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Straight, No Chaser Reminder: Processed Meats Cause Cancer

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD August 26, 2019


Perhaps this should be filed under things you already know, think you know, or know but don’t care enough for it to change your lifestyle (we are a bacon-loving nation), but at least after reading this, you can consider yourself an informed consumer.
What’s the news? The World Health Organization has reaffirmed that processed (and cured) meats cause colorectal cancer. This places these foods in the same category of danger as smoking, alcohol intake and asbestos exposure. Furthermore, red meats such as beef, lamb and pork have been upgraded to “probable” carcinogens, which means the research is mounting in that direction but isn’t yet definitive.
bacon cigarettes
Which meats pose the danger? Bacon, ham, hot dogs and sausage, as well as processed meats like salamis and cold cuts.


Can I trust this information? You should. These recommendations were based on data from over 800 different research studies.
Is this an example of “everything in moderation is ok?” Doesn’t everything cause cancer? If you want to believe that, fine. It’s more accurate to say there are levels of risk at every amount of consumption. However, to quantify the risk for this topic, approximately 3 slices of cooked bacon eaten daily was shown to increase the risk for colorectal (bowel) cancer by 18%. The average American eats about 18 pounds of bacon per year, well above that standard. The difference here is this level of consumption is well within the normal eating habits of Americans, as opposed to theoretical consumptions that aren’t practically realized due to insufficient lifetime exposure.


Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
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One thought on “Straight, No Chaser Reminder: Processed Meats Cause Cancer

  1. Like the article 🙂 Sugar is in the same category of damaging affects. As far as bacon, I’ve read that if it is cooked to near burnt then it becomes carcinogenic. That true? Just like cooking an egg if breaking the yoke, the elements change. Our older generation on farms were much healthier, sigh.

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