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WHO: Processed Meats Do Cause Cancer

27/10/2015

WHO: Processed Meats Do Cause CancerPeople have talked about the possible negative effects of processed meat for a long time and numerous studies linking high consumption of red and processed meats with higher risk of colorectal cancer have even influenced public health recommendations in some countries.

But now a report compiled on behalf of the World Health Organisation by a working group of 22 experts from 10 countries around the world has concluded that there is an association with eating processed meats and colorectal cancer risks.

The findings, published recently in The Lancet Oncology, said that 50g of processed meat a day, which is equivalent to less than two slices of bacon, increased a person’s chances of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.

Furthermore, the study said that red meats were “probably carcinogenic, but there was limited evidence to comment further.

However, despite these findings, the WHO also emphasised that there are still health benefits associated with eating meat. Cancer Research UK’s advice is that people should cut down on their consumption of red and processed meats, rather than give them up completely. In fact, the organisation said that the occasional bacon sandwich would do little harm.

Processed meat is meat that has had its shelf life extended or its taste changed by means of smoking, curing, or adding preservatives or salt. Bacon, sausages, hotdogs, corned beef, salami, ham, beef jerky and other canned meats are all considered “processed”.

Chemicals used during the processing of the meats are thought to be carcinogenic catalysts, as is high-temperature cooking such as on a barbecue.

Dr Kurt Straif from the WHO said: “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.”

 

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