Report: Processed meat, bacon pose same risks as cigarettes

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A World Health Organization (WHO) agency will issue a warning Monday linking bacon and other processed meats to a cancer risk as high as that posed by cigarettes. 

WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) will release their findings in Monday’s edition of The Lancet Oncology, according to reports

According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Americans spent more than $2.5 billion on hot dogs in U.S. grocery stores in 2014.

So it’s not surprising that news of the new report has sparked criticism from industries that could be affected by its conclusions.

Read more: 4 food safety mistakes you’re probably making at home

Even before the report has been released, a spokesperson for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said there’s no scientific data to show a causal link between cancer and meat. 

‘If this is actually IARC’s decision it simply cannot be applied to people’s health because it considers just one piece of the health puzzle: theoretical hazards,’ said Barry Carpenter, the president of the North American Meat Institute.

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Read more: 5 things to know about the new mammogram guidelines

The expected announcement includes data gathered from studies on processed meats containing cancer-causing substances, and the risks this type of meat poses due to ‘the potentially cancerous preservation methods it undergoes.’ IARC is said to particularly put processed meat at the top of the carcinogenic risk list, with red meat following in second place. 

Types of meat expected to get a thumbs down

Examples of processed meat expected to receive a ‘thumbs down’ from the agency include:

  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Hot dogs
  • Salami
  • Pastrami
  • Some types of sausage

According to some reports, burgers are also expected to be on the list.



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