If you’re eating two strips of bacon every morning, you may want to consider ditching it for something healthier. A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) recently found that processed meats, like hot dogs and bacon, are linked to cancer.
Researchers examined over 800 studies and concluded that eating 50 grams of processed meat daily increases your risk of colon cancer by 18 percent. This is the equivalent to a hot dog, a few slices of cold cuts, or two pieces of bacon. Foods named in the report include hot dogs, bacon, ham, canned-meat and beef jerky. According to WHO, colon cancer ranks as the number two cancer for women worldwide and number three for men. The report also touched on the increased cancer risk of consuming red meat in general, specifically related to pancreatic and prostate cancers.
As we have reported for many years, processed foods, including meats, are a primary contributor to weight gain and the development of obesity. And as we know, obesity is linked to multiple chronic conditions and cancer. The WHO report did not delve specifically into the connection between processed meats and obesity rates of the study participants, but we’d bet the farm that the average BMI was somewhere north of 30, which is the clinical definition of obesity.
This report just serves as another reminder of why we need to improve our food choices and body weight. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that processed meats increase inflammation. Inflammation can disrupt leptin, and suppress this hormone’s ability to quench your appetite and increase your metabolism. Inflammation is also another factor that can increase risk of cancer.
We know it’s difficult because in the US, processed meats are everywhere you go and are part of an eating pattern known as the “Western Diet". But we can’t say it enough. It is imperative that you try to choose foods that boost your health versus destroying it.
As we look for ways to improve our health and reduce our risks of chronic diseases, we must turn our attention to some of the healthiest regions in the world. In a study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, the Mediterranean diet was found to play a protective role against cancer. Research has shown that this diet lowers inflammation and may be useful in weight loss. What makes this diet so healthy is the fact that it is rich in plant-based foods and healthy fats like nuts and avocado. It discourages fried and processed foods, commercially baked goods, and soda. If we can adopt these healthy eating habits, we raise our chances of enjoying the same health benefits of those in the Mediterranean.
There are many factors that can increase our risk of cancer. The underlying message in all of these health studies is the same: We need to make healthier choices with the foods we eat. If we can improve our food selection, it will be easier to manage weight and live a long and happy life.