As “pinktober” comes to a close, I find it ironic that the cancer focus has shifted to red. As in meat.
In the event you missed it, earlier this week the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, issued a press release highlighting its evaluation of the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.
Suddenly, headlines stating that red meat, hot dogs, sausage and bacon cause cancer were EVERYWHERE, and comments and conversations ranging from “doesn’t everything cause cancer” to “who cares, we’re all gonna die of something” were being slung around the world wide web.
Here’s a link to the actual press release: World Health Organization Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat.
Essentially, the WHO reported a classification of the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans, mainly for colorectal cancer (with associations also seen for pancreatic and prostate cancer), and the classification of processed meat as carcinogenic to humans, again with regard to colorectal cancer.
FYI, red meat refers to beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat, and processed meat refers to meat transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, and smoking.
Here’s my take on this announcement. It’s not new information. The directive to eat a plant-based diet in support of cancer prevention has been recommended for years. And while the overall pattern of one’s diet vs. only single foods is a balanced way to view the impact of food choices, I see nothing wrong with calling out foods that potentially fuel cancer; information that is of particular importance for those who’ve been through a cancer experience.
People who make dietary choices in support of remaining cancer-free deserve to know about food and health associations in order to decide what they’re comfortable including or excluding from their diet. Good health is about healthy choices, and the more information to help cancer thrivers eat to prevent secondary cancers or recurrence, the better.