Bacon, Hot Dogs, and Processed Meats Cause Cancer, WHO Says

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&language=en&ref_site=photo&search_source=search_form&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&use_local_boost=1&autocomplete_id=&search_tracking_id=Ft-DvaZFdmchRm0aJvpn7g&searchterm=bacon%20sausage%20ham&show_color_wheel=1&orient=&commercial_ok=&media_type=images&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&color=&page=1&inline=130267775">stocksolutions</a>/Shutterstock

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


A new report released by the World Health Organization on Monday reveals that processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and sausage cause cancer. Red meat, while carrying a slightly lower risk than processed meats, likely does as well.

According to the organization, daily consumption of 50 grams of processed meats—defined as meats that have been transformed by salting, curing, or other taste-enhancing methods—increased the likelihood of cancer by 18 percent. Processed meats, which are linked to an increased likelihood of bowel cancer, were found to be as carcinogenic as cigarettes, arsenic, and alcohol.

Red meat, such as lamb, pork, and beef, was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

“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,” Dr. Kurt Straif, head of the WHO’s cancer research agency, said in a press release. “In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”

Monday’s report, unambiguous in pointing out the clear link between processed meats and cancer, is sure to revive debate over the comparison between meat and cigarettes as carcinogenic substances. While previous studies have suggested associations between meat and cancer, none has gone as far as the WHO’s latest findings to establish a direct causality.

The meat industry was quick to respond.

“We simply don’t think the evidence support any casual link between any red meat and any type of cancer,” Shalene McNeil, executive director of human nutrition at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, told the Washington Post.

The WHO’s report is the result of a study conducted by 22 scientists from 10 countries who examined more than 800 previous studies from around the world.

This headline has been updated to more accurately reflect the research.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate