Bacon causes cancer? World health body makes ruling on processed meat

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LONDON – Like your daily hot dog or bacon sandwich? You may want to think again.

The World Health Organization said Monday that eating processed meat such as sausages and ham causes cancer, while unprocessed red meat may also be carcinogenic.

The WHO’s cancer research unit now classifies processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer,” it said in a new report.

Most processed meat contains pork or beef, but may also contain poultry.

Unprocessed red meat such as steak and lamb shanks is classified as “probably carcinogenic.”

The WHO said the finding was important for public health since processed meat is so widely consumed. However, it said red meat still has “nutritional value.”

“These results are important in enabling governments and international regulatory agencies to conduct risk assessments, in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations,” said Christopher Wild, head of the WHO’s cancer agency, in a statement.

By Alanna Petroff