WHO agency says processed meats causes cancer
Eating processed meats like hot dogs, hamburgers and corned beef cause cancer, while red meat can probably have the same result, according to the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said today that after evaluating red meat and processed meat, it found the latter to be “carcinogenic to humans . . . based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer”.
As for red meat which includes beef, veal, pork, lamb and mutton, the cancer agency said it is “probably carcinogenic to humans” and could cause colorectal cancer, as well as pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.
The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.
“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” says Dr Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Programme.
“In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”
The IARC Working Group evaluated more than 800 studies that investigated associations of more than a dozen types of cancer with the consumption of red meat or processed meat in many countries and populations with diverse diets.
The most influential evidence came from large prospective cohort studies conducted over the past 20 years.
”These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat,” says Dr Christopher Wild, Director of IARC. “At the same time, red meat has nutritional value. Therefore, 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.”