The WHO is expected to issue new guidelines warning that processed meat products such as bacon and sausages are a cancer risk on the scale of smoking and asbestos.Reports have claimed the UN’s health body will highlight the dangers of eating processed meats on Monday by putting bacon, burgers, and ham on its list of cancer-causing substances.Even fresh red meat is expected to be listed as unhealthy. According to the latest survey of the British diet, the average adult eats around 71g of red meat a day.The warning on the “carcinogenicity of red and processed meat ” is expected to come in a WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluation published in the Lancet. The WHO has not denied the reports, but has said there was no leak of the findings.The guidelines would bring the UN’s position in line with the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which that processed meat can cause bowel cancer.
But Dr Jill Jenkins, a GP and member of the Advisory Panel, an industry sponsored body, said she would not be advising her patients to stop eating meat, but she did recommend caution over highly processed meat products.
“I think certainly that we should be keeping a low level, so everything in moderation,” she told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
“From the same body we have had advice about the carcinogenic effects of the air we breathe and the sun on our skin, so I think we have to take it within reason in that if you are stuffing in burgers and sausages and bacon every day, yes you are at risk.“If you have some healthy, locally made high-protein sausage once a fortnight, well, I personally don’t consider that a risk.”The Daily Mail, which reported on the WHO shift, said it had received the information from a “well-placed source”. In a note to the media, however, the WHO said: “Following random reports [on] Friday 23 October in the British press postulating on the outcome of the IARC evaluation on the carcinogenicity of red meat and processed meat, please note that there was no breach of embargo, as no embargoed material was shared with any news outlet, in Britain or elsewhere.”