The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that the consumption of hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats could be linked to cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the #cancer agency of WHO, classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)
— WHO (@WHO) October 26, 2015
The WHO announced that American classics like bacon and hot dogs are "probably carcinogenic." The International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) study went as far as to say processed meats are undoubtedly carcinogenic to humans.
Processed meats are those that have been transformed through processes such as salting, curing, fermentation, or smoking in order to improve the flavor of the meat and its preservation. Outside of the more commonly known bacon and hot dogs, processed meats include canned meat, ham, beef jerky, and sausage.
According to the UN health agency, even eating fewer than one sausage a day can increase the risk of getting bowel cancer by almost 20 percent. Moreover, every 1.75 ounces of processed meat eaten daily can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent, the IARC reported.
The IARC collected these numbers after considering more than 800 studies that investigated the possible connection between developing certain types of cancer and the consumption of processed meats. In order to get as large and random a sample size as possible, the IARC purposely looked at studies across many different countries with different diets.
Another study done by Clear Food, which analyzed 345 hot dogs and sausages from 75 different brands, found that 14 percent contained ingredients that were not indicated on the label. The online food guide determined that 10 percent of vegetarian hot dogs contain meat, and two percent of the samples had traces of human DNA.
Even with all this data, the meat industry refuses to validate the findings. Betsy Booren, vice president of scientific affairs at the North American Meat Institute, says, "they tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome." She backed up her statement by mentioning the Mediterranean diet, which is a plan that allows consumers to eat double the recommended amount of processed meats. The diet works in her mind, as "countries where the Mediterranean diet is followed, like Spain, Italy and France, have some of the longest lifespans in the world and excellent health," Booren continued.
"This decision doesn't mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat," said Tim Key, an epidemiologist who specializes in cancer research at the University of Oxford. "Having a healthy diet is all about moderation," Key says. According to the WHO, the best way to moderate a diet or cut down on processed meats would be to eat beans instead.