It’s a bad day for meat lovers. According to a new study from the World Health Organization, eating processed meats like bacon and hot dogs can cause cancer.
Researchers also say that red meats like beef, pork, lamb and veal are “probably carcinogenic” to humans. To reach this conclusion, 22 scientists conducted an in-depth review of previous research that linked high consumption amounts of red meat to the development of cancer.
This new declaration by the WHO puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as smoking tobacco and inhaling asbestos. The study says there is “strong mechanistic evidence” that links eating red and processed meats to colorectal cancer, which is the second most lethal form of cancer in the U.S.
Researchers now recommend limiting your overall intake of red and processed meats and urge consumers to move toward a more plant-based diet. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, told the Washington Post that meat lovers shouldn’t panic.
“Some people are interpreting it as don’t eat meat at all. I don’t know if that’s reasonable,” Nestle said. “The evidence against processed meat is very strong, but it’s very hard to consider giving up. A BLT is really a wonderful thing.”