On October 26, 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that red and processed meats can increase your risk for colorectal cancer. The WHO pulled together 22 international experts to review over 800 studies to assess the link between cancer and the consumption of red and processed meats. After reviewing the data the, WHO concluded that 50 grams of processed meat a day (less than two slices of bacon) increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%. Meanwhile, the WHO said that red meats were “probably carcinogenic.”
In addition, the WHO findings concluded that high-temperature cooking methods generate compounds that may contribute to carcinogenic risk, but their role is not yet fully understood.
Lastly, the WHO acknowledges that eating meat has known benefits, such as it is a good source of protein. The WHO concluded that the risk of cancer increases with the amount of meat consumed. The WHO did not recommend a safe level of consumption.
Which red meats does the WHO refer to?
Red meats include: beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.
What is processed meat?
Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to flavor or improve preservation. Examples of processed meats includes bacon, sausages, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, beef jerky and ham as well as canned meat and meat-based sauces.
Does my race or ethnicity affect my risk of developing colon cancer?
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women and it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States in both men and women. According to the Center of Disease Control, blacks have the highest rate of getting colorectal cancer. Also, black men and women were more likely to die of colorectal cancer than other races.
Alternatives to red and processed meat.
The WHO does not give specific recommendations. But here is a list of other healthy protein alternatives:
Like with everything, moderation is key. Eating bacon every once in a while is likely not going to hurt you. But if your diet is high in red and processed meats, you should cut back.