The World Health Organization has classified processed and red meat as a cancer risk. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said the consumption of processed (bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, corned beef, etc.) and red meat is a potential risk for colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers.
The WHO findings were drafted by a panel of 22 international experts who reviewed decades of research on the link between red meat, processed meat and cancer. The panel was not unanimous in its findings. The panel suggested that an additional 3.5 ounces of red meat every day raises the risk of colorectal cancer by 17% and eating an additional 1.8 ounces of processed meat each day would increase the risk by 18%.
Since the release of the report the WHO released a clarification statement that said, “The latest IRAC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats but indicates that reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.” The North American Meat Institute said, “IARC’s decision simply cannot be applied to people’s health because it considers just one piece of the health puzzle: theoretical hazards. Risks and benefits must be considered together before telling people what to eat, drink, drive, breathe or where to work.”
As a result of the IARC report, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has petitioned the USDA to stop offering processed meats in the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. PCRM is asking the USDA to discontinue the inclusion of processed meat and poultry on the list of commodities available for purchase from the USDA for Child Nutrition Commodity Programs, including school lunch and school breakfast.