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Cured meats causing cancer


stephen129
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So, this isn't your typical Daily Mail article where every thing and anything cause cancer. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that nitrites in cured meats such as bacon, ham, salami etc really do cause cancer. The World Health Organisation has declared "that “processed meats” were now classified as a group 1 carcinogen, meaning scientists were certain that there was “sufficient” evidence that they caused cancer, particularly colon cancer."

 

Source: A very good Guardian article on the whole thing.

 

Even the French are recommending cutting down and they usually let nothing stop them enjoying their food.

 

I'm most curious as to why no one seems to be talking about this. I've heard of people doing Keto diets, low sugar, low carbs, high protein, vegan etc etc etc, but no one ever seems to talk about cutting out cured meats. Has anyone decided to reduce their consumption? Are people still adopting the 'I'm going to die anyway, may as well die happy' mentality?

 

Personally I rarely ever buy bacon these days. Health wise it's the worst of the bunch when you also consider the salt and fat. However I still find it hard to not sometimes pick up a pack of salami, kielbasa or ham. It would be great to have more nitrite free options.

 

You can get cured meats made without pink salt, real prosciutto di Parma is only cured with normal salt and is a good cured meat both eaten cold and cooked like bacon. There are also a few companies that do bacon without nitrites. I've tried Finnebrogue before and it was solid.

 

Further reading:

https://amp.theguardian.com/food/2022/jul/08/nitrites-in-bacon-scientists-mps-call-for-uk-ban-cancer-fears

 

 

https://amp.theguardian.com/food/2022/jul/08/nitrites-in-bacon-scientists-mps-call-for-uk-ban-cancer-fears

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This has been talked about for years - I learnt it at med school about a decade ago. Both cured and smoked meats are full of potentially carcinogenic chemicals, but my understanding was that infrequent consumption was fine. A bit like tuna (and other kinds of fish) being full of mercury. But I didn't realise there were less harmful alternatives, which seem like a no brainer given society in general doesn't really get the concept of moderation.

 

I believe it's one of the reasons suggested for Japan having the highest rates of stomach cancer in the world, although there is a bit of a chicken/egg situation there as they are also the best in the world at detecting it, so will pick up more cases. But the reason they got so good at detecting it is because their increased rates, etc.

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I stopped eating bacon after reading the first Guardian article in 2018. The evidence then was not conclusive but the weight of it linking nitrites to cancer was enough to convince me. I have been pescatarian since the start of last year as I wasn't able to eliminate just cured meats from my diet so a new broom was needed.

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Yeah, this one's been in the public consciousness for a long time but, just like booze, tobacco, fried foods etc, we're all setting our own personal boundaries of acceptability. Fuck, I have some Prague Powder/curing salt in my kitchen.

 

I think you're on the money with the fatalistic approach to getting cancer. There's plenty of it in my family, and I'm not planning on having kids, so I want to make sure I enjoy what I enjoy. Though that will no doubt change as I age and stare mortality more closely in the eye.

 

Bearing in mind that the main reason I have my CostCo card seems to be buying their beef hotdogs, I'm probably not quite a neutral take on this.

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It’s very easy to read the science and take a fatalistic approach. It’s scary stuff. But the reality is that there are vast numbers of people who regularly eat cured meats who live to a ripe old age without succumbing to cancers as a result. It’s worth being aware of the potential risks, but the occasional bacon sandwich, hotdog, or pepperoni pizza is probably not going to do any real harm.

 

There are so many threats to health out there, from drinking alcohol or eating too much refined sugar, through to taking too little exercise, not getting enough sleep, or cycling to work beside cars spewing fumes, plus countless others, that pretty much everything you experience involves some level of risk.

 

It’s a case of figuring out your own acceptance level. In my case all the biscuits I enjoy will be a much bigger threat than the less frequent smoky meat treat.

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3 hours ago, Eighthours said:

It's bloody typical that this thread appears the day after I was rejoicing at how utterly glorious the bacon I bought from a farm shop is compared to supermarket stuff.

 

Hahaha. Is this news to you or are just not that fussed? It's not like cured meat instantly gives you cancer or anything. I just personally think it might be an idea to cut down a bit. 

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With bacon though it doesn't technically have to be carcinogenic, right? It’s the nitrites that do it, and they are added just to prevent botulism? I think I read somewhere that if the pork is reared well, healthy, clean etc it doesn’t need that. Just salting it is ok. But you have to know what you’re getting. 

 

So in terms of cutting it down that's what I am hoping to do. Not necessarily being strict but just cutting down and trying to buy smarter. I wouldn't refuse anything in a nice restaurant though.

 

 

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7 hours ago, cowfields said:

With bacon though it doesn't technically have to be carcinogenic, right? It’s the nitrites that do it, and they are added just to prevent botulism? I think I read somewhere that if the pork is reared well, healthy, clean etc it doesn’t need that. Just salting it is ok. But you have to know what you’re getting. 

 

So in terms of cutting it down that's what I am hoping to do. Not necessarily being strict but just cutting down and trying to buy smarter. I wouldn't refuse anything in a nice restaurant though.

 

 

 

You can make bacon with just salt. It exists, it's just most people don't know about the dangers of nitrites in cured meat so they continue to buy normal bacon with nitrites in it. 

 

image.png.ccfcd497b12a894a3be21781c20e7469.png

Ingredients

British or Irish Pork (91%), Water, Salt, Natural Flavouring, Antioxidant: Ascorbic Acid, Smoke Flavouring

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I follow a diet for health reasons that restricts a lot of foods including any processed or cured meat with the exception of prosciutto. 

 

I still have bacon about once a fortnight as a treat as it's ok to follow the diet about 80% as it is so restrictive, but we have a brand that is free of nitrates and other additives 

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I honestly can't remember the last time I had bacon. Not because of this story, and I'm not stopping eating it - I love the stuff when I do have it - but I reckon I have a bacon sandwich four or five times a year. Sometimes throw some crispy bacon in a salad. Again, a handful of times a year. I think that the risk is acceptable given how infrequently I eat it.

 

I have tried to cut down on red meat (and all flesh, really) though. Used to have pork or beef several times a week, and now it's more like once every couple of weeks. Chicken's more regular but we still try to eat vegetarian most of the time now.

 

I won't say I don't miss it - no matter what I cook, it's not as satisfying as if it had meat in it, and I've been through dozens of "you won't believe how good this vegetarian/vegan recipe is!" videos and entire vegetarian cookbooks - but for health, environmental, ethical and cost reasons it just doesn't seem worth having very often.

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