Processed meats such as bacon and hot dogs cause cancer in humans, according to the World Health Organization(WHO) — but consumers shouldn’t worry about it, according to Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
The WHO’s study, conducted by theInternational Agency for Research on Cancer, the organization’s cancer research agency, is “another example of politicized science that is not grounded in reality,” Miller said in a statement to The Texas Tribune.
In a study published Monday, the WHO announced processed meat would be designated as a “Group 1” carcinogen – alongside tobacco and asbestos. The study also concluded that red meat, in general, is “probably” carcinogenic to humans and is “positively associated with pancreatic and with prostate cancer.”
According to the state Department of Agriculture, Texas is the United States’ top exporter of beef. In 2012, the state beef industry brought in more than $800 million.
Texans shouldn’t feel the need to change their dietary habits, according to Miller.
“Lean red meat has long been, and will continue to be, an important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet,” he said.
Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, said he hopes the WHO’s report won’t dissuade consumers.
“To put red meat in the same sentence as tobacco and asbestos is absurd,” Hall said. “For the time being, I’m going to assume the public’s appetite for red meat will remain strong.”
Hall said he has doubts about the study’s conclusion, which drew on more than 800 epidemiological studies investigating cancer and meat consumption across several countries.
“I’m skeptical about the science, and even more so about the way it’s being interpreted — there are a lot of studies out there that say the opposite,” Hall said. “It’s very fashionable to attack beef these days.”
Hall said he ultimately isn’t too concerned about the study’s findings.
“I’m not buying it, and I don’t think the public will either,” he said.
Disclosure: The Texas Farm Bureau is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
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