Bacon Gives You Cancer?

It's only a matter of time before people start smashing out windows, flipping cars, and protesting in the streets. No, this isn't a political or economical protest, it's a gastrointestinal one. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) consuming processed meats (sausage, bacon, etc) can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Likewise, consuming red meats is associated with an increased risk of 17%. Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common form of cancer globally and is associated with lifestyle (environmental) influences rather than genetic. This means that it is preventable, but only if we know what habits to avoid.

The WHO is not the first organization to suggest that red meats and bacon are associated with colorectal cancer risks. In fact, Ann Chao PhD published a study called "Meat Consumption and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer" in 2005. She and her authors found that adults between the ages of 50 and 74 were more likely to have colorectal cancer if they consumed significant portions of red meat and processed meats - especially when compared to those who ate "white" meats.

That being said, this story isn't completely one sided. A recently published study by Erin L. Van Blarigan said, "it is reasonable to counsel colorectal cancer survivors to engage in regular physical activity and limit consumption of refined carbohydrates, red and processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages." It would seem that not just the consumption of red meat, but rather a combination of lifestyle choices accelerate colorectal cancer risks?

As I delve into the studies by the WHO and others like it I notice something. A lot of their data collection was in the 90's and early 2000's. During this time period fat was taboo and the only people who ate red and processed meats had several other poor lifestyle choices. The type of person who limited themselves to chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli is the same type of person who exercised regularly and avoided smoking and tobacco products. Meanwhile, the guy eating steak and potatoes probably watched more sports than he played and enjoyed a cold one while puffing on a cigarette. The problem that I have with these studies is that they look at one aspect of a person's life and then correlate that to something else. Although I see how the chemicals in processed foods might leave a buildup of harmful substances in our bodies, we cannot assume that is sole reason for cancer.

The thing that these studies did show me is that those who do not follow the trend of health probably maintain a steady regimen of other poor choices. With that being said put down your pitchforks, flaming torches, and bricks because there is no reason to protest. Eat your red meat, enjoy your bacon, but AVOID a caveat of poor lifestyle choices.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.