ON a continent where a cancer diagnosis is likened to a death
sentence due to the astronomic costs of treating it, and poor
health facilities for most, news this past week that processed
meat was a “definite” cause of malignancy and red meat a
“probable” one would have had
many sitting up.
While the link to some forms of cancer, bowel cancer is most
mentioned was not too new, it was given additional gravity
by coming from the respected International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The resulting headlines have
bordered on alarmist, but as many analyses have shown, it is not a dramatic jump in risk; it was essentially a call to reduce the intake of processed meat such as bacon, sausages, ram and grilled meat, and instead, look to take up more vegetables and fibres.
In other words, a cigarette is still by far the real terror by
some counts, giving up smoking can save up to 15 lives for every 100 smokers, for the same number of spooked, people may now find bacon rather unattractive, only one extra life
would be saved.
And that’s using “Western” numbers, while definitely
popular, Africans consume far less of processed and red
As expected the reaction especially from meat producers
came quick, the general tone has been that the findings were
really nothing new and questioning everything from the science to the
The response was
expected, meat is after all a billion dollar industry.
While Africa remains on the periphery of the global trade, it
is still brisk business on the continent, and with the advent of social media there will be many concerned countries and traders.
As ever, there are also those who would not be too unhappy at the turn of events. We look at
potential winners and losers should dietary habits change
with the risk findings.