The World Health Organization issued a report today concluding that processed meats definitely increase your cancer risk, and all red meats (including pork--even though some people want to call it the "other" red meat) may do the same, but the evidence there is not yet as convincing. BBC News summarized the report as follows:
Its report said 50g of processed meat a day - less than two slices of bacon - increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.
Meanwhile, it said red meats were "probably carcinogenic" but there was limited evidence.
The WHO did stress that meat also had health benefits.The benefits are in the form of protein and some vitamins, although keep in mind that those can all be found in other non-meat sources. More importantly, as I've noted before, cutting back on meat consumption would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and free up a lot of land to grow food for humans, rather than growing food for animals. And, of course, that gets to arguably the most important reason to give up meat--so we can stop killing animals. Thanks to my older son, John, for pointing me to a story in Slate about Lisa Simpson's becoming a vegetarian for that reason and, in the process, changing the view of vegetarians on TV.
UPDATE: This WHO report has put the meat industry on the defensive everywhere. In Switzerland, though, the meat industry itself has made the point that the Swiss eat only about half as much meat as do Americans.