PARIS (AFP) - Eating sausages, ham and other processed meats causes colon cancer, and red meat “probably” does too, an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday (Oct 26).
The findings support “recommendations to limit intake of meat,” said the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which compiled a review of more than 800 studies on the link between a meat diet and cancer.
“In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” IARC official Kurt Straif said in a statement.
[The IARC appears to be a agency dedicated to spreading alarm, as this article points out:
...when the IARC makes its decisions, it does not consider whether the substance in question is actually likely to cause cancer in the real world. Its panels do not assess whether a chemical will cause cancer – only if it is capable of causing cancer.
For an individual, the risk of getting cancer from eating processed meat was statistically “small", said the agency, but “increases with the amount of meat consumed.”
“Each 50g portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.” The report was compiled by 22 experts from 10 countries.
The evaluation revealed “strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect” for red meat consumption – mainly for cancer of the colon and rectum, but also the pancreas and prostate, said the agency based in Lyon, France.
Red meat includes beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.
As for processed meat, including hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, dried meat like beef jerky or South African biltong, canned meat or meat-based sauces, there was “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.” Meat can be processed in various ways, through salting, curing, fermentation or smoking.
Given that red meat is an important source of human nutrition, the results should help governments and regulatory agencies balance the risk and benefits of eating meat, said the agency.
It did not make a finding on whether the cooking method of meat affects the cancer risk.
The agency added processed meat to the same category of cancer-causing agents as tobacco smoke and asbestos, but stressed this did not mean it was just as dangerous.
[That's helpful. So WTF does that mean?]
Australia says WHO study linking processed meat to cancer is 'a farce'
Oct 26, 2015
SYDNEY (AFP) - One of the world’s top meat exporters Australia on Tuesday (Oct 27) ridiculed a landmark UN report linking sausages and ham to cancer, saying it was “a farce” to suggest they could be as lethal as cigarettes.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) analysed 800 studies from around the world and found that processed meats such as sausages, ham, and hot dogs cause bowel cancer, and red meat “probably” does too.
It placed processed meat into its Group 1 category of carcinogens. Other substances in the group include alcohol, asbestos and tobacco.
“No, it shouldn’t be compared to cigarettes and obviously that makes the whole thing a farce – comparing sausages to cigarettes,” Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce told national radio.
[Well, to be fair, sausages and cigarettes are both cylindrical or tubular...]
“I don’t think that we should get too excited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer because you’re not. You just don’t want to live on sausages.” The Australian meat industry’s research and development corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia, said “promoting red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet is important”.
“Red meat such as beef and lamb is a critical, natural source of iron and zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 – essential nutrients needed to keep the body and brain functioning well,” it said in a statement.
Australians are among the biggest consumers of meat in the world. They also have the eighth highest incidence of colorectal cancer globally, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.
[If they are the biggest consumers of meat, then they should have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer. Instead they lead the world in skin cancer. I think red meat causes skin cancer.]
Cancer Council Australia estimates that red and processed meats are associated with around one in six bowel cancers diagnosed in the country.
Back to a cave
Meat producers elsewhere were also sceptical of the report with the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) saying IARC “tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome”.
NAMI vice president Betsy Booren pointed to the high consumption of processed meats as part of the Mediterranean diet, yet “people in countries where the Mediterranean diet is followed, like Spain, Italy and France, have some of the longest lifespans in the world and excellent health”.
In Hong Kong, where bowel cancer is the number two top-killing tumour, the food industry blasted the findings as “too rash” saying they failed to specify what kind of preservatives and additives in processed meat are carcinogenic.
“They should explain if some processed food does not contain these kinds of additives, the risk of causing cancer would be lower,” Simon Wong Ka-wo, chairman of the Chamber of Food and Beverage Industry, told the South China Morning Post.
Australia’s Joyce said “the biggest thing is to make sure you get a balanced diet” as it was impossible for humans to avoid every cancer causing toxin in modern day life.
“If you got everything that the World Health Organization said was carcinogenic and took it out of your daily requirements, well you are kind of heading back to a cave,” he said.
“If you’re going to avoid everything that has any correlation with cancer whatsoever – don’t walk outside, don’t walk down the streets in Sydney, there’s going to be very little in life that you do in the end.”
The IARC evaluation revealed “strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect” for red meat consumption – mainly for cancer of the colon and rectum, but also the pancreas and prostate, said the agency based in Lyon, France.
As for processed meat, including hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, dried meat like beef jerky or South African biltong, canned meat or meat-based sauces, there was “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”
[Ok. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, as the name explicitly spells out, exists to find cancer-causing agents. Meat and Livestock Australia exists to sell meat.
Should you be surprised that one sees carcinogen in almost everything, and the other is upset about a study that finds meat causes cancer?
My take on it is very simple. Meat causes cancer the way roads cause tyres to wear out.
We aren't meant to live forever. Nor is the purpose of life to die with a pristine body. Life is to be spent, not to be saved.
The fear of death does not keep us from dying. It only keeps us from living.
If you are a vegan, take comfort in the IARC's finding.
If you love bacon (or meat), feel free to reject the IARC's message. Unless you want to live forever.]