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HEALTH

Cancer warning over German bratwurst intake

Processed meats including those found in sausages and cured ham have been listed as potential causes of cancer by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a blow to the modern German diet.

Cancer warning over German bratwurst intake
Bratwurst sizzling on a grill. Photo: DPA

According to the WHO, processed meats such as those used to make sausages can lead to more serious health risks than previously thought.

The organisation's latest report suggests that having just 50g of processed meat a day – less than two slices of bacon or one sausage – increases the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

It is the first time that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that there is “sufficient evidence” to make the link.

Risk rises with consumption

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” Dr Kurt Straif, Head of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) Monographs Programme said in a statement on Monday.

How could something as delicious as Currywurst be so bad for you? Photo: DPA

“Each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

“In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” he added.

The IARC Working Group considered more than 800 studies that investigated associations of more than a dozen types of cancer with the consumption of red meat or processed meat in many countries and populations with diverse diets.

It concluded that there was also “limited evidence” to suggest that the consumption of red meat could cause colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer, but said that more research needed to be done in this area.

Meat-loving Germans

The decision is likely to be felt particularly keenly in Germany, where figures from the Federation of the German Meat Industry (BVDF) show that people eat around 60 kilogrammes of meat each per year.

At 160 grammes per person per day, that's much higher than the European average of 24 grammes per head cited by Brussels-based meat processing industry body CLITRAVI.

As well as Germans, the new guidance could be bad news for hot-dog-loving Swedes and saucisson-scoffing Frenchmen.

When asked by The Local to comment, the BVDF responded with a statement from CLITRAVI, which said that “the European meat manufacturing industry strongly rejected the new classification made by the IARC… [and] has pro-actively stepped forward with the aim of providing as many details as possible.

“CLITRAVI recommends a more holistic approach… there is extensive scientific evidence to prove the benefits of meat consumption within a healthy diet. Meat and meat products are an essential source of nutrients,” it went on.

Could it be time to make Schwarzwalder Schinken a rarer treat? Photo: DPA

The statement added that a number of other factors, such as colon disease, obesity, lack of exercise and tobacco use bore a higher risk of cancer than meat consumption.

“It is not just one specific food group by itself that defines the risks associated with health, but the diet as a whole, together with any of the other factors.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin was unable to comment immediately on the WHO decision when contacted by The Local.

DON'T MISS: Top 10 traditional German veggie dishes

But choosing to reduce meat consumption for their health might not be a total disaster for Germans.

As chef Stefan Paul explained to The Local in September, “German cooking in former times was largely one of poor people.

“The Sunday roast was the only meat, and the exception to the rule. In Germany there's actually a big tradition of vegetarian cooking.”

Germans have only started eating such a large amount of meat since the “economic miracle” that followed the Second World War, Paul said at the time.

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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