October 28, 2015

What the media didn't tell you about eating meat

Tree Hugger - The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the organization within the WHO responsible for reviewing cancer research, doesn’t rank the items on this list against one another. In other words, all the items on this list can cause cancer, but do not represent the same level of risk.

But unfortunately, many newspapers—or at least their headline writers—don’t seem to understand this. “Bacon, burgers and sausages DO cause cancer and are as big a threat as cigarettes, says World Health Organisation” declares one headline. “Bacon, Hot Dogs, and Processed Meats Pose as High a Cancer Risk as Cigarettes” claims another. As attention-grabbing as these headlines may be, they are shamefully misleading.

Although the WHO doesn’t rank these known carcinogens, their data does provide some information about relative risk. They estimate that 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are caused by eating a diet that’s high in processed meat. You can compare that number to the 200,000 deaths per year caused by air pollution, 600,000 per year caused by alcohol consumption and 1 million deaths per year caused by cigarettes according to the Global Burden of Disease Project, another WHO research body.

The WHO also placed red meat—beef, lamb and pork—in the next-to-highest cancer risk category. That means red meat is a “probable” carcinogen, but the organization said they still need further data to confirm this and that in limited quantities it may have some nutritional benefits.


Anonymous said...

What isn't discussed is "unprocessed" meat. Many people wouldn't understand that pasture raised, grass fed animals are in an entirely different category, particularly if they are not finished on GMO grains. Hopefully, future research will differentiate this, but I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

I was appalled by this WHO nonsense. I'm sure they just looked at studies of factory farmed large industrial processed meats.

Geoffrey Levens said...

I don't imagine they looked directly at the meat at all. Rather they studied populations of people, their general diets and cancer rates. So of course they were in the end, looking at what those people ate. May well have been factory meat but in 3rd world countries much of the meat is pasture raised because it is what is affordable. It would be nice to see a much more detailed breakdown of what was actually consumed by the populations being looked at