The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), has determined that consumption of processed meat is as bad for you as smoking. Eating 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of sausages, bacon, and ham daily makes it 18% more likely that you’ll get colorectal cancer. 50 grams is about 2 strips of bacon.
Processed meats include bacon, sausages, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, beef jerky, ham, canned meat, meat-based sauces, and other meat products that have extended shelf life due to smoking, curing, fermentation, or adding salt or other preservatives.
Further concerns for carnivores: IARC finds that even fresh red meat — beef, veal, pork*, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat — is “probably” carcinogenic, too. The risk of eating 50 grams of red meat daily is “mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.” American men eat twice that much, according to the North American Meat Institute.
*Note: Despite the National Pork Board’s ad campaign, nutritionally pork is not a “white meat.”
“World Health Organization: Red and processed meats have a strong link to cancer,” Akshat Rathi, Deena Shanker, Quartz
“Bacon Declared a Carcinogen, World Mourns,” Natalie Shoemaker, Big Think
“Bad Day For Bacon: Processed Meats Cause Cancer, WHO Says,” Allison Aubrey, NPR
“Hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats cause cancer, World Health Organization declares,” Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post
“The WHO’s new warnings about bacon and cancer, explained,” Julia Belluz, Vox
“Processed meats do cause cancer – WHO,” BBC News
“IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat,” IARC press release
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