on Monday (October 26, 2015), put processed meat in its group 1 list, which also includes tobacco and asbestos, stating that there is "sufficient evidence" of cancer links. Red meat was classified as probably carcinogenic in IARC's group 2A list, to which it has also added this year glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers.
"For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed," Dr. Kurt Straif of the IARC said in a statement.
Consuming processed meat once in a while probably won't kill you. However, we believe this is yet another great reason to start adding more veggies to your plate!