The World Health Organisation (WHO) has insisted it is not telling people to stop eating bacon and other processed meats after a report claimed they could increase the risk of cancer.
Farmers and the meat industry reacted with outrage when the organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) put ham and sausages in the ominous-sounding “group one” of carcinogens, which includes formaldehyde, gamma radiation and cigarettes.
Eating just a 50g portion of processed meat – or two rashers of bacon – a day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18 per cent, the experts concluded.
But the WHO has sought to ease panic by emphasising that the findings only confirmed recommendations made back in 2002, which advised people to moderate their consumption 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,” a spokesperson said, noting that the organisation had received “a number of queries, expressions of concern and requests for clarification”.