A report by the World Health Organization based on their review of various research and manuscripts has classified consumption of processed meats as carcinogenic, and eating red meat as probably carcinogenic. The report has raised some eyebrows and some questions. Wes Osburn is a Texas A&M meat scientist.
“Processed meats would be put in Group 1, carcinogenic to humans. Red meat would be put in Group 2A, possibly carcinogenic to humans, so they classified them as hazards, Category 1 being the highest, obviously, carcinogenic to humans, and then 2A with fresh meat being possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Osburn says most people believed the implication was clear that we shouldn’t eat meat. The committee has since tried to clarify their position.
“Actually said, that is not true. We’re not recommending you give up eating meat or processed meats. They’re asking us to do it in moderation.”
The committee’s decision was not anywhere near unanimous.
“They couldn’t come to an agreement, what were the reasons behind that? For every research article that I have seen that says there is a weak or somewhat association with say processed meats or red meats and potential carcinogenic effects, maybe, potentially, resulting in cancer, I’ll find another paper that says no. They could not find it.”
Osburn points out that cancer is an extremely complex disease.
“You’ve got a committee saying that a single factor, a processed meat or red meat is an independent cause of cancer, and cancer’s so complex I just don’t see how, I don’t see how it could be decided as such, but I have yet to see the monograph that says what studies, how did you do this, what’s the methodology? And I’ll just go back to the fact that they weren’t all in agreement.”