Does eating processed meat cause cancer? The proof shows so

If your diet is high in processed meat, you may want to reconsider. Although studies sometimes give different estimates of how much processed meat affects you, there is a definite link between this meat and some forms of cancer.

Image in Wiki Commons.

A growing problem

The link between meat consumption and our health is complicatedbut processed meat, in particular, has been linked to a number of health problems.

Processed meat refers to any meat that has been modified through processes such as salting, curing, smoking or any other form of processing, whether it is to improve taste. or for preservation. Most processed meat is Red meat (pork or beef), but can be made from other meats or meat by-products, including blood.

In North America, about 70% of people consume red or processed meat on any given day, where red meat consumption is declining but processed meat consumption is increasing. In developing countries, consumption of processed meat is generally lower, but is also increasing. Europe is an exception, with consumption processed meat is on a decline.

It is difficult to find clear data, because the definition of processed meat is very broad. Overall, though, the world seems to have a pretty big appetite for processed meat – and that’s a problem.

What does science say?

The World Health Organization classifies processed meat as Group 1 carcinogens, a category that includes things like alcohol, tobacco, and ionizing radiation, as well as some pathogens. This classification is mainly based on a report of International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)An international team of experts scrutinizes the vast body of evidence on cancer research.

In this particular case, IARC Report based on over 800 studies – it’s as close to scientific consensus as possible on this issue.

Some individual or small-scale studies may yield different results (due to smaller sample sizes, other confounding factors, or less meticulous methodology), but when you look at the big picture , in all As far as studies are concerned, processed meat is definitely carcinogenic.

Vinod Gopalan, Senior Lecturer in Histopathology at Griffith University, explains: “According to our findings and from a review of other quality literature, red/processed meat poses a risk high carcinogenicity, especially in the intestine. Gopalan participated other experts on Metafacta platform that attempts to assess the scientific consensus on various topics.

“Our own studies have shown that controlled dose-dependent exposure of certain chemical molecules from red/processed meat consumption increases normal intestinal cell proliferation. normal and activate many oncogenes. This is consistent with previous experimental studies. “

Other cited experts expressed similar views. While a hot dog won’t kill you, the link between processed meat and certain types of cancer is undeniable.

How big is the risk?

According to the IARC report, people who ate the most processed meat had an approximately 17% higher risk of developing bowel cancer (compared to those who ate the least). It’s not just bowel cancer. A study on about 500,000 people published in 2019 found that the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 19% for every 25-gram serving per day. In other words, one slice of ham a day increases your relative colorectal cancer risk by 19%.

It is important to note that this is a relative risk. A person has an average risk of about 5% over their lifetime (although this varies greatly based on a number of factors), so we are talking about a 19% increase in this 5% – Thus, the overall gain is 1%.

Another view, according to this research conducted in the UK, that 1.5% of cancer cases are directly caused by processed meat. At the population level, this is a significant number – but whether it is enough to alter individual choices… that is another matter.

Tim Crowe, a nutritionist cited by Metafact, comments:

“Even IARC’s top committee members don’t say that if you eat hot dogs, you’re a candidate for cancer. What they warn is that if processed meat is a part of your daily diet, your risk of bowel cancer is increased. “

“There are many factors to be considered here. For example, genetic predisposition, salting, other chemical additions in meat processing, fats/oils, alcohol, amount of meat consumed and the use of vegetables during this consumption,” said Gopalan. added.

More recent research also recommend Cut back on processed meat, especially if you’re a regular consumer. According to a meta-analysis (a study of studies), a diet low in processed meat is associated with:

  • 13% reduction in the risk of premature death;
  • 14% reduction in cardiovascular mortality;
  • 14% reduction in non-fatal stroke cases;
  • 24% reduction in type 2 diabetes;
  • 10% reduction in overall cancer incidence;
  • 11% reduction in cancer mortality.

All of these findings are statistically significant and are not likely to be random.

However, data is more abundant in richer countries and scarcer in less developed countries, which makes it difficult to draw broad conclusions. However, according to some estimates reviewed by peers, about 4.4% of all deaths globally are directly related to red or processed meat. This link is strong enough that some researchers are debating tax treatment Meat is a carcinogen due to its negative effects – like tobacco being taxed. This designation is controversial, but the link between processed meat and certain types of cancer is undeniable. There is still a very important debate about how bad what is it, and is it optimal to decrease or remove processed meat, but the consensus is that there is a link.

Key point

Regularly eating processed meat increases the risk of cancer. Of course, a slice of ham or bacon won’t kill you (nor will a cigarette), but growing evidence shows that the more processed meat you eat, the greater your risk. increase.

Eating less processed meat can make a difference, especially if it’s combined with healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Does eating processed meat cause cancer? The proof shows so

James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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