Health effects of processed meat (20)

Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation. Most processed meat is pork or beef, but it can also be other red meats or poultry and offal. Examples of processed meats include cold cuts, i.e. hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef and biltong or beef, as well as canned meats and meat-based preparations and sauces.

  • According to the WHO, red meat belongs to the group of potentially carcinogenic foods (group 2Α) on the scale of foods that have an increased chance of causing cancer.
  • Processed meat belongs to the carcinogenic group (group 1). Smoking (tobacco) belongs to the same group.
  • More than 800 studies were assessed. The data showed positive associations between processed meat consumption and stomach and colon cancer and between red meat consumption and pancreatic and prostate cancer. Meat processing such as curing (addition of nitrates or nitrite salts) or smoking can lead to the formation of cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Also, eating processed meat increases the likelihood of chronic diseases and premature death.