Bacon: A Breakfast Delicacy Or A Deadly Carcinogen

by Ishani Bose last updated -

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“Everything goes well with bacon”, is a rallying cry of all food connoisseurs. While some dishes have it as the star of the show, there are others that use it merely as a garnish. But, either way, it’s an instant favorite with all meat gastronomes. Most people begin their day with this crunchy and salty meat, either as an independent meal or as a side dish to a spread of eggs and toast. However, is bacon really as good as it smells and tastes? Let’s find out.

What is Bacon?

Bacon is a sort of cured pork. It is made of various cuts of meat, especially the back cuts and pork belly. You can also find other similar products such as turkey bacon. Curing is a method of processing, preserving, and flavoring vegetables, fish, and various kinds of meat. During the curing process, the meat is usually soaked in a mixture of salts, nitrates, and even sugar at times. This is perhaps why bacon has a longer shelf life than fresh pork. It can be added to pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, or as a garnish in salads.

Nutritional Value

As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, bacon consists of protein, fat, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin- B6, vitamin A, vitamin B-12, selenium, vitamin K, and vitamin D.

Delicious bacon placed alongside pickle and cheese, atop a bowl of mashed potatoes

Bacon: Good or Bad For Health?

Is bacon really good for health? Or is it just a myth? Let’s find out.

  • Colorectal Cancer: Bacon may be delicious no doubt, but studies have shown that there’s a direct link between processed meats such as this and cancer. Dr. Kathryn E Bradbury, Dr. Neil Murphy, and Dr. Timothy J Key published a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology, which states that a thin slice of bacon, which is equivalent to 25 gms of processed meat, can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent if eaten daily. As part of the study, the diets of almost half a million UK adults, between the age group of 40 and 69 were tracked, over the last five years on an average. After thoroughly studying their diets, it was concluded that not less than 2,609 of the participants developed colorectal cancer.
  • Gastric Cancer: Furthermore, given that bacon contains additives such as nitrites and nitrates to cure and process it, too much exposure to heat can result in the formation of carcinogenic compounds such as nitrosamines. As per a report published in the Nutrients Journal, these potentially harmful compounds then have the likelihood to increase the risk of gastric cancer.
  • Heart Disease & Diabetes: Meanwhile, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA, published a study in the Circulation Journal, which concludes that consumption of processed meats is associated with a higher incidence of coronary heart diseases and diabetes.

To say that you must avoid bacon as much as possible is a given. However, if you are someone who really loves it and cannot imagine living without it, exercise restraint and minimize the quantity you consume. As they say, everything is good in moderation.

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About the Author

An alumnus of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Ishani is a journalist-turned-content writer, with an avid interest in politics, history, fashion, food, health, arts, and culture. She is a food fanatic, who loves to try out interesting and healthy recipes in her free time. When she isn’t writing or cooking, you’ll find her Instagramming (more often than she’d like), wasting time on an assortment of things such as shopping, netflixing, and chasing her up-to-no-good pet cat throughout the house.

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