Hot Dogs and Bacon

I like sausage, and now and then I enjoy some bacon.  Because I am not a total idiot, I have known for some time that these things are not health foods.  Most things that taste really good, aren’t.  But man, and woman do not live by kelp alone.

When the World Health Organization (WHO) came out with their big report on cured meats, I didn’t cheer, but I didn’t worry much either.   If you missed it, the headline was that cured meats cause increases in cancer.

The folks at looked through the hysteria and offered an analysis which I’ve excerpted below:

“Each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, the agency (WHO) estimated.

A 50-gram portion would be the equivalent of eating one hot dog or two slices of bacon. Americans eat about 21.7 grams of processed pork per day, according to a 2011 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

What are the actual odds of getting colorectal cancer?

While most people hear the words “18% increase” and think that their odds of getting this disease have gone to better than one in five, the reality is that it means the odds have gone up 18% from what they actually were. For example when something has a 1% chance of happening, if you increase the chances of that thing happening by 18% the new odds are not 19% as some would think, but 1.1% (1/100) * (118/100) or 118/10000 = 1.1%

{At, their charts say} …men have a lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer of 1 in 21, or 4.84%, and the odds of a woman catching the same disease is 4.49 or 1 in 22

So even though we know that, according to the stats given, we eat only 43.4% of a hot dog per day on average, let’s assume for the sake of argument that you actually eat a hot dog every single day for your entire life. What does that do to your cancer odds?

Well if you do the actual math and multiply 4.84/100 by 118/100 it means that 18% increase makes a man’s odds of getting colorectal cancer go to 5.7%. For a woman… the odds go up to 5.2%

In other words, if this study is absolutely positively spot on correct, eating that hot dog every single day for your entire life raises your odds of catching colorectal cancer by nearly but not quite….1%.”

I’d bet that getting a colonoscopy and other exams improves your chances of catching cancers in time by more than 1%.

So, now that you’ve got the bottom line, make your own meat choices. And, if you look, you can find bacon and hot dogs that are smoked, and not cured with nitrites and nitrates. They aren’t health foods either, but life is too short to worry about everything.


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