Does Bacon Cause Cancer?

By October 29, 2015Bacon

Does Bacon Cause Cancer?

Processed Meats and Cancer

Does Bacon cause cancer?…I am sure you have all seen the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration that red meat “probably carcinogenic to humans, based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans” and declared processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans, based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”  They said that consumption of 50 grams of processed meat daily increases the risk of colon cancer by 18%. As is always the case with these “Studies” the devil is in the details.  We have seen the effects of big organizations and their recommendations in the past (see Ancel Keys “Study” and the low fat agenda (PDF) of the last 30 years).  So lets break down this latest example.

 

Does Bacon Cause Cancer?

 

THE DATA

As with any study you need to look at where the data is coming from (and sometimes who is funding the research). In this case the data was largely based on dietary questionnaires (notoriously unreliable).  Yes, that’s right.  This didn’t closely follow these people and track their diet. They gave them a questionnaire that asked them what they ate. The majority of the time these are 7 day and in many cases 1 year questionnaires.  So they are asking the participants “What did you eat over the last year?”.  You tell me how accurately you could answer that question. Just for fun here is a study that showed no correlation between processed meats and colon cancer for women and a 10% REDUCTION in risk of colon cancer for men (source)!

Additionally, the data also needs to be looked at for other factors.  Did the people who ate more processed meat have other factors that contributed to their increased risk?  In this case it showed that the people that ate more processed meats were also three times more likely to smoke and two times more likely to have diabetes (source).  They were also far less active and had higher BMI’s. So was it the higher intake of processed meats or the higher intake of everything in the standard american diet (including the chemicals, preservatives, grains, sugar, GMO foods, etc). This is a perfect example where correlation doesn’t equal causation.

Lastly, lets look at the absolute risk of the numbers presented by the WHO (if you still believe the link they make). They say that the increased risk is 18%.  That sounds like a fairly big number (except compared to the other things grouped in the WHO category like smoking is over 2,000% increased risk of cancer). Lets look at absolute the number and see what this means.  After all, if you have a study where the first group has 1 person die out of 100 and the other group has 2 people die out of 100, the increased risk is 100%! In this case the incidence of colon cancer in the US is about 47 per 100,000 people.  So if you believe their relative risk data then the absolute numbers would become 51 per 100,000 people. That is 0.004% more people.  And several of the studies actual showed no statistical increase for women, only for men. Pass me the bacon please!

PROCESSED FOODS IN STANDARD AMERICAN DIET

The next thing to consider is what the standard American diet consists of when consuming processed meats. The typical GMO corn fed, factory farmed, chemical laden processed meats have little in common with a grass fed pasture raised meat product from an organic farm.  The effects of these added chemicals and preservatives alone could be a huge component of this added risk.

Also there is a misconception that nitrates cause cancer. Nitrates have actually been shown to treat heart patients by opening up the arteries (source). In addition, we get a lot more nitrates from vegetables which are hundreds of times higher in nitrates than processed meats (something they never mention when talking about bacon and nitrates). One serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce and four servings of celery all have more nitrates than 467 hotdogs (more here).

CONCLUSION 

So to me this is just a bunch of fear mongering.  I will continue to eat lots of cured meats (nitrates and all) and grass fed red meats. Just take a look at where the WHO gets some of its funding from and you can take their credibility with a grain of salt (WHO money LINK).

 

TESTIMONY OF THE DAY

Phone Client Testimony: 

Does Bacon Cause Cancer?

“Finally down 75 pounds! Thank you Keto Adapted-Maria Emmerich and Craig Emmerich for all your knowledge. I have learned what works for me. I never felt this healthy in my life. I can not wait to meet you in November so I can give you a big hug. No more knee pain…no more shots and no more meds. My skin and teeth are so much better also. You truly are an angel. 225 to 150 and maybe a few more…will see:)”

Click here to get started on your path to health!

 

About Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 15 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of "Keto.". Click here for Keto. http://amzn.to/2EfrECi Click here for our new Keto Courses: http://keto-adapted.com/school/

65 Comments

  • Donna Smith says:

    Awesome article (of course)! Thank-you for sharing your take on this Maria!

  • Cindy from Canada says:

    Thanks for the clarification Maria!

  • This is definitely reassuring to hear.

  • Catherine from Colorado says:

    Thank you for commenting on the findings!

  • Christy says:

    thank you so much for clarifying this. Up till just recently I SUFFERED from staying away from pork products because of all the hype. The nitrate/nitrite thing gives more room to buy food.

  • Renee says:

    Great article, I figured as much but this just reassures me that “bacon” is once again ok!!!

  • Amanda says:

    Excellent explanation about the poor methodology of the study. Thank you for taking the time to explain it all to us! I plan to make all your recipes — including ones with bacon!

  • Elaine Markley says:

    I knew it! I know to ask more questions on these announcements! Something the media fails to do!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Thanks!

    • krickt says:

      Sometimes it’s not enough to just ask questions. You have to dig back to the original data.
      As a science teacher, I have my students always ask about other variables to examine the studies for bad science and to go back to the original data(which sometimes is hidden or locked down).
      We talked about this all day, in class. I ate bacon for lunch! Students are tired of being told that they can’t eat anything. If you follow the guidelines, you starve at school. The kids are so hungry they eat bowls of ranch dressing and bowls of croutons, instead of the meals provided.

      It all goes back to dumbing down the science curriculum in the high schools. They don’t want us to question the studies or anything we are told.
      k

  • Jane Ann says:

    Great explanation. What do you think about my favorite processed meat, braunschweiger? It is so nice and fatty. I have only found it in conventional form.

