Bacon & Hot Dogs Are Just as Dangerous as Cigarettes

pile of bacon You might want to put down that BLT. And hot dog. And, while you're at it, that ham sandwich, too. According to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO), processed meats cause cancer.


As of today, those three delicious foods are considered "group 1 carcinogens" -- as dangerous as asbestos, tobacco, and arsenic. Red meat in general got a slightly better "grade" by the group. It's now labeled a 2A carcinogen -- which means it's probably cancer-causing.

"This announcement may seem shocking, but we've known for years that excess amounts of processed meats are not good for your health," says Torey Armul, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Several studies have already shown a strong link between meats and cancer -- specifically bowel, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. And the World Cancer Research Fund has been warning people for a while to steer clear of salami, bacon, and ham, and to limit not only red meat, but also pork and lamb.

WHO researchers found that for every 1.8-ounce portion of processed meat eaten daily, your risk of colorectal cancer rises by a striking 18 percent.

More from The Stir: 5 Foods That Will Kill You Faster Than Bacon

"Processed food is not 'real' food," notes Dr. Scott M. Schreiber, a chiropractic physician in Newark, Delaware, who is board-certified in nutrition. "Things have been added to it and other things have been taken out."

Many of the unhealthy research outcomes are linked to meats that have been cured or injected with the preservative sodium nitrate, explains Armul.

It's unclear yet whether organic or grass-fed beef make any difference, but nitrates or nitrites are not allowed to be used as preservatives in meat that is labeled certified organic.

So, should you start rethinking Thanksgiving? Not to mention Sunday breakfasts and the sandwiches you pack for your kids' lunches?

"The majority of research indicates that processed meats are still safe ... in limited amounts," Armul says. "However, the best things we can do to reduce our risk of cancer, aside from quitting smoking, is to exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables, eat less processed meats, and maintain a healthy body weight."

If you're going to eat meat, choose fresher, uncured meats rather than processed meats with a long shelf life, Armul says.

Even better, get your protein from plant-based sources like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

As you can imagine, the WHO's damning report was NOT well received by food industry groups. A spokesperson from the North American Meat Institute pointed out that the WHO's research group reviewed 940 possible cancer-causing agents and, of them, found only one to be safe.

In case you're wondering, it's a chemical used in yoga pants.

The comment, of course, was meant to either deflect attention from the WHO report or make us think they're a bunch of overly worried prats. But we find it makes these results even MORE upsetting. Our activewear is safer for us than the food we're eating?

Not a savory idea in the least.


Image via © JimDPhoto/iStock

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