Processed Meat Causes Cancer, W.H.O. Study Says — So Now What?

Many have heard about the new World Health Organization (WHO) study that concluded processed meat causes cancer. So, what do you do now? And what is the best option when it comes to food?

Despite all the hype surrounding the WHO conclusions that processed meat causes cancer, this information is nothing new. In 2013, the Inquisitr reported on a massive study conducted on half a million people across Europe. Researchers concluded that diets high in processed meats can cause cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even lead to an early death.

One of every 17 people who participated in the study passed away. Those who ate the equivalent of two sausages and one piece of bacon per day were 44 percent more likely to die over a follow-up period of 12.7 years, than those who ate much less processed meat, according to the results.

Processed meat causes cancer [Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]According to the British Heart Foundation, the research suggested the salt and chemicals used in the preservation process may damage a person’s health. Taking all this information into account, the public is understandably nervous about yet another large study that concludes, with even more certainty, that eating processed meat causes cancer. Should you stop eating meat all together?

Even though the WHO study may seem pretty scary, you don’t have to throw out all the meat you have in your freezer. If your diet consists of high meat intake, recognize that it could lead to cancer; however, eating a steak or two per week will probably be okay, according to the blog, Cancer Research UK.

First, to make things clear, the WHO study saying meat causes cancer refers specifically to red and processed meats, which are any meats that look dark before cooking and do not include chicken, turkey or fish, which do not seem to increase cancer risk. Processed meat is any meat that is not fresh such as hot dogs, salami, ham, pepperoni, sausage, and the now-dreaded bacon.

One important thing to keep in mind with this study is that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) identifies only whether an agent such as meat causes cancer, but not what the risk actually is. As with anything else, meat is good — in moderation — experts say and has excellent nutrients such as protein, iron, and zinc.

How much is too much? Unfortunately there is not an exact number, but the one thing most researchers agree on is that meat in excess is not good. If you have a steak every day of the week, you are probably at a higher risk of getting cancer than someone who doesn’t eat it quite as much. The risk goes down as you eat less meat.

Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean Diet (Image via Shutterstock)

You may be asking the logical question, what now? If you can’t eat meat, what can you eat? What alternatives will give you the same nutrition, plus taste good?

The Mediterranean Diet is high in nuts, fruits and vegetable intake, as well as the beneficial olive oil. With less emphasis on red meats and dairy, and more chicken and fish, this may be a good alternative. Multiple heath studies show this is the way of the future when it comes to eating healthier and now may be a good time to really consider an alternative diet.

Researchers have found that a diet like the Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease and is even good for your brain, keeping it young and healthy, according to CNN. You may not be able to eat meat every day, but the alternative will allow you to live a longer, healthier life.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]