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Studies show processed meat linked to cancer
Cover photo courtesy of Finer Meat Co.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sent the nation into a frenzy last week, claiming the presence of a link between the consumption of processed red meats and cancer. Vegetarians began the “I told you so” chant, meat-lovers protested in denial and major players in the meat industry began denying these claims on news channels across the nation.

This report applies to processed red meats only, not red meat as a whole. Red meat continues to be classified as a “probable carcinogen,” as cancer research scientists lack sufficient evidence to crystallize the claim at this point. Processed meats include bacon, sausages, hot dogs, salami, beef jerky, etc. The chemicals that are involved in producing the final products of these meats are considered to be the leading contributor as a carcinogen. Consumption of over 50 grams of processed meats on a daily basis has the potential to increase the possibility of colon or colorectal cancer by 18%.

This report comes not long after findings by Clear Food stating that 10% of vegetarian hot dogs contain meat, and that a variety of vegetarian meals contain human DNA.

This was not the first time Americans were presented with such claims. In 2002, the American Cancer Society released a statement reporting that a higher consumption of red meats could present a higher possibility of heart issues and various types of cancer. The American reaction in 2002 was similar to that of last week  — panic. However, the hysteria did not last; as people began to digest the news, they searched for reasons to justify their red meat consumption, quickly returning to their previous eating patterns.

A repeat of 2002 is not certain, however given past trends it would not be against American character to continue these possibly dangerous eating habits.

Each family is faced with the decision of whether or not they should believe the refutations advertised by major meat industries or if they should approach the matter by focusing more on the tangibility of the data that is driving these claims.

Many cancer research scientists have placed the relationship between processed meat consumption and cancer under the same category as cigarette smoking. However, this statement deserves to be taken with a grain of salt.

As this story continues to progress, it is still uncertain whether the American people will change their eating habits to avoid processed red meats in the name of health.
CNN, The Washington Post, and BBC contributed to this post.

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Studies show processed meat linked to cancer