The Bad News On Your Bacon

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Processed meat as the new tobacco. The new asbestos. We’ll look at the bad news on your bacon, hot dogs, ham sandwiches.

In this June 9, 2014 file photo, packages of Ballpark franks are on display at a supermarket in Middleton, Mass. (AP)
In this June 9, 2014 file photo, packages of Ballpark franks are on display at a supermarket in Middleton, Mass. (AP)

For a long, long time a whole lot of Americans’ diets were often built on beef and processed meat. Bacon or sausage at breakfast. A ham sandwich, hamburger, maybe a hot dog or turkey slice at lunch. And dinner? Well you know, they told us: “Beef — it’s what’s for dinner.” Yesterday, the World Health Organization threw a big plate of tofu into all that. Processed meats cause cancer, said the W.H.O. And red meat probably does, too. Even for Americans who have begun to move away from the old diet, this is a challenge. This hour On Point, what the new meat warning really means.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Peter Whoriskey, staff reporter for the Washington Post. (@PeterWhoriskey)

Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. Author of "Soda Politics," “What to Eat” and “Food Politics.” (@marionnestle)

Paolo Boffetta, professor of medicine, hematology and medical oncology at the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Medicine.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats cause cancer, World Health Organization declares — "A research division of the World Health Organization announced Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

Vox: The WHO's new warnings about bacon and cancer, explained -- "This doesn't mean that processed meat is as bad for you as smoking. What it means is that according to the agency's assessment, the links between processed meat and certain types of cancer are clear and well-established. Specifically, the researchers found evidence that eating a 50-gram portion of processed meat daily (about one hot dog) can increase a person's risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent."

WBUR's CommonHealth: WHO Says Processed Meats Causes Cancer, So Should We Stop Eating It Altogether? — "Processed meats have previously been inked to a range of illnesses, from heart disease to diabetes and cancer. But even with this big news from the WHO, many nutrition and public health experts said that reducing consumption of such meats is key, not eliminating them altogether."

This program aired on October 27, 2015.


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