Health risks of bacon hit the headlines

Health risks of bacon and other processed meats hit the headlines.

Bacon and poor health
The relationship between bacon and poor health makes the news

I’ve been reading about the potential health risks linked to meat consumption for decades1. The evidence of a relationship between processed meat products in particular and serious illnesses including cancer has been established for many years. So recent and widespread calls to rid bacon and ham of nitrates comes as no surprise. In fact, in some senses, it feels like a long overdue and underwhelming response.

raw meat on brown wooden surface

Needless to say, The British Meat Processors Association stand by their bacon and maintain that nitrates are ‘authorised additives’. However the dispute over the risks and benefits of nitrates in processed meat begs the question, why don’t we do away with processed meats altogether? Meats are processed to modify the taste or extend the shelf life, products include bacon, sausages, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, beef jerky, ham as well as canned meats. Until we know more about the relative health risks of the different products it might be advisable to avoid them all.

 

Notes

1 Relation of meat, fat, and fiber intake to the risk of colon cancer in a prospective study among women published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990.

Author: eatscientifically

As a researcher working with the contemplative sciences, it became evident to me that food plays an important role in the life of most regular meditators. From this realisation, it was only a small step to identify correlations between diet and certain cognitive characteristics linked to meditation and mindfulness. Over the last decade, science has been increasingly supporting the view that our diet meditates our gut bacteria, which in turn directly correlates with our physical and mental health. Central to this understanding is the appreciation that some simple and inexpensive fermented foods and drinks make a positive contribution to gut health. Science now supports the proposition that improving your gut health is likely to increase your resilience to a number of illnesses including some forms of cancer, heart disease, depression and anxiety.

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