Lisa Isaacs

HEALTH experts say that red meat contains high biological value proteins and important micronutrients beneficial for health, despite a bombshell finding by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that eating processed meats and red meat could cause bowel cancer.

A review released this week by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer put processed meat in its Group 1 list, which also includes tobacco and asbestos, for which there is “sufficient evidence” of cancer links, while red meat was classified as probably carcinogenic in its Group 2A list.

The Association for Dietetics in SA spokesperson, Catherine Pereira, said however the findings were not surprising as it “has been cautioned previously that we should not over-consume processed meats”.

“Since 1994, meat consumption, particularly processed meat consumption has increased, which is concerning. South Africans consume 58.7kg per person per year of meat,” she said.

Pereira said the South African food-based dietary guidelines contained a recommendation that fish, chicken, lean meat and eggs could be eaten daily.

“The grading of evidence mainly demonstrates the strength of the evidence available and not necessarily how big the cancer risk is.”

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