We were all left a little worried when the World Health Organisation published a report which suggested that processed meats like bacon, ham and sausages were as big a cancer threat as tobacco - that was the end of our rasher sandwiches.


But it seems the research was “misinterpreted”, according to the WHO, who have now clarified that it is not telling people to stop eating processed meat.


Talking to The Irish Times about the research which classified red meat as a “probable carcinogenic”, WHO spokesman Gregory Härtl insists that people do not need to cut out meat completely as it has essential nutrients.


“We’re not saying stop eating processed meats altogether [...] But we do not want to do anything to excess. Research indicates reducing your consumption of processed meats can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.”



Acknowledging the comparison made between smoking and eating certain meats, Mr. Härtl said: “We do not want to compare tobacco and meat because we know that no level of tobacco is safe.”


The International Agency of Research on Cancer, which is part of the WHO, estimated that 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are caused by diets high in processed meat.


Admitting that it comes down to balance and moderation, Mr Härtl explained that eating healthily means enjoying a balanced diet – “too much of anything is not good.”