Could eating meat affect life insurance premiums?

A controversial WHO report put processed meat in the same category as cigarettes and plutonium. Could the amount of meat people eat be the next question on insurance forms?

The WHO ruffled a lot of feathers recently after releasing a report linking processed meats to cancer – even putting it in the same category as cigarette smoke.
But whether that could translate to processed meat being a factor in life insurance underwriting is a bit of a stretch.
“As far as a direct question I don’t think so,” said Kevin Haakensen, Prairie Wealth Management. “It will never happen on life insurance for a couple of reasons. Number one I don’t think there’s any way they can identify whether you lied or not. Number two it would confuse the hell out of people. I just think it would be impossible to ask and administer and really check up on.”
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the WHO, placed processed meat in the Group 1 list as "carcinogenic to humans" – joining tobacco, asbestos and diesel fumes on that list. The agency said it based the classification on sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer.

However that ranking is somewhat misleading. The expert group determines, yes or no, whether something may cause cancer, but not how potent it is at causing cancer.

“Since 1971, the IARC has reviewed 982 products, substances and exposures,” wrote Globe and Mail Public Health Reporter, Andre Picard. “They found every one of them – from plutonium to sunshine, from cellphones to sawdust – posed a theoretical risk of cancer (with one exception: yoga pants).”

“There are always these reports coming out about what we shouldn’t do,” said Haakensen. “I quite frankly don’t always put a lot of validity into them: 10 years ago we weren’t supposed to eat eggs and now eggs are good again. Maybe everything in moderation is the best result. I’m not quitting eating red meat.”