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Processed meats can cause colorectal cancer in humans, says WHO

Tuesday, October 27th 2015 - 09:39 UTC
Full article 9 comments
Each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, the agency estimated. Each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, the agency estimated.
A 50-gram portion would be the equivalent of eating one hot dog or two slices of bacon. Americans eat about 21.7 grams of processed pork per day A 50-gram portion would be the equivalent of eating one hot dog or two slices of bacon. Americans eat about 21.7 grams of processed pork per day
Red meat was classified as probably carcinogenic in IARC's group 2A list, joining glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers. Red meat was classified as probably carcinogenic in IARC's group 2A list, joining glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers.
The Canadian Meat Council, rejected the findings as simplistic, and North American Meat Institute said the IARC report “defies common sense.” The Canadian Meat Council, rejected the findings as simplistic, and North American Meat Institute said the IARC report “defies common sense.”

Eating processed meats like hot dogs, sausages and bacon can cause colorectal cancer in humans, and red meat is also a likely cause of the disease, World Health Organization (WHO) experts said.

 The review by WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), released today, said additionally that there was some link between the consumption of red meat and pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

IARC classified processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” on its group one list along with tobacco and asbestos, for which there is “sufficient evidence” of cancer links.

Each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, the agency estimated.

A 50-gram portion would be the equivalent of eating one hot dog or two slices of bacon. Americans eat about 21.7 grams of processed pork per day, according to a 2011 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Red meat was classified as probably carcinogenic in IARC's group 2A list, joining glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers.

The IARC examined some 800 studies during a meeting of 22 health experts earlier this month.

”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.

The classification for red meat, defined as all types of mammalian meat including beef, lamb and pork, reflected ”limited evidence” that it causes cancer. The IARC found links mainly with colorectal cancer - which is a cancer that starts either in the colon or rectum - but also observed associations with pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Inconclusive evidence of a link between processed meat and stomach cancer was also observed, it said.

The news prompted animal rights activists People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to offer free vegan diet starter kits and outraged agriculture groups.

The Canadian Meat Council, which represents meat packers such as Maple Leaf Foods (MFI.TO) and the Candian-based units of Cargill Ltd. [CARGIL.UL] and JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), rejected the findings as simplistic, while trade group North American Meat Institute said the IARC report “defies common sense.”

Some scientists and researchers said the news may not add much to long-standing health recommendations to limit consumption of such meat.

The IARC does not compare the level of risk associated with different substances in a given category, so does not suggest eating meat is as dangerous as smoking.

“Nobody is telling people not to eat meat,” said David Wallinga, senior health officer for health and environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council. “What they're saying is if you eat it, eat less of it and buy it from sources that have produced it better.”

Top Comments

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  • Klingon

    Not going to stop me from eating lomo's and vacio's .
    Probably some vegan smuck conducted these results.

    Oct 27th, 2015 - 11:46 am 0
  • The Voice

    Ignore this report - its all spam.

    Oct 27th, 2015 - 02:09 pm 0
  • Conqueror

    It has to be understood that ingesting anything is potentially harmful. Is there anything that hasn't, at some time, be classified as potentially harmful. Fat, non-fat, salt, sugar. The list is almost endless. Unfortunately, if you don't eat, you die.

    Why is it that bodies like WHO never consider that some people may be cancer-prone.

    But more than that, can you imagine the particulates spewed out by diesel engines? Where's WHO saying that diesel engines have to be banned? Perhaps WHO, and others, only report what is politically expedient?

    Oct 27th, 2015 - 02:36 pm 0
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