Bacon: not a hidden menace anymore November 11, 2015 — by Isabelle Yang Recently revealed by the World Health Organization (WHO), bacon and all other processed meats have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as class-one carcinogens, putting them in the same category that holds tobacco smoking and asbestos. If I declared that I was going “out back” to smoke a cigarette, most of my friends would look down on me, question my lifestyle choices and try to convince me to quit smoking. But if I declared that I had bacon for breakfast this morning, they most likely wouldn’t say a word in protest. Recently revealed by the World Health Organization (WHO), bacon and all other processed meats have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as class-one carcinogens, putting them in the same category that holds tobacco smoking and asbestos. Of course, when smoking is involved, opponents can proudly say that this activity is cancerous and even create campaigns such as “The Real Cost” to discourage teenage smoking. Unfortunately, this prudence is not applied to bacon and processed meat consumption. Though bacon may be a commonly eaten and tasty, people should accept the harsh truth presented by research and take these new results more seriously. With one quick look at evidence, it becomes clear that bacon and other processed meats are a serious health threat; WHO’s statement includes statistics that report an “18 percent increased risk of colon cancer for every 50 grams of processed meats.” Colon cancer poses immediate threats to health, and it is even estimated that 136,830 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer by 2014 and that roughly 37 percent of these people will die from in it, according to a report from the Colon Cancer Alliance. Furthermore, a 2010 study published in the journal Circulation found that eating processed meat was associated with a 42 percent increased risk of heart disease and a 19 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Both are life-threatening diseases that together affect 29 million people in the United States. Some studies have shown that many processed meats are doused in chemicals that release highly carcinogenic matter when heated, according to pubmed.com. Despite all of these studies, popular social media sites such as BuzzFeed portray the matter comically in articles such as, “Twelve Ways to Get That Bacon Fix Without Giving Yourself Cancer.” By masking the severity of the problem through listing the various “bacon-themed” novelty objects such as bacon hair gel and bacon duvet covers, many sites were quick to dismiss the problem and instead, using it as a marketing ploy. This approach belies what should actually be done — give up bacon the way one would with tobacco, or other potentially life-threatening habits. A line should be drawn when between, seriously endangering yourself and “just living your life,” especially when carcinogenic materials are involved. If the damages caused by processed meats compare to that of commonly known dangerous items we know today, why is the change to fresh meat such a hard decision? Why is worrisome research so often just dismissed as part of the newest compilation of health fads and trends? It is too easy to bubble-wrap harsh facts with one’s own denial. Bacon may seem harmless, but considering all the scientific evidence outlining its insidious effects, eating it regularly is the equivalent of becoming a smoker.