You would have read the alarming headlines from the WHO report about processed meats being linked with colorectal cancer. Aside from being unhelpful to bacon and small good manufacturer’s sales, we think the “evidence” was presented in a way that blows the problem out of all proportion – if you do the math on the figures they gave.
According to the WHO, there was an 18% higher chance of developing colorectal cancer between those who consumed 50g of processed meat a day and those who did not. New Zealand’s current incidence of colorectal cancer is 37.3 people out of every 100,000. This means that if the WHO’s assumptions are correct, eating processed meats would increase this risk to 44 people out of every 100,000 – which is only a 0.0067% actual increase. When the figures are given this way, it doesn’t sound nearly as impressive, and certainly not worthy of world-wide alarmist headlines!
Besides that, humans have been salting and smoking meat for many hundreds of years, as this obviously preserves it in ways that keep us safe from much quicker deaths than cancer. Some of our favourite quips from around the web that relate to this topic are……
“Cooking food may well have been a crucial technological breakthrough that allowed one of our ancestor species to start growing its brain towards the size where we can worry consciously about health risks expressed as statistics.”
As Peter Cleave, a Director of Medical Research in the UK in the 1960’s once said: “For a modern disease to be related to an old fashioned food is one of the most ludicrous things I have ever heard in my life.”
“It would of course be possible to sustain an inactive and not unduly exciting life on nothing but raw vegetables, but it’s very hard to see why it should be encouraged. There is no particular virtue in joylessly prolonging existence.”