I woke up to the news today that the WHO is releasing a report saying that processed meats cause cancer and red meat probably does too.
I haven’t read the WHO release yet, but here’s what I gleaned from the WaPo reporting.
- We’re talking about colorectal cancer.
- If you eat an “additional” 100 grams of red meat every day, your risk may go up 17%
- If you eat an extra 50 grams of processed meat every day, your risk may go up 18%.
I have questions.
- In addition to what?
- How much is 50 or 100 grams of food?
- Most importantly, what does a 17-18% increase in risk mean? To know that, I’d have to know what my risk of developing colorectal cancer is to begin with. Let’s say it’s 5%. So that “extra” red meat will raise my risk to 5.9%?
But like the Great ACS Mammography Debate, all most of us hear is
OH MY GAAAAAAAAAWD THAT SLICE OF BACON I HAD WHEN I WAS 12 GAVE ME CANCER.
And more importantly, when we hear about someone getting colorectal cancer, we might think, “Oh well. S/he should have made better food choices.”
And that point of view is devastating to the urgency of unlocking the mysteries of cancer.
Remember: The problem is not the guidelines, it’s our self-destructive urge to boil everything down to a simple headline.