The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warned Monday that processed meats like sausages and ham cause bowel cancer, and red meat “probably” does too.
By the IARC’s own account, meat has “known health benefits”. And the agency says it does not know what a safe meat quota would be — or even if there is one. Other specialists insist the report is no reason to drop steak from the menu, though it is probably wise for big eaters of it to cut back.
Meat is a good source of key nutrients like zinc, protein and vitamin B12, they point out, as well as iron, which humans absorb more easily from meat than from plants. “This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat,” said Tim Key, an epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK.
“But if you eat lots of it, you may want to think about cutting down. You could try having fish for your dinner rather than sausages, or choosing to have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).” Read more