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Does meat cause cancer? Here is what we know

Bacon, everyone’s favorite processed meat, but does it cause cancer?  Over the last few days chaos has ensued over the recent information that was published by The World Health Organization (WHO) regarding red meat and processed meat.  But what are the actual facts? Here is what we know…

What is considered red meat?

  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Veal
  • Lamb
  • Mutton
  • Horse
  • Goat

What is a processed meat?

Processed meat is any meat that has been transformed to enhance flavor and preserve the meat by ways of salting, curing, fermentation, or smoking. Some example include:

  • Hot dogs
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Sausages
  • Corned beef
  • Beef jerky
  • Canned meat
  • Meat based preparations and sauces

What is a carcinogen?

A carcinogen is a substance that is capable of causing cancer in living cells.

The WHO has classified red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans, what does this mean?

There have been studies that have shown there is a positive link between eating red meat and developing colorectal cancer.  However this new classification of red meat was based on limited evidence, but none the less the evidence does show a correlation between red meat consumption and cancer.

Processed meat has been classified as carcinogenic to humans, what does this mean?

Studies have shown that there is a strong association between eating of processed meats and the development of colorectal cancer. This is due to multiple things, such as meat containing chemicals that form during the cooking process that are thought to be cancer causing.

Is eating bacon as bad as smoking?

No, bacon (processed meats) and tobacco are within the same category but that does not mean they are equally dangerous. When a substance is placed in a category it is looking at the amount of scientific evidence that proves it (in this case processed meat) causes cancer. It does not assess the level of risk.

Should I stop eating meat?

You do not have to cut out processed meats or red meats from your diet.There is evidence that proves eating meat is beneficial for humans.  As with most things moderation is the key component. However not only do processed meats have carcinogenic properties but they have been shown to increase risk for diabetes, and heart disease. Having a well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle with some indulgences every now and again is perfectly fine.  Let us know in the comments below what you think about the recently published information.

Source: WHO

 caption-arrow  Feature photo by jeffreyw

 

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