On October 26th, it was reported that according to research carried out by IACR (the cancer research body associated with the WHO), processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausages are carcinogenic to humans. This puts them on a list of 116 items with such substances as tobacco, alcohol and asbestos, diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis, plus a wide range of pollutants.
We’re constantly hearing that this food is bad, oh hang on a minute, no, it’s good… Er, no, it’s bad after all. At this rate, there will be nothing left on the table to eat.
And if we believe all this research, a so-called balanced diet with the right level of macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) is out of the window.
It seems like the World Health Organisation received quite a number of enquires on the subject. Here is a short statement from their media centre explaining that they stand by IACR’s findings.
A deeper look at the numbers paints a slightly different picture, however. The research ties the likelihood to colorectal cancer in particular.
The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
50 grammes is roughly two sausages or 4 slices of ham.
The average person is said to have a 5% chance ot contracting this particular type of cancer. So doing the maths as we might say means that an 18% increase in likelihood of contracting this specific strain would lead to a mere increase in likelihood of 0.9% (5% x 118% = 5.9%). Cancer Research UK puts the baseline rate at 5.6% leading to an increased likelihood of 6.6%. Either way, hardly worrying statistics. Sure, I don’t want to put my head in the sand but I have also heard over the years that stress is a major cause of cancer.
It’s all very well giving up everything that is bad for us, and this article points out some more worries about foods many of us enjoy. But for such a small likelihood, I would rather continue eating my bacon thanks! In moderation of course!