Surprise, Bacon Is Still Bad for You

A new study found it might even be a little worse than you thought.

bacon cancer risk
A new study finds more evidence linking bacon to increased cancer risk.
(Casey DeViese / Unsplash)

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Bacon makes everything better. Except for the fact that it’s killing you.

Sure, bacon has never exactly been touted as health food, but it turns out it might actually be even worse for you than previously thought.

A new study found that even small amounts of red meat could increase the risk of bowel cancer, the BBC reported.

Researchers in the study, led by Oxford University and funded by Cancer Research UK, analyzed data from nearly half a million people. According to their estimates, eating bacon could increase cancer risk by as much as 20 percent.

Over the six year study, researchers found that a total of 2,609 people developed bowel cancer. For every 10,000 people involved in the study who ate 21 g per day of red and processed meat, 40 received the diagnosis. For perspective, a slice of ham is about 23 g of processed meat.

According to Cancer Research UK, an estimated 5,400 of the 41,804 cases of bowel cancer seen each year in the UK could be prevented if people cut out processed meat entirely.

“This study shows the more meat you eat, the higher your risk of getting cancer and obviously the reverse is true the less you eat the less likely you are to get bowel cancer,” Emma Shields, information manager at Cancer Research UK, told BBC.

So what exactly makes these meats so dangerous? According to BBC, the chemicals involved in making processed meats which includes bacon, hot dogs, salami, and some sausages — are thought to be the prime suspect behind their cancer-causing tendencies. 

Meanwhile, it has been suggested that one of the proteins in red meat is responsible for gut damage when broken down. However, adds BBC, experts do not fully understand the link.

That said, red meat isn’t all bad. “Red meat provides valuable nutrients, such as protein, iron, zinc, vitamin D and B vitamins,” Carrie Ruxton, of the Meat Advisory Panel, said

Still, you might want to go easy on the bacon from now on.


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