By now, you’ve probably heard several news reports about the World Health Organization report that associates the eating of processed meat with a higher risk of cancer. A food scientist at the University of Illinois says that report needs to be taken in context.
The W-H-O study looked at accumulated research and concluded that eating a 50 gram portion of processed meat --- perhaps a hot dog or two or three slices of bacon --- can increase the risk of colon cancer by 18 percent. Professor Emeritus John Erdman with the U of I’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition says that increase is a percentage of the normal lifetime risk of colon cancer, which in the U-S is about 4-point-5 percent.
Erdman says it’s still a good idea not to eat too much processed meat, and not to eat it every day. He thinks the W-H-O’s other conclusion, that red meat has a “probable” link to cancer, may be an overreach. But Erdman says it’s a good idea to eat meat in moderate amounts, and eat more vegetables. Other research, including Erdman’s own studies, found that eating 3 to 5 servings a week of vegetables like broccoli and Brussel sprouts can **decrease** the risk of many different cancers.