World Health Organization says processed meat is carcinogenic

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the Cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans.

According to details released about the study on Monday, the WHO says experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

“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,” says 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.”

Processed meat refers to meat that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked and other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation.


"This is not coming out of left field. There has been a long bit of data about this," said Dr. Arun Swaminath, gastroenterologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC. "What we don't know so far is dose and duration."

But some experts say you won't have to give up the burgers just yet.

Shalene McNeill of the National Cattleman's Beef Association says scientific evidence does not prove a cause and effect between red or processed meat and cancer.

"Billions of dollars have been spent on studies all over the world, and no single food has ever been proven to cause or cure cancer," said McNeill.

The American Cancer Society is not commenting on the research yet, but they’ve recommended for a long time that people limit their consumption of red and processed meats.