  • Pam says:

    Thank you Maria for this reassurance. My father died at the age of 54 and the talk was he ate a lot of bacon. But they didn’t talk about that he was a smoker and loved his sweets. I loved my dad so much and miss him dearly. I have been buying “Boreshead” branded bacon and luncheon meats because it was nitrate free. So don’t worry about the nitrate. I like that.

  • adrian says:

    I don’t think there’s such a thing as “nitrite free” bacon. If there was, it would be brown instead of pinkish. The pink color is due to the curing.

    Most cured meats that are cured using refined agents are cured with nitrite (not nitrate). This is a more controlled process and it appears that maybe the nitrates are considered more carcinogenic? When a sausage is marked as “natural” or “uncured” that means they used celery seed or something like that, a natural source of nitrate. They have to also include bacteria to convert the nitrate to nitrite. Because this is a harder process to control, you will probably end up with *more* nitrite in the “natural” product. (They have to make sure enough nitrite is present both for color and potentially for botulism suppression.) And you will *definitely* have more nitrate (since the chemically cured product has *no* nitrate unless it’s an aged salami).

    See here for more than you want to know about this:
    http://www.feingold.org/Research/PDFstudies/Sebranek2007.pdf

    Of course, the real thing to do is to read this paper about how most research findings are false (I’ll bet the anti-bacon one is among the false ones).

    http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

  • Julie says:

    Thank You Maria for explaining this well. I feel like I am back in the 80’s when all of this information and study was shared in my world of Fitness. I have magazines (memorabilia…. that I was featured in back in “the day”) That have articles and studies that are conspiculously similar to the information that is current today. From the Keto Diet to Exercise. As a matter of fact I was diagnosed with Gluten intolerance 35 years ago…..I have learned to not eliminate but moderate and Listen to my body. I eat meat……I personally am an omnivore! Thank you for teaching a “New Generation” Follow the Money and keep preaching to the choir. Get on your government and vote wisely! Sugar creates more illness at a younger age and smokers die………old! In this rich nation……our children are starving in many ways. Keep on Maria!

  • Tammy says:

    Thanks for this article and post! We have been talking about this all week at home.

  • Gina Cincotta says:

    Hi Maria great information, thank you for watching our backs!
    I just came back from my endocrinologist – a older man from India and He discouraged me from eating bacon even after I told him I only buy without sugar and without nitrates and he still said that the keto diet has much fat and some fat like fat from bacon may clog the arteries. I value and respect your professional opinion.
    Gina

  • Jean Lynd says:

    Thanks for breaking it down. I wasn’t’ about to stop eating bacon anyways, but still…nice to see a different take on the “study” (a term I use loosely here!).

  • Kelly Mac says:

    Hi Maria, Thanks for this post. Was hoping you’d weigh in. 😉 Wondering if you might put this post on your fb so I could easily share it. Already hearing people say “you’re eating bacon? Didn’t you hear how bad it is for you???” Thanks again for all you and Craig do!!

  • Jolena Foster says:

    Thanks for sharing this Maria. My mom shared where they was talking about it on tv on fb and I told her pretty much the same thing you said. When my dad asked me if I was going to still eat bacon I told him yeah I was and told him why even after the study. I may print him this blog and the blog from Jimmy Moore. I know it won’t change his mind but I think I may do it anyway. What gets me is that he doesn’t want me to eat bacon or beef but yet he will eat a hamburger from McDonalds which I told him was the worst thing he could ever eat because it was so processed.

  • Sue says:

    Thank you so much for debunking this! I love bacon but it makes the whole house smell like it, and me too.Hubby doesn’t like his hunting clothes smelling that way so I have taken to frying it in an electric skillet outdoors, ha! If anyone can tell me how to keep/get the smell out I would be grateful as it will soon be winter in WI!!

  • audrey says:

    People have been eating bacon for ages; why would it only now cause cancer?
    Thank you for the clarification, Maria!

  • Dolores says:

    Thanks for posting your rebuttal! It’s another one of many reasons I read your blog and follow your advice! I loved the WHO link 🙂

  • wow!!! Follow the money! I can’t believe that they are accepting funding from organizations that make their profits selling sugar water to people and it makes so much sense! Who would be more threatened by the growing low carb high fat/ keto/ paleo way of life than them! Thank you for this fantastic piece Maria!

  • Wenchypoo says:

    Nitrates may open up a whole can of worms…again…for the fifth time. “Naturally cured” or “uncured” bacon is cured with celery salt, which contains higher levels of nitrates than regular old sodium nitrate.

    As Maria said, the dose is the poison–as long as we don’t live solely off bacon and other cured meats, we’ll be fine. Besides, remember that story of a 101-year-old woman who ate bacon with her breakfast every single morning–how do you think she made it to 101?

  • Amanda Reed says:

    Thank you! I recently saw a question about this in one of the keto groups I admin. I’m going to share this there to alleviate concerns. 🙂

  • SG says:

    Hi Maria,

    I’m a little confused. Are nitrites and nitrates similar? Are they both ok? Haven’t you recommended A brand of ham which is nitrite-free? I can’t think of the name, maybe Applewood?

  • SG says:

    Ok, so you don’t recommend nitrate/nitrite-free meats?

  • Allie says:

    I’ve been buying nitrate free bacon, but you’re saying it really doesn’t matter? I can buy normal, cheap bacon??

  • Becki says:

    Is there a brand of bacon you recommend? I live in WI. It is hard to find brands without tons of sugar. Thanks.

  • Taz says:

    Thank you so much for the clear explanation. I have shared this article with all the people I know who are convinced that bacon is bad for them.

  • Stephanie says:

    Is there a lunch meat brand you recommend? Thank you for all you & Craig do!

  • caligirlintn says:

    Just found your site – awesome and love this article! Now I can go eat the lunchmeat hubby bought yesterday 😉 Love Applegate products!