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WHO: the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has evaluated the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Wednesday 28 October 2015 (2 years 3 months 21 days ago)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has evaluated the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat (meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation).

Red meat was classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.

Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) , based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.

The experts concluded t hat each 50 g ram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases t he risk of colorectal cancer by 18% and suggest that the risk of colorectal cancer could increase by 17% for every 100 gram portion of red meat eaten daily.

Processed meat has been classified in the same category as causes of cancer such as tobacco smoking and asbestos (IARC Group 1, carcinogenic to humans), but this does NOT mean that they are all equally dangerous. The IARC classifications describe the strength of the scientific evidence about an agent being a cause of cancer, rather than assessing the level of risk.

High-temperature cooking methods generate compounds that may contribute to carcinogenic risk, but their role is not yet fully understood. Cooking at high temperatures or with the food in direct contact with a flame or a hot surface, as in barbecuing or pan-frying, produces more of certain types of carcinogenic chemicals (such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic aromatic amines). However, there were not enough data for the IARC Working Group to reach a conclusion about whether the way meat is cooked affects the risk of cancer.

Should I stop eating meat? According to IARC eating meat has known health benefits. ”These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat,” says Dr Christopher Wild, Director of IARC. "At the same time, red meat has nutritional value."

The IARC Working Group cons idered more than 800 studies t hat investigated associations of more than a dozen types of cancer with the consumption of red meat or processed meat in many countries and populations with diverse diets.

Responses after the publication of the report

Several organizations and professionals in the meat, health and nutrition sectors, have reacted after the publication of the report, issuing statements and giving interviews to offer their vision in this regard.

Clitravi, the Liaison Centre of the European Associations of Meat Manufacturing Industries, representing 3.000 companies in 28 European Union countries, strongly rejects the new classification made by the IRAC and recommends a more holistic approach, considering the wide range of meat products produced in the European Union (EU) all with optimal nutritional value, that meet the various different requirements of consumers.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said a vote by an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph panel classifying red and processed meat as cancer “hazards” defies both common sense and numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer and many more studies showing the many health benefits of balanced diets that include meat. 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.

Tuesday October 27, 2015/ 3tres3 editorial office.

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