Is Bacon as dangerous as smoking?
Is eating bacon as dangerous as smoking?
WHO? The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently published a report stating that the nation's favourite processed meats - bacon, ham and sausages, have the highest ranking by labelling them as 'carcinogenic to humans'.
Does this mean processed meats are as dangerous as smoking? As much as the media have had a field day perpetuating this idea, the short answer is no. Although other agents now listed in the same category as processed meats include alcohol, arsenic and asbestos, you have to compare the relative risks of these substances. Everything is dose dependent - even apple pips contain cyanide but you'd have to eat barrels of those before you died of cyanide poisoning.
Smoking causes 19% of all cancers, whereas it is thought around 3% of cancers may be attributed to processed meat.
So how much processed meat do you need to eat to cause cancer? The WHO's classification suggests that there is now a strong link between processed meats and cancer, eating 50g of processed meat every single day of the week would raise your risk of colon cancer by 17-18%.
Why would processed meat cause cancer? They are modified to cost less and last longer on the shelf, this involves smoking, adding preservatives or salt, these can form carcinogenic chemicals such as N-nitroso compounds.
Does this mean I have to become a vegetarian? No, as with most health advice this is a reminder to enjoy everything in moderation.