27-Oct-2015 - International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

Does bacon cause cancer?

Processed red meat classified as carcinogen by WHO

Bacon, Hot-Dogs and other processed red meat products are classified as carcinogenic by the WHO. The classification relies on studies from 22 experts in 10 countries. The evidences consist of limited evidences that red meat may cause cancer in humans and more strong evidences about the mechanistic effects of probable carcinogenic effects. The connection between these findings are mainly proven for colorectal cancers but also for pancreatic and prostate cancers.

Regarding to the study is processed red meat (e.g. bacon) carcinogenic to humans, which is based on sufficient evidence by evaluation of studies regarding colorectal cancer.

Non-processed red meat is classified as probably carcinogenic in the same study.  

Consumption and effects

The amount of consumed meat varies in different countries from few percent to virtually all parts of the public eating red meat regularly. The monograph says that 50 g of red meat daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

To obtain this result more than 800 studies, which connected meat consumption and cancer risk, were evaluated. The highest impact on the result had cohort studies from the past 20 years.

  • Véronique Bouvard, Dana Loomis, Kathryn Z Guyton, Yann Grosse, Fatiha El Ghissassi, Lamia Benbrahim-Tallaa, Neela Guha, Heidi Mattock, Kurt Straif; "Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat"; The Lancet Oncology; 2015
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • World Health Organisation
  • IARC
  • carcinogens
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