- Processed meats can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent
- The study investigated connections of cancer with the intake of processed meat
- World Health Organization notes that meat has health benefits too
- WHO advises people to cut down rather than give up processed meats
- Experts say having a healthy diet is all about moderation
Consuming processed meats – such as bacon, sausages and ham – can increase your risk of developing cancer, warns the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN health agency said 50g of processed meat a day – less than two slices of bacon – increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
The study was conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the WHO. Researchers examined the ability of the consumption of red meat and processed meat to cause cancer.
They analyzed more than 800 researches that investigated connections of more than a dozen types of cancer with the intake of red meat or processed meat in many countries with diverse diets.
“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. In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” says Dr. Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Program.
However, the WHO noted that meat also had health benefits, and the new finding was a reason to cut down rather than give up processed meats.
They added that an occasional bacon sandwich would not harm your health and having a healthy diet is all about moderation.
“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,” says Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of IARC.
Red meat: all mammalian muscle meat, such as pork, lamb, mutton, horse, beef, veal and goat. The meat that has been modified through salting, curing, fermentation or smoking is known as processed meat. Such modification methods enhance the flavor of the meat or improve preservation quality. It is the chemicals used in the processing that could be raising the risk of cancer.
Examples of processed meat include hot dogs, ham, corned beef, and biltong and similar meat-based preparations. The WHO said its findings would help countries give a balanced dietary advice to people.