Thursday, October 29, 2015

An open letter to the Australian Government

Now that a World Health Organisation agency has classified red and processed meat as carcinogenic (listed among the most cancer-causing substances, alongside arsenic and asbestos) meats must require warning labels in Australia. And the Australian Government must accept and endorse this report, giving it the publicity it deserves.

Red and processed meat products are linked to cancer, according to a report from the World Health Organisation published in Lancet Oncology. Researchers from around the world examined more than 800 studies looking at the cancer-causing properties of red and processed meats. The authors highlighted a meta-analysis that found a 17 percent increase in risk for colon cancer per 100 grams of red meat consumed and an 18 percent increase risk with 50 grams of processed meat consumed, and ultimately concluded that they are “probably carcinogenic to humans” and “carcinogenic to humans,” respectively. Researchers also observed associations between red and processed meat products and stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

To be clear this includes;

1) Processed meats, which are transformed by salting, curing, or fermentation. Everything from hotdogs and bacon, to lunch meats like salami and prosciutto;
2) Unprocessed red meats, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, and goat.

Importantly, this is irrespective of your personal beliefs and diet.  Governments and health bodies have a responsibility to inform and protect the public. There may be individuals who choose to ignore health warnings, as is the case with cigarettes, but this doesn’t discount the responsibility to issue warnings.

In addition, Safe Work Australia should add red and processed meat as carcinogenic in its Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances [NOHSC:1008(1999)]