bacon, wheeze

Processed meats such as salami, bacon, hot dogs or ham have been classified as human carcinogens according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This branch of the World Health Organization also suggested that people who regularly eat red meat may be putting themselves at risk for prostate or pancreatic cancer.

Not the First Sign of Trouble:

This is not the first time that processed meat has been suspected of contributing to human cancer. The American Cancer Society tracked more than 184,000 volunteers between 1992 and 2009. They found that those who ate 10 servings a week of processed meats were at much higher risk of colon cancer than those who ate only two servings a week.

The Health Professionals Followup Study and the Nurses’ Health Study had previously found that people who ate processed meat nearly every day had a 20 percent higher risk of premature death, though the study did not specify if that death was primarily from cancer.

Cutting Back on Bacon:

It may be wise to move processed meats such as bacon and prosciutto into the category of rare treats to be savored only sparingly.

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  1. Brian Day
    Portland OR

    I’m 70, and passed caring about much more then the immediate good in my high fiber, quinoa, basmati rice, diet, I eat a wide variety of vegetables, fresh and frozen, not enough fruit. I just started including thick cut bacon in my grain dishes, for flavor and do have it occassionally with breakfast and eggs. I use butter instead of Margarine, I eat cheese. Lordy, will I die? Yes, but well fed

  2. Diane
    Chapel Hill, NC

    I don’t know what the research design was to single out bacon and processed meats: hotdogs, sausages, etc. How did the “researchers” control for the other processed foods that were being eaten with the bacon and processed meats? What additives were in the varies processed meats? Moral of the announcement, beware of the claims!

  3. Cindy Black
    Seattle, WA

    SHEESH… I’ve been hearing for years and years how processed meats contain nitrites, nitrates and who-knows-what-else that’s DANGEROUS for one’s health! Also, anyone who follows health & nutrition knows that eating plantstuffs is much healthier than eating meat! It’s amazing that people are now treating this as some huge surprise.
    The best news about this is (hopefully) for the poor PIGS, who are horribly abused, crowded, prevented from doing any of the stuff they love to do — and then murdered in service of man! I dearly hope this saves a few of the piggies.

  4. Bob
    Bluffton, SC

    This isn’t the first this subject has surfaceed. However, a couple of generations ago our grandparents live on meats every day and yet they were healthy and cancer was not an issue. Also while comprative figures can show dramatic increases in risks when consuming meats why aren’t the absolute risks ever published? For example I’m not concerned if a risk increases say from 0.4% to 0.7% because the overall risk is low. If a risk changes from 0.4% to 20% than that is a concern. Also there are so many variables to take into account with these studies it would appear that one could conclude just about anything.

  5. Marian
    Columbia, SC

    Do the meats that cause cancer include those that are antibiotic free, hormone free, and organic?

  6. Sabrina
    San Diego

    I had colon cancer 3 years ago and the very first thing my oncologist said is eat NO processed or red meat. If you ever seen how how hot dogs are made you will probably never eat one again. On a rare occasion I buy uncured bacon or grass fed beef but curious if this is really healthier.

  7. Marsha

    I eat bacon from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s which claims to have no added nitrates, etc. Does that still count as “processed meat”?


    What about sausage?

  9. Sigrid

    Your article says “It may be wise to move processed meats such as bacon and prosciutto into the category of rare treats to be savored only sparingly.” I’d like to point out that real Italian Prosciutto does NOT use nitrates or nitrites. Only sea salt is allowed to be used in Protected Designation of Origin hams. So, look for the real thing and you don’t have to worry.

  10. Wendy

    This kind of brief article (similar to many in the press this week) is annoying in its lack of information. What is it exactly that we should not be eating? Nitrates? They aren’t mentioned. Some lunch meats are nitrate free. What is it about being “processed” that makes the meat dangerous? While I would guess that just about every food is worse for us when “processed (reduced nutrients, unnecessary/unsafe additives, etc.),” we do need to know why. It’s hard to eat sensibly, much less fight Big Food if we aren’t more fully informed.

  11. Julia

    “Processed Meats Boost Risk of Cancer” — does the IRAC study distinguish between pastured, grass-fed, no unnecessary antibiotics meats vs feedlot, confined, battery-caged creatures fed antibiotic-laced GMO grains and ground up god-only-knows-what?

  12. lisa

    is it just that the meats are processed or is it the nitrites, etc…we have been feeding our children nitrite, nitrate free lunch meat. are we wrong?

  13. HK

    How much bacon and red meat do you have to eat before you get cancer? Also, when in your life you can expect to get this cancer? Thirdly, if I’ve been eating these things most of my life, would it do any good to quit enjoying these things now when I’m in my 60’s?
    Fourth, Jimmy Carter is 91 years old and a southerner and has cancer. Does that mean his diet finally caught up with him?

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