Farmer has issues with WHO report on processed meat
Will eating bacon and other processed meats really make you sick?
Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) came out with news stating that processed foods are linked to cancer.
I am a sixth-generation farmer and my husband and I have raised pork for the past 27 years. I am not an expert in the area of health and nutrition and this “big news” was upsetting to me as a farmer, wife, mom, grandma, and health conscience person.
I did a little reading and found an article that shed some light on this issue.
With permission from “The Daily Livestock Report,” I would like to share with you a perspective on the subject. “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says that 1.8 oz. consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.”
In doing a bit of research an interesting fact seen in the story is that red meat is the 939th agent found by the IARC to increase the risk of cancer. Examining the inter-relationship among all these agents (which include air, work environments, etc) and understanding the true level of risk from each one is outside the scope of the work of IARC.
Other agents will most surely be added to the list in the coming years as the committee continues to catalogue all and everything that could be bad for us.
In the meantime, the world population has gone from around 3.2 billion in the early 1960s to around 7.5 billion today and will likely be at 9 billion in another 25 years.
The global life expectancy has gone from around 55 years in the early 1960s to well over 70 years today. Some of that improvement is certainly due to modern medicine and reductions in child mortality. It is also due to the fact that as incomes have risen across all regions of the world, it has led to better nutrition, including higher consumption of meat protein. And this is one thing that reports such as the one above do not really tell the consumer.
While eating a portion of processed meat every day could increase the risk (which may be quite low to begin with) by 18 percent, how does that risk change if people stop eating meat and instead seek to find nourishment from less nutritional foods?
Consumers might well remember all the fuss about cholesterol and fat and heart disease. This led to a dramatic change in food consumption as manufacturers tripped over each other to replace fat with sugar.
Today the consumer is more obese and new science tells us that risks from fatty foods may not be as dire.
Meat consumption has been increasing, in tandem with global incomes and well-being. In the developing world, rising incomes have allowed consumers to substitute meat for lower quality protein, a trend that will likely continue as developing countries close the income gap.
The WHO reminds us of the 939 risks out there. Fair enough, but the ride is too short and precious to hide in a bunker, breathing filtrated air and eating celery sticks.