Bacon and other processed meats can cause cancer, experts say
Eating processed meats like hot dogs, sausages or bacon can lead to bowel cancer in humans and red meat is a likely cause of the disease, World Health Organisation (WHO) experts said.
The review by the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), released on Monday, put processed meat in its group 1 list, which also includes tobacco and asbestos, for which there is "sufficient evidence" of cancer links.
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Meat industry groups rejected the findings as simplistic, although some scientists said they may not add much to existing health recommendations to limit consumption of such meat.
The IARC was carrying out a formal review of meat for the first time and examined some 800 studies during a meeting of 22 health experts in France earlier this month.
"For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed," Dr Kurt Straif of the IARC said in a statement.
Each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, the agency estimated.
The IARC, however, said such dietary advice often focused on heart disease and obesity.
It cited an estimate from the Global Burden of Disease Project - an international consortium of more than 1,000 researchers - that 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meat.
This compares with about 1 million cancer deaths per year globally due to tobacco smoking and 600,000 a year due to alcohol consumption, it said.
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