Health-Dept-logoThe World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report Monday that claims people raise their risk of getting colorectal cancer by eating processed meats, such as hot dogs, ham, bacon and beef jerky.

Doctor Patricia Quinlisk, medical director with the Iowa Department of Public Health, says health officials — for many decades — have urged people to follow a diet that’s heavy on fruits and vegetables.

“To be honest, I don’t see this as being that different than what’s been recommended by public health officials for quite a while,” Quinlisk said. The authors of the WHO report do note the risks of developing cancer from eating meat are relatively small, but the report labels processed meat a carcinogen – similar to cigarettes.

Quinlisk suggests Iowans simply pursue a “varied” diet. “That means you should maybe not eat red meat with every meal, but to moderate the amount of red meat you eat and make sure you vary it with other kinds of protein products,” Quinlisk said. Processed meats are manufactured using sodium nitrite.

“Those things have caused people concern for a while about being associated with things like heart disease, diabetes and cancers,” Quinlisk said. “However, red meat can be part of a normal diet, you just need to make sure you have a varied diet and most of your intake comes from fruits and vegetables. That should be about 50 percent of your diet.”

Iowa is nation’s leading pork producing state and usually ranks among the top 10 states for beef production.