In October, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO)—is expected to link red meat to cancer.
The IARC evaluates available evidence on substances and then rates them on a scale of 1 to 4, where 1 is considered “carcinogenic to humans” and 4 is considered “probably not carcinogenic to humans”.
Since red meat has been previously linked to ailments ranging from heart disease to cancer, including colorectal, esophageal, lung, and pancreatic cancers, the IARC recently placed a high priority on determining whether scientific evidence substantiates any real risk in consuming red meat, according to Quartz.
While the available evidence does not substantiate a conclusive reason why the consumption of red meat could cause cancer, recent research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a particular sugar molecule present in high quantities of red meat could, in fact, trigger an inflammatory response in the body that encourages the development of some types of cancer.
The American Cancer Society already recommends that Americans limit their intake of red meat. According to the organization, “[b]ecause of a wealth of studies linking colon cancer to diets high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (hot dogs, bologna, etc.), the Society encourages people to eat more vegetables and fish and less red and processed meats.”