FIT WebQoof: Can Eating Chicken Cause Cancer?
There is enough scientific evidence about the harms associated with red meat. But what about chicken?
There is enough scientific evidence about the harms associated with red meat. But what about chicken?(Photo: iStockphoto/altered by FIT)

FIT WebQoof: Can Eating Chicken Cause Cancer?

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The Claim

We received a WhatsApp query asking if consuming chicken could increase the risk of cancer.

(Screenshot Courtesy: WhatsApp)

There are several such queries up on social media.

(Screenshot Courtesy: Quora)
(Screenshot Courtesy: Quora)

True or False?

Dr Sameer Kaul, Head of Cancer Surgery, Apollo Hospital, clears the air saying that there is NO scientific basis for any causal link between chicken and cancer.

None of the epidemiological studies have proven any such association between lean meat (chicken, fish and duck) and the risk of cancer.
Dr Sameer Kaul

In fact, he added, fish has been proven to have a risk-reducing ability.

However, he cautions that the same cannot be said about red meat and processed meat.

There is certainly a link between red meat and cancer, particularly colorectal, prostrate, pancreatic cancer . Even more so in the case of processed meat. 
Dr Sameer Kaul

Sufficient research has been conducted to study such a link. The World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as American Institute of Cancer Research have specifically evaluated the carcinogenicity (potential to cause cancer) of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Also Read : How Exactly is Red Meat Killing You

To break it down,

Red meat: Refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat.

Evidence: The WHO report categorizes red meat as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’, meaning there is convincing evidence from tests on laboratory animals, but not much conclusive evidence among humans.

Processed meat: It refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, barbecuing or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef. However,

Processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry(chicken), offal, or meat by-products such as blood

Evidence: The WHO report suggests that there is convincing evidence that processed meat causes cancer among humans, particularly colorectal/bowel cancer. In fact, the experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

The Verdict

Lack of scientific evidence suggests that there is no reason to believe that chicken and other forms of lean meat could cause cancer. Dr Kaul, however, advises to not cook meat at a high temperature and to take special care of its quality.

Red meat and processed meat (even chicken) may harm one’s health in numerous ways, including increased risk of certain types of cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases.

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Also Read : Do You Wash Raw Chicken Before Cooking It? Stop & Read This First

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