On Monday, the World Health Organization announced that they are now classifying processed meats are carcinogenic to humans. Bacon, ham and sausages were listed as ranking alongside cigarettes as a major causes of cancer. Processed meat has now been placed in the same category as abestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.
Red meat, including beef, pork and lamb, may also cause cancer too, and has been labeled as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
The report comes from WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). They stated that there is a basis of sufficient evidence to link processed meat to colorectal cancer. There is also a positive association between processed meat and stomach cancer. Red meat is being linked with pancreatic and prostate cancer.
The IARC defines red meat as “unprocessed mammalian muscle meat—for example, beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, or goat meat—including minced or frozen meat; it is usually consumed cooked.”
Processed meat is being defined as any type of meat that is salted, cured or smoked to enhance its flavor or preserve it.
According to the IARC’s report, eating 50-grams of processed meat daily can increase your risk of cancer by 18%. To put that in perspective, 50 grams is equivalent to two slices of ham.
This newest development isn’t completely shocking for some though. For years many environmental and cancer research groups have been calling for everyone to cut back on their meat intake.
The National Resource Defense Council has stated the eating less meat is good for the environment, while the American Institute for Cancer Research has “been recommending that individuals reduce the amount of beef, pork, lamb and other red meats in their diets and avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage and hot dogs.”
Of course, the meat industry is refuting the claims. According to Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “Sadly, IARC’s report has already provoked new hysteria from the meat industry and is likely to stir up its allies in Congress.” Representatives of the meat industry claim that the IARC was looking for specific results and thus conducted their research in a way that would produce those results.
So the next question is—will lobbying from the meat industry have a profound effect on how processed meat is labeled in the United States?