Many people are concerned about the latest health scare from The World Health Organisation (WHO, yes, you may well be wondering). WHO recently released their 'finding' that red meat and processed meats 'cause cancer'. This is not 'new' news - it has in fact been widely publicised for many years now. The WHO stats show that red meat and processed meats increase the relative risk of cancer by 18%. To put this in perspective we need to know what the rate of occurrence of cancer is in the average population - the incidence. The incidence of bowel cancer (the type that WHO is referring to) is approximately 6 cases per 100 000 people per year, i.e. every year, in each group of 100 000 people, there will be six new cases of bowel cancer. The 'increased risk' for consumers of meat, 18% (which sounds scary), means that every year in each group of 100 000 meat eaters, there will be 7 new cases of bowel cancer. The chances of getting bowel cancer will therefore rise from 0.006% to 0.007% i.e. an increase of 0.001%. Stated like this, as a change in absolute risk, rather than as a change in 'relative risk', the numbers are substantially less scary. Remember also, that the numbers released by the WHO do not take into account various dietary co-factors, such as the levels of vitamins and trace elements in the other foods eaten by the people studied.