The frequent consumption of red meat increases the risk of cancer

Sorry carnivores, but this news is quite frightening. You might want to put down your hamburger and give this a read.

Eating too much red meat, particularly processed meat, has been associated with cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, investigated the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat. While red meat might include beef, veal and goat, processed meats include any meat that "has been transformed...through processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation". Hot dogs, salami and bacon are just some examples.

It is estimated that over 34,000 cancer deaths each year, worldwide, can be attributed to processed meats. Of those deaths, colorectal and prostate cancers were most prominent.

The IARC analyzed over 800 different cancer studies, with 22 experts from 10 countries. They found that every 50 gram portion of processed meats consumed daily would increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

See more: Best and meats for your health

That portion is equatable to only 4 few strips of bacon each day. While the researchers believe that different preparation methods of meat might influence the meat's carcinogenicity, they don't know how these methods "contribute to the cancer risk".

Why such a big statistic? The American Institute of Cancer Research writes that patients who consume a lot of red and processed meat "tend to eat less plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties".

Furthermore, the group says that processed meats were also a "probable" cause of stomach cancer. Eating less than 18 ounces of red meat per week (and avoiding processed meats) could reduce cancer risk, according to the organization.

"Research on processed meat shows cancer risk starts to increase with even small portions eaten daily," says the American Institute for Cancer Research.

While scary, the findings serve as a reminder that everything should be enjoyed in moderation.

"We should be limiting red and processed meat to help reduce colon cancer risk, and possibly, the risk of other cancers. The occasional hot dog or hamburger is okay," said a director of the American Cancer Society, according to

Related: Healthiest vegetables

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