Monday morning PSA: It’s time to put down that plateful of pig. In addition to clogging your arteries, processed meat may be giving you cancer.
In a powerful new report released by a World Health Organization (WHO) group, scientists have concluded that processed meats like bacon and hot dogs cause cancer — and that other types of meat likely do as well.
The conclusion has been proven by multiple studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in its report (published in the Lancet medical journal). “Overall, the Working Group classified consumption of processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer,” the report reads. The group reviewed some 800 studies ahead of its findings.
Based on this report, WHO has put processed meat in its “group one” cancer list, alongside tobacco, asbestos and diesel fumes; non-processed red meat has been put in group two.
“These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat,” Dr. Christopher Wild, who directs IARC, said in a statement.
This information really isn’t new — a 2013 study found that a meat-heavy diet is as bad for human health as smoking, and research has long suggested that vegetarians live longer. Federal agencies, however (particularly the USDA and the FDA), have been slow to catch on, and sadly, still promote many meats and other animal products as “healthy” dietary choices.
And it’s no surprise the meat industry is crying foul — much as it did when the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans eat more plans and less meat.
In reference to this new report, Betsy Booren, vice president of scientific affairs at the North American Meat Institute, claims that WHO “tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome.”
Clearly, plants are the path to a truly healthy, sustainable and compassionate lifestyle. And for those who love bacon and hot dogs, there are plenty of delicious, plant-based substitutes these days (Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon or Lightlife’s Smart Dogs are just two of many of the alternatives out there).