Let’s face it: Islanders loooooove their processed meats. Spam, luncheon meat, canned corned beef, whole chicken in a can… We’d be lying if we said these weren’t comfort foods, delicious throwbacks to our childhood.
But a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) is now “placing cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.”
The report from the WHOâ€™s International Agency for Research on Cancer said there was enough evidence to rank processed meats as group 1 carcinogens because of a causal link with bowel cancer.
The IARCâ€™s experts concluded that each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
â€œFor an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,â€ said Dr Kurt Straif, head of the IARC monographs programme. â€œIn view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.â€
The decision from the IARC, after a year of deliberations by international scientists, will be welcomed by cancer researchers but it triggered an immediate and furious response from the industry, and the scientists it funds, who rejected any comparison between cigarettes and meat.