According to the World Health Organization, for each 50 gram portion of processed meat, the risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18%.
This is a hefty claim, placing bacon, ham, sausages and other meats that have been modified to increase their shelf-life or taste – such as by smoking, curing or adding salt or preservatives, alongside cigarettes and other dangerous carcinogens. To put things in perspective 50g of processed meat is equal to about two slices of bacon, meaning that implementing meat into your daily breakfast is doing you more harm than good.
Red meat has also been labelled as “probably carcinogenic,” citing limited evidence as to it’s effect on health. Cancer Research UK spoke up about the new findings saying that this is reason to cut down on red and processed meat consumption. High temperature cooking, such as on a barbeque, can also create carcinogenic chemicals.
How bad is meat consumption?
The WHO has come to the conclusion on the advice of its International Agency for Research on Cancer, which assesses the best available scientific evidence. It has now placed processed meat in the same category as plutonium, but also alcohol as they definitely do cause cancer.
“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,”
– Dr Kurt Straif, WHO
The decision from the IARC, after a year of deliberations by international scientists, will be welcomed by cancer researchers. However, it has triggered a predictable response from the meat industry and the scientists it funds, as they are upset about the comparison between cigarettes and meat.
“What we do know is that avoiding red meat in the diet is not a protective strategy against cancer,” said Robert Pickard, a member of the Meat Advisory Panel and emeritus professor of neurobiology at the University of Cardiff. “The top priorities for cancer prevention remain smoking cessation, maintenance of normal body weight and avoidance of high alcohol intakes.”.
However, as the meat industry’s top priority is creating a profit, it is understandable that they would try to push this research under the rug. Unfortunately for the meat industry, as the negative health benefits of meat consumption continue to come to light, the benefits of vegetarianism, veganism and a plant-based diet are rapidly becoming more and more appealing.
If you’re looking to improve your health by changing your diet, infinite21 can help.
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