Diets high in red and processed meat have long been shown in epidemiological studies to be associated with increased cancer risk. The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AIRC) labeled processed meat as a “probable carcinogen” and red meat as a “possible carcinogen” based on an extensive analysis of the literature. Using only those studies that met the rigor of inclusion, 19 of 33 studies showed a link between increased cancer risk and the consumption of red or processed meat.
While this was a majority of the studies, a fairly substantial number (14 of 33) failed to show a statistically significant association. Furthermore, while red meat was categorized as a cancer risk in the same category as asbestos and cigarettes, the degree of risk is orders of magnitude different—the increased hazard from processed meat was 0.18 fold compared with cigarettes at more than 20 fold. Continue reading