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Does Bacon Really Give You Cancer?

Bacon has been in the news a lot recently. So is it really that bad?

It’s a sad time for your favorite breakfast food.

Just last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a paper that linked diets high in processed meats — including America’s beloved bacon — to bowel cancer.

As if that weren’t bad enough, a separate report authored by both the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) highlights a link between processed meats and another type of cancer. In this case, it’s stomach cancer.

Red meats, such as beef, pork, and lamb, have also come under fire. And not for being too delicious — for being “probable” carcinogens, according to the WHO.

The question is, just how bad is it to chow down on your favorite processed meats?

According to the study conducted by the WCRF and the AICR, eating 1.8 ounces of processed meat on a daily basis—that’s about the equivalent of a single hot dog — can increase your risk of certain types of stomach cancers by nearly 18 percent.

It's kind of a lot.

Though cancer is a complicated disease influenced by a variety of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, it seems safe to assume that eating a bunch of bacon every day won’t help you avoid cancer.

Of course, it doesn't seem as bad as other notorious carcinogens, such as cigarettes. Consider the following:

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an estimated 34,000 deaths per year can be attributed to high processed meat diets. That’s compared to an estimated one million tobacco smoking-related cancer deaths.

But those figures don’t exactly make bacon the good guy, here, either. To sum things up, eating bacon every day could be a risky move for your health. If you’re a bacon lover, try to keep bacon as a treat, and work on reducing your overall processed and red meat consumption.

Want to lower your bacon consumption? Here’s how:

  • Eat smaller portions. Having two or three strips of bacon is better than having four or six strips.
  • Replace your morning bacon with something leaner, such as lean turkey bacon, tempeh, or vegetarian bacon. Even mixing half and half makes a difference.
  • Reduce your overall red and processed meat consumption by having meat-free, seafood, or lean meat days.
  • Use less red and processed meat in stews, pasta sauces, and chilis by adding beans, lentils, or mushrooms to add bulk.

[Image via Getty]

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