The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1013: Bacon Causes Cancer! How Good Is the Science Behind the Headlines?

News that bacon is a human carcinogen has people excited. Does the research support the hullabaloo?
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Bacon Causes Cancer! How Good Is the Science Behind the Headlines?

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Bacon and Cancer:

Not long ago, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research stirred up a lot of controversy by announcing that processed meats such as bacon or hot dogs should be classified as human carcinogens. What does this pronouncement actually mean? Has it changed the way you cook or eat, and should it?

There is also research indicating that eating meat grilled, cooked or fried at high heat is linked to kidney cancer. Here’s a link to the study. Don’t despair, though. Here are some tips on how to grill more safely.

More Medicines Means More Chance of Interactions:

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that more Americans than ever before are taking medication, and they are taking more medicines. Nearly 15 percent of adults are taking five or more pills on a regular basis. What should they be watching for? We’ll discuss the potential for disastrous interactions.

How Low Should Blood Pressure Go?

The SPRINT study showed the benefit of keeping blood pressure low, with systolic pressure at or under 120. The study subjects were middle aged and older, but another study showed that younger people too can benefit from vigorous blood pressure control. Dr. João Lima tells us about his research.

This Week’s Guests:

David Kroll, PhD, is a pharmacologist and medical writer in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina. He has taught at the University of Colorado, Duke University and North Carolina Central University. He now works on educating the public on matters pharmacological through his blogs. The photo is of Dr. Kroll.

João A. C. Lima, MBA, MD, is Professor of Medicine and Radiology and Director of Cardiovascular Imaging at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is also Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science and has a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology. His research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I have been hearing about the dangers of processed meats, but it is never made clear if the real danger is the nitrates/nitrites or some other aspect of processing. If it’s the chemicals, then why do we allow it? Bacon, sausages, and other processed meats can all be made without them; I make fabulous pancetta in my kitchen without it and have corned tongue for years without it. Commercial products are also available without added nitrates/nitrites.

Vegan? I’m 62, life of late has been stressful (the protracted divorce was a killer), eat what I want (got to have red meat), never (rarely) eat any processed foods. Exercise is casual. BP is typically around or lower than 115-68. To eat-ch there own.

It’s not the bacon, or the ham or hot dogs…it’s the nasty chemicals THE FDA allows in them. Nitrates, nitrites, etc. that’s the poison, not the meat. Gracious, I knew this stuff when I was 17 and that was a long time ago.
I eat chemical free bacon and it’s Wonderful!

Last year we nearly lost our 85 year old father to the interactions from the seven medications he was prescribed by three different doctors, none was a real gatekeeper. We discovered the problem after a friend of his called with concerns. I went down and found him nearly a walking vegetable. I wrote down his meds, went home, and started researching. He was taking Aspirin, Warfarin, Digox, Sensipar, Terazosin, Metoprolol, Vytorin. As I looked at each drugs side effects it seemed that there was a web of side effects, many were the same “maladies” he was experiencing, that connected to other drugs he was taking for those very maladies. I found the Beers list and a drug interaction tool on the web site of his preferred hospital, plugged in his meds and got nine pages of potential reactions between drugs, food, and tobacco; eight high potential for sever reaction and 16 moderate potential for sever reaction. All but one of his prescriptions were filled at the same pharmacy and they never caught the potential problem.
We have changed my father’s doctor to one who is really overseeing his care, reevaluated meds and made changes, and happily he is back to his old self. The caution to others with out of state parents is to keep an eye on them even if they tell you everything is fine. My father would tell each of his four children things were fine, “not wanting to be a burden”, it turns out. We have to be overseers of their healthcare as well.

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