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Oct 27, 2015 08:25 AM EDT

WHO report says processed meats cause cancer

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The World health Organization has said in its much-awaited determination that processed meat causes cancer and red meat may probably cause cancer, NBC News reports.

In its report released in the Lancet medical journal, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that many research studies prove the link between these foods and cancer.

"These findings further support current public health recommendations to limit intake of meat," Dr. Christopher Wild, who directs IARC, said in a statement.

The IARC has used clear and direct language in pointing out a link between processed meat and cancer.

"Overall, the Working Group classified consumption of processed meat as 'carcinogenic to humans' on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer," the report reads.

"Additionally, a positive association with the consumption of processed meat was found for stomach cancer. The Working Group classified consumption of red meat as 'probably carcinogenic to humans'," it added.

"Consumption of red meat was also positively associated with pancreatic and with prostate cancer."

The IARC report also defined red meat.

"Red meat refers to unprocessed mammalian muscle meat-for example, beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, or goat meat-including minced or frozen meat; it is usually consumed cooked," the IARC said in its report.

"Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but might also contain other red meats, poultry, offal (eg, liver), or meat byproducts such as blood."

A team of experts reviewed all the evidence available to compile the IARC report.

"The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent," the IARC said.

"For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed," said IARC's Dr. Kurt Straif.

"In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance."

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