WHO: Eating processed meat causes cancer

Lyon, France – A new health concern surrounds hot dogs, sausage and other processed meat.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer on Oct. 26 stated that “sufficient evidence” exists linking consumption of processed meat to colorectal cancer, according to a press release. The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund define processed meat as “meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives.”

A group of 22 experts reviewed more than 800 studies about the link between cancer and eating red or processed meat. They determined that eating red meat is “probably carcinogenic” and is most frequently tied to colorectal cancer, but it also has been linked to pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer, the release states. Red meat includes beef, pork and veal.

Cancer risk increases with the amount of meat eaten, experts found. They determined that the risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18 percent with each 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily.

The findings have spurred debate. A statement from the North American Meat Institute claims that “Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health.”

The conclusions were published online Oct. 26 in the journal The Lancet Oncology.