Carcinogenicity of consumption of red meat and processed meat: A review of scientific news since the IARC decision

Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Jul:105:256-261. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.04.028. Epub 2017 Apr 24.


In October 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a press release on the results of the evaluation of the carcinogenicity of red and processed meat. Based on the accumulated scientific literature, the consumption of red meat was classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans" and processed meat as "carcinogenic to humans". Given the importance of this topic, this review was aimed at revising the current state-of-the-art on the carcinogenicity of red and processed meat, some time after the IARC decision. Some new epidemiological studies and new reviews clearly supporting the IARC decision have been published during these months. However, a number of gaps still exist. It is basic to establish the mechanisms leading to the increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) and other cancers arising from red and processed meat consumption. Another important pending issue is to establish the role of known/suspected carcinogens contained in uncooked or unprocessed meats, as well as the influence of cooking. Finally, it would be highly recommended to conduct new epidemiological studies to elucidate whether the consumption of white meat, such as pork and/or poultry, are -positively or inversely-associated with an increased risk of CRC and other types of cancer.

Keywords: Carcinogenicity; Epidemiological studies; IARC; Mechanisms; Processed red meat; Red meat.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Food Safety
  • Humans
  • Meat Products / adverse effects*
  • Meat Products / analysis
  • Red Meat / adverse effects*
  • Red Meat / analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Carcinogens