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A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Eating Meat Proven to Cause Cancer
By Janatari Devi Dasi   |  Jan 15, 2022

An international committee advisory committee advocated that processed and red meat as high priorities for assessment by the IARC Monographs Programme. The endorsement was suggested due to epidemiological studies alluding to the possible risks of cancers associated with the ingestion of both red and processed meats. 

According to the Global Burden of Disease Project, an independent academic research organization, approximately 34,000 cancer deaths worldwide can be attributed to eating processed meats. While the link between eating meat and cancer has not been one hundred percent proven, estimates do show that diets high in red meat can be responsible for 50,000 cancer deaths annually. 

Red meat was classified as a 2A carcinogen which means that eating it almost certainly causes cancer. Processed meat was classified as a Group 1 carcinogen which means that there is substantial evidence to show that eating processed meats (bacon, salami, hotdogs, etc.) causes cancer. Consumption of processed meats significantly increases your risk of bowel and stomach cancers. 

While meat companies promote eating meat as part of a healthy diet, studies have shown that consumption of red meat leads to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Not only are you at risk of contracting these diseases, but you are also at risk of dying from them once contracted. 

While both processed meat and cigarettes are listed as Group 1 carcinogens, the risks are drastically different. “To put this in perspective, according to the Global Disease Burden Project 2012, over 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to high processed meat intake vs. 1 million deaths per year attributable to tobacco smoke.” (Staff Who report says eating processed meat is carcinogenic: Understanding the findings) The World Cancer Research Fund recommends treating meat as a special occasion dish, limiting it in your diet. Studies have shown that a vegetarian diet has an overall lower risk of colon cancer. (Michael J. Orlich Vegetarian diet and risk of colorectal cancers) A vegetarian diet also contributes to a lowered risk of diabetes, hypertension, and general mortality.



Michael J. Orlich, MD. “Vegetarian Diet and Risk of Colorectal Cancers.” JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Network, 1 May 2015, 
Staff. “Who Report Says Eating Processed Meat Is Carcinogenic: Understanding the Findings.” The Nutrition Source, Harvard School For Public Health, 3 Mar. 2021, 
WHO Team. “Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 26 Oct. 2015, 
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