Meat as Carcinogenic as Smoking!!! (and other hysteria) updated, updated

So the World Health Organisations’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has published its report on red and processed meat and decided that they are carcinogenic as tobacco smoke. Naturally I am extremely puzzled as, for 7 million years or so before the onset of agriculture (about 10,000 years ago), meat was all we ate (bar a few leaves and berries) and yet we are, undeniably, still here. I have serious doubts that if every single human being had smoked 20 a day for the last seven million years there would be any of us here at all. So I rushed to the WHO’s website to find the research, to discover it was published in the Lancet only (access denied). Failing that I went straight to the IARC’s website to discover the source data of this new and important study to be greeted with this:

iarc website

Looks like their server hasn’t eaten enough red meat…

Never mind. To allay any immediate fears, here is a sensible info graphic from Cancer Research UK that shows that while the evidence may be the same, the risk is very different.


So in the absence of any real data, and without access to what the report actually says, here is a quote from the furious, if obviously partisan, North American Meat Institute said defining red meat as a cancer hazard defied common sense.

“It was clear, sitting in the IARC meeting, that many of the panellists were aiming for a specific result despite old, weak, inconsistent, self-reported intake data,” said Betsy Booren, the institute’s vice-president of scientific affairs. “They tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome.”

I have a strange sense of deja vue… where’s my low fat muffin?

27/10/15 – Here’s a link to an explanation from Wired magazine via Paleo Mag via Rob Woolf. As it says, don’t be throwing out your bacon just yet:

28/10/15 – In case you were wondering, after it’s hysterical headlines on Monday, the Guardian has helpfully published the full list of the 116 Group 1 carcinogens, including bacon:


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