What other say: Keeping the processed meat warning in perspective

  • Monday, November 2, 2015 4:34pm
  • Opinion

Bacon, hot dogs and steaks — medium rare, please — are delicious. But like so many things in life, excessive consumption is risky.

The World Health Organization made that reality clear once more on Monday by declaring that meat, particularly processed meat, probably contributes to colon, stomach and other types of cancer.

The World Health Organization, part of the United Nations, said in its opening statement that if reported associations are proven to be causal, the Global Burden of Disease Project estimates that diets high in red meat could be responsible for 50,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide.

Representatives of the meat industry denounced the finding. But the International Agency for Research on Cancer is a highly respected body. Its findings no doubt will be relevant as California’s own Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment considers whether to list as a carcinogen nitrites, which are used to cure processed meat, in combination with certain compounds known as amines and amides.

Not to discount the impact on health from the excessive consumption of meat, processed and otherwise, but a little perspective is in order.

Smoking is linked to about 1 million cancer deaths annually worldwide. Alcohol accounts for another 600,000 cancer deaths. Air pollution is responsible for 200,000 cancer deaths annually, the agency said.

The World Health Organization lists many other issues worthy of concern. Traffic fatalities account for 1.25 million deaths annually. Violence accounts for 200,000 deaths of people between the ages of 10 and 29 annually. Hunger causes 3.1 million deaths of children under the age of 5 annually. Think about that. The city of Los Angeles has 3.8 million people.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer reached the conclusion about processed meat and red meat based on a review of 800 studies of consumption and cancer. The panel included 22 scientists from 10 countries, including a half dozen from U.S. universities and federal agencies.

“Overall, the Working Group classified consumption of processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer,” said the report published in The Lancet Oncology. “The Working Group classified consumption of red meat as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans.’”

We in the United States consume more meat than almost any other nation. That has impacts on the environment, climate change and health.

We would be wise to eat a little less of it, and, while we’re at it, drive more carefully, exercise more regularly, and, for those who still smoke, try a little harder to kick the addiction.

— The Sacramento Bee,

Oct. 26

More in Opinion

This image available under the Creative Commons license shows the outline of the state of Alaska filled with the pattern of the state flag.
Opinion: Bringing broadband to all Alaskans

Too many Alaskans face barriers accessing the internet.

This photo shows a stack of pocket constitutions at the Alaska State Capitol. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Join us in voting against a constitutional convention

Voting no on a constitutional convention is vital to the well-being and stability of our state.

Michael O’Meara.
Point of View: Tell BOEM how you feel

It seems like BOEM should prioritize input from people most likely to be affected if leases are sold

The State of Alaska, Department of Administration, Office of Information Technology webpage. (Screenshot/oit.alaska.gov)
Cloud migration now underway will strengthen, enhance State IT systems

At the most basic level, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services remotely

Jessica Cook, left, and Les Gara stand in The Peninsula Clarion’s offices on Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska Voices: Better schools for a better economy

We need leaders who care about our children’s futures

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: This is our borough and city

By Therese Lewandowski Another election already? Yes! This is our local elections… Continue reading

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation building is seen in Juneau, Alaska, in March 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: APFC keeps steady keel during turbulent year

FY2022 was a challenging year for all investors

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Nonprofits provide essential services not provided by cities

By our count, nonprofits provide more than 100 jobs to our communities

t
Opinion: Don’t get scammed like I nearly did

I should have just turned off the computer.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce campaigns for governor as he walks in the 65th annual Soldotna Progress Days Parade on Saturday, July 23, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. Pierce resigned as borough mayor effective Sept. 30, 2022, to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: ‘It has been an honor to serve’

Borough mayor gives send-off ahead of departure

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announces Friday, July 15, 2022, that 2022 most PFD payments will be distributed on Sept. 20, 2022. (Screenshot)
Opinion: A historic PFD still leaves work to be done

It is important to remember the dividend is not, and has never been, a welfare payment