World Health Organization: Processed Meats Cause Cancer

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Very sad news for bacon fans.

The World Health Organization announced Monday that cured and processed meat like bacon, sausage, hot dog and ham cause cancer, adding the foods to a top-tier listing of carcinogenic substances that includes alcohol, cigarettes, asbestos, and arsenic.

Processed meat can be bundled with these threatening carcinogens because of their link with bowel cancer, according to a report from WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, though their inclusion doesn’t mean that bacon causes cancer at the same rate as, say, smoking.

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal( bowel) cancer because of their intake of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed, ” IARC epidemiologist Dr. Kurt Straif said in a statement.

The agency estimates that a 50 -gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increased the risk for bowel cancer by 18 percent. That’s about three slicings of cooked bacon.

The report also links red meat to cancer. It categorizes beef, lamb and pork as “probable” carcinogens in a second-tier listing that also includes glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers.

The findings, which are based on more than 800 analyses, are already find pushback from meat industry groups that argue meat is part of a balanced diet and that the cancer risk assessments needs to expand to include danger in the context of lifestyle and environment.

“We simply dont believe the evidence support any causal link between any red meat and any type of cancer, ” said Shalene McNeill, executive director of human nutrition at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Such lifestyle and environmental risks have been studied extensively, however, and the IARC noted this broader context was included in the study:

In making this evaluation, the Working Group took into consideration all the relevant data, including the substantial epidemiological data showing a positive association between intake of red meat and colorectal cancer and the strong mechanistic proof. Consumption of red meat was also positively associated with pancreatic and with prostate cancer.

Both processed and red meat have been linked with cancer in the past. A 2013 analyse from researchers at the University of Zurich found that ingesting processed meat increased the risk of dying from both heart disease and cancer. In 2012, a review published in British Journal of Cancer linked meat like bacon and sausage to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, a disease with particularly poor survival rates. It’s no secret that red meat is rife with bad cholesterol and fats that are tied to diabetes and heart disease.

Unfortunately, the average American devours about 18 pounds of bacon each year. Our nation eats more red meat than most of the world, though consumption has begun to dip in the past couple of years. In 2014, chicken was more popular than beeffor the first time in over 100 years, showing that the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendations for feeding on “leaner meats” may be making an impact on the national plate.

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