Red Meat Can Cause Cancer

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: November 13, 2015

The World Health Organization Concludes Red Meat Can Cause Cancer

The above title or some form of it has been streaming across all forms of social media platforms including news platforms and has been causing a raging storm of conversations…

Conversations about what we eat…

This conversation isn’t anything new of course – especially with the rising controversies around all things vegan, gluten free and whether tofu is actually good for anyone’s tummy after all…

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Monday that red meat falls into the category of compounds that are “probably carcinogenic to humans,” Group 2A, while processed meats fall into the graver Group 1, compounds that are “carcinogenic to humans,” along with cigarette smoke and asbestos…

Please Make Note: this doesn’t mean meat is as bad for you as smoking, just that there’s enough evidence now to put in this category.

This evidence that various types of meat are linked to cancer has not been a new hypothesis but rather has been gaining momentum in recent years, so the WHO’s decision doesn’t come as a complete shock….

But it did, however, send waves of resistance in various health groups including resistance from various health practitioners that disagree on varying research on high fat, low carb diets involving a healthy amount of meat.

But as the article in Forbes states “For many who have resisted making dietary changes, the fact that the foods how fall along with the most serious carcinogens may help spark some change.”

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conducted an extensive review of the meat literature: 22 experts looked over 800 studies from all over the world on the links between diet and cancer, some of which spanned decades. Their determinations were revealed at a conference earlier this month.

“Based on the existing studies, the experts calculated the effects of eating increasing amounts of red or processed meat on a person’s cancer risk. For instance, every additional 50-gram portion of processed meat per day may increase 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.”

Not surprisingly the evidence was less dramatic for red meat, but the risk is supposedly still there, said the WHO, particularly in regard to “colorectal cancer.”

“These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat,” says Christopher Wild, Director of IARC. “At the same time, red meat has nutritional value. Therefore, these results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations.”

Here is how the WHO defines red meat: Any muscle meat from a mammal, including beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat. Processed meat includes hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef and beef jerky, as well as canned meat, “meat-based preparations,” and sauces.

The WHO experts add that high-temperature cooking methods (especially where charring is the product) may create compounds that additionally increase the carcinogenic properties of meat, but more research is needed here.

Thank you, Forbes for this article information.

*See the original WHO report on this research and findings

Doug Zanes
Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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