As you may know, the World Health Organization asserted that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that processed meats cause cancer. The problem with this statement is that it failed to contextualize the information. Going from never eating processed meats to eating 2 strips of bacon per day will raise your lifetime risk of colon cancer from 5% to 6%.

Unfortunately, that’s not the message that was conveyed with headlines like “Eating Red Meat Twice Weekly May Up Cancer Risk Nearly 20%”, “Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer risk” and “WHO: Bacon, hot dogs, as bad as cigarettes”.

What about healthy user bias? Perhaps it’s not the red meat at all that’s contributing to cancer risk, but rather the possibility that people who avoid processed meats are more likely to exercise and eat vegetables whereas those who enjoy copious amounts of bacon are cigarette-loving couch potatoes.

Finally, processed meats probably aren’t the best food choice, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about that BLT sandwich you enjoy twice a week. If you’re actually concerned, get screened regularly for colorectal cancer if you’re between the ages of 50 and 75. It’s probably one of the best and most important ways you can protect yourself.

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