Hot dogs and bacon are not good for you or your children.
Okay, well… maybe that doesn’t come as such a shock. It’s just that when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) starts throwing words around like “Group 1 Carcinogen”, it causes everyone to look at those cold cuts a bit differently.
But what exactly are the risks of eating meat, and what does that mean for our meat-eating diets going forward?
Eating processed meats like hotdogs, sausages, and bacon causes bowel cancer, while the consumption of red meats, including beef, pork, veal, and lamb, is probably carcinogenic, an international team of experts has concluded. They evaluated over 800 studies analyzing associations between more than a dozen forms of cancer with the consumption of processed or red meat in different countries and among populations with diverse diets.
Back in 2014, an international advisory committee listed the effects of consuming processed and red meats as a high priority study area for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs program. It’s well known that certain meats have an association with cancer; in this respect, the latest report, which now appears at The Lancet, offers very little that is new. It merely brought the existing literature together in a way that finally allowed scientists to make some definite proclamations about the cancer risks of eating processed and red meats.
After sifting through decades’ worth of scientific literature, an IARC working group of 22 experts from 10 countries classified the consumption of processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen to humans (processed meats are defined as meats that have been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation). This conclusion was reached on “sufficient evidence” that the consumption of processed meat causes bowel, or colorectal, cancer.
Other forms of cancer, such as stomach and pancreatic cancers, have also been linked to certain meats, though these associations have been more difficult to prove. The IARC group categorized red meat as a Group 2A probable carcinogen to humans based on the “limited evidence” showing that the consumption of red meat causes cancers in humans.
When the researchers say that there’s sufficient evidence, they’re claiming that there’s enough convincing evidence to show that these types of meats actually cause cancer—evidence gleaned from animal experiments, studies of human diet and health, and so-called mechanical causes, such as cell mechanisms, of cancer. As for the limited evidence showing that red meat is probably carcinogenic to humans, the researchers are saying that a positive association has been observed as it relates to the onset of colorectal cancer.
Want to know precisely what you should be doing in terms of managing risk and monitoring how much processed meat you should eat? Then, go to Gizmodo for the rest of the article!
Original image source: Paul Keller