Death by Bacon

bacon skullWe’re reported about it before, but now the World Health Organization has released a report that concurs with previous studies that show the consumption of processed meats, particularly bacon, hotdogs, sausage, beef jerky, Spam, and the so-called lunch meats, etc. are linked to cancer.

The WHO press release states: “Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer. The WHO reports that “each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.”

A slice of bacon weighs about an ounce depending upon how thick it is cut, so given an ounce being equal to 28.35 grams, two slices of bacon a day would place the increased risk at about 20%. Your average 13/8 inch round slice of pepperoni comes in at about 3.56 grams, so eating just 14 pepperonis on your pizza increases your risk by 18%.

And while the report was not as definitive about other mammalian meats like beef, pork, and lamb, you don’t get a free pass on those. Although the link is not as definitive, the WHO reports that there is “strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect” of eating unprocessed red meats.

Of course the WHO finding didn’t touch on the other risks associated with red meat consumption (processed or not) that include exposure to antibiotic residues, the adverse effects on the environment, the increase in heart disease, obesity, and let us not forget the animals that were probably raised in a factory farm; as is 99% of all meat sold in the U.S., and the unimaginable suffering caused to the animals whose parts end up on your plate, sandwich or pizza.

Unfortunately, most people will ignore the findings, or say the health benefits of protein and vitamins derived from eating meat offset the risks – like the beef industry would like us to believe. Colorectal cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women. Is that bacon shake or “everything bacon” festival really worth the risk?

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