WHO Report Links Consumption of Processed and Red Meat to Cancer

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LYON, FRANCE — Eating processed and red meat can cause cancer, according to a new report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

That means hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef and beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces are classified as carcinogenic to humans. The results are based on sufficient evidence in humans showing the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. And, the risk increases by 18 per cent with every 50-gram portion of processed meat consumed daily.

Meanwhile the consumption of red meat — including beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat — was classified by 22 experts as being “probably carcinogenic” to humans, based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans.

“These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat,” says Dr. 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.”

Restaurants Canada anticipates the findings will be reviewed by other scientific organizations, as well as regulatory and legislative bodies.

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