Toronto Mike

The Processed Meat Cancer Panic

You've likely heard by now that the WHO announced that eating processed meats leads to cancer. The media is having a field day with this confirmation, pointing out that eating bacon is now in the same classification bucket as smoking. Scary!

The fact is, the WHO classifies carcinogens by how sure they are that it causes cancer. They're certain about processed meat, hence the link to cigarettes. The media keeps forgetting to mention this detail.

Usually at the very end of the "hot dogs cause cancer" report, the media will mention that eating hot dogs isn't akin to smoking. If you dive into the IARC's report, you'll realize that panic isn't really necessary.

Taken crudely, the IARC’s report suggests that eating 50g of bacon every day would raise your risk from 64 in 100,000 to 72 in 100,000, or from 0.064% to 0.072%. Over a lifetime, your risk is about 5%, according to the NHS; eating 50g of processed meat a day will raise that to about 6%.
For comparison, research on smoking and cancer found that men who smoked 25 cigarettes a day were 24 times higher risk of developing lung cancer, or a 2,400% increase.

There are actually few things in this world that do not lead to cancer. So relax, and remember moderation is the key.

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