There aren’t many foods that have the cultural appeal of bacon. Whether it’s being plastered everywhere online, or served on a BLT in your local cafe, something about bacon has captured the attention of people around the world. It might have a bit to do about a very successful marketing campaign by Sigmund Freud’s nephew (yes, actually), it might be because we’ve idealized this cured meat as the peak of delectability.
Of course, it might just be that bacon is delicious.
But, according to news from across the world, bacon isn’t the savior that we thought it was. No, bacon — and all preserved meats, in fact — are actually killing you from the inside. It turns out that eating bacon gives you a 20% increased risk of bowel cancer, which, if you’re like me and enjoy bacon but don’t like cancer, sounds pretty damn terrifying.
Thankfully for all of us, the headlines were wrong. You can get back to your butties.
Bacon probably isn’t giving you cancer.
The recent study that has everyone writing meaningless meat headlines was another Big Scary Study. I’ve written about these before — basically, the idea is that you take a very large group of people, test them for issues, and it’s even scarier because so many people were involved.
That’s not really how statistics work, but we run with it anyway.
This Big Scary Study took 500,000 people in the UK, asked them questions about their diet, and then followed up an average of 6 years later. At follow-up, people who ate the highest amount of red and preserved meats were at a 20% increased risk of getting colorectal — bowel — cancer, compared to people who ate very little/none. This was equivalent to eating about 76 grams of red and preserved meat a day, or ~3 rashers of bacon.