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, others 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 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.

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

Bacon has a longer shelf life than fresh pork. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Pork, cured, bacon, unprepared
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]46.74
Energy [kcal]393
Energy [kJ]1645
Protein [g]13.66
Total lipid (fat) [g]37.13
Ash [g]2.59
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.35
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.35
Calcium, Ca [mg]6
Iron, Fe [mg]0.38
Magnesium, Mg [mg]13
Phosphorus, P [mg]166
Potassium, K [mg]201
Sodium, Na [mg]751
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.14
Copper, Cu [mg]0.05
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.01
Selenium, Se [µg]20.1
Thiamin [mg]0.28
Riboflavin [mg]0.08
Niacin [mg]4.02
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.56
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.27
Choline, total [mg]47.8
Betaine [mg]3.7
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0.5
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]11
Retinol [µg]11
Vitamin A, IU [IU]37
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.43
Tocopherol, beta [mg]1.01
Tocopherol, gamma [mg]0.65
Tocopherol, delta [mg]0.01
Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]0.03
Tocotrienol, beta [mg]0.02
Tocotrienol, gamma [mg]0.05
Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units [IU]16
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0.4
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) [µg]0.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]12.62
4:0 [g]0.01
6:0 [g]0
8:0 [g]0
10:0 [g]0.03
12:0 [g]0.03
14:0 [g]0.47
15:0 [g]0.02
16:0 [g]7.94
17:0 [g]0.09
18:0 [g]3.95
20:0 [g]0.07
22:0 [g]0.01
24:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]15.92
14:1 [g]0.01
16:1 [g]0.82
16:1 c [g]0.82
17:1 [g]0.09
18:1 [g]14.71
18:1 c [g]14.6
20:1 [g]0.29
22:1 [g]0.01
22:1 c [g]0.01
24:1 c [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]5.76
18:2 [g]5.08
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]5
18:2 CLAs [g]0.05
18:3 [g]0.22
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.22
18:3 n-6 c,c,c [g]0
18:3i [g]0
18:4 [g]0
20:2 n-6 c,c [g]0.21
20:3 [g]0.07
20:3 n-3 [g]0.03
20:3 n-6 [g]0.04
20:4 [g]0.11
20:5 n-3 (EPA) [g]0
22:4 [g]0.04
22:5 n-3 (DPA) [g]0.02
22:6 n-3 (DHA) [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.15
Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic [g]0.11
16:1 t [g]0.01
18:1 t [g]0.11
18:2 t not further defined [g]0.03
Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic [g]0.03
Cholesterol [mg]66
Sources include : USDA

Nutritional Value

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

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 ages group of 40 and 69 were tracked, over the last five years on 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 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 Bose has worked as a reporter/features writer for several leading newspapers and organizations in India. It was her love for food, health, and wellness that brought her to Organic Facts. As a Content & Culinary Outreach Specialist, she is responsible for developing and managing the website’s recipe section. She is also passionate about mental health and enjoys writing about it for the website to educate more and more people about the same. An avid Instagrammer who knows the latest social media trends, Ishani helps strategize and create authentic content for the website’s social media platforms. When not writing or cooking, you’ll find her reading, traveling, soaking herself in music, arts, and culture in every way possible. Ishani has completed an online program on “Introduction to Food and Health” by Stanford University, US. Furthermore, she has completed an online course on “The Science of Wellbeing” by the Department of Psychology, Yale University.

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