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Beware of Bacon and Processed Meats

#fitfriday The World Health Organization (WHO) has some serious concerns regarding some of America's favorite foods. The international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer.

While the news that processed meats aren’t good for you isn’t exactly groundbreaking, the fact that the WHO classified processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans” is news, as this puts processed meats in the same category as common carcinogens like tobacco. The study also says that red meat itself is “probably carcinogenic.”

This includes chicken and turkey sausage, too. The WHO says that processed meats derived from sources like poultry and other meats (veal, lamb, horse, etc.) are also carcinogenic.

However, this doesn’t mean that bacon is as dangerous as smoking. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, people who eat meat are two times more likely to develop cancer than those who don’t. Smokers, on the other hand, are 20 times more likely to get cancer than nonsmokers.

DID YOU KNOW: Rich, indulgent and crispy, pork bacon is a favorite food of people around the world. Every year, the average American eats nearly 18 pounds of the cured, smoked pork.

The WHO advised that consuming 50g of processed meat a day – equivalent to just a couple of rashers of bacon or one hot-dog – would raise the risk of getting bowel cancer by 18% over a lifetime. (Eating larger amounts raises your risk more.) Learning that your own risk of cancer has increased from something like 5% to something like 6% may not be frightening enough to put you off bacon sandwiches for ever. But learning that consumption of processed meat causes an additional 34,000 worldwide cancer deaths a year is much more chilling.

Furthermore, this news doesn’t mean you have to stop eating the foods you love. Red meat has known health benefits, such as providing your body with iron, zinc and vitamin B. However, moderation is key. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends eating no more than 18 ounces of red meat a week, or about three regular-sized burgers, and very little, if any, processed meats.

Instead, fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. High-fiber foods like oatmeal, beans, peas and raspberries can help toxins move through the digestive system quickly (along with providing valuable nutrients)—potentially helping to offset the harmful effects of eating too many processed meats.

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