Image of Bacon Strips in Cigarette Pack Highlights Health Risks of Processed Meats
WASHINGTON—A huge billboard near the National Pork Board headquarters in Des Moines will warn Iowa residents that eating processed meats like bacon can increase their risk for colorectal cancer. The billboard is sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
Located at 6000 Douglas Ave. in Des Moines, the billboard—put up to coincide with the National Pork Board meeting Nov. 14—features an image of bacon strips sticking out of a cigarette pack. It reads: “Warning: Bacon Can Cause Rectal Cancer,” and directs Iowans to www.PCRM.org.
Americans on average eat more than 18 pounds of bacon each per year. Iowa is the nation’s top pork producer, and earlier this year the Iowa House declared Feb. 26 Bacon Day, lauding this highly processed meat as “nature’s perfect food.” Iowa also has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the country.
“Pigging out on bacon can really hurt your health,” says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “Far from being a ‘perfect food,’ bacon is high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, bacon should come with a warning label that helps Iowa residents understand the health risk.”
Des Moines is home to an annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival and in 2010, 750 attendees consumed 1,200 pounds of bacon, or 30,000 strips—40 strips per person. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, just 1.7 ounces of processed meats consumed daily—less than two strips of bacon—can increase a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by 21 percent. No amount of processed meat is considered safe for consumption.
Every year, about 143,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 53,000 die of it.
Studies also show a strong link between other types of cancer and processed meats. An NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study found that processed red meat was associated with a 10 percent increased risk of prostate cancer with every 10 grams of increased intake. A study in Taiwan showed that consumption of cured and smoked meat can increase children’s risk for leukemia. A study in Australia found that women’s risk for ovarian cancer increased as a result of eating processed meats.
A review in the journal Diabetologia found that those who regularly eat processed meats increase their risk for diabetes by 41 percent.
If you have questions or want to interview Susan Levin, contact Vaishali Honawar at 202-527-7339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.