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WHO: Bacon, Hot Dogs Can Cause Cancer

A cook at Hot Doug's cooks orders for customers at the gourmet hot dog diner in Chicago, May 7, 2014.

A cook at Hot Doug's cooks orders for customers at the gourmet hot dog diner in Chicago, May 7, 2014.

Eating processed meat can cause cancer, World Health Organization experts said Monday.

Processed meat is meat that has been preserved by curing, salting, smoking, drying or canning.

Experts from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, studied 800 cases. IARC researchers linked processed meat, such as hot dogs and ham, to bowel cancer, as well as pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

The IARC has included processed meat in its group 1 list, for which there is “sufficient evidence” of links to cancer. Tobacco, asbestos, and diesel fumes are also on the group 1 list.

WHO experts also called red meat, including beef, lamb and pork, “probably” carcinogenic to humans.

Dr. Kurt Straif is with the IARC. He said in a statement that the risk of cancer increases with the amount of meat a person eats. A person who consumes 50 grams of processed meat per day – about two pieces of bacon – increases his or her risk of bowel cancer by 18 percent.

Health experts in some countries already advise against eating large amounts of red and processed meat. But those advisories had been centered on the increased risks of heart disease and obesity.

Meat industry groups are protesting the WHO study. They say that meat is part of a balanced diet. They also say the causes of cancer are broad, and include environmental and lifestyle factors.

The WHO report cited the Global Burden of Disease project, which estimates that diets high in processed meat lead to 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Lucija Millonig adapted this story for Learning English based on reports from Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

bowel – n. the long tube in the body that helps digest food and carries solid waste out of the body

sufficientadj. having or providing as much as is needed

asbestosn. a soft gray mineral that was used especially as a building material in the past, and that can cause serious diseases of the lungs when people breathe its dust

dieseln. a vehicle (such as a truck or bus) that has a diesel engine

carcinogenic adj. likely or able to cause cancer

broad – adj. including or involving many things or people : wide in range or amount

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