WHO report claims processed meat cancer link

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

The WHO is believed to have put consuming processed meat on a par with smoking cigarettes in terms of carcinogenic effect
The WHO is believed to have put consuming processed meat on a par with smoking cigarettes in terms of carcinogenic effect

Related tags: Beef, Lamb, Pork

Processed meat could be classified as a cancer risk as big as cigarettes, in a new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) due to be published on Monday.

The decision to list processed meat among the most cancer-causing substances, alongside arsenic and asbestos, was reported in the Daily Mail​ on Friday, citing a source from within the WHO.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declined to confirm or deny the veracity of the report. However, it stated it would publish in detail the outcome of its evaluation on the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat on October 26 to coincide with a news report in The Lancet Oncology​.

The IARC’s evaluation is understood to follow a review by scientists from 10 countries, who analysed all previous research in an approach known as a meta-study. Meta-studies do not represent fresh research based on experimentation.

Cancer

The UK Department of Health’s scientific advisers recently concluded that red and processed meat ‘probably’ increase the odds of bowel cancer.

But the WHO are believed to have agreed processed meat is ‘carcinogenic to humans’, the highest of five possible rankings, shared with alcohol, asbestos, arsenic and cigarettes.

Red meat is expected to be one rung below, ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’, according to the Daily Mail report.

Related topics: Meat

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