Processed meat causes cancer


“I will eat anything if it is covered in bacon,” is a common slogan many people live by. From eating the crunchy item alongside eggs for breakfast, to crunching on a BLT for lunch, to having it on a pizza for dinner, bacon is easily incorporated into many meals.

Not only is bacon high in fat and sodium, it is also a cancer causing carcinogen according to a World Health Organization report on processed meats. Scientists from the WHO made these claims after analyzing data from 800 studies regarding different meats and their impact on cancer.

Processed meats contain a type of iron that can damage intestinal cells. Recent studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer show that people increase their chances of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent as a result of consuming 50 grams of processed meat per day. According to the American Cancer Society, that is equivalent to the size of a deck of cards.

Consumers can distinguish processed meat from unprocessed meat if the product has been cured, smoked, salted or fermented for flavor enhancement.

To make matters worse for consumers, the WHO classifies red meat as “probably carcinogenic” due to inconclusive evidence dealing with red meat and cancer.

Although many Americans have cut down on the amount of meat and fatty foods they consume due to obesity, processed meats such as bacon are irresistible food products.

Many students are not afraid of eating processed meats such as bacon, even after hearing about their deleterious health effects.

“It is delicious and I cannot avoid it,” junior Jasmine Gosalvez said. “A bacon hamburger from Five Guys is life.”

Other students like junior Iris Arrazola insist on substituting bacon for healthier foods because they taste better and have less harmful effects.

“I barely eat bacon, but when I do it is turkey bacon,” Arrazola said.

The sizzling sound and scrumptious smell of bacon and ham may be too overwhelming for some people to reduce their intake, like senior Katie Pacak.

“I’m very sad,” Pacak said after finding out the bad news about bacon. Pacak states that she will try to be more cautious now of consuming bacon.

Despite the health risks associated with processed meat, people do not have to eliminate eating meat altogether. According to CBS News, eating three and a half servings of regular lean meat per week doesn’t cause negative health effects. On the other hand, red meat provides humans with iron, vitamin B12 and essential amino acids for proper body functioning. However, it is important to consume red meat in moderation, which means avoiding paleo-type diets.

Adopting a healthy diet with vegetables, nuts and fruits is one way to decrease consumption of processed and red meats. Instead of snacking on artery-clogging beef jerky, grabbing an apple and eating servings of cashews is the way to go. Healthy diets combined with exercise reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The next time you think of frying up bacon or making a smoked ham sandwich, make sure you’re planning on eating in moderation. Although processed meats may taste delicious, they are harmful in the long run.