A report has been issued by the WHO (World Health Organisation) claiming that there is a link between the consumption of processed meat and an increased risk of cancer.

They ranked bacon, ham and sausages alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, placing cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.

They also placed Red Meat (that is, non-white meat including beef, lamb and pork) in category 2A, labelled “probably carcinogenic to humans,” in big red letters.

I haven’t been eating processed meat for a few months now, and I’d hate to say I told you so but you can’t argue with science, right?

Right Betsy Booren, The North American Meat Institute’s vice-president-of-scientific -affairs?

“Weak, inconsistent, self-reported…d-“

Woah there Betsy, you were going to say “data” at the end of that sentence, right? Seriously though, according to The Guardian, Booren commented was that many of the panellists at a IARC  meeting were “aiming for a specific result despite weak, inconsistent, self-reported intake data.”

She argues that processed meat was among 940 agents reviewed at the meeting, of only which one substance, a chemical found in yoga pants, had been declared by the IARC not to cause cancer.

She also gives free career advice apparently, saying “if you are a hairdresser or do shift work (both class 2A,) you should seek a new career,” sarcastically speaking, of course.

Needless to say the meat lover community is pissed off. None of my meat loving friends thought it was anything to panic about, and they weren’t giving up their McDonald’s Double Bacon cheeseburger that easily.

The science nerds amongst my friend group agreed that whilst it was scientifically proven that processed meat was known to be carcinogenic, so is sunlight and oxygen.

Essentially, none of us are going to die healthy.

I gave up processed meat knowing nothing about its links to cancer. I made the decision to ditch processed meat after a trip to California this summer, home to the Holy Grail of carnivores; with the US coming out second, behind Australia, in the top 10 countries for meat consumption.

Anyone who’s visited America knows it’s almost impossible to avoid fast food. There’s a McDonald’s/In ‘N’ Out Burger/Chick-Fil-A at every corner, and the meat aisle at Walmart is three times the size of your local Tesco’s. It’s no secret that obesity is a major problem in the US, and you only have to look around you to nod your head in confirmation.

Three or four burgers down the line and I’d had enough. This food was crap, and it was making me feel like crap. I felt lethargic, bloated and generally disgusting. I was never one for vegetarianism (I tried,) and unable to give up my love for Piri Piri chicken or a lamb bhuna, I decided to cut out processed meat from my diet.

I can honestly say I haven’t missed it, apart from the odd morning hangover, of course. But then again, I was never that much of a meat worshiper anyway.

But according to my favourite (and only) vegan friend, just cutting out processed meat is not enough. “Red [and processed] meat isn’t the only type of problem,” she said, “it’s every type of meat.”

“I don’t think people should eat products when they don’t know what they’re feeding those animals. People don’t know how they’re treated in their short life span and it’s so dangerous to then put that into your own body.”

“While everyone panics about just one type of meat, they should also raise awareness for the impact of animal agriculture and highlight the risks of buying into it. Animal agriculture causes not only serious health risks to humans but seriously damage the only earth that we have.”

Blame the vegans and the vegetarians for preaching to us with their carrot sticks all you want, but the facts are there. But, then again, the facts are there for just about anything if you look hard enough.

I’m not about to turn vegan, but I strongly stand by the belief that everything should be had in moderation. I’m not going to stop drinking of a night out; you’re not going to stop eating ham sandwiches.

However, what’s concerning about this whole fiasco is not the results themselves, but the backlash they have received. We are facing an obesity crisis, and every step should be being taken to make sure we do what we can to prevent it getting worse. Obesity rates in the UK are the highest in Europe, with 20% of the population now being obese. This costs the UK economy upwards of £3 billion a year, according to research by the University of Birmingham. These results, however flimsy, are a step in the right direction, and ignoring them would be detrimental. Every effort should be being made to prevent childhood obesity in particular. Putting tax on sugary drinks, in my opinion, is just not enough. But telling people that an excess of processed or red meat can increase their child’s risk of cancer- surely that should be enough to stop people in their tracks.

But unfortunately, people tend not to listen to what they don’t want to hear. It’s the same people that years ago, disputed research that claimed smoking was a major health risk.

I guess, like many people, I sit on the fence a little bit with this issue, but if you take away anything from this article, I hope it’s awareness. Yes, there’s no need to panic over processed meat, but ignoring the dangers will do you as much good as your daily rasher of bacon…