The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has added processed meat including ham to its GROUP 1 list of possible carcinogens. The items on the GROUP 1 list are those for which research has demonstrated “sufficient evidence” of links to cancer. Other substances on the list are asbestos and tobacco. Processed meats like ham eaten in large amounts substantially increases the risk for colorectal cancer, research indicates.
The GROUP 2A list at IARC, where the link to cancer is seen only as “probable” (which to the IARC means “limited evidence”), now contains all red meat, which the IARC defines as beef, lamb and pork. (This despite pork’s famously advertising itself as “the other white meat.”) The IARC doesn’t compare substances’ relative danger within a category, so the research does not equate GROUP 1 substances like ham and asbestos. But the GROUP 2A classification contains glyphosate, which is used in many weedkillers, which if one follows the difficult logic of the grouping would be classified as a less dangerous carcinogen than ham. The IARC is part of the World Health Organization.