A new study shocked us into thinking healthier last year, when the World Health Organization came out with the claim that for each 50 gram portion of processed meat, the risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18%.
This is an astounding and shocking claim for meat eaters as it places the bacon, ham, sausages and other meats that have been modified by smoking, curing or adding salt or preservatives, alongside other dangerous carcinogens, such as cigarettes.
Considering that 50g of processed meat is equal to two slices of bacon, this claim is not just talking about overconsumption, but instead suggests that avoiding processed meat altogether should be part of maintaining a healthy diet.
Through this study, red meat has also been labelled as “probably carcinogenic,” citing limited evidence as to it’s effect on health. Cancer Research UK spoke up about the new findings saying that this is reason to cut down on red and processed meat consumption. Additionally, high temperature cooking, such as on a barbecue, can also create carcinogenic chemicals.
Just how bad is meat consumption?
The WHO has come to the conclusion on the advice of its International Agency for Research on Cancer, which assesses the best available scientific evidence. It has now placed processed meat in the same category as plutonium and alcohol as substances which can definitely cause cancer:
“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,”
– Dr Kurt Straif, WHO
The decision from the IARC, after a year of deliberations by international scientists, will be welcomed by cancer researchers.
Unfortunately for the meat industry, as the negative health benefits of meat consumption continue to come to light, the benefits of a plant-based diet such as vegetarianism and veganism are rapidly becoming more and more appealing as these better contribute to maintaining overall health and longevity.