The World Health Organization (WHO) has come under fire from scientists worldwide after it claimed that red meat, including bacon, sausages and ham has a high risk of cancer like cigarettes!
The WHO is all set to add both processed and red meats into its “encyclopedia of carcinogens”. This was reported by Breitbart London. Once this happens, there will be new government laws that will put caution labels on meat packaging.
But many scientists are concerned that there is something flawed with the new categorization of red meat. The Telegraph has recorded the concerns raised by many scientists.
Dr. Ian Johnson is one of the respondents. He is Emeritus Fellow (Institute of Food Research). According to him there may be epidemiological proof of statistically concerning link between bowel cancer and the consumption of processed meat, the volume of cases are very small. He has also raised questions about the mechanism as it is not well defined.
According to him, it is ‘inappropriate’ to compare the effect of sausages and bacon on bowel cancer risk with the hazards of tobacco smoke. The latter is full of carcinogenic chemicals and has a 20 times higher risk of cancer in those who smoke (especially lung cancer).
Another scientist who has questioned the WHO’s new classification is Dr. Richard Knox (former professor at the Institute of Cancer Research). He said that most deaths from cancer are not because of bowel cancer. Besides, very few cases are related to consumption of meat.
Another voice is of Dr. Robert Prickard, former professor at Cardiff University (Neurobiology). According to him, if you avoid red meat it doesn’t mean that you avoid cancer. The biggest factors to avoiding cancer include quitting smoking, keeping body weight under control and avoiding high intake of alcohol.
He quoted a study covering 60,000 subjects in the UK last year. The study showed that the chances of bowel cancer were same in both vegetarians and those who consumed meat.
He claims that if you lead a meat-free life, it has more to do with your lifestyle and not with your health. Everyone who is taking 70 grams of red meat a day (recommended) and want to continue with it don’t have to worry. All you have to ensure is that you are taking a balanced diet.
Former researcher and consultant (gastrointestinal and nutritional health), Dr. Elizabeth Lund said that she is not surprised by the WHO’s move. But she also asks to put things in proper perspective. According to her, most Europeans don’t take sufficient amount of meat.
According to her, it would have been better if the report had put up some figures so show how much meat is considered safe. In fact, meat is rich in zinc and iron and most women suffer from deficiency of these micronutrients. Almost 50% of adolescent girls suffer from iron deficiency.
However, the WHO is all set to make a big change to its definition of processed meat. While processed meat is set to be redefined as a carcinogen, fresh red meat will be classified as ‘probable’ carcinogen.