Eating processed meat increases cancer risk: WHO report

According to a WHO study, processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausages have the same cancer risk as cigarettes.

By: PTI | London | Updated: October 26, 2015 6:20 pm
Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat fewer plant-based foods that protect against cancer. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Consuming processed meats such as bacon, sausages and ham and even red meat may pose cancer risk to humans, the WHO’s cancer research agency cautioned today.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organisation, evaluated the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.

After thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature, a Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans, based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.

This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans, based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.

The consumption of meat varies greatly between countries, with from a few per cent up to 100 per cent of people eating red meat, depending on the country, and somewhat lower proportions eating processed meat.

The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.

“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,” said Dr Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Programme.

“In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” said Straif.

The IARC Working Group considered more than 800 studies that investigated associations of more than a dozen types of cancer with the consumption of red meat or processed meat in many countries and populations with diverse diets.

The most influential evidence came from large prospective cohort studies conducted over the past 20 years.

“These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat,” said Dr Christopher Wild, Director of IARC.

“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,” said Wild.


For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App

  1. D
    Oct 24, 2015 at 5:34 pm
    The Collegium has been a fraud on the Republic of India. The Bakwas 1000 page judgement can be bolied down to two pages: which essential consist of the argument that the 2nd and 3rd Judges cases are gospel truth, therefore the NJAC is unconsutional. The argument of Rohatgi and mine is that 2nd and 3rd Judges cases were unconsutionally decided, and moreover no longer valid. The 5 Judge Bench was not competent to relook at the 2nd and 3rd Judges cases, so its hands were tied, and their result was expected. The Law Minister seems lost to not challenge this to a higher 9 or 11 Judge Bench. I will file the challenge myself as a Writ Peion.
    1. Ashish Kothari
      Oct 27, 2015 at 10:41 pm
      This is called selective reporting - reporting facts that you want to publish and hiding those that you don't. This article mostly talks about processed meat and does not mention that eating Red Meat - the meat from Cow/Beef, Pork, Goat etc., can all potentially lead to cancer. Looks like people who are against cow slaughter are not wrong at all. Bad news for politicians and media who make it an issue. Want to live long and healthy? Become a vegetarian now! Here's the WHO report in case you are interested... E.pdf
      1. B
        Oct 25, 2015 at 12:53 am
        Eating nonveg is a bad karma. You will pay for every killing. Karm will do the justice!
        1. Nagar Iyer
          Oct 24, 2015 at 4:20 pm
          (Continuous consumption of PROCESSED MEAT will guarantee COLON or INTESTINE cancer within a year. ) -----------(Continuous consumption of meat straight from SLAUGHTER HOUSE will ure BOWEL or COLON cancer in 3 years.) -----------(Nobody who consumes MEAT can escape is known to escape the clutches of cancer)-----------(Many of them die even before DIAGNOSIS or unable to bear the DIAGNOSTIC charges)
          1. S
            Saurabh Srivastava
            Oct 24, 2015 at 7:03 pm
            Hope some news channel will say researchers are influenced by RSS.spreading communal agenda
            1. Load More Comments