Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Experts: Meat Intake No Worry in Japanese Diet

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Experts: Meat Intake No Worry in Japanese Diet

Article excerpt

The U.N. health body's recent announcement that processed meats such as ham and sausages are carcinogenic to humans has caused widespread concern in Japan and overseas. However, Japanese research institutions say that the intake of processed meats is low in Japan, so there is no need to worry too much. It is more important to review daily habits such as dietary balance and smoking.

"I have the impression that the information led to unintended consequences. Consumers in Japan do not need to limit their intake of meat excessively," said Shizuka Sasazuki, chief of the National Cancer Center's Prevention Division.

On Oct. 26, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized agency of the World Health Organization, issued its report that processed meats such as ham and sausages are carcinogenic to humans, and cause bowel cancer. It also said that red meat (flesh from mammals, such as beef, pork and mutton) is "probably carcinogenic to humans" and linked mainly to bowel cancer, although it could cause pancreatic and prostate cancer.

The report caused ripples in Japan and overseas. In Japan, the Food Safety Commission said on Facebook on the following day, "It would be inappropriate to think that there are high risks in eating meat and processed meat because of this evaluation." The Nihon Shokuniku Kako Kyokai, a general incorporated association for meat processing in Japan, and other relevant industry organizations called for consumers not to overreact.

Three days after the announcement, the WHO tried to calm the situation by commenting that the report was not intended to urge people to avoid processed meats at all.

The IARC evaluates evidence of the carcinogenicity of various agents in such categories as foods and lifestyle factors based on academic papers from around the world. Each agent is classified into one of five categories such as "carcinogenic to humans," "probably carcinogenic to humans" and "probably not carcinogenic to humans."

However, because the evaluation does not include assessments of the strength of carcinogenicity or the magnitude of the effect when ingested, it does not show cancer risk levels in everyday life. …

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