November 12, 2015 – Cancer and Meat


Anchor lead: Should you give up eating processed and red meats? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Processed meats are carcinogens, the World Health Organization has announced, with red meat a probable carcinogen. Yikes.  Just how alarmed should you be?  Mike Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the risk needs to be put in perspective.

Klag: Certainly this is a small risk, an 18% increase in risk is not a huge risk. And this point really shows in sharp distinction the difference between thinking in a clinical way versus a public health way, so for an individual I may not care about an exposure that increases my risk by 18% if I enjoy doing it, but when you look at that kind of risk spread across an entire population it means there are thousands and thousands of cancers occurring that might otherwise be prevented if people weren’t exposed to that, in this case, eating meat.   :30

Klag says from a policy perspective, such health risks need to be assessed so appropriate choices are made for the benefit of society at large.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.