For those of you who live and breathe for the taste of processed meat, you might want to rethink what you’re eating. Shiny-meat dreams were shattered this morning, all thanks to a damning report from the World Health Organization. Yes, it turns out that our favourite morning meats have been linked to cancer.
The WHO delivered one hell of a blow to those who love bacon, sausages, ham, hot dogs and other kinds of processed or canned meats when its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) revealed that processed meats like hot dogs and bacon can cause colorectal cancer.
According to the IARC’s press release, there is “sufficient evidence” that processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans.” It falls into the agency’s Group 1 carcinogens, which also includes tobacco products, alcohol and plutonium. Scary stuff, right? (But just because they’re in the same category does not make them equal. A bacon sammie is not as bad as smoking. Ever.)
Dr. Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Programme, said in the release that the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of processed meat “remains small,” but “this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed.” The report said 50 grams of processed meat a day (less than two slices of bacon) increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.
While the consumption of processed meats is in Group 1, eating red meat falls into Group 2A, which is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” So that involves any “mammalian muscle meat such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat.”
That may sound ominous, but just use common sense and don’t knock back handfuls of bacon every day. The WHO did stress that meat is also beneficial to one’s health. Red meat has nutritional value and is a major source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. It’s more a matter of cutting down and eating it in moderation than giving meat up entirely.
In any case, the report has likely got vegetarians everywhere doing the “I told you so” dance. But, for once, meat lovers might be listening.