Will Eating Processed Meat Give You Cancer? Not Necessarily

Kirstin Fawcett
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Yesterday, the World Health Organization sent shivers down the spines of bacon lovers everywhere when they announced that they’d classified processed meat as a group 1 carcinogen, putting it in the same risk category as tobacco smoking. Does this mean you should swear off your favorite brunch staple?

Over at WIRED, Sarah Zhang explains that while the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer assesses the scientific evidence behind whether something’s a carcinogen, it doesn’t consider how much the substance—be it food, drink, pesticide, etc.—actually ups your chance of getting cancer. And while smoking will increase your relative risk of lung cancer by 2500 percent, chowing down on two slices of bacon a day will only raise your risk for colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Bottom line? If you eat processed meat, your overall lifetime risk for this form of cancer will only climb from about five percent to six.

While studies do state that limiting your consumption of processed meat and red meat is the healthiest choice, you don’t have to freak out just yet—or for that matter, swear off the entire food group. For more explanation, read Zhang's full piece.

[h/t Wired]