Fuelling the belief that every food either tastes terrible or causes cancer, a new World Health Organisation report has said that eating processed meat is as bad for you as smoking.
The report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”
This is another example of Nanny Staters using outlandish claims to scare us into purity. Eating processed meat is bad for you. No one shoves sausage rolls in to their mouth thinking they’re going to be healthier because of it.
This story has been sweeping the world, and holes are starting to emerge in the WHO’s statement. Dr Elizabeth Lund, former research leader at the Institute of Food Research, says that “red meat was linked to about three extra cases of bowel cancer per 100,000 adults in developed countries.”
The North American Meat Institute adds:
Red and processed meat are among 940 agents reviewed by the IARC and found to pose some level of theoretical ‘hazard’. Only one substance, a chemical in yoga pants, has been declared by the IARC not to cause cancer.
There is also a bigger point to be made here. People make imperfect decisions about their health. Because they want to.
Bacon and egg sandwiches are delicious. They are empirically more fun to eat than kale. If I give up bacon and egg sandwiches for a few extra weeks on my lifespan, I will spend those extra weeks not having bacon and egg sandwiches. So do I really win?
Professor Tim Key, Cancer Research UK’s epidemiologist, says that people should listen to the WHO’s warnings and “have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT.”