Controversial study reiterates supposed dangers of red and processed meat

Red and processed meat has again been called unhealthy by the WHO.

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Red and processed meat has again been called unhealthy by the WHO.

A new study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week determined that processed and red meats present a genuine health risk to frequent consumers.

According to the WHO, people who consume only 50 grams of processed meat per day, equivalent to two slices of processed ham, have an 18 percent higher risk of developing certain types of cancers, specifically colo-rectal cancer. From this study, the WHO has placed processed meats in the same division of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) as tobacco and asbestos, although they stressed that this placement did not mean that the danger was equal.

Along with this statement, the WHO classified certain types of unprocessed red meats, such as lamb and steak, as “probably carcinogenic.”

However, they also stated that red meat still holds nutritional value.

Red and processed meats have been placed into the Group One category, which states that there is “sufficient evidence” that a substance is cancer-causing.

However, the chairman of disease prevention at Stanford University, Dr. John Ioannidis, said that this risk is nothing to panic about. “It’s […] very important that we don’t terrorize people into thinking that they should not eat any red meat at all,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.”[There is] some risk involved, but it’s much less than smoking or alcohol. There is still a lot of uncertainty [regarding the situation].”

The WHO estimated that around 34,000 yearly worldwide deaths from cancer can be associated with those who maintain diets abundant in processed meats. This represents a relatively small fraction of the around 8.2 million cancer-related deaths per year.

The meat industry retaliated against the claims made by the WHO, reporting it as “biased and misleading.” The vice president of the North American Meat Institute Betsy Booren claimed that “[The WHO] tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome,” in a CNN interview, further defending the consumption of red and processed meats.

Sophomore Audrey Creel said that it wasn’t a shock to hear that processed meats are carcinogenic. “I’m not surprised,” Creel said. “I’m a vegetarian and am well read on this topic. If anything, it solidifies my reason to become a vegetarian. The health benefits [of  vegetarianism] are pretty great.”

Former Health teacher Mrs. Nichole Pinedo said that she doesn’t entirely believe this study should be taken seriously. “[…] People are always coming up with new things that cause cancer. The sun causes skin cancer, but that doesn’t stop people from going outside. It’s the same sort of situation [with meat],” she said.

“[While] some people aren’t willing to change their lifestyles in order to live healthy, some people might take this news to heart and do what’s right for their own health.”