The World Health Organization, one of the most respected medical bodies in the world, just put us all on notice: hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, beef jerky, and other processed meats might just cause cancer.

According to a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, processed meats were “classified as carcinogenic to humans, based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”

Moreover, the IARC found that there is “limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans.”

The increased cancer risk seems to come from the chemicals that are produced in meat once it’s cooked, particularly over an open flame (i.e. on a BBQ grill).

According to the WHO, red meat includes beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat, while processed meat “refers to meat that has been salted, cured, fermented, and smoked.”

After word of the WHO’s findings hit the web, many people wondered if the hot dog they ate at a ball game, or the sausage they had for breakfast would kill them. So the organization took to Twitter to break it down.

The WHO also answered questions.

So what does the WHO’s report mean to you?

It depends. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’re obviously not at increased risk for cancer due to meat consumption, however, a study by Clear Food found some veggie burgers and hot dogs actually contain meat.

If you eat meat, the WHO doesn’t ask you to ditch it all together, but rather stick to lean cuts, while limiting consumption overall.

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