Uses For Bacon

January 26, 2012 by staff 

Uses For Bacon, A new study should take some of the sizzle out of the “baconalian” feasts celebrated daily in kitchens all over America. For researchers have found that if you regularly eat processed meats, you may be increasing your risk of pancreatic cancer — one of the deadliest forms of the disease.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that for each 50g (1¾ oz) of processed meat eaten daily — the equivalent of a sausage or two rashers of bacon — there was a 19% rise in the risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who ate none. For people eating double this amount of processed meat (100g, or roughly 3½ oz), the risk jumped to 38%, and was 57% for those eating nearly 150g (about 5½ oz) a day.

The overall risk of pancreatic cancer is low; in Britain, for instance, the lifetime risk is one in 77 for men and one in 79 for women, the study’s authors write. Nonetheless, the disease is deadly: it is frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage and kills 80% of people in under a year. Only 5% of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis.

The pork industry has been keen to downplay the implications of the study. The Pig Site offers this rather tortuous calculation: “If eating one less sausage a day reduced the risks by 19% … the risk of dying of pancreatic cancer would be reduced to one in 84. The deaths saved per year would be 1,357 [in the UK]. If we take the population of the UK to be 60 million, and assume 50 million eat sausages (subtracting infants and vegetarians) then more than 36,000 people would have to make this dietary change to save one death per year.” (If you extrapolate similar rates for the U.S., the number of lives saved each year annually would be around 6,000.)

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