WHO: Processed Meat are Carcinogens and.....

I am sure we have heard about this on and off in the past, but this time, the World Health Organization has announced that processed meats are carcinogenic, and red meat are probably carcinogenic.


“Its report said 50g of processed meat a day - less than two slices of bacon - increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.”

“Eating hot dogs, ham and other processed meat can cause colorectal cancer, and eating red meat “probably” can cause cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency reported Monday.”

What is your thought on this?

I never doubt that eating lots of fruits and veggies is good and overconsumption of anything will kill ya and I never ate hotdogs for health thier health benefits but I have trouble with scientific studies that conclude “probably” it also appears to be another study based on self reporting and correlation (i did not access original study) it begs the question what other lifestyle choices often correspond with heavy meat consumption. These studies often scare people without actually helping make better choices. Eat less bacon and hodogs because they are nod good for you in excess we did not need another study for.

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Is this supposed to be new news . Wasn’t this the spew in the 70’s . Everybody knows this .

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I think even many farmed goods such as fruits & vegetables can be problematic with pesticides & some farm raises seafood is reported to have problems with heavy metals & antibiotics. Origin seems to play a big role in these areas.


Major medical groups are raising some serious questions about the data, the conclusions and ‘probably’. I suspect that there is a money trail somewhere.

I’m also having a hard time really buying into the idea that something the human race has been consuming for millenia is suddenly deadly.

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There’s a massive difference between “increased risk”, “probably carcinogenic” and “definitely causes cancer”. The fact that these news stories waffle between these terms just makes me roll my eyes.

Yes, I know a bacon cheeseburger isn’t doing me any favors, which is why they are a very rare meal. But on a given day, I might eat bacon, smoked meat, a donut, or a pop-tart. If I end up with some form of cancer, how do I know what terrible thing I ate in the past might’ve caused it?


I hate to state the obvious, but we’re all gonna check out eventually. Not that I eat bacon, hot dogs or even red meat daily, but also, not that this “news” will stop me from eating any of it from now on. Like anything else, eat sensibly (not in excess) and enjoy the ride.


If ever there was a near-perfect example of how our news reporting structures present information of this kind, this is it. It’s tragic. I even saw one story implying that the WHO is a communist organization attempting to destroy western economies - complete with the line-blurring references to how the “experts” keep changing their minds about beef. The NY Times actually has two very solid pieces on the subject:


On the lighter side, last night, I was sitting at a bar, positioning the ketchup and onions on my cheeseburger, and joyously contemplating my first bite. The two ladies a stool removed from me, having just returned from “sneaking out for a smoke”, took a break from their goblets of “house white” to inform me, “Honey, didntcha hear? That’s going to make you have cancer.”


I think if scientists knew what, exactly, causes cancer then we would be a hell of a lot closer to curing cancer.


My understanding is that WHO statements are:

  1. processed meat definitely causes cancer
  2. red meat may cause cancer.

So these are separate statements for two different food categories.

Let’s me quote the exact statements:

Red meat
After thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature, a Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect. This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Processed meat
Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.

If processed and red meat doesn’t kill us, our leftovers will:


They also cautioned that the increased risk was relatively small, and that despite its classification as “Category 1”, it’s far, far less carcinogenic than alcohol or tobacco. Other cancer-causing Category 1 items: mineral oil, estrogen, and diesel engine exhaust.

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Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Newsflash: we’re all going to die. Might as well eat the tasty bits while we can.


We all die at some point. If it’s not bacon it’s going to be something else. Might as be something you like

Well damn! I’m down for another two killers

My thoughts are well encapsulated here:



If there is a study with any well supported causal claims founded in those not having ptotatoes, buns, Cokes, fried apple pie, pasta, ziti with demonstrated lethal outcomes, I can’t find it.

And no differentiation made between CAFO produced vs. pastured and IPM or organic.

They don’t look for causes, they look for drug and procedure profit opportunities. Interesting to note that breast, ovarian, prostate and colon cancers are most closely associated with higher starch consumption. Same with breast cancer recurrence.

I had a BLT for dinner. My will is up to date so I’m prepared for the worst.


I have found the various assaults on the WHO Report to be predominantly silly - and served with more than a soupscon of self-interestedness. I found a very useful article on the rather apolitical The Conversation website. The author is a well-respected Australian physician/scientist and “Chair of the IARC Working Group set up to evaluate the carcinogenicity of red and processed meat.” The purpose of the piece was primarily to provide context and is a worthwhile read. http://theconversation.com/not-everything-gives-you-cancer-but-eating-too-much-processed-meat-certainly-can-49812

If nothing else, the following excerpt is valuable:

"The equivalence between smoking and eating processed meat exists when it comes to strength of evidence for cancer causation. But otherwise indicating similarity is a distortion, particularly because of the respective burdens of cancer.

Lifetime smoking increases risk of lung cancer 50-fold. But worst case scenarios in relation to processed meat or red meat rarely reach more than two-fold. The 18% increased risk means risk is multiplied by 1.18.

Moreover, meat is a food as distinct from a poison such as asbestos, and so these findings must be understood with the subtlety of reason."

Why deflect? The Report’s fundamental conclusion that there is a strong correlation between eating processed meats and higher incidences of colorectal cancer is sound. The 18% multiplier is relatively minor for most people, but it could help some make better decisions concerning consumption. Just take, for example, individuals coming from families that have a historic prevalence of such cancers in their families. Moreover, there is growing data suggesting that there are genetic factors indicating individual propensities for cancers. Correlative information, coupled with such data, is undeniably useful and welcome.

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