Pay heed to WHO's health warning over processed meat...

The World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer's report on the link between processed meat and cancer was compiled by many experts from many countries, thus it should not be dismissed lightly ("Processed meat causes colon cancer, says WHO agency"; Tuesday).

Also, it is helpful to note the figures cited: Yearly, worldwide cancer deaths from cigarettes are estimated at about one million, from alcohol about 600,000, from air pollution about 200,000, and from ingestion of processed meat and red meat about 34,000.

We need to also note that this has to do with lifestyles and the choices people make in what they consume or are exposed to.

Thus, they can be corrected with education and with gentle pressure from families and society.

The amount of processed meat and red meat consumed is also relevant.

We can do with partaking of less than necessary, instead of promoting "eat all you can" and upsizing sugary and carbonated drinks to "get our money's worth".

The popularity of barbecues is also a concern.

Barbecued red meat and charcoal may be associated with increased risks of colon cancer and lung cancer, respectively, although these links have not been confirmed conclusively.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'Pay heed to WHO's health warning over processed meat...'. Print Edition | Subscribe