One of the biggest media stories in the world this week was the report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggesting red and processed meats are cancer hazards. While it generated headlines, it also seemed to generate lots of eyerolls and shoulder shrugs (¯\_(ツ)_/¯) as people are bombarded with extreme advice that contradicts common sense. We’ve made our feelings about the alarmist overreach by IARC quite clear. Here’s a short summary of some of our other favorite reactions…
Australia: No, it shouldn’t be compared to cigarettes and obviously that makes the whole thing a farce — comparing sausages to cigarettes,” Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce told national radio.
“I don’t think that we should get too excited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer because you’re not. You just don’t want to live on sausages.”
“If you got everything that the World Health Organization said was carcinogenic and took it out of your daily requirements, well you are kind of heading back to a cave,” he said.
“If you’re going to avoid everything that has any correlation with cancer whatsoever — don’t walk outside, don’t walk down the streets in Sydney, there’s going to be very little in life that you do in the end.”
Germany: “No one should be afraid when eating a bratwurst,” said Christian Schmidt
Facebook post (translated):
“The WHO cancer warning for meat and sausage is a farce! Ham on the same footing as asbestos is hanebuchener nonsense and insecure only the people. It is clear to me: Austria’s sausage is and remains safe and all the best.”
“It’s not as if we are suddenly being awoken to a latent danger. The IARC’s poorly explained decision is at best a reminder that moderation, as in all things dietary, is the best course.”
–Globe and Mail
“What’s interesting, though, is that while there is evidence that eating meat increases the risk of cancer, there is no strong evidence that eschewing meat reduces the risk.
In fact, teasing out which foods do or do not raise or lower cancer risk is incredibly difficult. Those studies you see every week claiming that various substances – blueberries, fish oil, raspberry ketones, or whatever – will magically protect you from cancer have little credence.”
–Globe and Mail
“In perhaps the greatest affront to American culture ever perpetrated by a foreign entity, the Switzerland-based World Health Organization has released a preposterous report claiming that bacon and other processed meats cause cancer.”
“To take an analogy, think of banana skins. They definitely can cause accidents—but in practice this doesn’t happen very often (unless you work in a banana factory). And the sort of harm you can come to from slipping on a banana skin isn’t generally as severe as, say, being in a car accident. But under a hazard identification system like IARC’s, “banana skins” and “cars” would come under the same category—they both definitely do cause accidents.”
“Hold on. Let me stop right here. Eating bacon is not as bad as smoking when it comes to cancer. Just no.
The way WHO classifies cancer-causing substances, on the other hand? Maybe a little dangerous to your mental health. Because it is really confusing.”
“What we have is a classic ivory-tower mentality: a group of academics who hole up in a room, make proclamations to the world, and ignore the chaos that consistently ensues. Perhaps we need a separate classification scheme for scientific organizations that are “confusogenic to humans.”
“At Bova’s Bakery in the North End, Nick Bova, 21, whose father owns the business, said a customer favorite is a sandwich made with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, and dressing.
“If I put a sign up that said this causes cancer,” said Bova, pointing toward the bakery’s menu, “people wouldn’t believe it. I think they’d buy two sandwiches.”
Franktuary co-founder Tim Tobitsch offered this assessment on WHO’s report: “The biggest problem I have with studies like this is that people lose track of the fact that living leads to death. This is true in the micro sense in that everyday we must consume things that were once living to temporarily sustain our own lives, and in the macro sense in that those of us who eat bacon and those of us who don’t are still going to die.”
A Sampling of Social Media:
every year something new causes cancer 2015: meat 2016: oxygen https://t.co/Kw0H5R7y2v
— SoaR nellaf (@neIIaf) October 27, 2015
World Health Org says red meat probably causes cancer. Probably? I say tofu & cous cous probably causes brain tumors https://t.co/hHVqTD3Y1T
— Dale Alan (@USMC6591) October 27, 2015
So people have been eating red meat since before recorded history but it just now causes cancer..? — laura murphy (@lau_murph) October 27, 2015
The takeaway…nutrition advice the world over hasn’t changed: red and processed meat are part of a healthy balanced diet. For more on meats nutrition benefits, check out www.meatpoultrynutrition.org