Have Vegetarians Won?
In a news report that has been shared widely his week, there has been evidence that supports bacon’s ties to cancer. It has been in the headlines of many different reports and has been used as click-bait for various Facebook articles. In a time in which bacon has become a pop culture icon, this is hard hitting news. Though it has been widely accepted that the food isn't the best for the human circulatory system, it was unexpected that it could be cancer causing, being listed as a carcinogen. It is also much more widespread than most have been reporting. Understandably, the focus has been placed on bacon, but the research conducted showed that these effects extend to all processed meats. The World Health Organization has added it to the Group One list, a list made up of things that are carcinogenic to humans. This means that bacon will be among other cancer inducing substances such as tobacco and asbestos.
WHO reports that "Each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent." This amount is equal to about one hotdog or two pieces of bacon. With the average American diet containing 21.7 grams of pork per day, as recorded by a 2011 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, this seems like dangerous news but scientists say that it isn't as bad as it sounds. Though these meats are now alongside such known destructive substances such as tobacco, eating bacon is still not as bad as smoking cigarettes. The reporting of this, however, has led to controversy. Initially, many were interpreting the report to mean that processed meat was similar in danger to asbestos and others on the list due to a lack of understanding of the organization techniques utilized. The blame for this has fallen on WHO, though they have since gone into further explanation of the system. Being classified as Group One means that they have been shown to the same extent to cause cancer, with it being proven as
surely for tobacco to cause cancer as they have recently shown processed meat to, yet speaks to no extent to how dangerous each has proven to be. To show the difference in the levels, WHO alongside showing their results of processed meats they also announced that they are placing red meats in the second group, which allows for less surety in their ability to cause cancer. This means that they believe red meat might cause cancer, rather than when they say ingesting processed meat does cause cancer.
All of this comes together to illustrate how great a conversation has occurred following the release of these results. Though some have taken it as a joke, laughing at how the once mighty bacon has fallen from its culturally built pedestal, there are some who have taken it as a personal attack to their lifestyle while groups such as vegans and vegetarians have taken it as confirmation for their dietary choices. It is a conversation that has been occurring for a while now between the two camps, and this news release has added a new dimension to it. Where it was once argued that meat brought in needed proteins and vitamins, it is now complicated by the fact that it also causes cancer, giving those who abstain from such a diet, a healthier lifestyle. The scientists who reported these results, however, state that the chances are miniscule and don’t warrant such a conversation.