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WHO clarifies meat/cancer link

WHO explains latest IARC cancer review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Oct. 29 it has received a number of queries, expressions of concern and requests for clarification following the publication of a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) relating to processed meat and colorectal cancer.

According to the WHO statement, IARC’s review confirms the recommendation in WHO’s 2002 "Diet, Nutrition & the Prevention of Chronic Diseases" report that advised people to moderate consumption of preserved meat to reduce the risk of cancer.

The latest IARC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats but indicates that reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, WHO said.

WHO has a standing group of experts who regularly evaluate the links between diet and disease. Early next year, this group will meet to begin looking at the public health implications of the latest science and the place of processed meat and red meat within the context of an overall healthy diet, WHO added.

IARC was established 50 years ago through a resolution of the World Health Assembly as a functionally independent cancer agency under the auspices of WHO, but its program of work is approved and financed by its participating states, WHO said.

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