“Suya, could cause cancer” the World Health Organisation (WHO) has indicated in its much-awaited report on the link between red meat and the disease.
Although suya is not expressly mentioned in the report, it falls under the definition of processed meat. In a report published by the BBC on Monday, processed meat is defined as meat that “has been modified to increase its shelf-life or alter its taste – such as by smoking, curing or adding salt or preservatives”.
It also says high temperature cooking, such as on a barbeque, can create carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals. Suya, which is processed red meat, is prepared by barbeque and seasoned with salt, pepper and groundnut powder.
Other forms of processed meat are bacon, sausages and ham. The WHO report said 50g of processed meat a day – less than two slices of bacon – increased the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.
“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” Kurt Straif from the WHO said.
The WHO said its findings were important for helping countries give balanced dietary advice.
Tim Key, a professor from the Cancer Research UK and the University of Oxford, said: “This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat, but if you eat lots of it you may want to think about cutting down.
“Eating a bacon bap every once in a while isn’t going to do much harm – having a healthy diet is all about moderation.”