Bacon lovers around the world received tragic news this week. According to a new study led by researchers at the UK's University of Oxford, eating bacon daily may increase the risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer.
The news gets even worse.
According to the researchers, a link to colorectal cancer exists not just with bacon, but also with other processed and red meat, including sausages, packaged deli meats, and more.
The study of almost 500,000 adults in the UK found that those who consumed 76 grams of processed or red meat each day (equivalent to between three and four slices of bacon or a quarter-pound burger) had a 20 percent greater chance of developing colorectal cancer than those who ate just 21 grams of red or processed meat each day (three-quarters of an ounce, equivalent to one slice of bacon).
The researchers found that processed meats have a greater risk than red meat. According to Tim Key, deputy director of Oxford's cancer epidemiology unit, "A small amount of processed meat seems to have the same effect as a large amount of red meat."
The study should be of particular concern to bacon lovers (and lovers of other processed and red meat) because it confirms previous studies. Says the University of Reading's Professor Gunter Kuhnle,
The results confirm previous findings that both red and processed meat consumption increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The increase in risk of approximately 20 percent per 50 gram increase of red and processed meat intake is in line with what has been reported previously, and confirms these findings.
Of course, these findings create a bit of a problem for all the fast-food companies that have put bacon at the center of their marketing campaigns. Just a few months ago, McDonald's announced a free bacon happy hour designed to attract customers to its new Cheesy Bacon Fries, Big Mac Bacon burger, and Quarter Pounder Bacon burger. Wendy's has its Baconator--a half-pound cheeseburger loaded with six (count 'em, six) slices of bacon. And Burger King ups the ante with its Triple Stacker King, which contains three-quarters of a pound of beef, six slices of bacon, and three slices of American cheese.
This should be no surprise. According to a McDonald's announcement, bacon is hot--earning 17,000 mentions a day on U.S. online platforms.
However, after reviewing the results of this latest research into the link between eating bacon and colon cancer, consumers might want to dial down their love for bacon and other processed and red meat a notch or two.