The World Health Organization has clarified the results of last week’s report which said the consumption of processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon and deli meats increases the risk of cancer—and eating red meat probably causes cancer as well.
After a thorough review, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of WHO, classified processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans.” The agency also classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” citing limited evidence it causes cancer, but strong evidence supporting red meat has a carcinogenic effect.
The results were met with equal panic, outrage and confusion as stories of the report dominated headlines and sparked contrasting opinions on what exactly the news meant. Following the announcement, WHO said it received a number of queries, expressions of concern and requests for clarification.
To help set the record straight, WHO issued a clarification that softens the impact of its initial statement.
“IARC’s review confirms the recommendation in WHO’s 2002 ‘Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases’ report, which advised people to moderate consumption of preserved meat to reduce the risk of cancer,” WHO said.
The organization further stated the latest report does not ask people to stop eating processed meats, but indicates reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
“WHO has a standing group of experts who regularly evaluate the links between diet and disease,” the organization said. “Early next year they will meet to begin looking at the public health implications of the latest science and the place of processed meat and red meat within the context of an overall healthy diet.”