The World Health Organization has stirred worldwide concern with a report warning against smoked, cured and processed meat, and to a lesser extent all red meat.
But the report itself is overprocessed.
Basically, 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer re-churned the results of 800 studies on meat consumption and reached new conclusions.
That’s sort of like making research sausage.
The WHO report is useful, but summaries comparing sausages to cigarettes overreach both good sense and the actual report.
The actual report says smoked, cured and processed meat contains amounts of a Group 1 carcinogen, but does not claim in any way that the amount makes that meat as dangerous as tobacco or asbestos.
Does smoked chicken, say, or lean turkey sausage contain the same level of carcinogen as the hot dogs, corned beef and jerky mentioned in the study?
Why include barbecued lean beef brisket in a warning based on Vienna sausages?
And if the primary concern involves all smoked, cured and processed meats, why muddy the message by including it with separate findings about all red meat (including pork and lamb) as a Group 2A carcinogen?
Basically, eating bacon, sausage, hot dogs or lunchmeat might raise the risk of colorectal cancer from 5 percent to 6 percent, but that in no way compares to the risk from smoking or tobacco.
The broad-brush nature of the report makes it hard to swallow.