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So Does Processed Meat Increase Cancer Rates?

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Anokarina/Flickr

A new report by the World Health Organization may have you rethinking your favorite breakfast food.

Next time you’re considering piling on the bacon at a local buffet, or stopping by a fast food hamburger joint – you might want to think twice.

That’s because the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer says processed meats cause cancer.

Its report says eating more than 1.8 ounces of processed meats or just two slices of bacon a day increases the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

So the IARC evaluated all the evidence available and decided to classify the consumption of processed meat as "carcinogenic to humans" and consumption of red meat as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

While the studies were not absolute in their findings, the IARC found there was more than enough evidence to conclude eating processed meat can cause cancer.

Las Vegas oncologist Dr. Paul Michael agrees completely with the research and the findings. He said it is actually something oncologist have known for a long time.

“We’ve known for a long time that red meat does have cancer causing properties, no doubt,” Dr. Michael said.

He said the research released last week included two very important details. First, it had the amount of meat that increases cancer risk and it distinguished between high risk meats like salami, pepperoni and bacon and lower risk meats like steak, pork and lamb.

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Dr. Michael said those types of meats are less harmful because they haven't gone through the smoking or curing process. 

“I think the real important fact is this has been listed as a group one carcinogen," he said.

Dr. Michael says people don't have to cut processed and red meat out of their diets entirely, but he does recommend cutting way back. 

According to Michael, colorectal cancer has long big a problem in Nevada. He said it is the second most prevalent cancer in the state and the second leading cause of cancer death.

So, to bring down those numbers, besides cutting back on red meat consumption, Dr. Michael advises people over 50 get a colonoscopy every 10 years, unless they have a history of cancer then it should be every five years. 

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St. Lawrence Market, Toronto Canada

The World Health Organization says eating processed meats and red meat, including bacon, can lead to higher cancer rates.

Guests

Dr. Paul Michael, oncologist, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada.

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