World Health Organization Declares Processed Meat Causes Cancer

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that bacon, sausage, hot dogs, deli meats and other processed meats cause cancer. After extensive research and evaluation, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm—classified bacon and other processed meats as “Group 1” carcinogens, along with cigarette smoking and asbestos. Group 1 carcinogens are those that have what the WHO describes as “sufficient evidence” on humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.

WHO defines “processed meat” as meat that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked or other processes used to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Some types of processed meats classified as Group 1 carcinogens include: “hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, biltong or beef jerky, and canned meat.”

Red meat consumption, in general, was also categorized as a Group 2A carcinogen, meaning that there is limited evidence that red meat consumption causes cancer in humans, with additional “strong mechanistic evidence” that supports the assertion that red meat causes cancer. Red meat is therefore classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

A group of 22 of the world’s leading cancer scientists from 10 countries formed the IARC committee involved in evaluating over 800 studies, exploring the relationship between meat consumption and more than a dozen different types of cancer before categorizing processed meat and red meat as carcinogens. For every 1.76 ounces of processed meat eaten daily, the scientists found an 18 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer. As a result, the WHO classifications come with advice to limit the intake of meat.

The World Health Organization recognizes the widespread ramifications of making such classifications, particularly in light of the widespread number of people who eat processed or red meat worldwide. Some of these ramifications will undoubtedly be economic ones, especially to the corporations producing these types of meats. But, increased awareness of the effects of high consumption of processed and red meats could help reduce the number of people suffering from cancer. Currently, the American Cancer indicates that more than 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer worldwide, every year.

While cigarette smoke and asbestos are also listed as Group 1 carcinogens, that doesn’t mean they are they are all equally carcinogenic, simply that there is sufficient research clearly linking these substances to cancer.

Other studies link processed meat consumption to all-cause mortality, such as one in BMC Medicine of 448,568 people over more than 12 years. Scientists concluded that eating processed meats significantly increases the risk of premature death.

While smoking or curing meats as well as adding questionable preservatives like nitrates are in part linked to the meats’ carcinogenic properties, they are not the only factors: how the meat is cooked plays a significant role. A study published Cancer Medicine determined that high temperature cooking methods such as pan-frying and oven-broiling red meat also increased the risk of cancer. When foods like red meat are heated over high temperatures or come in contact with grill flames, compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can form. Both compounds are known carcinogens.

Ready to switch to a plant-based diet? Here are 50 vegetarian recipes to get you started.

 

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193 comments

Don Pickerel
Donald Pickerel8 months ago

Did you think you would get away scot free with being a party to the torture, murder and emotional distress to sentient beings? There is such a thing as payback or "karma" and humanity is feeling the payback in force. Too bad but that\'s life. Humanity has to learn to do something decent for a change. Kill and be killed that\'s the way it works.

Don Pickerel
Donald Pickerel8 months ago

Did you think you would get away scot free with being a party to the torture, murder and emotional distress to sentient beings? There is such a thing as payback or "karma" and humanity is feeling the payback in force. Too bad but that's life. Humanity has to learn to do something decent for a change. Kill and be killed that's the way it works.

Mark Donner
Mark Donner8 months ago

Did you think you would get away scot free with being a party to the torture, murder and emotional distress to sentient beings? There is such a thing as payback or "karma" and humanity is feeling the payback in force. Too bad but that's life. Humanity has to learn to do something decent for a change. Kill and be killed that's the way it works.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus10 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dot C.
.about a year ago

Gosh! Reading this article makes me even more glad that I stopped eating meat and almost all dairy ears ago. I have so much more energy now than when I ate meat. And now, when I hold my pet, I don't have to feel hypocritical (what is it that PETA says -- why do you love one and yet eat the other?).

Maureen King
Maureen Kingabout a year ago

Al,Al,Al. Don't know if Gary is in the land of nod,(hope you're NOT insinuating that I put him there),but that's where l'm heading.Could respond Al,but I'm too tired. I will take the time to thank you for that very informative comment and for taking the time to enlighten us regarding your opinion about vegans.Hope you have a brilliant week.Cheers

Maureen King
Maureen Kingabout a year ago

Hey Gary. Don't know where you are,wherever it is,Thank you.Have a great day and week.Cheers

Al H.
Past Member about a year ago

Maureen, Maureen, Maureen, I think Gazza would be in the land of nod about now. How do I think vegans feel - tired, listless, self-righteous, lost, lonely, sick of preparing and cooking their meager offerings, mindful of taking their supplements .....

Maureen King
Maureen Kingabout a year ago

Gary,Gary Gary!!!. How do you think female vegans feel .OKAY,I'll SAY THIS AGAIN.You obviously haven't seen my previous comments.BUY ORGANIC,WHERE POSSIBLE ,PREFERABLY FROM FARMERS MARKETS.BUY LOCAL PRODUCE THAT'S IN SEASON. Don't buy food imported from other countries with suspect standards and practices.(sorry Gary I won't buy all the stuff imported from the U.S.A.,no offence intended.But being in Australia make an exception with produce from New Zealand.)How do YOU feel about all the chemicals,hormones,antibiotics and cruelty involved with the producing meat/meat products. I do love you Gary,don't make me mad. Have a lovely evening.

Al H.
Past Member about a year ago

Ouch ... me thinks I hit a nerve. :-)