The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), released an evaluation result about the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat on 26 October 2015. The result was summarised below:

 

  • 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. The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
  • Red meat was classified 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.
  • The risk of developing colorectal cancer for an individual because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed.

 

WHO issued a statement on 29 October reiterated that this latest IARC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats but indicates that reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

 

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