WHO links processed meat to cancer

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that cured and processed meats like bacon, sausage and hot dogs cause cancer, adding the foods to a list of carcinogenic substances that includes alcohol, cigarettes and asbestos.

Processed meats can be bundled with these threatening carcinogens because of their link with bowel cancer, according to a report from WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, though their inclusion doesn’t mean that bacon causes cancer at the same rate as, say, smoking.

The report also links red meat to cancer. It classifies beef, lamb and pork as “probable” carcinogens in a second-tier list that also includes glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers.

The findings, which are based on more than 800 studies, are already receiving pushback from meat industry groups that argue meat is part of a balanced diet and that the cancer risk assessments needs to expand to include risk in the context of lifestyle and environment.

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