Red/processed meat officially linked with cancer, according to WHO

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by Emi Nakahara, Copy Editor

Sorry, bacon lovers; that crispy strip of heaven might be as hazardous to your health as a cigarette. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially classified processed meats such as sausages, bacon and salami as Group 1 carcinogens, while red meat is classified as “probably” carcinogenic.

“It’s been linked to heart disease before, so it didn’t really come as a shock to me,” junior Kayla Whitmore, a vegetarian, said.

The International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) confirmed that for every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily, your risk for colorectal cancer increases by 18 percent, and they recommended keeping red and processed meat consumption under 70 grams per day. According to Cancer Research UK, 21 percent of all bowel cancers are directly caused by red meat consumption as well.

“I like meat, but I guess I’ll have to cut back on eating it,” junior Caitlyn Ynostrosa said. “Honestly, I had no idea about it [being linked to cancer] until now.”

The average amount of meat consumed daily per capita projected in 2015 was 105.2 pounds, or roughly 130 grams per person, which is more than double the IARC’s recommended amount of 70 grams.

“When you’re younger, you can metabolize things a lot faster, your body works a lot better and things heal a lot quicker,” food science teacher Mr. Roehrig said.

Aside from cancer, red and processed meats have been a common culprit for many other health problems. Besides the high content of saturated fat and cholesterol, studies have proven that the protein carnitine is converted by intestinal bacteria into substances that harden artery walls.

However, meat industry leaders don’t seem to share the same level of concern. For example, North American Meat Institute (NAMI) CEO Barry Carpenter responded to WHO’s report by calling it “alarmist” and “overdramatic.” Although the link to cancer is evident, the industry claim that the studies don’t take into account how exercise or a balanced consumption of fruits or vegetables could counteract the carcinogenic effects of processed meat.

Mr. Roehrig isn’t too worried about red or processed meats strongly affecting students’ health.

“Get a health assessment,” Mr. Roehrig said. “If you’re healthy, and what you’re doing works for you, then just continue with what you’re doing. Everyone’s body is different.”