Processed & Red Meat Could Cause Cancer, Says WHO Report

Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Have we all finished the weekend's late-night burgers and bacon-filled brunches? Good. Because the World Health Organization (WHO) is here to let us know that all that meat's not doing us any favors, reports NBC News. We've known for a while that red and processed meats aren't the best for our health, but the WHO's new report goes even further: According to the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) panel, there is enough evidence to classify processed meats (like bacon, hot dogs, and sausages) as group 1 human carcinogens. That means that, like asbestos and UV radiation, they officially cause cancer. Red meats (beef, pork, veal, lamb, and others) were classified as group 2A carcinogens, meaning those foods "probably" cause cancer. The WHO panel, made up of 22 experts from 10 different countries, just published its decision in The Lancet Oncology. Although there is plenty of research showing a strong link between consuming these foods and having an increased risk for some types of cancer (including cancers of the colon, pancreas, and prostate), there's less evidence to conclusively prove red meat causes the disease. While the American Cancer Society told NPR it recommends limiting meats in favor of plant foods, it doesn't urge us to cut them out completely. So don't freak out; this doesn't mean your Sunday brunches will have to be vegan. After all, meat is still an excellent protein source, and red meat will supply you with some necessary B vitamins. Instead, this just means we have to eat these things (especially the processed versions) in moderation. Which, really, is advice we should have been following all along.

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