Skip to main content

Why we should listen to #WHO on processed #meat, tweets top environmentalist Sunita Narain

Counterview Desk
In what may prove to be a fuel for the Sangh Parivar outfits seeking complete ban on beef, well-known environmentalist Sunita Narain has tweeted (@sunitanar): "Why we should listen to #WHO on processed #meat", asking readers to visit the http://www.downtoearth.org.in/, which she edits, in order to read the article which approvingly quotes a World Health Organization (WHO) study that "processed meat" may be "carcinogenic to humans."
Narain shot into prominence during her campaign in mid-2000s against Cola Cola and Pepsi Cola. In 2013, a committee headed by her came up with a report for the Government of India, which talks of Adani project – port and SEZ – at Mundra in Gujarat having "violated and not complied with environmental clearance conditions."
The article on red meat says that "the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the WHO, has stated in a study that consumption of processed meat is carcinogenic to humans and can cause colorectal cancer. IARC evaluated the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat."
Based on an analysis of a "working group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme", which "thoroughly reviewed scientific literature", the article says, "The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent."
"The group also classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans", the article says, adding, "The classification is based on 'limited evidence' from epidemiological studies showing positive associations between eating red meat and developing colorectal cancer as well as strong mechanistic evidence".
Qualifying "limited evidence" as a "positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer, but that other explanations for the observations (technically termed 'chance', 'bias', or 'confounding') could not be ruled out", the article says, "The Monographs Programme identifies and evaluates environmental causes of cancer including chemicals, complex mixtures, occupational exposures, physical agents, biological agents and personal habits in humans."
The article approvingly quotes Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Programme as saying, “For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed”, adding, “In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”
An explanatory note attached with the article says that "red meat" is not just beef but "all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat."
As for processed meet, it is one which is "transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood."
Coming to what makes meat "carcinogenic", the note says, "High-temperature cooking methods generate compounds that may contribute to carcinogenic risk, but their role is not yet fully understood. Cooking at high temperatures or with the food in direct contact with a flame or a hot surface, as in barbecuing or pan-frying, produces more of certain types of carcinogenic chemicals."
It further says, "Meat consists of multiple components, such as haem iron. Meat can also contain chemicals that form during meat processing or cooking. For instance, carcinogenic chemicals that form during meat processing include N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons."
The note adds, "Cooking of red meat or processed meat also produces heterocyclic aromatic amines as well as other chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are also found in other foods and in air pollution. Some of these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens. But despite this knowledge, it is not yet fully understood how cancer risk is increased by red meat or processed meat."
To the question whether this means one should "stop eating meat", the note underlines, "Eating meat has known health benefits. Many national health recommendations advise people to limit intake of processed meat and red meat, which are linked to increased risks of death from heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses."

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.