Processed Meat Has Been Listed as a Category 1 Carcinogen, Just like Cigarettes and Alcohol
By Janet Early
The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded this week that processed meat causes cancer.
Food products such as hot dogs, sausages and bacon were specifically found to increase your risk for colon cancer.
As a result, processed meat is now listed in the Group 1 category for carcinogens, alongside cigarettes and alcohol. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that processed meat is as dangerous as cigarettes, health experts recommend limiting your intake.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies substances into 5 groups based on their likelihood to contribute to the growth of cancer:
Here are some common substances and their classifications under the IARC system:
For a full list of the substances WHO has found to cause cancer, visit this page.
You’ll also notice above that red meat is found to be “probably carcinogenic.”
Because of this, The World Cancer Research Fund, a long-time advocate of refraining from red meat, urges people not to consume processed meat at all and to eat no more than 500g of red meat per week.
Does this mean that you need to immediately stop eating any processed or red meat?
No, it just means that you should think twice the next time you’re about to bite down into that sausage breakfast burrito or cut into that juicy slab of beef. Red meat does have nutritional benefits such as B vitamins, vitamin D and iron. However, if you eat a lot of red meat on a regular basis, we strongly advise you to heed the WHO’s warnings.
- When in doubt, always do your own research – Be knowledgeable about what you put into your own body. Don’t wait until a study like this comes out to be proactive about you and your family’s health.
- Be positive, not fearful about food – With so many claims out there about things that cause cancer or other diseases, it can be easy to get discouraged or feel powerless. But it’s important not to approach nutrition with fear. Instead, embrace the proven cancer-fighting powers of whole foods such as berries, walnuts and green juice.
- Know your sources – Verify the credibility of a health claim by checking to see who funded the study. If it’s the World Health Organization or the World Cancer Research Fund, for example, chances are you’re in good hands. But if the claim was sponsored by an industry that directly benefits from the results, it may come from self-serving interests. You just need to be careful.
Do you have any tips on how to work processed meats out of your diet or to better refrain from red meat? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!
Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
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