Everyone knows that asbestos and tobacco products are carcinogens — substances that can cause cancer. You may add to the list the likes of hot dogs, bacon and other similar meat products that you cannot resist. According to the World Health Organization, all of these processed meats can certainly cause cancer.
The agency recently spearheaded an investigation which involved over 20 scientists. The goal was to establish the link between the consumption of red mat and processed meat with several different types of cancers.
For an entire week last month, the involved scientists looked carefully at over 800 investigations coming from various countries such as Japan, Australia and the US. The investigations covered the diets of people from various races and ethnicities, from different regions of the planet.
What the scientists chosen by WHO found out was that consuming processed meat caused colorectal cancer. Experts say that colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer type in Americans, causing almost 50,000 deaths every year. Aside from colorectal cancer, the consumption of processed meat was also strongly associated with stomach cancer.
Compared to processed meat, red meat posed a lower risk of cancer but only slightly. The scientists made it clear that red meat is still a probable carcinogen in humans. Other than colorectal cancer, the experts said that eating red meat is positively linked to cancer of the pancreas and prostate.
The involved scientists came across a scientific research done in 2011. This research spanned up to 20 investigations on the link between cancer and consumption of meat, with some of the studies made as far back as 1966.
According to what the scientists found out, the consumption of 100 grams of meat a day increased a person’s risk of having colorectal cancer by 17 percent. On the other hand, risk of having colorectal cancer jumped by up to 18 percent for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten daily.
It’s because of these findings why processed meat these days is part of group 1 carcinogens, together with the likes of cigarette smoking, asbestos exposure and infection with the most dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus or HPV. On the other hand, red meat is part of group 2A carcinogens, alongside inorganic lead.
According to scientific experiments conducted not only on lab mice but also on human tissue, certain chemical compounds increase with the consumption of meat. One of these chemical compounds is called haem iron, whose by-product known as N-nitroso-compounds or NOCs can cause the intestinal tissue’s oxidative damage. Oxidative damage, according to the experts, is a carcinogen.
The reason why processed meat products are very high up in the groupings of carcinogens is this: the curing they undergo causes an increase in the amount of NOCs present. In addition, the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, chemical compounds that are known to trigger cancer development, increase as well.
As if that’s not enough, cooking processed meat items can considerably boost their carcinogenic properties as their exposure to high temperature can cause the formation of carcinogenic compounds known as heterocyclic aromatic amines. Each time you fry, grill or barbecue your favorite processed meat products, you are causing them to produce more of these very dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
Going back to the investigation conducted by WHO’s scientists, the study’s aim is to establish a strong connection between the consumption of red meat and processed meat to cancer. It’s true that there had been many scientific experiments done on such subject matter, but the fact is they were not able to openly say that meat consumption causes cancer.
The recent findings of WHO’s scientists reinforce the views of various other health agencies such as the World Cancer Research Fund that said there is definitely a strong evidence showing that the consumption of processed meat products cause colorectal cancer.