Cancer group could label meat a 'hazard'

Cancer group could label meat a 'hazard'

North American Meat Institute says meat is among 940 items the cancer group is reviewing

According to various reports, an International Agency for Research on Cancer panel is expected to release a classification Monday that suggests red and processed meat are both cancer "hazards."

Related: Meat shoppers looking for leaner cuts, survey shows

If the reports are accurate, the North American Meat Institute said on Friday that such classification suggests the agency will "defy both common sense and dozens of studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer and other studies showing the many health benefits of balanced diets that include meat."

North American Meat Institute says meat is among 940 items the cancer group is reviewing

NAMI said red and processed meat are among 940 substances reviewed by IARC found to pose some level of "hazard." Only one substance, a chemical in yoga pants, has been declared by IARC not to cause cancer.

NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter said scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health.

"IARC says you can enjoy your yoga class, but don't breathe air (Class I carcinogen), sit near a sun-filled window (Class I), drink wine or coffee (Class I and Class 2B), eat grilled food (Class 2A), or apply aloe vera (Class 2B). And if you are a hairdresser or do shiftwork (both Class 2A), you should seek a new career," Carpenter said.

IARC's panel was tasked to look at hazards that meat could pose at some level, under circumstance, but was not asked to consider any off-setting benefits, NAMI said, "like the nutrition that meat delivers or the implications of drastically reducing or removing meat from the diet altogether."

Related: WHO cancer group suggests glyphosate is 'probable carcinogen'

"Followers of the Mediterranean diet eat double the recommended amount of processed meats," Carpenter said. "People in countries where the Mediterranean diet is followed, like Spain, Italy and France, have some of the longest lifespans in the world and excellent health.

"If this is actually IARC's decision it simply cannot be applied to people's health because it considers just one piece of the health puzzle: theoretical hazards. Risks and benefits must be considered together before telling people what to eat, drink, drive, breathe, or where to work," he said.

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