WHO: Processed meat can cause cancer

WHO: Processed meat can cause cancer

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The World Health Organization says meat processed through salting, curing, smoking and other methods can cause cancer. (dinnerseries/Flickr)

New research out today from the World Health Organization finds that that processed meats can cause cancer, and that red meat probably can, too.

WHO defines processed meats as “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation… Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.”

The findings are sure to be controversial. The beef industry in the U.S. is huge – $95 billion a year – and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has already weighed in saying it doesn’t think there is evidence to support any link between red meat and cancer.

Here & Now’s Robin Young talks with one of the researchers, Dr. Kurt Straif of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the WHO, about the findings.