Red Meat Causes Cancer? Sounds Like Bull

Red Meat Causes Cancer? Sounds Like Bull

Red Meat Causes Cancer? Sounds Like Bull

If you’re a paleo fan or Atkins diet devotee — or simply a die-hard carnivore — you may be putting your life at risk, a new study reveals.

Eating processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs and sausage puts you at risk of getting cancer, according to a report released Monday by the World Health Organization. The WHO put processed meats — defined as meats that have been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation — in the highest of five categories in terms of their cancer-causing potential, along with cigarettes, arsenic, plutonium and asbestos.

What’s more, the organization says red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” though this was based on more limited evidence. To reach these conclusions, the WHO reviewed more than 800 studies that investigated the association between more than a dozen types of cancer and the consumption of red meat or processed meat in many different countries.

Flying in the face of this evidence, there are studies that don’t show a link between meat eating and cancer, including a study of roughly 60,000 participants released last year that which showed that bowel cancer occurred at relatively similar rates among meat eaters and vegetarians. Plus, as the WHO notes, the cancer risk from consuming processed meat is low: “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small.”

The North American Meat Institute, in a statement issued today, said “scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health.”

Still, for meat devotees, the WHO report is, no doubt, disturbing. The good news: You don’t have to ditch those meat-filled backyard barbeques just yet.


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