Ever since the WHO report on the connection between meat and cancer was published in 2015, you’ve probably seen numerous articles about processed meat being classified as a ‘definite’ cause of cancer and red meat as a ‘probable’ cause.
The evidence of a link between certain types of meat and some forms of cancer –bowel cancer, for example – has been building for decades, and is supported by a lot of careful research. In fact, researchers are still investigating how red meat causes cancer. One possible way involves a compound called haem, which contains iron and gives red meat its color. Haem has been shown to damage the lining of the bowel.
Furthermore, when we eat red meat chemical compounds known as nitrosamines are formed. These compounds are known to damage the DNA in our cells, which can cause cancer.
Processed meat also contains added nitrites and nitrates, which we convert to nitrosamines when eating them.
For more on this and on what actually the WHO report found evidence of, check the following infographic:
For more info check this WHO QA on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.