…..and C is for cancer! Woah, that went south fast! I know, I know. Some of you may think that was a rude way for me to begin my communication with you today. How dare I link that awful “C” word with such a beloved part of your diet! It makes so many people happy in so many different ways, right? I mean to start with, there’s bacon and eggs, pancakes and bacon, BLT sandwiches, bacon cheeseburgers, bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, bacon ranch pasta salad, bacon cheddar deviled eggs….I could go on and on, but you get the point. It’s everywhere, and the number of dishes containing bacon is growing daily. People have an absolute love affair going on with bacon.
Last year, I had an ABC’s of gratitude challenge in the month of November. I started with the letter “a” and went through the entire alphabet choosing 3 things to be thankful for each day that I shared with my friends on Facebook and challenged them to do the same. The number one thing people were grateful for when we got to the letter “b” was bacon. It was, hands down, the thing that was mentioned the most, other than Jesus. Seriously, I think almost everyone included bacon on their list. I cringed every time someone said it because of what I know about bacon as well as other processed meats. Of course, I said nothing at the time because it would have been rude and inappropriate to do so. You may think it’s rude and inappropriate today, because, truthfully, is there ever a good time to tell someone a food they love could kill them?
Though I know this message is one that most people don’t want to hear, it’s one that must be delivered. Bacon, as well as all processed meats, are classified by the World Health Organization as Group 1 carcinogens, meaning there are enough studies, and the evidence is convincing, to believe that they cause cancer. For a Q & A on red and processed meats, click the link below.
You may be wondering what meats are considered processed meats and what types of cancer are they related to? The World Health Organization’s International Agency for the Research on Cancer (IARC) defines processed meat as “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processing to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meat may also contain other red meats and poultry,” The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) says “meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives. Ham, bacon, pastrami, sausages, hot dogs and cold cuts are all considered processed meat.”
The type of cancer most associated with processed meat consumption is colorectal cancer. However, there is also evidence linking it to both pancreatic and prostate cancer. It’s not clear what it is about these meats that cause cancer. More research is needed, but seriously, if we know that it causes cancer, do you really need to know how before you’ll stop eating it? If you follow the resource link below that leads to the American Institute for Cancer Research’s blog, they have suggestions for lowering your risk by telling you what types of meat and in what quantities are safer. Of course, they are just talking about cancer.
There are many other diet and lifestyle diseases to be considered, and according to the Adventist Health Study, the closer one gets to a vegetarian diet, the lower your health risks are for overweight and obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. All-cause mortality must be considered when choosing our diet, not just cancer. I’m hoping with this information, you will cut down dramatically your consumption of all types of meat. When we know better we can do better.
WARNING!!!!! GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW. NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH!!!
The pictures above are on cigarette cartons in Europe. I had to snap some pictures while I was there last year because I was fascinated that they would have these graphic pictures on a product. My husband found it grotesque and could not look at them, but I liked them! These are only a few of the pictures I took. There were several others, and I liked this strategy for encouraging people to stop smoking because it was real. After buying products with these labels, one cannot say they were unaware of the dangers of cigarettes. Of course, labels in the U.S. say smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and may complicate pregnancy, but I like the graphic warning labels so much better. The public needs to know, and that’s why I did this health post about processed meats. You need to know the truth.
Cigarettes, like processed meats, are considered a Group 1 carcinogen. Again, a Group 1 carcinogen means this substance is KNOWN to cause cancer. Because they are both Group 1 carcinogens doesn’t mean that processed meats are as dangerous as cigarette smoking, but who really knows? Who knows how much red meat or processed meat is too much? How much of a risk are you willing to take? But the bigger question I want to ask is this: WHY AREN’T THERE WARNING LABELS ON PROCESSED MEAT PACKAGES WARNING THE PUBLIC THEY ARE LINKED TO CANCER? Certainly, there are many people whom this would not deter from eating them, just as the labels on cigarettes don’t discourage everyone, but shouldn’t we be given the information so that we can make better decisions about our diet and health? Sadly, we aren’t given this choice, and that’s why you’re getting this information here. Please, don’t just take my word for it. Follow the reference links below and read for yourself.
Eating a healthy diet and exercising are important for all of us to maintain our health. There’s much conflicting evidence out there about what constitutes a healthy diet. However, if you follow the links below, you will see the research is not conflicting concerning these two points: processed meats are linked to cancer, and people who eat more fruits and vegetables are healthier. Armed with this information, I encourage you to make some changes to your diet this week. Replace a few of the servings of meat you would normally have with beans, peas, or lentils. They are healthy protein choices that also give you many nutrients and fiber which is lacking in meat. Find a way to get at least 2 more fruits and vegetables per day into your diet. I’m hoping you’ll come away from reading this health post focusing more on what you can and should be eating versus what you need to leave behind. It’s all about optimum health, now and far into the future. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share this health post with anyone you think might be interested in its content.
Remember, when you commit to change, challenge mind and body, and create a new paradigm, you can conquer ANYTHING!