The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a statement indicating that processed meats, such as ham, bacon, salami, beef jerky, and sausage, are related to cancer risk. In general, processed meats are those that have been smoked or cured, or had salt or other preservatives added. These methods of processing are done in order to extend the shelf life of certain products or to modify their taste.
According to the WHO’s findings, 50 grams of processed meat per day increased the risks of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent. 50 grams of processed meat is equal to fewer than two slices of bacon. The risk of cancer comes from the chemicals used in processing meats, as well as high temperatures used in cooking. These findings were based on evidence assessed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The same release indicated that there is likely a risk with red meats as well, although there was limited evidence to fully determine this link.
The WHO also acknowledges that eating meat is beneficial to health in some ways, such as the containment of protein, vitamin B-12, zinc, and iron. Additionally, there are more effective ways to minimize cancer risk, such as avoiding smoking and alcohol.
So what does this mean for the average patient? Professor Tim Key of Cancer Research UK indicates that this information does not mean that patients need to stop eating processed and red meats altogether. However, it does mean that if you frequently eat a lot of processed meats, you should consider cutting back.
Above all, a healthy diet with moderation is most significant for nutritional and health benefits.