What WHO Says About Red Meat and Cancer?

AddedAug 12, 2016
ByAdity Bera
Always Consult a Qualified Doctor for a Medical Diagnosis Before Changing Your Diet

The World Health Organization created a huge wave in the industry of meat processing when it announced in October last year that the consumption of red meat is directly linked with small increases in the risk of different types of cancers. The most primary types that were recognized were colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

With cancer being considered one of the most feared diseases around the world, it is very important that we understand the manner in which red meat can affect our lives. It has been established long back that red meat is related to a number of health issues, but knowing that it can be the reason for cancer changes things a lot.

The WHO report has two details which create most of our worries:


  1. The report has classified processed meat as Group I carcinogen. This means that it lies in the same group as cigarettes. This can be reason enough for us to change our ways, because smoking is responsible for 90% of all lung cancer causes and smoking leads to a high mortality rate in the U.S.

However, keep this in mind that every single item which belongs to this category does not carry the same amount of risk. It only means that processed meat is carcinogenic.

  1. The other part of the report which sounded terrifying was that consuming 50 grams of processed meat daily can increase the possibility of colorectal cancer by 18%. The keyword here is ‘risk’. It does not directly lead to an 18% total chance of developing cancer. Instead, we are looking at a higher risk when consuming red meat.

WHO has tried to clarify a lot of concerns regarding this report through FAQs and Twitter posts.


This report shook the world and everyone began to worry about their consumption of red meat. Suggestions regarding the way in which it should be cooked and what could ensure that its carcinogenic content remains in check began showing up everywhere from newspapers to blogs. But we slowly sank back into our comfort zone as the report began to reach a state of oblivion.

Last year’s dietary recommendations in the U.S. did not cover much of the reduction of meat. However, many countries around the world have been in the process of changing the amount of consumption of red meat. People’s Republic of China announced their updated dietary recommendations which suggested that people should cut down their intake of red meat by almost half. Even the Danish council of Ethics suggested the introduction of a new tax on red meat.

While these are the countries that have started taking steps recently, India is one of those countries where red meat has been avoided since ancient times. Hinduism has prohibited the eating of red meat for a long time and one of the most common sources of red meat, cows, are known to be sacred to the religion. We may be proving how red meat affects us now, but India is one of those countries that seems to have known the importance of avoiding red meat for long a long time.


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