“Sufficient evidence” exists that bacon and other processed meats cause cancer. That, according to the World Health Organization, is not going to change. However, the WHO wants people to realize that just because something is known to cause cancer, of course, that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating it.
Are you less confused now?
The WHO sparked a lot of wild responses earlier this week when they announced they had placed processed meats among “group 1”—things that are “carcinogenic to humans.” People freaked out so much that yesterday they issued a “clarification,” which is the closest an international bureaucracy comes to yelling, “Hey, chill out!”
Not that the clarification is any clearer. “IARC’s review confirms the recommendation in WHO’s 2002 ‘Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases’ report, which advised people to moderate consumption of preserved meat to reduce the risk of cancer,” the group writes. “The latest IARC review does not ask people to stop eating processed meats but indicates that reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.” They continued, “Early next year they will meet to begin looking at the public health implications of the latest science and the place of processed meat and red meat within the context of an overall healthy diet.”
So don’t worry, guys; this will all be cleared up sometime in 2016. Now go eat your Christmas ham in fear.
Not that I am an international health expert, but here’s my clarification…
X-rays are also known to cause cancer. But that doesn’t mean you stop getting x-rays when you need them, because oftentimes the benefits outweigh the risks. It just means you stop using x-rays egregiously—like to perform a spooky Halloween skeleton dance. Same goes for bacon. Bacon causes cancer. But that doesn’t mean you can never eat bacon again, because sometimes the joys of eating bacon outweigh the increased risks of cancer. It just means you stop having those bi-weekly bacon eating contests with your friends because, let’s face it, you keep losing anyway. It’s an age-old moral: moderation limits risks.
Now do you get it? If so, vote for me as President of WHO. It’s kind of a childhood dream of mine.